We should know that gender (performance) as distinct from sex is assigned to us at the time of birth: a girl is expected to be feminine and a boy is expected to be masculine. We are raised in an environment which forces gender roles on us and we are expected to act in a certain way and take on responsibilities specific to our gender. Simone de Beauvoir argued that a woman is not born but made; so is a man. Masculinity refers to characteristics which a man is expected to have, like being tough, strong, muscular, unemotional, and dominant. Men are traditionally taught that they have to be masculine above all, and anything that jeopardises this masculinity is to be considered as a threat. Under patriarchy, men are arbiters of identity for both males and females, but only male identity is conferred with power and privilege.
We should understand that masculinity is not fixed but is evolving. Men are encouraged to show manliness. “Men Will Be Men” is an idea that creates the stereotype that men are lustful, uncontrolled, and despite being in a stable relationship are always gazing at other women with sexual desire. Everyone has sexuality, but it is not just of one kind. A person can be heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or asexual. Despite this, men’s sexuality is so centralised and made powerful that it make men naturally lustful and uncontrolled. This leads to pornosexualising of males. This concept of “pornosexualising” I derive from Anand in his book “Hindu Nationalism in India and Politics of Fear”. Males adopt this concept and become consenting parties to this. Men are programmed by culture to refer exclusively to other men for the validation of their worth. Such masculinity exhorts them to be incorrigible flirts who cannot take eyes off women. Masculinity is not courage and strength per se but is derived from asserting females to be powerless. Men’s power is maintained by maintaining the powerlessness of women.
As men accept that they are lustful naturally, they start sexually harassing women. The worst thing that a man can be is impotent. However, this leads to a dehumanisation of being. Man is forever trying to be dominant, and this achievement is the measure of his success. Thus, masculinity is a social goal to be achieved by being aggressive, lustful, and violent.
—The writer is a student of Political Science. [email protected]