Stereotypes and gender-bias in society are nothing new. Most of the times these terms are associated with women, and rightly so. However, with International Men's Day soon approaching, let’s take a pause and consider the stereotypes attached to men.
Several statements such as depression in men is a weakness or men don’t cry have become so common, we don’t realise their damaging effects. This World Men's day we bring you some of the most important behaviours and choices that need to be normalised for men in today’s society.
Having and expressing emotions
How often have you heard the phrase, ‘men don’t have emotions’ or ‘real men don’t cry’? These hard-hitting statements have raised society’s expectations from men to a whole new level. Add to this, Indian and International films that showcase most men as tough and daring as Special Ops military veterans, that have men all over the world struggling to appear a certain way.
This Men’s day let’s leave all this make-belief aside. Let’s face it, men are human and they have emotions. Asking them to ignore or bottle-up their feelings and emotions is a massive recipe for disaster. Men should be free to express their emotions the same as women, including crying!
Seeking help, including therapy
Men are supposed to be invulnerable. Whether it is a physical fight or emotional trauma – society believes men don’t need help. Growing up with this sort of mindset can make it impossible for a man to ask for help. A lot of times, men don’t even realise that it is an option, leaving them alone to bear the burden of their troubles.
Such a feeling of isolation and helplessness can lead to mental health problems. Depression in men is also a growing concern aided by this belief. Further, talking to their friends about their problems or a therapist is considered weird and a sign of weakness. This Men’s Day, encourage the men in your life to reach out anytime they need help and support them in their decision to speak up for themselves.
Expressing platonic affection
Every hug or act of kindness isn’t necessarily an intimate gesture. The census incorrectly shows that men can’t express affection. In this regard, every act is considered to be a pass or something romantic which isn’t always true. Friends, across genders, are capable of expressing friendship and love in non-romantic ways.
However, a lot of men shy away from doing so as it is considered weak or ‘girly’. This World Men’s Day, let the men in your life know that you appreciate their gestures. In moments of difficulty or joy, there is nothing better than having a friend or loved one who can express and share the moment with you. After all, an affectionate man can only better the society, not worsen it.
Grooming and skincare isn’t weird
The rugged gruff look may be appealing on-screen but in reality, most women prefer their men to be hygienic and well-groomed. Skincare, make-up and grooming rituals are intrinsically labelled as feminine that most men shy away from these aspects or do them in secret. While the trend is changing slowly, men should be allowed to focus on their skincare and grooming needs without shame.
This International Men's Day, break the cycle and gift your man a grooming kit. If they are fond of skincare or beauty products, buy them a men’s care kit to celebrate. This is the perfect way to normalise this behaviour for them and encourage them to do the same. You can even take things further for men who are conscientious and book a mani-pedi spa session.
Being a stay-at-home parent
There is no stone-carved rule that states that men need to go out to work and women have to stay home with the kids. For that matter, the popular gig economy is still largely associated with women. Even though men want to work from home, they find it awkward to admit it because of society. In an equal world where women are dominating the workspaces, it is alright for men to stay home.
Often, men that choose to stay home with the kids and encourage their wives to work are considered lazy and unambitious. But as every parent or freelancer knows, working-from-home is not the same as doing nothing. Just like women get a say in how they would like to plan their career and life, so should men.
Dressing up in ‘girly’ colours
Along with everything else, colours have become highly gender-specific. For a man to wear pink or polka dots is considered ‘feminine’ and weird. Bear in mind, fashion is an individualistic choice. Just like women should be free to wear what they want, so should men.
Be it soft pastels, vibrant polka dots or intriguing patterns, this Men’s Day let’s break the myth of clothes determining a man’s strength and give them the freedom to dress as they like. Whether someone who identifies as a man dresses up in a tailored-suit or a football jersey, they are still very much men.