Friday Aug 12, 2022
Friday Aug 12, 2022

Modern men overcoming stereotypes

Just like women, men are also constricted by stereotypes and frowned upon if they act outside of their traditional gender roles.


Nepalnews
2022 Jul 10, 6:21, Kathmandu
Men are often taught to practice authority over women. A gender stereotype that lead to domestic violence in most parts of the world. Photo- Pinterest

Research demonstrates that just as women face backlash for not being feminine enough or overly masculine. Men are also penalized for being feminine, not masculine enough, vulnerable, nice or even a little compassionate. The concept of ‘Man Box’ is heavily enforced in the ways boys are raised. Young men are subjected to heavy pressure by society and its expectations from them.

Rigid and traditional expectations, perceptions and behaviors that are considered “manly”, imposed on men by the society, such as superiority, cruelty, emotional suppression, lack of physical intimacy with other men, and expectations of socially aggressive and dominant behavior, makes violent behavior among men more pervasive. Such unhealthy and damaging social pressure are mostly referred to as toxic masculinity or ‘Man Box’ as per research. However, many men, in and outside Nepal have been playing a part in changing the dynamics of such stereotypes. But, the deep rooted conservative and draconian set of rules discourages men from behaving in ways that are not particularly masculine for the society and in the process losing their unique identity.

“As a man, whenever I get emotional or childish I am often reprimanded as though I am being immature or not manly enough.” said Shiv (pseudonym), an English teacher. He admonished the society for judging men for being anything other than the manly image they have created, and because of that men don't express themselves at all. He also explained how men, who help their wives or partners are said to be under a female's rule, submissive and made fun of. “I live alone and when I wash my clothes, cook or do dishes, everyone around me, even educated women, advise me to get married as if this is the sole reason for getting married. I have always helped my mother in the kitchen, in fact all my siblings did. My brother cleans the house more often than my sister-in-law does. It's normal in our house but others in the society frown upon us.” he further added.


While women are solely held responsible for household chores, men are frowned upon for the same. Photo- Pinterest.
While women are solely held responsible for household chores, men are frowned upon for the same. Photo- Pinterest.

“It is very hard to express your views on gender roles from the fear of being judged. I consider myself a feminist but find it hard to say it.” Shiv expressed, dissatisfied with the society. A research conducted by a non profit organization to fight stereotypes and obtain gender sensitivity says that feminist men are more likely to be the victims of sexual harassment, from being told inappropriate jokes to being the recipient of unwanted sexual advances. In addition, research shows that men are more likely to be harassed when they work in male-dominated jobs and are perceived as too feminine. Shiv further added that, “ Instead of berating feminist men, we should celebrate them. Such issues must not be overlooked. It is not only women but also men who suffer negatively from stereotypes.”

Since birth, parents encourage children to adopt attitudes and behaviors that are considered gender appropriate for each gender and are raised in such a way that they constitute the expected gender norms according to their sex. Consequently, men learn to practice authority over women. In the context of Nepal, men are encouraged to be the financial providers and leave the housework to women. “ Some modern men, however, have blurred the image of gender roles but it is not to make women happy. That is patriarchy in itself. Men have recognized the inequality and are working to change the ‘Man Box’ Dynamics. It makes me very happy,” Shiv concluded.


The concept of ‘Man Box’ is heavily enforced in the ways boys are raised. Young men are subjected to heavy pressure by society and its expectations from them. Photo- Pinterest
The concept of ‘Man Box’ is heavily enforced in the ways boys are raised. Young men are subjected to heavy pressure by society and its expectations from them. Photo- Pinterest

Men are taught from a very young age to not talk to others about personal issues and be self sufficient. An informative set of studies from 2015 finds that when male leaders ask for help, they are viewed as less competent which is not the same case for women, especially in workplaces. And when men make themselves vulnerable by disclosing a weakness at work they are perceived as under confident and lacking in leadership.

Research finds that men who ask for family leave, something that only women do, are viewed as poorer workers and are less recommended for rewards, compared to female counterparts. “When I disclosed that I had problems at home and won't be able to continue working under the pay that I was given, I was berated for revealing such a thing. I was denied the raise citing that I couldn't very well lead a team if my own family is not sorted.” said Binayak Raj Bhandari, a graphic designer. “It was a sorry excuse but it just shows how stereotypes such as men having full control in their house and not showing vulnerability are still prevalent in our society,” he added further.

Similarly, humble and generally sensitive or agreeable men are cast away as feminine. According to research, men who were more humble in expressing their qualifications were evaluated as less likable, less agentic, and weak. It also explained how agreeable and humble men make significantly less money than those who act tough and sometimes, even brazen. It is ingrained in men that they should be tough and use violence when necessary, that they have the final say in a relationship. Men, who spend excessive time on looks are also looked down upon.


Men are considered to be tough and advised not to show emotions. The constant build up of emotions can lead them to various mental health issues. Photo- Pinterest
Men are considered to be tough and advised not to show emotions. The constant build up of emotions can lead them to various mental health issues. Photo- Pinterest

“When boys visit stores to buy skincare products or even enter such stores where mostly girls shop, they are judged and frowned upon. It creates a divide between men and women that simply doesn't make sense.” said Ronak Shakya, a student. “Men can also cry, be sensitive or do household chores. This should be normalized.” Shakya added.

Therefore, Gender policing in terms of attire or personality make men less expressive which have caused many to commit suicide, bully others or even suffer from various mental health issues. It is deeply affecting the population of young men, so it is necessary to encourage a more modern form of masculinity which not only celebrates traditional aspects of masculinity such as responsibility, assertiveness, and competitiveness, but also compassion, humility, and kindness. But, is society willing to change?


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Kathmandu Modern men overcoming stereotypes
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