New model of Masculinity: a reflexive discourse to fight sexual harassment
At the level of values, human progress can be seen as an expanding awareness of the subtler and more institutionalized forms of inequity and the suffering born of it.” (Nandy, A. (1988). Woman versus womanliness in India. In R. Ghadialiy, Woman in Indian Society )p. 69).). The Indian society offers good insight into the ‘institutionalized forms of inequilty’ – why is it desired and sustained. Most Indians are brought up with the mindset that women are inferior to men. If not explicitly said, it is definitely indicated through various social, cultural and religious practices which have been inbred in the Indian psyche for thousands of years. Men are ambivalent in their view towards womanhood – it swings from awe to contempt and from respect to scorn. For them, women play powerful roles, the most important being that of a nurturing mother and the dutiful wife. It is understood that a woman in control of her sexuality is a dangerous one. She can choose to nurture and flourish or to destroy. Thus, the men saw the need to curb that power and keep it under control by inculcating in women a certain sense of self doubt and dependency. The superiority complex (or it could really be the fear or feminine power) that men harbor in our patriarchal society manifests itself various forms, the most prominent being violence against women. It is often used as a tool for reestablishing the equation of domination-subjugation between the two sexes. Almost every woman, at some point in her life, has been subjected to sexual harassment, if not outright violence, by men (known or unknown). Most women learn to live with it. There are some who learn to fight the advances of leering men while some quietly endure for fear of worse situations. However, there are some women who are driven to take desperate measures like withdrawal from education and even, suicide to escape form it. One most question, at a time when we are quickly picking up on western lifestyles and ideas of modernity, why is sexual harassment still treated with such callousness? Why is it trivialized by using a term like ‘even-teasing’? moreover, this act, which already demeans and violates a woman’s sense of personal space, is often believed to be solved by strengthening control over the victim’s whereabouts, dressing and lifestyles. After looking at various discourses which try to come to a conclusion regarding this issue, one can comment that in most cases, the focus is invariably turned to the victim. Apart from that, a lot of finger-pointing at patriarchy, sudden flourish in women’s freedom and extent of criminal intent of the act is involved. Each of the arguments might (or might not) resolve the problem one case at a time but the existence of sexual harassment as a national phenomenon is bypassed. The understanding that each isolated case of sexual harassment has deeper implications regarding the Indian male psyche and our society as a whole, needs to be propagated. Through this project, one can come across the point of view of men regarding why sexual harassment exists. They are encouraged to question and reflect upon themselves about various situations and patriarchal norms which are used as excuses to harass women. Finally, through public service advertising on internet, the project tries to highlight the voice of those men who have a liberal idea about women’s role in the society and how they should be treated. This new model of masculinity is not widespread but is distinctive in its logic and indications that equality for women does not necessarily mean lesser rights for men; that sexual harassment, in particular, is a misuse of biological and social privileges accorded to men in the Indian Society.