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Meaning of masculinity in modern times

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From the idyllic Andaman islands, a liberal millennial-turned Indic-winger; a medical doctor and an I.I.T Kgpian; a Bengali fluent in Malayalam and above all, a proud Sanatani.

Ever seen something similar online? On your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram feed? On news channels and news articles? On T-shirts and “lifestyle” magazines? I bet you have, prominently and often. I bet you have heard it just as often in comedy shows, TV shows, movies, HR events, hell, even at family gatherings. Casually stating such an all-encompassing accusation is considered nothing but safe and innocuous small talk, doesn’t cause a scandal or offend anyone (outwardly at least), and is guaranteed to elicit polite laughter. Such statements and the attitude behind it have been NORMALIZED in society today. In this day and age, those very sections of society that loudly proclaim “SPEECH IS VIOLENCE”, have no qualms verbally bullying and making fun of an entire half of humanity.

Toxic Masculinity, manspreading, mansplaining, patriarchy and a bunch of other colourful, ‘woke’ terms are what is now used to describe me and my gender. So, are men being oppressed and victimised? Are men’s trials and tribulations not worthy of society’s empathy and support? I believe, and suspect most so-accused ‘toxic, patriarchal masculine’ men do as well, that while I don’t know the answer, I do know this question itself is irrelevant to us. Let me explain what I mean by that. The vilification of men today seems to stem from a neo-Marxist world view where men dominate societal hierarchies (financial, political, entrepreneurial etc) and therefore wield disproportionate power over other groups below them in the hierarchical pyramid. The glaring flaw in this argument, as put forth multiple times in public domain, so very eloquently by the inimitable Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, is that almost all stable, long-term hierarchies are built not on power but  COMPETENCE. And that fact brings me to what I meant when stating that the very question, “ Are men oppressed and victimised today? “ holds no actual relevance to us men today.

To lay out Dr. Peterson’s point in simple terms, What you acquire depends on what you bring to the table. Talking specifically about the male gender, all through mankind’s history, the main driver for all achievements and progress has been ambition backed by competence. That, roughly speaking, is the nature of men – we do things. As the traditional masculine role has historically been that of the ‘provider’, we are kind of evolutionarily hardwired to solve problems and provide results. We have experienced and appreciated this first-hand in our previous generations, what our parents or grandparents went through to ensure we today live in the best time ever for humanity to exist. As refugees fleeing from a war-torn zone, both my grandparents started their new lives, a rebirth for all practical purposes, in utter grinding poverty. Nowhere to sleep, not enough to eat, not able to afford an education; now there was legitimate oppression and victimization. And yet, they refused to be oppressed or become victims.

The core teaching in the ‘Bhagavad Gita’, the revered spiritual text in Hinduism, is where God (Krishna) tells Man (Arjuna), “You only have the right to perform your prescribed duties, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions.“ In plain speak, to work is Man’s job, and rewarding it is God’s. Pick up any rags-to-riches story, any motivating tale of overcoming insurmountable odds – you will find a near-obsessive single-minded pursuit of the goal without any distraction. And that’s what I learnt means to be a man. You pick up the burden of your responsibilities, you do your duty, you give your everything and you work on providing the solution to problems.

That’s the competence Dr. Peterson talked about and that’s the hallmark of what it means to be a true man. Therefore, on that principle, even if the male gender is maligned and put under attack in today’s society, know that it is we men ourselves who are responsible for tackling it and making things better. Why? Because that is what men do, we forge our own destiny. As the saying goes, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade“. So, if the world points to us saying “all problems begin with MEN”, then by improving our competency, let us irrefutably prove that “all solutions to them too can come from MEN“.

After all, notice how words relevant to solutions, MANage, MANoeuvre, MANmade, all happen to begin with MAN?

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From the idyllic Andaman islands, a liberal millennial-turned Indic-winger; a medical doctor and an I.I.T Kgpian; a Bengali fluent in Malayalam and above all, a proud Sanatani.
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