Masculinity is diminishing

“Masculinity is diminishing.”

No, I wasn’t attending a #NotAllMen conference. Neither was I reading the end of year The Feminist report on masculinity levels around the world. This line is from a presentation sent by a client explaining the reason behind the upcoming brand refresh.

This line is the rationale behind the brand refresh.

Upon first read my instant reaction was that this line is why a brand is going to spend crores on a makeover because men aren’t important to them any more. Predictable and quite incorrect. But yes, in the initial few minutes all I felt was anger.

Why?

This wasn’t a personal attack on me. No one was questioning my masculinity per se, this was just a broad generalisation. So where was this anger coming from?

So I asked myself why was I angry that masculinity is diminishing.

Here are my thoughts on day 1 when I was still angry because the sentiments of my testosterone had been offended (to be read while imagining Lewis Black delivering these lines with the swear words and hand gestures and all).

Of course masculinity is diminishing. Look at what you have done to us. Rounded us all into a mob devoid of any individual identities by painting us all with a broad stroke of rapists, sexists, and misogynists. We are reduce to a rubble as we crumble from constantly trying to apologise and making amends for centuries of misdemeanours by our gender, something we had little or no control over. Constantly reminding us of what men have done to women and are doing to them every moment, burdening us with so much guilt that we cannot we stand up. If we stand up, we are one of them. If we try to separate ourselves from the mob, we are pseudo-feminists. It is a burden of shame that we must carry because of our gender, something once again we had no control over. Of course masculinity is diminishing. You are destroying it with your anger. I am burying it with my shame. We all are choking it to death. We are going to conquer this evil and make the world a better place. Or are we?

Now read the above para again. Is it offensive, insensitive, and misogynist? Well it will be deemed to be that by some for reasons, fair or unfair. I think it is fair to say I threw my toys out of the pram there.

So is masculinity really diminishing? Yes and no, and I have a reason to say so.

So why is masculinity diminishing?

First we need to understand masculinity is diminishing as compared to what? What is the standard of masculinity that we are comparing it to? In this case, the benchmark of masculinity as per this brand is a 49 year old who gets into fights, shoots animals and runs over sleeping people but is mainly know for being perennially accused of being an actor, a charge that is yet to be proven despite him pleading guilty.

So if masculinity is supposed to be steroid pumped and testosterone fueled then I am glad to say that it is diminishing. Masculinity needs to be redefined with changing times. You cannot maintain a standard benchmark irrespective of massive changes happening in the society. Go back to the stone age. Masculinity was very different back then. They would laugh at the stuff we men do these days before crushing us to death with their clubs. Or hands. Masculinity has always been defined by what was okay for a man to do at that time. Now that we are trying to end patriarchal and parochial systems in the society and bring men and women on the same level as they should have been from the beginning, we have to redefine masculinity. More importantly, if men and women are equal then is this gender stereotyping even needed? I will leave the feminists to answer that.

Masculinity isn’t diminishing, it is redefining itself. It is adapting itself to survive in, what has become, a hostile environment for it and rightly so. Is it an evolution or regression, hard to say. Perhaps a bit of both. So next time you hear a woman ask where have all the men gone, don’t go on a rant. Hug her and tell her you understand.


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