Category Archives: parenting

Mard ko dard Kyon nahi hota: On Hegemonic Masculinity.

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I gaze into his clear eyes
Like I gaze at the starry skies
Reflecting the colours vibrantly alive
Oh yes! He is learning
How it looks like,
What now, to me is this world’s
Big dark scary side.

Today is like any other day.He is back from school and as I change his clothes, I get to my regular question to him.
Hope no one made you feel uncomfortable!”
“No,” he casually answers.
Always tell mummy if someday…”
He seems disinterested and runs out to play.
He is four.
I am a mother. An awfully petrified mother. On hearing my friends distressing about the safety of their daughters, I often think about my son. With humanity stooping to a new low every day, the thought of a child’s security disturbs every parent. I do not know what we can do about it at such an early age, so I talk to him. I talk to him about everything. Everything. I have learnt in my five years of parenting that it does really help. All these years, growing up in a rigidly structured Indian milieu made me realise that we really go out of the way for the safety of our girl child. We protect them from strangers, uncles, almost everyone for the fear of abuse. We protect them from dark and solitary lanes. We make them delicate and dependent. We make them feminine. Seldom have we worried about our sons’ sexual security. We let them loose and never doubt a friendly visitor who comes too close. We teach them to fight. We take pride in their masculine might.

I gave birth to a child, they make him a bit of a man with each passing night .

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The process of emotionally destroying a male starts at a very early age along with the process of gendering.They become aware about the basic socially acceptable norms for a girl and a boy. Language, I feel, plays a pertinent part in the construction of one’s identity. Communication strongly impacts a child’s brain to grow up into an individual that the society wants to see. As I delved deep into my study, I understood that all these years, while we were growing up, my parents never asserted gender roles on my brother and myself. My brother and father can really cook good food and my mother’s decision was always counted as significant.I also realise now why talking things out, crying, seeking for help is considered by the majority of men against their manliness.

Ladka hoke rota hai (you cry despite being a boy) !, ladka hoke kitchen set se khelta hai(you play with a kitchen set ), ladki jaise zyada baatein karta hai(you talk too much for a boy),mera sher(my tiger) , are the widely used expressions in our daily language that demean a woman and uplift the status of a man thereby destroying the essence of we being an individual above all. To fit in the normative gender roles assigned to us by the society, we try to mould a child’s personality. The social construction of masculinity is one of reasons, I feel, why men refrain from talking about them being in a deplorable condition. Everyone is aware of women being victims to sexual assaults and rapes, we explicitly talk about them on a regular basis. Predominantly taking place around us, the unspoken bitter reality of male rapes is hushed and concealed almost everyday. A significant portion of males are victims of sexual assaults and most of them stay unreported.

Under section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, the term ‘Rape’ was used to identify only the forceful sexual assault over a female by a male. However, with time, little amendments have been made to consider rape as a gender neutral crime. A large number of male sexual abuse cases are left unheard due to the lack of legal recourse and majorly because of the dishonour related to it. The hegemonic masculinity, in much simpler words, mard ko dard nahi hota(men do not feel the pain) notion plays a vital role in stigmatising male sexual abuse. A survey conducted in 2007 about the children who experienced sexual assaults reports that 57.4 % were boys and 42.3% were girls. The social construction of men being regarded as superior, physically and emotionally stronger, propagates gender inequality and justifies the role of a female being inferior, weak, and therefore being more vulnerable.

The fact is that a sexual assault can happen to anyone but because of the stereotypical notions of masculinity, men refuse to be portrayed as a victim of a situation. Being more protective about a female child than a male child is considered normal in our society. But this idea confused me when I gave birth to a HIM.  My son needs my protection from anything suspicious and wrong in anyway, which is a question far beyond a child being a boy or a girl.I became a young mother and my surroundings have made an influential impact on how I should bring my child up.

I have strongly felt that we need to make our boys softer, calmer, and tell them that they are not weak if they weep.That it is okay to speak up and look for help when needed. That no one can touch them without their permission. So, each day I combat these social standards and try to raise him not as a boy given to me by the society but my baby, who came and empowered me to stand by him and not to let him loose his individuality.

 

 

 

 

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Redefining Motherhood: ME and My Son

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“We all live with the objective of being happy;

Our lives are all different and yet the same.”
-Anne Frank.

These were the most painful days, when in the deafening hush of the classroom, with everyone gone I would think over if all these restless and anxious nights, all the rush and haste someday would be worth it or not.
I think about all those years back in school. Growing up dreaming from one corner of my classroom, just a Nobody doubting whether she would ever make it to the other side of that room ever. And then I think of myself Today, still wondering the same.

… so there he was running towards me,
in my college today as I could see,
pulling me out of my trance a starry eyed Dreamer just like me,
with words as delightful as none could be,
“Mumma, how was Class today??”, said he.

And my heart wrapped up all the angsts and fears as if they never occurred and, I smile.
Perhaps I feel both of us will figure this out together as we grow what seems very vague today, Me and my Son.

Having him in my life was not an accident or a slipup, it was the Choice I made, We made!. I wanted to be a Mother and trust me you don’t Never learn it from anywhere, it comes naturally to every woman. So, the day I held him in my arms I made a silent promise to him that I may not know to cook good food ever, and may never knit you a wool cap, and may never ever be the ideal definition of a Mother. But, I will make sure I be someone you will love growing up with, I will never stop chasing my dreams and teach you to race for yours, I will show you that Shooting for the Stars is not just a phrase, that from this day onwards I will do rather Live everything but by holding your hand till my last breath.
I have always dreaded leaving myself somewhere behind in the passage of being a Daughter, Wife, and most importantly a Mother. When they said Motherhood is a full time job and  that I would have to make my choices. I decided to reform my characterisation for the same, I thought it was not my JOB and  as a matter of fact It cannot be any one-body’s job but it is an intrinsic part of us women that comes to us as natural as breathing, it is one of the roles we play like several other, Its just we play this one a little more peerlessly!

