Her maternity leave ended today. Difficult as it already was to leave her baby behind for the first time in months, her husband made it seem easy. Wishing her the best, he decided to put his career on the backseat for a few years to spend time with their daughter. Just because she had to carry their daughter in her womb for nine months, doesn’t mean that she alone has to bear all the responsibilities.
This might be the norm of the distant future, but as of now individuality is not seen beyond the spectrum of gender. To see a man wearing a pink shirt or weeping at the movies, invites stares and mockery. Because a man has to be carrying the sheath of masculinity all the time; any act, idea, thought, wardrobe choice or colour associated with femininity is aggressively dismissed. However, women have been pursuing a gender neutral lifestyle since some time.
Gone are the days when pants were just a part of men’s wardrobe. We proudly stole jeans, shirts, pant suits and practically every fashion item that was restricted to the opposite gender. Not only does it feel comfortable and warm, it serves as a fashion statement.
And I say this as I think whether the oversized tee I am wearing will look good with shorts, my specs, a book and a coffee, making it the perfect Instagram post; #POTD (Post of the day). The whole point is how using items intended for men, doesn’t make us question our femininity. Pant suit amps up the confidence and makes us feel powerful. I can’t help but wonder if this too is a social construct that connects masculinity to power. Adopting masculinity in fashion choices is a step up, a choice that we don’t look away from.
But, if a man took a piece of women’s clothing or accessories, he would be mocked, his masculinity would be questioned and it would be considered a step down.
When I am on a date and I need to use the washroom, I hand my purse to my boyfriend, only to see him sulk and say, “Why do you have to do this all the time? Why can’t you carry the purse to the bathroom?” When I come out of the washroom, I see him pacing up and down as a feeble attempt to hide himself from this shame.
The other time, I saw blackheads on his nose and asked him to get a clean-up or at least follow a decent grooming routine; this was laughed at. Oh the hard times I undergo trying to explain that sunblock is a must have in daily routine, men or women.
Perhaps, UV rays don’t affect men as they affect us.
Why is anything considered remotely feminine enough to ward off men?
For example take into account anything related to menstruation or female contraceptives; there are men who are grossed out by tampons and period stains. Because going on a shopping spree, getting your hair done, getting a shave or buying a pack of sanitary napkins emasculates a man. This is just a simple manifestation of toxic masculinity. Even worse, we validate such behaviour as manly, giving them a free pass to be sexist.
It’s time we stop being hypocritical in matters of equality. Feminine is not wrong, but associating an act or product to a gender is wrong as it hinders men and women to be themselves without thinking of the labels of masculinity and femininity. Men, it is okay to soak your feet in a tub of warm water or go shopping, don’t be ashamed of it. And carrying a lady’s handbag will do no harm to your masculinity! Promise.