ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Indian Masculinity Exposed

Expressed Views on Contraceptive Responsibility

Gender stereotypes and norms have always been at the centre stage of debate on the masculine construct wherein the society dictates functional ideals based on the sex of an individual and its consequence becomes apparent in the sex-linked stereotypes in any functioning space. Such a stereotype is seen in disproportionate contraceptive burden on Indian women owing to the lack of male involvement in family planning. The blatant agreement on the statement, “contraceptive is women’s business,” serves as an evidence of such masculinity in the reproductive sphere.

Masculine features of Indian ­society manifest itself with mas­culine sex ratio and the sustained patriarchy-defining typical pre­scriptive ideals for men and women. The quest for an equal and rightful place for women in the men’s world has been a continuous endeavour in every sphere of human existence. Albeit the equivalence in capabilities, men and women always mismatch their roles and functioning. Such mismatches are rooted in disparate societal norms and prescriptions for men and women, the conformity and compliance to which maintains masculinity. The centre stage of the debate on masculine and feminine constructs has been occupied by the societally dictated functional ideals of gender norms and stereotypes, the descriptive component of which deliberate on how males and females typically conduct themselves and the systematically biased prescriptive norms for either sex to adhere to. Part of this stereotype is the idea that vigour and valour are masculine traits while providing care and comfort is feminine. Such notions translate into unpaid caregiving becoming essentially a female business, for which she is romanticised rather benevolently. Violating these stereotypes and norms manifested in any functional space recei­ves a negative sanctioning. Yet, a society that is moving towards gender equality is predicated on the belief that better education and trans­for­med values of a shifting societal order will change preconceived notions and result in a world that is gender egalitarian.

As masculinity manifests itself in various contexts, it can take on multiple forms over the life course that is conditioned by acquired capabilities and self-determined beliefs. For instance, during early life or childhood, how one positions the self as a “boy” (man) or “girl” (woman) is patently guided by the societal norms and moral values of upbringing. These values may be modified or rede­fined according to one’s judgment and convictions, shaped by the ideals developed through acquired personal values and perceptions. Despite these capacities to reinvent itself through­out life, adherence to values and standards is more common than it otherwise should be. Norm-internalising characteristics or qualities, rather than rule-defying ones, are sanctioned, to no one’s surprise. The majority’s acceptance of anything is the so-called normative, and departing from it or becoming an outlier may always involve a change in attitude beyond a transformed identity based on acquired capabilities. These changes frequently address how educational, residential, occupational, and other identity characteristics challenge traditional mas­cu­linity in roles and functioning. Thus, confirming the same by looking at the attitudes and behaviours of adult men reported in various survey-based inquiries becomes essential.

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Updated On : 14th Mar, 2023
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