The history of humankind is rife with discrimination – whether it is between rich and poor, one religion against another, white versus black, or the all-too-common men against women. As a society, we grow and learn in a battle of constant evolution to achieve optimal solutions that move us forward as the most dominant species in the known universe.
Comparison between Google search display screens; Top: International Women’s day 2020, Bottom: International Men’s Day 2020
Modern times demand new reformations to blur the line of discrimination between men and women – an arena that is often neglected and even ridiculed.
An uneven playing field
An informal chat between two individuals on 19 November clearly highlights the underlying issue of inequality and reflects similar dialogues across most secular countries in the world. The nineteenth day of November is observed as International Men’s Day. Yes, there is indeed such a day!
Man: “No change in Google doodles on International Men’s Day, eh?”
Woman: “Oh! Is there such a day?”
Man: “Well, that explains who’s faced with inequalities these days.”
Woman: (chuckles) “Don’t be a cry baby now.”
Man: “Well, I am not asking for any recognition but isn’t inequality quite evident. To stay on topic, what according to you, is true equality?”
Woman: “I’d say it means to own equal rights with no discrimination.”
Man: “What about responsibilities?”
Woman: “Responsibilities? Yes, yes, those must be equal too.”
Man: “Ah, I see! So if a female mistakenly boards the ‘men’s only’ coach on a train, shouldn’t she be fined?”
Woman: “Well, they are general coaches. There is no such thing as ‘men’s only’ coaches!” (chuckles again)
Man: “But why not? Because girls won’t take advantage of boys, is it?”
Woman: “You guys are stronger anyway. You all are more in number. Don’t…”
It is such a baffling notion that she didn’t even care to ponder over why there are no ‘men’s only’ coaches. Rather, she chose to defend why they are not required.
Are women more equal than men?
There is strong anecdotal evidence to suggest society has changed people’s perceptions with regard to equality. And this is aided by systemic brain washing. It is now an accepted cultural norm to extend special privileges to the fairer sex with no checks and balances to avoid tipping the scales in their favour. It is an unspoken reality that boys, from their formative years, are moulded towards being a provider with the expectation that he should seek any compassion in return. Hence, the “burden of men” – one that he must carry indefinitely.
In all fairness, it is not as though today’s women do not shoulder economic and social responsibilities. But inherent societal expectations seem to dictate stricter terms for men. More often than not, it is considered a given for men to provide, while women seem to be showered with praise for enacting the same role of primary provider. This is possibly the juncture that drives a deeper wedge in the gender divide.
It calls for a change in perspective
It is time to not only change culture at its core but also to start knocking on the doors of constitutional law to ensure equal rights for both men and women. As per law, men are still required to pay their spouse alimony and child support even if the divorce is filed by her. Child custody is usually granted to the mother during separation. In addition, men often find themselves denied a fair trial.
Going by court judgments on family matters, it is quite evident that society perceives men are unequal to women. The common perception holds that men are less proficient in taking care of children as they cannot express warmth and emotion like a woman can. In this context, would it then be acceptable to state that women CEOs are incapable of implementing tough decisions because they are too emotional?
Well, the answer is definitely in the negative. There will otherwise be a bevy of feminist organisations and women commissions shooting down such proclamations with profound aggression.
The menace of false accusations
Are we aware of what percentage in cases are declared false allegations by the Supreme Court of India, regarding charges against men by women? Even heinous crimes, such as rape, have been falsely filed. The National Crime Records Bureau in India suggested that, of the total 10,068 cases filed, an estimated 25 percent were false rape allegations. In the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, a staggering 45 percent of rape case filings were mostly by conniving or jilted women. Such deplorable acts tarnished the images of the concerned males. At the same time, these false cases gnawed away valuable time that could otherwise have been utilised to speed up justice for actual victims.
The case of three young men in Rohtak, Haryana is yet another example of a false accusation. It led to a media trial and ruined the lives of three innocent men. Even after they were acquitted, the trio was unable to overturn the smudged reputations. This cost them a career in the army and police forces.
At that time, no media or women’s commission representatives came out in support of the accused, despite them being pronounced not-guilty. In contrast to the events that preceded the court verdict, the same media outlets and feminist organisations were nowhere to be seen or heard. But they cried from roof tops, announcing them guilty even before the law took its course. Not that the damage could be undone, but even so much as an apology was not issued for all the harassment they experienced.
Article 498A of the Indian Penal Code was drafted with the intention to safeguard women. However, its details sound anything but constitutional, considering a husband and his entire family can be arrested without evidence. Furthermore, it is a non-bailable warrant that is issued. Suffice to say that this is one of many examples of the great gender divide that is endorsed by law.
There must be legal recourse extended to men, women and members of the third gender to protect them from the severe consequences of false allegations. Media trials, in particular, must be vetted and government appointed regulatory bodies must ensure that media outlets do not assume the role of the judiciary.
Equality for all, regardless of gender
Equality must hold true for all genders; it needs to bring the ones who are weak to the same level as the strong but without making scapegoats of any individual. Criminals are capable of committing heinous crimes regardless of their gender, race or creed. Lest one misunderstands, I will reiterate that we definitely need to protect women’s rights but not at the cost of injustice to men.
It is time, indeed, to extend support to your father, brother, friend, uncle, son and a man – an integral part of social machinery. Just as there are women’s commissions, parallel committees for men must also be established to not only ensure equal rights for men but to also educate young boys that their sole purpose of existence is not to ensure food on the table.
Efforts in this direction will foster changes in societal views. It will also allow us to collaboratively eliminate cultural stigmas that profess men do not need support. Men need as much support and even dedicated commissions to protect their rights.
There is a tsunami of emotions and pressure inside.
A constant social push & charm to be tough outside.
I can’t even truly express to myself that “I am a man”.