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Shreya Biswas
[Roll no: PGDJ14146]

Submitted to the Faculty of

Asian College of Journalism for the partial fulfilment of
Post Graduate Diploma course in Journalism

Mentor: Sree Kumar Menon

March, 2015

I owe a debt of thanks to my mentor, Mr. Sree Kumar Menon, who guided be me
since the beginning of this dissertation
To Kirthi Jayakumar, without whose assistance I could not have done my
My family for their support
And most importantly, to Asian College of Journalism for providing me with this
opportunity in the first place.



Feminism and Men: An Introduction


Men and the Advent of Feminism in India


Prevalent Social Dogmas and Their Impact on Men


The Gorge between Men and Feminism


Contemporary India: The Changing Face of Men



What Feminism means to people
The term "feminism", when used to identify once self, has a tendency of triggering
negative response in people. It is often misunderstood, ridiculed, over-estimated and most
commonly, confused with misandry. However, the concept of feminism is not debacle or/
and isolated from the civilized society that we live in.
In the words of the Feminist Theory, feminism is a theory that men and women
should be equal politically, economically and socially. [1]
Professor Anjali Hans, in her essay Feminism as a Literary Movement in India,
takes a step ahead and explain feminism as:

Feminism does not particularly talk of equality and rights of women but it is more
about compassion, respect and understanding from the male counterparts. [...] Womens
efforts to seek their independence and self-identity started a revolution all over the world
which was termed by analysts and critics as Feminism. [...] Feminism is a movement
which advocates granting the same political, social, and economic rights to women as
those enjoyed by men. [ 2]

What Feminism meant to Men

The role of men in the advent, acceptance and prevalence of feminism has been
quite dynamic since the very beginning. There have been men who understood and ardently
supported the movement, and there also have been a large number of them who opposed
to the idea of feminism with bigotries and traditionalism. Around a century back, Benjamin

Feminist Theory: Examining Branches of Feminism

Anjali Hans; Feminism as a Literary Movement in India (IRJABS)

V. Hubbard, in his book, Socialism, Feminism, and Suffragism: the Terrible Triplets, gave
his views of feminism in this way:
Feminism is exhibited by a spirit of unrest among a comparatively small number of
dissatisfied women. They preach the gospel of unholy discontent. They are born agitators,
and "dearly love a fight." They prefer war to peace; turmoil to tranquillity; contention to
concord; pride to humility; sophistry to truth; agnosticism to belief, and prefer to assert their
own wills, "live their own lives" as against the precepts of all conventional morality, being
moral anarchists. [3]

In the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Rainer Knopff and F. L. Morton
had compared the second wave of feminism (early 196os) with Marxism.

Contemporary (or second wave) feminism has aptly been described as "Marxism
without economics," since feminists replace class with gender as the key social
construct. Of course, what society constructs can be deconstructed. This is the feminist
project: to abolish gender difference by transforming its institutional source the
patriarchal family. [...] The problem is not just sexism but heterosexism, and the solution
is to dismantle not just the patriarchal family but the heterosexual family as such. [4]

However, there have been male feminists and pro-feminist men who, time and
again, have identified with the crisis of women in patriarchal societies and the need of
feminism for the fight for womens rights. One of the most profound speakers of this
category was socialist politician, August Bebel, who in his book, Women and Socialism
understands and addresses such issues:

Benjamin V. Hubbard; Socialism, feminism, and suffragism the terrible triplets

F.L. Morton & Rainer Knopff; The Charter Revolution & The Court Party (p. 75)

Regardless of the question whether woman is oppressed as a proletarian, we must

recognize that in this world of private property she is oppressed as a sex being. On all sides
she is hemmed in by restrictions and obstacles unknown to the man. Many things a man
may do she is prohibited from doing [...]. She suffers both socially and as a sex being. It is
hard to say in which respect she suffers more, and therefore it only seems natural that
many women wish they had been born men instead of having been born women. [5]

