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The ‘macho’ men need their day too

Who would have thought that India would ever celebrate an International Men’s Day? A day just for men, about men. But thanks to Emami’s campaign for their deodorant brand, the ignorant have been enlightened. Yes, we have an International Men’s Day, and yes, as pretentious as it may sound, it is a necessary and important day.

International Men’s Day, which began in 1999, is celebrated on November 19. The objective behind the day is to highlight discrimination against men and boys, while at the same time laud their achievements and contributions to society.

What discriminations you may ask? India is such a patriarchal society that men usually have all the advantages. How can one even complain in such a scenario? Well, Emami is complaining and how!
The #ShowMenSomeLove campaign by the company in association with their newly launched He deodorants goes all out, literally begging for appreciation throughout the video.  While the jingle and the chorus have the potential to etch themselves into your mind, the examples used to point out ‘men’s issues’ are nothing but grating.

The beach boys music and costume works, but unfortunately for them it ends up being a parody of extremes rather than a highlight of men’s misfortunes. Surely men have more pressing issues in life than killing lizards, changing diapers in the middle of the night and cleaning their homes over the weekend.

The message of the video – appreciation of men – is lost because of its trivial approach. 

Men face many problems, ranging from being pigeonholed into the stereotypes of manhood – from being seen as primary bread-winners to being forced to be ‘macho’ and unemotional. 

Gary Barker, international director of the charity Promundo, according to a Reuters report, recently said that ‘the pressures of living up to the view of men as providers and protectors with no vulnerabilities were leading to violent behaviour and even suicide in men’.

‘From an early age, boys and men are expected to act like ‘real men’, encouraging attitudes and behaviours that are passed down from generation to generation and promote gender inequality’, Barker pointed out.

The fight for gender equality has been going on for decades, indeed, for so long that it has lost its true essence. The irony is clearly visible, but not many realise it — patriarchy has been seen, rightly, as a problem for women but today it is clear that both men and women are its victims. 

One might argue that women still face worst of the brunt in society, while men seem to sail through it all. What tends to be forgotten is the fact that society has always demanded strength from men and emotional expression from women. Hence, while one gender is allowed to cry and fight, the other is pressurised into denial and silence. 

Today what is more important is to question whether men’s issues are really a cause for concern, or just a figment of our imagination that dares defy the definitions of society. The Emami campaign does not seem to even wish to highlight the unspoken problems and the ignored forcing of conformity in men.

Either way, this might be a false start, but a start nonetheless. So here’s a ‘Thank You’ to men for being the people you are. Thank you for being awesome – not for lizards killed or diapers changed, or ceiling fans cleaned – but for being wonderful companions, humane and thoughtful.

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