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Nikhil Taneja @tanejamainhoon
, 17 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
I can't imagine how difficult the last month's been for the brave women who've spoken their #MeToo stories & the brave women for whom it's still hard to speak. This is a revolution and it's been a long time coming. But I've been perplexed by the reaction of us men. #Thread
It's been difficult navigating conversations with fellow men over the last month, particularly as someone who's been speaking up on #MeToo& who's known both survivors & (unfortunately) perpetrators, and has been deeply affected by that.
(This won't be preachy, please read ahead)
Yes, there are men who are empathetic and kind; then there are conversations that've revolved around 'Such is life', or 'What can one do'. But many (heated) conversations have alarmingly been about: 'But any man is a target today (#Notallmen)' & for others still, this is gossip.
Last month, I was angry, but now I've tried to understand, & here's what I think: Our society has robbed men of empathy by forcing boys to 'be a man'. It all starts at childhood where women are unfairly told they are weak, but men are equally unfairly told that they are strong.
When boys cry, they are told 'Be a man'. When m boys are vulnerable, they are told to shut up and 'don't be a girl'. Girls are pink & boys are blue. Girls are sensitive & boys are tough. Girls express, boys shouldn't burden others with emotion. These gender boxes have ruined us.
Girls grow up and are forced to not study too much because they have to look after their homes. Boys grow up and are forced to do engineering because they have to earn for their homes. Girls are burdened with running the family, boys are burdened with feeding the family.
Girls are told their virginity is their most important asset. Boys grow up repressed because society has forbidden girls from sex. This toxic patriarchy results in unhealthy consequences where girls who want sex have 'shame' forced on them, and for guys, sex is a triumph.
Through this & more, our society has systematically robbed both sexes from healthy lives, by thrusting the burden of gender norms upon them. Think about this: when media reports rape, why say 'Another woman was raped' vs 'Another man raped? Why is the onus of shame on women?
If someone's stabbed, is the shame on the survivor or the perpetrator? But when someone is sexually assaulted, the shame is automatically placed on the survivor, typically a woman. That's how institutionalised patriarchy is. So women are objectified, and men are supposedly macho.
Initially I didn't understand why more men aren't speaking in support of #MeToo, but it makes all the sense in the world! Look at our pop culture: historically, the role of men is complex, deep, layered or larger than life HEROES. And women are the love interest and 'item' songs.
We have literally desensitized ourselves to the extent that we don't even blink an eye when we use the term 'item song' (and parents do this!), where the 'item' is a woman in less clothes. WHAT. 'Send nudes' is a meme now because men harassing women has been normalised THIS much.
Our society has normalised patriarchy so much that it's 'cool' & 'hot' for a man to be a 'bad boy' with no understanding of emotions. So it's unsurprising that men are not part of the #MeToo conversation. What's been the norm for centuries will obviously not change overnight.
My point of this thread isn't to
a) Sermonize
b) Be biased for or against any of the sexes
But rather to try & understand where do we go from here. How do we move forward when there's an inspiring, empowered movement on one hand, and a severe lack of understanding on the other.
Perhaps the way forward is to have conversations about men's mental health more. To normalise male emotion & vulnerability. To say that it's okay for men to feel and hurt and cry. To make empathy 'cool'. Else there's a danger of men not being included in the conversation at all.
I realised a lot of these things when I went for therapy because of anxiety I was diagnosed with a year & a half ago (I'm out of it now). For someone who writes emotional longposts, I was made to realise I don't express my emotions with family because I feel I'm burdening them.
And that's the case with most of us men. We have been conditioned to 'be a man' and unfortunately, that has robbed us from being 'human' in many ways. #MeTooIndia is one of the most important turning points for us as a society. We need to build on it through empathy and dialogue.
The onus is now on us men to ensure that we keep having conversations among us that come from empathy towards each other versus anger & blame,to ensure other men aren't alienated. It's not just something we are responsible for, but something we perhaps we have long deserved. #End
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