Some pro-feminist men have recognized the perpetrating influence of the maledominated mindset that results to crisis of gender-based bigotry in the society. Michael
Flood and Bob Pease talks about the same in their essay, Undoing Mens Privilege:
Our focus on mens privilege is buttressed by a broader recognition of the
need to address mens roles in gender relations. At the analytical level a full
understanding of the processes and practices of gender in public sector institutions
depends on scholarly investigation of men and masculinities. This is because gender
inequality is in part a problem of men of mens practices and relations. [6]

Over time, the definition, objectives and boundaries of feminism have changed.
What used to be a struggle for the betterment of womens position in the male dominated
society has gradually evolved into a crusade for the rights of equality of various divisions of
groups. Feminism is, now, more of an umbrella term definition that speaks for the equal
rights of women as well as transgender, homosexuals, bisexuals, queer, and also men,
disregard to what caste, race, and creed they belong to.

August Bebel; Woman and Socialism

Michael Flood and Bob Pease; Undoing Mens Privilege and Advancing Gender Equality in Public

Sector Institutions


The Colonial Initiative
The advent of feminism in India took place roughly in the pre-Independence era
(1920s), with the struggle to abolish rituals like Sati, child marriage, disfiguring of widows,
and to promote womens education, widow remarriage, their rights to property etc. These
movements were initiated and avidly supported by men (both Indian and British) and later
on, joined by women. This is a phenomenon that Western countries did not witness so
vividly, where feminist movements were mostly led by women.
In 1817, in his writing History of India, James Mill stated that the condition of
women in a society shows the status of that society in civilization, resulting to women
being ushered into the course of modernization in India. All of a sudden, women were now a
vital part of the discourse of civilization. Over the century, this perception became a
benchmark for the ruling British empire in colonized India. [9] [10]

For colonial rulers, the atrocities practiced against Indian women became a
confirmation of the rulers modernity and the moral ground on which their civilizing
mission could be launched. As outsiders they could claim the role of protector of Indian
women, interceding on their behalf against brutal patriarchal practices. [7] And there
were spectacular barbarities in the everyday customs of India []. Colonial officialdom
and missionary rhetoric singled out such practices to characterize the status of Indian
women as especially low and Indian men as exceptionally violent. [8]

Mrinalini Sinha; Colonial Masculinity: The manly Englishman and the effeminate Bengali in

the late nineteenth century


Samita Sen; Toward a Feminist Politics? The Indian Womens Movement in Historical Perspective

Samita Sen; Toward a Feminist Politics? The Indian Womens Movement in Historical Perspective


Dipesh Chakrabarty; The Difference-Deferral of a Colonial Modernity: Public Debates on Domesticity

in British India David Arnold and David Hardiman, Subaltern Studies VIII

The Indian Initiative

The initiative taken by the British inspired many Indian men to step forward and
take a stand for women in their society. These men, mostly (though not entirely) belonging
from the upper caste, were educated intellectuals who lived in the very society where such
evil practices were taking place. Hence, their understanding of the situation was more
accurate and selfless.

This was the mirror in which Indian men were invited to see themselves when
colonial education began. The new urban elite, drawn mostly from the upper castes,
imbibed the enlightenment philosophy of individualism and humanism. They perceived
barbaric traditional practices against women as a civilizational lapse and as recognizable
social evils. [11] Thus, emerged the social reform movement; an attempt on the part of the
new elite to redress, sometimes with and sometimes without British help, the worst
features of the old patriarchal order.
However, one point that needs to be noticed here is that during this time, the
movement addressing womens issues was identified as a social reform and not as
feminism by name. But, the agenda of the struggle (to relieve women and other
suppressed social groups from discrimination) was very much parallel to the concept of
Male Intellectuals who participated in Womens Social Reform Movement:Balaram Das
India saw a glimpse of male-feminist initiative prior to colonization in the fifteenth
century Oriya poet, Balaram Dass writing, the Laxmi Purana. In this purana, when Lord
Vishnu banishes Goddess Laxmi from the Jagannath Temple for visiting a lower caste
woman, Goddess Laxmi retorts her husband with a curse. This story stood as a very strong


