Imagine a picturesque scenario. The world is fun, the society is cultured and democracy is yet to fail itself. In the midst of this utopia are human beings. Generally, they are either a man or a woman, although deviances in gender traits have been known to exist, and are often accepted. While we can talk about all of them, maybe later. Today, we shall discuss what it means to be a man.
Ever since Atlas decided to bear the burden of the entire world on his strong shoulders and flirted with civilization the concept of an ideal man, have men been thrust into a social limelight with myriad responsibilities, ranging from being the provider, the protector, to being the strong Savior when need be. Common mediums have since shown men to be leaders and strong willed warriors who are the forces of nature.
Prometheus stole fire, Hercules completed 12 spectacular labours, Hannibal crossed the Alps, Jesus walked on water, Stalin made the Gulags, Che freed Cuba, Mandela ended apartheid……the list of examples which keep ever increasing to support this are never at their ends.
Of course, this often leads to a discussion about female oppression and patriarchy, and valid though those may be, they are a discussion for another day. Since a man decides to take his first breath, society thrusts upon him the very symbolism of being a contextual messiah, a sort of saviour for every trouble anyone close to being blood ever faced in life, with other men often involved in this context. Social pressure and peer pressure soon form roadblocks. Artistic men are sexually deviant, Weak men are to be shunned or shunted, Tears are for women (sexist) and being a symbolism of everything wrong, is everything acceptable and right. On a normal day to day basis, people may even take it. I do not think I want to though.
We men do not have it all good. A life of this supposed wonders often brings with it such absolute, shameless social critique to impose on our lives a plethora of baggage eventually denying us freedom and enslaving us in years of servitude. While a patriarchal society does allow men more freedom, it also comes with these side effects, leading to years of mental illness, depression, grief and an endless loop of what-ifs. Yet society tells us, being a man and being depressed cannot be in the same vein. Let me tell you a little story then. Utopia is happiness, not valour, not strength, but happiness.
Stop paying heed to society, stop shelving the mental health issues, stop breaking back trying to change who you are just to fit a figment of a misconstrued definition. Stop trying so hard to be a man, start trying to be a happier human.
By Soumyajyoti Bhattacharya