So, I made my choice.
The society sets hegemonic structures for everyone. The term Hegemony refers to the controlling social and cultural ideologies. These structures are ruling since forever predefining notions on how things are to be done by all and sundry. When in a small town, they have an imperative role to play. The society needs to validate your undertakings at every step be it being a fair petite feminine girl, or a sturdy masculine boy, marriage at 20 something, having children before being labelled childless, have one then another till you think of yourself as no one else but, only a Mother.

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So, instead of living obligatorily when you choose yourself over social standards you tend to become apprehensive, you fear let-downs. It is not easy but then no one said it would be, I may fail terribly or I may reach my purpose but I will learn and so will he, Me and my Son.
One can never know that you can swim too unless you are left with no choice but, Swim. I never knew what I wanted from life until very late. It took me thirty years to apprehend my abilities and make my passion for the same to assert the presence of my insignificant self in this universe. Motherhood never stopped me it only elicited my sense of self, and I embarked on this journey to self-discovery. It never should be an end to yourself rather a new beginning for now you have your little infallible Hope gripping your fingers and looking up to you.
I made my choice long back holding his hand and I am living my dream and I will make it become our reality, hoping that someday he will know that no structure or defined boundaries can stop you from getting what you want if you passionately conspire with universe and frame your own destiny. You may fall but you will learn with absolutely no regrets.
So, here I am almost breathless as I reach just on time to college (my everyday goal read struggle) for the morning lecture as a Research scholar after dropping our son to his school.
And, I have never felt this alive before!

 Meghna.

On Genderizing: through a mother’s lens.

My midnight musings got me scribble in Pink & Blue tonight. Talking about Pink, I still have to watch the Shoojit Sircar masterwork. The youth-centric film has created much of an uproar amongst all and moreover with such felicitous reviews I feel it is something not to be missed on.  Howbeit we are living in the Times of Intolerance,  we explicitly express  our restiveness towards anything or everything trying to intrude in our fictive perfect world. Violence and war reminds me of my ‘Pink’ friend who is fighting for our country in such pivotal times today. By referring to her as  my Pink friend, I imply that she too was ‘Genderized’ when young like the majority of us, that even her childhood encircled around those pinks , satins and  fair-skinned dolls. But she chose to stand against all the odds, she broke the norms and picked to play with cannons instead so that we all could sleep in peace every night.

I am a Mother & a Scholar of Arts with keen interest in Gender studies. I must confess that my endeavours to learn more about humanity has left the mother in me weak-kneed and distressed. It is indeed difficult and quite challenging a job to bring  the children up in this age of too much information and where technology is at their finger tips.What can I do to not raise another child that would not treat the inhabiters of its own society differently, that he/she would think beyond the binaries that form the base of our social construct. Owing to what the current situation is, this needs to end someday. Blacks of-course wouldn’t want to be looked down with disgust always, Women do not want to be forever stared like they come from some alien la-la land & Men can’t take the blame game perpetually. Beginning from ‘kya hua ladka ya ladki???  to ‘sex toh bta doh??’, ‘ acha gender kya hai??’ the forever curious Rishteydaars need to fore mostly get their terminology corrected that ‘Sex’ refers to the biological difference while Gender ‘…toh as usual aap decide kareinge!’ i.e. it is a social construct. We do the social packaging or the “Gendering” of an individual, drape them in Pink or Blue right from the time that they take birth. That is how most of the time we end up raising a tough, athletic Blue & a petite, benevolent Pink.

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Blue Boy Badge vs Pink Girl Badge!!

I have  to admit being one overtly possessive mother. I just could not help being scared to let him be,  to let him go out in this big dark scary world with all its good and bad. So much so that it took quite a while to realise that my son was not a part of my body but rather an extension of myself, an individual who will have his own likes and dislikes, his own aspirations and dreams, he will live them and yes he will definitely not live my incomplete ones. He is here for himself and for this world, he is not my bank asset that I intend on cashing once I am old. I don’t want to raise my Buddhape ki lathi but an individual independent enough to take his own decisions, to make his own mistakes, fall because falling ain’t bad, learn from them & be everything he wants to irrespective of the colour he was assigned when still in the cradle.

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 I feel as a parent in these high tech times their is a dire need that we be the light in our little ones life by teaching them both- ‘the Good and the Bad’.  It has been four years with him, he is learning and is out and about in this race already. Today while i was busy in my daily chores my son comes running to me demanding a kitchen set and a doll house and I am super ecstatic to buy the same for him and relive my childhood memories and we do play all afternoon, he tried to make round chapatis (i still try in vain at those). I secretly feel proud  that maybe I am doing a good job as a parent. Maybe I am not adding another shade of Blue to the already gendered section, maybe one day instead of ordering someone he’d rather cook for himself. So tomorrow if I buy guns & cars for my daughter I am secretly hinting her that “Girl, go for it…speed up, shout if you are not heard, fight back,  learn to deny..”  Maybe i am just widening their horizons, showing them that Pink and Blue are just colours of the palette. You’d rather be a Rainbow after this storm.

 Meghna.