Ratnabali Chatterjee; The Queens Daughters: Prostitutes as an Outcast Group in Colonial India

voice against the ill practices of Untouchability, and also as an example of a woman
standing up to male hegemony.
Mahatma Jyotirao Govindrao Phule
Mahatma Phule, inspired by Thomas Paine books Rights and himself belonging
to a lower caste, believed in cause of equal rights women and lower caste in the society. He
actively strived for the betterment of widows, untouchables etc. He also had educated his
wife, Savitri Devi, who later on became a teacher. Mahatma Phule also established Indias
first school for girls in 1848. [12]
Raja Ram Mohan Roy
Deeply moved by the death of his sister-in-law, whom he had witnessed being
burned alive at her husbands pyre, Raja Ram Mohan Roy took to the cause of abolishing
the practice of Sati (burning/burying alive of the widow with her husband). He battled many
other social evils practiced against women, such as child marriage, polygamy, depriving
women of property inheritance etc. through his social reform movement, Bramho Sabha. [13]
Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar
Widely known as Vidyasagar, Ishwar Chandra Bandopadhyay was the man who
had initiated the struggle of establishing the Widow Remarriage Act (1956), redeeming
many young girls and women from the atrocities of widowhood prevalent during those times.
He strongly opposed the practices of polygamy, child marriage etc. and believed that the


Sharanabasappa. B. Ragi & Jyoti. S. Bamman; Mahatma Phule and Women's Emancipation

(International Referred Research Journal, June,2011)


Ramandeep Kaur; Raja Ram Mohan Roy A Social reformer (

deprived status of women in the Indian society could only be rectified with education.
Hence, he ran many schools for girl children and women out his own money. [14]
Justice Mahadeo Govind Ranade
Justice Ranade established the Bharatiya Samajik Parishad, a movement that
fought for a number of social causes such as, the abolition of polygamy, acceptance of
inter-caste marriage, a raise in the marriageable age limit, education of women etc. [15]
Behramji Merwanji Malabari
A journalist by profession, Behramji Malabari wrote in favour of increasing the
minimum age limit for marriage for girls in India, in February 1889, which received positive
reaction for people. He fervently fought for the abolition of infant marriage and for the
acceptance of womens emancipation, and in favour of that cause he had stated:
If new India is to be blessed with a generation of free and enlightened sons, a nation to
manage its own affairs the Hindus of today might to see in their midst a race of free, enlightened
mothers. [16]

The list goes on to be a very long one, consisting of eminent names like
Mahatma Gandhi, Vishnu Shastri Pandit, Kashinath Trimbak Telang, Hamid Dalwai,
Dhondo Keshav Karve, Jaglal Choudhary, Rabindranath Tagore etc. While there have been
a vast number of women feminists and reformers involved too, these men contributed
generously to the cause of women upliftment, bringing about the dawn of feminism in India.


Ramandeep Kaur; Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar: A Great Reformer (


Maharashtra Navnirman Senas article on Justice Mahadeo Govind Ranade (


Marzban Jamshedji Giara; Behramji Merwanji Malabari (1853 1912) (


Patriarchy, in its simplest sense, means the absolute authority that the eldest
male member (mostly the father) has over his family. However, Patriarchy does not just
comprise of the fathers total rule over the women in the family, but also over the younger
males who are socially and economically inferior to him.

Patriarchy is a social and ideological system which considers men to be

superior to women, one in which men have more control over resources and decisionmaking. Patriarchy is historically constructed and its form, content and extent can be
different in different contexts, and at different times. [17]

The term patriarchy was used in various writings of the nineteenth century, in
which it generally referred to the social system where men were the family heads, the
descendants of their fathers (and the family name), the heads of the society such as priests,
community elders etc. The voices of the male authoritarian figures were most profound, and
norms and justice of the society were in their hands.
But in the contemporary time, the concept of patriarchy slightly differs from what it
used to mean earlier. From being a descriptive term, patriarchy evolved into becoming a
more analytical concept since the advent of feminist culture:


