I wrote this post quite a few times, totally different each time, and finally decided to scrap it all to simply state my bottom line.
There is a lot of gender inequality in the world. Women are often victimized for being women. There is high and increasing incidence of violent crimes like rapes, murders, acid attacks, brutal beatings, forced marriages, dowry demands, dowry deaths, threats of harm, honor killings, molestations… the list goes on and on.
Every time I have written on the subject, I have had a few people pestering me insisting that I talk about harm done to men. Yet, every time I have asked them to bring up enough content to protest for men’s rights, none have returned. Some examples provided by such activists for men’s rights have ranged from “wife forcing me to watch stupid TV shows” to “economic terrorism”, in the sense of asking to give money at home. None of these petty examples have included those with any physical harm or loss of life.
This is a tiring and petty attitude. It is immature and abusive to even compare loss of life with being forced to watch a TV show, yet I am flooded with these inane comments every time I speak up for a cause.
However, these comments serve an important purpose. They serve to demonstrate the massive sense of entitlement most men have, where it doesn’t even seem irrational to present such examples as a part of a serious objection to raising awareness of women’s rights. It is this utter disregard for what a woman goes through that has remained the hallmark of a culture that sanctions and turns a blind eye toward abuse. Where the male in his prime years is held in such high esteem that his inconvenience or irritation holds more weight than countless deaths scrolling through our newspapers on a daily basis.
Such men usually hate me, but prefer to call me a man hater instead. They do not like the attention not being on them. They do not like not being the ones receiving attention. They do not like to own any accountability for any harm from callous attitudes as they demonstrate. Their largest problem with me is that they are not able to prevent me from speaking up, they are not able to distract me from speaking up, they are not able to prove me wrong. I hold the attention firmly on the cause and do not allow it to be derailed. So, I am “insensitive to the rights of men”.
It is ugly, but it is as innocent as a child’s tantrum, for the simple reason that they have not reached a point in their learning where they are able to appreciate people. If I hated them, I would be doing an injustice, because ignorance may be irritating, but it is not a crime, and it is never deliberate. No one aspires to be insensitive.
Sadly, such men are also the vast majority. Which is also the problem with creating a safer society with women. Half the population sees no need for making any such effort. Crime statistics mean nothing to them, and pointing those statistics out irritates them, because they don’t think it should take up too much attention.
Others claim to support women, but there is this patronizing cage. They support women “to a certain extent”. They allow women some rights, as long as they don’t do it “too much”. So, these people look like support, but they are not, and that hurts more, because till that point, there is this illusion of that person actually caring.
And, in the midst of this mediocre, unenlightened sea of humanity, are some men who genuinely see women as people. They don’t believe they have any rights to impose limits on another. They see injustices and raise their voice. They recognize that women often get suppressed and have no problem in accepting and supporting this as something that needs fixed on an urgent basis. These are men the world needs more of.
Not so surprisingly, these are also the men who are sensitive to the rights of men. Not the TV torture types, but real harm being done to men, that chauvinists don’t notice just like they don’t notice harm to women, because they are simply not tuned in to others. They grudge women more, because women suffer injustice more. It isn’t like they are capable of understanding men either. A person sensitive to another has no insecurity with a cause taking up all the space it needs to.
It is the sign of a mature person. A confident person, who is not diminished by others being nurtured.
A friend had married last year. We hated the guy and had refused to attend the wedding. Her parents had reluctantly agreed. The man was a peacock. He was so full of his own importance that he simply didn’t care about anyone else and as this led to irresponsibility and conflicts. A year after their marriage, she was back at her parents place with a black eye. Two days after she left, the boy came to her father’s house to “convince her to not destroy her life and come home”. Her father refused to let him in the house, told him to go away and conduct any further communications through a divorce lawyer and threatened to call the cops if he didn’t leave at once.
This takes a man. A man who sees his daughter as a human being being wronged and doesn’t consider idle chatter of a spiteful world enough reason to make her suffer more. Sure, she got a lecture about her irresponsible actions and refusal to listen to any of us, but that did not mean that she would have to pay for it by suffering.
There are men who think for themselves, and expect that a woman has as much right to live and be happy as a man. Men who do not force women to comply to imposed rules. They are also free in a sense most men are not able to understand. They are free from having to always be in the right and proving superior that victimizes many men.
A tantrum throwing man who has a problem with another person getting too much attention is juvenile. It is the opposite of sexy like a headache is the opposite of aroused. There is no sense of ease, of freedom, of enough relaxation for attraction to bloom. It is a jumpy game of power, where everything is seen through a rigid, defensive lens of approval and disapproval.
On the other hand, a man who enjoys seeing a woman being herself, who is able to see a difference as a healthy thing and doesn’t make a monument out of winning every tiny issue is sexy because there is a sense of being real. A trust in being able to understand the relationship by things making sense, rather than comply out of some vague sense of hierarchy and how a relationship should be.
In my eyes, a man worthy of respect is one I can safely disagree with without suffering for it. I don’t have to dumb myself down and pretend stupid or risk hurting their ego. These men are attractive, and I am not speaking of “sexual attraction” here. I am speaking of charismatic, magnetic personalities you can be yourself with. Men rooted firmly in their values rather than rules. Like being with a superstar as an equal. Very fun. No matter what the age.
These are also the men who happen to say NO to the rubbish hangovers of an oppressive past. These are the men who are truly free to evolve.