Be a man! Suck it up! Oh come on, men don’t cry! Mard ko dard nahi hota! Men have heard these lines way more than they could have imagined in their lives. But did you ever realize men break down too? It would be wrong to say that men don’t bear the brunt of toxic norms and standards that the society sets for them. They face immense pressure in their daily routine and yet are not allowed to cower under the burden of societal expectations no matter how unrealistic they are.
If one thinks men don’t need a breather, it’s because we tend to ignore the stigmas around their mental health where men are continuously supposed to stay strong in every situation. We as a society need to stand up against the rigid stereotypes and clichés attached to men and the perceptions that breed them. As the world celebrates International Men’s Day today, let’s try to understand what pressures they go through and yet they stand iron willed in the way of every adversity of life.
Constant pressure of providing for the family:
Since a very young age, they are taught that they will grow up to look after their families. The unbearable burden of supporting their families so early in life certainly incapacitates their functional abilities at some point in life. Men are duty bound to provide the basic necessities of life for their wives and children, including other family members. They are nagged and shame if they do not live up to their expectations. Even if they get miserable to a point that they want to quit, they cant because they have to provide for their families.
Men too struggle with mental health:
Yes, men go through depression. Yes, men do get assaulted and yes, men do struggle throughout the course of their lives and yet more often than not, they do not speak about it. They swallow their feelings. Why? Because they are told to man up! They are instructed to be a man when they are going through a rough or traumatic patch in life. The burden of toxic masculinity does not allow them to break down because speaking about their mental state or inner turmoil is often termed as sissy and ridiculed in our society. Hence, they bottle up and reel under severe mental pressure from home and the outside.
Experience toxic notions on physicality:
“You look sissy without a beard.” “Tum larkiyon ki tarah naazuk kyun ho?” The stereotypes and unrealistic expectations of looking a certain way in the society is another psychological pressure that men face every day. The stress to look manly enough weighs heavily on them which is in fact the product of unrealistic standards depicted through media and cultural norms. Men have to keep up with the society’s definition of an ideal man or else they are left to feel that they will lose their respect in everyone’s eyes.
The pressure of gender roles:
Men are human beings too and are capable of fostering all kinds of emotions as well. And as much as grotesque ways of sexism damage women, they are equally harmful for men. There is a huge misconception that men are exempted from gender roles. Actually, they are not as they experience their share of hardships along the way. The identity of appropriate gender roles is so deeply socially constructed that men try to fix in the masculinity box no matter how.
Harboring fake ideals of sexuality:
The idea of “fitting” in the society creates pressures earlier on in their lives when they aren’t even mentally or biologically ready. For example, leading their educational and social life in the assumption that they have higher sexual needs and libidos tarnishes their sense of love and intimacy. The notion that someone good looking can bag any girl he wants is extremely judgmental too, as they are reduced to their mere appearances while they might not necessarily think that way. This leads to men going through inner turmoil. The society does not need beasts. Let them discover their sexuality at their own due time.