Kamla Bhasin; Exploring Masculinity

The transformation of patriarchy from a descriptive to an analytical category

happened in a specific global historical contextthe 1970sthat gave birth to a
rousing feminist political and intellectual culture in diverse global contexts. In the
course of time, this led to the constitution of Womens Studies as an intellectual
discipline and it is in this double location, in the field, where women agitated for their
rights and the university, where women demanded their experiences and points of view
be taken seriously that patriarchy emerged as a way of

both describing and

comprehending the world. [18]

Patriarchy, now, is perceived more as an unbalanced social system, in which

men are granted privileges and authority over women, than as a general norm.
However, as discussed earlier, patriarchy is not the authoritarian system that only
affects women. In direct practical and subtle psychological ways, it has been effecting men
for the worse too. For instance, younger men in the family (sons, younger brothers etc) who
may or may not be financially dependent are also under the authority of the male head of
the family.
The powerlessness of men from lower and underprivileged classes in a
patriarchal society also throws light on this argument. In Indian context, for instance, Dalit
men have no greater voice than women under the patriarchal head belonging to upper
class. These men are throttled with oppression and humiliation by the upper class, leading
them to feel stripped of their own masculinity. However, patriarchy, again, reclaims itself in
the lower class households when the subjugated Dalit man holds authority over his wife,
and when male children here are provided with better food and education as compared to
the girl children. [19]


V. Geetha; Theorising Feminism: Patriarchy


Masculinity, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, means possession of
the qualities traditionally associated with men. Meanwhile, in its thesaurus section, the
dictionary describes the following words as its synonyms: virility, vigour, strength,
muscularity, ruggedness, toughness etc.
In response to this, Kamla Bhasin points out in her book Exploring Masculinity,
that masculinity has been reduced to a category that is identified with certain particular
traits and qualities rather than with biology. She further defines the term as:
Masculinity, then, is a social definition given to boys and men by societies;
like gender, it is a social construct. Nature makes us male or female, it gives us our
biological definition, but it is our society which makes us masculine or feminine it
defines how boys/men should behave, dress, appear; what attitudes and qualities
they should have, how they should be treated etc. Thus, masculinity as a
characteristic is socio-cultural. [20]

In European countries like Sweden, questions were raised about the concept of
masculinity and its adverse effects as early as in the 1970s, as a response to the Womens
movement. As Kamla Bhasin states in her book, such debates are long overdue in South
While it is widely believed that masculinity helps men attain various forms of
privileges and power, time and again debates have been raised over how it also adversely
affects them as much as it does women. Their dominance and authority come with the roles
of being the bread winners and protectors, which is not provided to them as choices, but
as a socially-proclaimed mandate.


Kamla Bhasin; Exploring Masculinity

Unlike the imagery of established patriarchal power, most studies show

masculinity as being rather fragile, provisional, something to be won and then defended,
something under constant threat of loss... Manhood certainly does not appear to be selfreliant and autonomous. On the contrary, masculinity seems to depend chronically on
the estimation of others, to be highly vulnerable to attack by ridicule, shaming,
subordination, or dishonourable female action. [21]

Just like women are expected to perform in a certain way by a society, men are
also stamped with such expectations. Given to the roles of dominance and protection
doled out to them, men are subjected to an amount of pressure to perform as the superior
and stronger kind, or else be looked down upon as less of a man. As a result of this, from
a very young age boys develop a sense of having to be tougher, less sensitive, and less
expressive of emotions like grief and fear. In the long run, these develop into a mindset and
make men vulnerable to psychological and physical ailments triggered by social pressure.

The strain of playing the masculine role in modern civilisation show signs of
mounting to breaking point. Social stress diseases are killing proportionately far more
males now than they were at the beginning of the century [...] Whereas the major cause of
death in 1900 in the West used to be infectious diseases (pneumonia, influenza,
gastroenteritis, tuberculosis) heart disease is now the prime killer. [22]

Indian society, being a patriarchal one, encourages masculinity as a part of

bringing up sons and indulging husbands and fathers. It is not just the way a man behaves,
but also the way a woman is expected to treat them and behave around them. In India, it is
a widespread habit to desire sons. This often leads families to undergo numerous
pregnancies, call for religious practices, and even commit crimes like female feticides and


