A few months ago, after watching the movie Pink, my sister, in a moment of clarity, voiced her concern about raising her two and a half year old son.
"Everyone says that it's difficult to raise a daughter but I'm scared to raise my son," she said. "How do we raise a man to be a respectful and decent with women? How do we ensure that our boys don't grow up to be murderers and rapists? How do we teach him not to follow gender roles or adhere to gender stereotypes? How do we teach a man that it's okay to be emotive and sensitive? What is the formula? Because everything I teach him, patriarchy will unteach him."
My sister had many questions, questions we don't have answers to. To put it simply, hypermasculinity is ruining the men in our lives.
It bothers me to no end that my little nephew, if he hasn't already, will be expected to "act like a man" or "man up" in many situations. He will be told to hide his emotions and show no weakness, as doing this is "girly".
People around him will tell him that it is okay to call a girl a "slut" or a "bitch" if he's rejected by her or if she's independent or progressive. He will also learn how to make sexist jokes to make his "bros" laugh.
He may try to hide pieces of his personality that seem too feminine, and even think that homophobic comments like "faggot" or "gay" are funny enough to abuse those who seem less rigid, and more comfortable with their "effeminate" side.
Calling out hypermasculinity
A patriarchal system puts forth the male, and therefore the stereotypically masculine, as the ideal being. Hence, anything that relates to women as per gender roles, like housework, child-bearing and rearing, or simply being emotional and expressive, is considered unimportant and sub-par.
While feminism has tried to destroy the existence of gender roles for the sexes, patriarchy is a vicious cycle. It needs to be broken and this photo series is an attempt at just that.
Sakshi Choudhary, Jnana Prasanna Kumar Sarvasiddi, and Burzin Mehta of The Seesaw Project created the series #DontBeAMan to highlight that the language of patriarchy doesn't only harm women, but it destroys our men as well.