“One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.”Simone de Beauvoir
From my perspective, a man is never born a feminist but instead becomes one. Coming from a highly orthodox Muslim family, I was also entrapped in the bastion of male chauvinism in my adolescence. The patriarchal structure moulded me into a man with high privileges by asserting certain advantages that women or LGBTQ could not enjoy. At first, I was unaware of the benefits of being a man, but later I realized that privileges exist in every nook and corner of my life. Now, as a grown-up and a feminist, I am highly capable of differentiating the notion of privileges a man and woman gain from society. I am privileged because of my gender. Therefore, I am not proud of those privileges.
As a man, I would like to share my thoughts and viewpoint from my personal experiences on the male privileges that are granted to every man in society.
Man-The Sole Breadwinner
For ages, patriarchy has propagated a gender order that imposes certain obligations on both women and men. But none can equate the impacts of those obligations enforced on the two genders. We cannot deny that there is a systematic suppression of women through various gender stereotypical roles, expectations, and norms. In the same instance, patriarchy also imposes a set of obligations and duties on men. But the intensity of suppression women face is beyond comparison with men’s.
From a very young age, I used to see the phenomenon of gulf migration. This trend is still continuing. A larger proportion of men in their 20s are migrating to the Middle East nations for the welfare of their families. They give up their education and life. They became the family’s sole breadwinners. For some men, this is a choice, but for others, this is a liability. Who made men the sole breadwinner of a family? Undoubtedly, it is nothing but the traditional norms of patriarchy. Silently this structure forced the men to take this burden on their shoulders.
A Man’s Privileges Starts From the Moment He Is Born
I was born in a very religiously orthodox and traditional family. My family never considered me a burden. I received a good education which most female children did not get. From a very young age, I used to see that after completing their school education, most female students get married and become mothers. The right to education is a fundamental right. But these women were denied this right only because they were born as women. I am also exempted from learning housework because it will spoil my focus on my career. And my privileges as a male continues.
Having Access to Public Space Without Any Limitation
Our society has fostered a culture that defines the outdoor space for men and the household for women. Without any hindrance, every man, including me, can venture out anywhere at any time of the day. It is a core privilege a man owns because of his gender.
However, the women in every family, including mine, do not have access to the public space during the so-called “ungodly hours”. I had a personal experience in this regard. Some of my friends, including a girl, went to a tea shop at 1’o clock at night. The men around that place looked at the girl like an alien.
That male gaze at night can be seen everywhere in Kerala, a state which we boast as the most literate state in India. Why is it so? When will this abuse against them stop? Who is the main propagator of these dumb ideas that women must be in their houses at night? The only way to avoid these is to end this patriarchal structure of society where women are seen as second-class citizens.
Role Of Family and Religion in Perpetrating the Ideas of Patriarchy
The role of family and religion in strengthening patriarchy in society is all too obvious. Almost all families and religions propagate the idea of male dominance. The propagators always paint that women are physically, mentally, and sexually inferior to men. Moreover, they only consider only the male and female genders. LGBTQ communities are not even in their discourse.
All religious holy books advocate the domination of males above females. Such religious scriptures have a deep influence on families. All religions impose restrictions on women’s choices, sexuality, clothes, and lifestyle in many ways. Some examples are hijab, niqab, veils, sindoor, and mangalsutra, which are exclusively made for women to suppress their identity. Because of their gender, men are devoid of such suppressing tools.
Families also discriminate between males and females regarding education, choices they make, and so on. It is alarming how deeply the norms of patriarchy have seeped into the psyche of humans. We have to change these male-centered politics of living; we want everyone to be considered equal.
Understanding and Coming Out of Those Privileges
My views about feminism changed during my college days. Studying political science and also meeting eminent personalities changed my perspectives. We as citizens always talk about equality, but when it comes to their life, everyone becomes nothing but hypocrites. I don’t want to be like that. I know the privileges that I got because of my gender. But really, I don’t want to be privileged if this society does not consider the women and the LGBTQ communities as equal to men. We all are considered equal before the law, and we all want equal opportunities and rights to survive in this world.
Through this article, I only intend to spread awareness that all are equal in this world. Everyone should be treated equally without discrimination by providing them equal rights, opportunities and respect regardless of their gender.
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About the Author
Apart from being a talented football player and a hodophile, Unais is also an active social worker in Kerala. He is pursuing his master’s degree from Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, in International Relations and Politics. From his political science background, he has a keen interest in areas like Migration and Refugee Studies, Gender Studies and World Politics.