Sarah C. White; Men, Masculinity and the Politics of Development


Ann Oakley; Sex, Gender and Society

infanticides. Hence, when a son is born, he grows up being treated with special treatments
as compared to his sister. [23]
Masculinity also comes out in the way men often disregard shame, decency and
decorum. It is a common occurrence in India to see men urinate in the streets or fight
violently in public. It is another attribute of masculinity in India to carry a couldnt careless
attitude. [24]
In a patriarchal society, men are expected to be in control of women in their
households. This ideology, fuelled by masculinity in form of aggression and superiority,
gives men the mindset that it is okay to beat their wives in order to correct them. In fact,
according to a study done by the National Family Health Survey, 56 per cent of the women
surveyed were of the opinion that it is legitimate of their husbands to beat them for
infractions. [25]
In a research done in India by the International Centre for Research on Women
(ICRW), nearly 50 per cent of women surveyed admitted to have experienced physical and
psychological violence in their marriages. The survey also showed that women experienced
domestic violence disregard of their age, educational levels and the regions they came
from, and that nearly 58 per cent of women surveyed called the violence a normal part of
marriage. [26]
The rigid polarities that are maintained between men and women because of the
socially-accepted characteristics of masculinity and femininity not only harm individuals of
both the gender, but also their relationship and the harmony of their co-existence.


Kamla Bhasin; Exploring Masculinity


Kamla Bhasin; Exploring Masculinity


Second National Family Health Survey (2003)

Domestic Violence in India 3; ICRW report

The concepts of masculinity and femininity force men and women to overdevelop some of the capacities at the expense of others... Whether one believes, with
liberal feminism [...] or whether one believes with radical feminism [...], the fact remains
that both sexes have been prevented from the full and free development of their
productive capacities. Both sexes are fragmented distortions of human possibilities. Both
sexes are alienated from their humanity. [27]

Caste and Culture

With these gender-oriented divisions nailed on people in our society, the following
question that arises is that what factors compel men and women to fall into such
stereotypical characteristics. On a superficial level, it could be agreed that coercion and
peer-pressure (to be accepted in the society) play a passive role in it. However, the most
dominant aspect of the social system that grooms individuals into adapting gender roles is
caste and culture.

As far as patriarchal arrangements are concerned, it is culture we

encounter when attempt to delineate male and female roles and
responsibilities. Thus, we seldom see these roles as having to do with the
manner in which households or labour, kin or caste groups are structurally
organised. Rather, we explain them to ourselves in terms of commonsense,
trace the normative meanings we grant masculine and feminine characters to
faith and custom, and argue that this is how nature intended us to be. [28]

In the Indian society, culture is something that is very deeply ingrained in our
daily lives. It is a system that comprises of a set of beliefs and practices, often differing from
one region to another, stemming out from different factors like tradition, religion, caste,
region, authority etc.


Alison M. Jaggar; Feminist Politics and Human Nature

V. Geetha; Patriarchy (chap: Culture, Religion and Patriarchy)


Equality vs. Masculinity/ Patriarchy
According to a report by the International Center for Research on Women
(ICRW), the traditional gender-oriented roles expected of men and women in India have not
evolved to keep in sync with the countrys economic development and growing opportunities
for women. [29]
In another similar report by ICRW, International Men and Gender Equality Survey
(IMAGES), the preliminary researches showed the complex and at times contradictory
nature of many Indian mens attitudes about gender equality. While on one hand men
agreed with the idea that women should have equal opportunities, on the other, they felt that
men lose out when womens right are promoted. Also, 65 percent of the men surveyed
were of the belief that at times, women deserve to be beaten. [30]
In Gillian Gaynairs article, Gender Equality: Indian Mens Attitudes Complex, the
director of ICRWs Asia Regional Office and one of the authors of the report, Mr. Ravi
Verma stated that:
While this data represents only a small sample of the vast Indian
population, it provides a much needed look into mens attitudes and behaviours
around gender issues. Its imperative that we now gather this type of data on a
regular basis and from a representative sample across India to help us monitor how
men perceive efforts aimed at empowering women. [31]


