Are Real Men Truly Real?
What really is a real man, I wonder. Desi culture has vicious societal expectations to be a "real man". Conform to the gender normative notions of manliness, then you're a MAN.
It starts early when gendered toys are imposed upon children. Don't play with kitchen set or dolls, boys play with trucks and guns. Put that pink stuff down. Boys wear blue. Then comes stripping these young lads off their very humanity, discouraging boys from showing emotions. Didn't you know, boys don't cry? Don't be sissy, MAN UP. Suppress your feelings. Channelize it through aggression. Little do you know that suppressing emotions isn't always compensated by laughing it off. It has real damaging consequences to mental health and behavioral issues and there is actual data to prove it. The idea of strong and brave men not crying or fearing is detrimental to abuse victims. There are boys unable to talk about their abuses because of the minimization, dismissal and backlash they will face.
Then there is associating innate sexual aggression with manliness, a gross stereotype with no scientific basis. It is the society that breeds men, to be sex hungry. It teaches men that they are inherently lustful wolves unable to control urges that later translates into entitlement to get laid and sexual coercion or marital rape.
In some regressive societies, men doing household chores or looking after kids is associated with being feminine and stay-at-home-dads are frowned up. A common saying translates to, a real man will not pick up kids or step in the kitchen in his lifetime. This toxic masculinity robs off fatherhood, responsibility and reeks of all kinds of injustices for both the victims and perpetrators. Real men don't indulge in care taking business. And you know what they look like? Real men have deep voices, tall figures, lean muscular bodies and they fight. They kill, not love. Unrealistic beauty standards and societal expecations entrap many boys and subject them to mockery.
Regardless of many making it big in professions like arts, music, modelling, film, these career choices are still seen as feminine and not manly enough to pursue. It is presumed that they alter their dreams and fit into what constitutes as a manly job. Give up on your aspirations of being an artist, get a REAL job that feeds mouths and runs a house. Do it as your rightful duty and don't whine like a girl. After all this disfigurement, are you truly a real man?
These roles put a hierarchy of importance in genders. While men are mostly a beneficiary of patriarchy, it traps everyone and hurts men too, if not to the same extent as women. Patriarchy doesn't purely benefit men or purely hurts them, it's not a dichotomy. It's a recipe for disaster and dehumanizes people.