Every problem has to be treated at the root and the root cause of discrimination and violence against women, rape culture, etc. is toxic masculinity (adherence to traditional male gender roles).
Problem: Toxic masculinity. Men feel pressured to submit to societal standards of masculinity. Various cultural and psychological factors and the environment of upbringing contribute to this. Men experience mental health issues and often grow up with an inability to express emotions except anger due to this. Womxn are also greatly impacted by the consequences.
Solution: Well, there are bigger solutions such as - starting a properly funded organization to educate and change people, changing the global political scenario, amendment of current school curriculums to accommodate teaching about modern social issues, significantly increasing the literacy rate, etc.
Here's what you can (must) do:
- Whenever you see a person nearby, even a friend, a best friend, or family member displaying toxic masculinity, you tell them that IT IS NOT OKAY. Not rudely, but firmly. Stop this behaviour whenever and wherever you can; change the mindset whoever you can. And yes, it IS your responsibility. Yes, the change or a lack of one will impact you.
- If you see a male you know is struggling with his mental health, feeling pressured to fit into this traditional mould (read: grave) of 'masculinity', help him. Encourage him to be himself.
- Be a good example yourself. You can't change others if you yourself aren't open to the change.
Sorry, you might be a feminist (yes, men, you too)
Firstly, the definition of feminism (go ahead, roll your eyes): the belief in social, economic, and political equality of all sexes.
Common question: "If it is for equality, why do we call it FEMinism?"
Common sense: If the entire human race can be called "mankind" and humans "men" for centuries, without an ounce of regret, then a movement to liberate women (subjects of constant oppression/sexism) originally started by women can be called feminism without receiving criticism.
(That's just like asking why democracy is called so).
Assumption: Feminism = hatred of men, trying not to be effeminate, no makeup, female superiority, burn your bras, don't shave, etc.
Truth: People, it's just women trying to get back their rights and to be perceived as normal human beings. It's a movement to make women human again, instead of objects - objects of adornment (remember "Ghar ki izzat"?). [Translation: the honour of the home.] A movement to establish the fact that women are people who can do whatever the hell they want (within legal bounds) without criticism from society because of the human privilege of choice. Equality of all the sexes and genders is a humanitarian belief. Now whoever stands for this (any race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, romantic orientation, caste, etc.) is a feminist.
Feminist beliefs are conveniently distorted and adjusted by various people to suit their thought processes and agendas, but that should not make you hate feminism. YOU should go by the simple, rational theory of feminism which promotes equality and the fact that women are equally competent.
You might think: "How does my opinion matter?"
Answer: Your opinion and the change you bring in your own small way will contribute to a reduction in rapes, the rise in the literacy rate, the abolition of female infanticide, reduction in domestic abuse rates, boosting the economy, and consequently a better world where womxn can truly LIVE like they deserve to.
Men, you are welcome to be a feminist.
Women, we have been women for a long time now. It sure would be funny to not be on our own side now.
- Anushree Sarkar