Gillian Gaynair; Gender Equality: Indian Mens Attitudes Complex (International Center for Research

on Women news article)


Gillian Gaynair; Gender Equality: Indian Mens Attitudes Complex


Gillian Gaynair; Gender Equality: Indian Mens Attitudes Complex

IMAGES (2011) was conducted in a number of countries around the world,

including India, Brazil, Chile, Croatia and others. When the questions of gender roles were
raised, nearly half of the men surveyed in other countries said that they took part in one or
more household chores. In India, however, only 16 per cent of the men surveyed admitted
to be a play role in domestic duties. [32]
Furthermore, IMAGES result showed that out of the one-fourth of the total
number of Indian men surveyed, who admitted to have indulged in transactional sex, nearly
half the number had had paid sex with a minor at least once. Amongst this group of men, 34
per cent felt that a person they had involved in transactional sex with was a victim of forced
prostitution. At the same time, around 65 to 91 per cent of the men surveyed in India were
of the belief that indulging in prostitution is a womans choice. [33]
Traditionalism vs. Modernity/ Westernization
Very recently, we witnessed a wave of rage peal through the global social media
platforms as a response to the comments made by the December 16 rape convict, Mukesh
Singh, in the documentary, Indias Daughter. In his interview, Singh stated his beliefs that
women are more responsible for rape than men. As reasons, he added that women are
supposed to be limited to household duties, that they should not be roaming in discos and
bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes. According to him, if women are
not good, then men have a right to rape them as a lesson. [34]
As infuriating and hurtful as these comments might be, a very crucial, underlining
fact has to be noticed here: the mindset of this rapist is not something that he developed
overnight. Likewise, he is not the only person in India, or even in the world, who thinks this
way about rape and women.

Gillian Gaynair; Gender Equality: Indian Mens Attitudes Complex


Gillian Gaynair; Gender Equality: Indian Mens Attitudes Complex


Excerpts of Mukesh Singhs interview from the BBC documentary, Indias Daughter

India, on one hand, is evolving rapidly with the growing advancements in the
spheres of technical and urban lifestyles. On the other hand, a vast portion of its population
is still very deeply rooted to its traditions and age old belief system. Hence, the overlapping
generations at the present time and the jumbled population of urban and rural people are
stuck in the doldrums of Traditionalism versus Westernization.
The rape convicts comments in the interview throws light on the fact that while a
part of the Indian population is getting a modern, progressive upbringing, even ultra
Westernized at times, there is another section of the society were the archaic beliefs still
prevail that women should be limited to household duties. This contradictory mindset of the
two divisions of people is continuously clashing in contemporary India, and as a result, most
acutely, is affecting the freedom and safety of women.
Driving this problem (rape) is a widespread view among many tradition-minded Indians that
women must adhere to certain conservative social norms, and that rapes are the fault of "bad"
women who violate those norms.

At the same time, culturally modernizing forces are leading more Indian women to behave in
ways that traditionalist society deems transgressive dating, delaying marriage, pursuing careers
thus making them "deserving" of rape. [35]

Women are as much involved in this age old traditional code of belief as men are.
However, this conflict between modern and regressive traditionalist mindset is disturbing the
way patriarchy works, as modernization is providing women with a length of freedom that
traditionalism is not used to. Hence, the traditionalist-minded men, who are used to or have
been brought up with the outlook that women are supposed behave in a certain way, often
fail to come to terms with the way modern or westernized women carry themselves. This, in
turn, distresses their masculinity. Hence, as a result of this conflicting mindsets surviving
simultaneously, women become the target of a vast number of gender-oriented violence.


