Mushtaq Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander
The relations between men and women in most societies is skewed, unequal and favoring a certain sex through gender construction. Women have been mostly on the receiving end because of misogyny and patriarchy. But patriarchy has not only undermined women but men are victim too. The victimhood of men is least talked about and even they too do not dare to speak up about the abuses or restrictions they face regularly because of the patriarchy. The initial bruising happens in childhood when boys are taught to pent up their emotions and not wear them on their sleeves and sobbing is a taboo for boys. As they grow up their parents, teachers and environment teaches men to be strong using the cliché Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota (Men don’t feel the pain). They as usual feel pain but are debarred to express it. The teacher in the classroom also reinforces the belief when they segregate boys from girls. If any boy sits close to a girl classmate or shares a bench, he is rebuked for the same. This concept is driven home that boys and girls are different so they should be segregated. So if any child out of sheer innocence tries to cross the line he is strongly condemned and made to adhere to the set norms. This enforced segregation evolves to gender during adolescence when boys and girls enter into a relationship, with these preconceived notions. It is also an unwritten rule that a boy is supposed to bear the expenses of his girlfriend whether be it mobile bills, picnic outings, long drives, expensive gifts and restaurant bills. Further being a male should not be construed synonymous to being a credit card. The reverse can also be true, because many vulnerable girls also incur financial burden while spending on their boyfriends. It is no problem to spend on each other if love exists, but issue starts when one exploits the other or break up happens and there are claims and counters claims.
To add insult to injury the girls are supposed to be pampered. This culture of pampering girls particularly by boys mostly with evil intentions of exploiting them, have resulted in development of false self identity and consciousness among girls in relationship. Further most boys are aware about such vulnerabilities of women so they use it for their own benefit. On the other hand if such girls are not pampered they became irritated, abusive and rude as earlier men have shown them false illusions and green pastures while others who uphold mirrors to them are the male patriarchs who need to be condemned because they do not treat their partners as “Queens” despite the fact they themselves are paupers. Add to it the notion of beauty, that every lady and girl is possessed about. Though beauty is relative but if girls are not praised for their beauty they get offended. “Beauty” has been reduced as a hallmark for judging a girl and lady. The women themselves are responsible in perpetuating this belief and beauty pageants like Miss World have further developed this belief. This retrogradation of womanhood to just beauty is one of the gross injustices rendered by the contemporary age to the agency of being a woman.
On the other hand features like being handsome are rendered as yardsticks for men and if they lack them they are made to feel inferior. The stout tummy, well toned muscles, trimmed beard and well built height are the features that men are supposed to possess. When it comes to domestic chores, men are supposed to stay away from the kitchen. Even if they are involved in providing a helping hand in domestic affairs, they and the women make sure that it does not become public. Even when men do laundry, they are not supposed to put the clothes for drying in sunshine lest the neighbors witness. These men who even are gender just try to veil up this aspect of their lives lest they be known as Joru Ka Ghulam (slave of wife). In most cases wives and mothers too do not let their husbands and sons venture in the kitchen as they consider it a breach of trust. They too are not ready to delegate or share their power that they have over kitchen to their men.
When it comes to relationships men too do suffer from abuse, physical, mental or psychological. The abuse mostly goes unnoticed because men are supposed not to reveal or share it. Men get cheated on, deceived or traumatized in relationships but they pretend to put a strong face because if they display emotions they are tagged as being cheeky, girlish and too effeminate who recount their ordeals just to gain sympathy. If there is fallout in relationship man is without any trail, evidence or justice process declared as guilty. Even if a woman falsely accuses a man of domestic violence or misconduct, he is being held guilty by most people. They are ready to virtually lynch and do him to death without even listening to his version of story. By default in patriarchal societies it is being held that women are victims, but in many cases opposite is the truth. Women too particularly pseudo feminists are ready to jump the bandwagon when some lady declares herself a victim. Feminism does not give few people right to hound males and indulge in travesty of justice.
These factual realties are yet to be analyzed properly. Misandry and patriarchy together make it possible that women of the household of an accused male be portrayed as bad, because they too are painted in a similar color. I remember case of a person who was accused of domestic abuse by his wife who later on carried a vilification campaign against him that it becomes next to impossible to marry off his younger sister. So domestic violence, accusing males unjustly do create a demonic image of males who in reality may not be really guilty. A real checks and balances system should be incorporated that do not let foul play while one spouse accuses the other of violence or unjust treatment.
Men and women now have belated egos that are not able to co-exist but clash with each other and it is resulting in the break down of family system. The antagonistic spousal relations have diverse ramifications particularly on children. To conclude, marriage should be based on egalitarian values but those values first need to be inculcated among men and women only then they can be invoked and implemented in a marriage. The skewed gender relations make one of the partners a victim in any marriage. To avoid such flaws a lot of mental and psychological preparation should be undertaken while entering into any serious relationship particularly the one which forms the building units and blocks of any society.
M.H.A. Sikander is Writer-Activist based in Srinagar, Kashmir and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org