Amanda Taub; She should just be silent: the real roots of Indias rape culture (Vox)

Misandry vs. Feminism

In the recent times, misogyny is a widely acknowledged term. As it literally means
hatred for women, the concept of misogyny is taken/ believed to be the arch nemesis of
feminism. However, there is more than one notion at war with feminism.
Feminism is often misunderstood, by its followers, critics and others, to be a close
in meaning with misandry. Fairly the inverse of misogyny, the term misandry stands for
hatred for men. As discussed earlier in the introduction, feminism, on the other hand, is a
theory that pitches for equality between men and women. Hence, leading with idea of
equality, the notion of hating men or boys does not fit into the core definition of feminism.
But, nonetheless, this belief has found a very deep holding in the minds of many people,
especially men. [36]
One factor that has fueled this sentiment among people in India is the instating of
the new rape law after the December 16 rape case in Delhi, according to which:

Bowing to pressure from women (sic) activists, the government has decided to
restore the term rape in criminal law that states only men can be booked for committing the
offence against women. [37]

This stance of gender-bias law-making by the government garnered negative

reaction towards feminism instead:
The Indian law was designed by feminists, deliberately excluding all male
victims in order perpetuate the myth that women are the only victims in this world. [38]


Tara Hanneffy; Misandry and Feminism: A False Equivalence


Nagendar Sharma; Only men can be booked for rape (


David Cuspis; Indian government: men dont matter (A Voice of Men)

Sexual violence against women has been there since the beginning. But in recent
times, it has attracted a lot of media attention in India. As a result of that, there has been a
heightened, unsolicited male bashing and generalization of men in negative terms, often
misnaming this response as feministic. That, along with the laws providing punishments for
the sexual crimes against women only, has left a lot of men feeling cornered. This has
angered many Mens Right Activists (MRAs), who voiced their protest through movements
ike A Voice of Men. In return, individuals and some feminists retorted with equal rage.
Hence, while on one hand, the horrific episode of Nirbhaya rape brought men and women
together in solidarity for justice, on the other hand, it raged a battle between pseudofeminists/ misandrists and outraged men, who blamed it on feminism.
Ultimately, it is the lack of understanding of the concept of feminism by men, and
the malpractices of pseudo-feminists that creates this disparity between men and feminism
in India.


Male Feminism and Pro-feminist Men
According to a handbook of the conference Loyal Interlopers? Men Doing
Feminism in India, which was organized by Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata
on December 16 to 14, 2014, the four decades of the contemporary womens movement (in
India) has not seen a sustained involvement of men in activism. However, in the recent
years, despite the negative current of violence against women spreading through the
country, India has seen a rising number of men coming forward and rooting for feminist
beliefs. As literary individuals taking their stances through writing, or as young activists
hitting the road for rallies, Indian men have repeatedly broken the prejudiced stereotype of
being the perpetrators and fought for womens issues. [39]
During this conference, an Associate Professor at the Department of English in
the University of Kalyani of West Bengal, Niladri R. Chatterjee, shared a rather unique
experience of his, when he was asked to suggest Optional Papers.

Since patriarchy loves a good binary, since gender is unproblematically associated with
women, since the word gender has, for the last few decades, been a term completely
acceptable to patriarchy, I decided to offer a course and call it New Gender Studies. My
suggestion was treated as perfectly safe, because it was tacitly understood that new would
not really be new. It was assumed that I would be doing a reassuring rehash of a simplified
men bad/women sad feminism in my classes. Only one colleague smelled a post-structuralist
rat and warned me that none of the students would sign up for it. When in July 2009, a week
after39the historic Delhi High Court verdict reading down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, I
Loyal Interlopers? Men Doing Feminism in India (16-17 December 2014) [An event concept note]

walked into my first NGS class, it did not look like an Optional Paper class, but a Compulsory
one: 4064Loyal
had signed
up! [40Feminism
Men Doing
in India (16-17 December 2014) [An event concept note]

As mentioned in the introduction segment of this essay, feminism, as a belief system,

mostly attracts negative response in a patriarchal society. A woman who identifies herself
as a feminist is met with presumptions which have less to do with feminism and more to do
with incorrigible hatred for men. For men who come out as feminists, the dilemma goes to
new level. In a society that identifies individuals based on their pre-defined gender roles,
when menespecially heterosexual menchoose to recognize themselves as feminists,
their masculinity is questioned. Although feminist women face similar struggles, for men in
a patriarchal culture, their masculinity is so intricately entwined with identity and duties, the
struggle stick by their beliefs becomes harder. [41]
Nonetheless, men choose to come forward and support and/ or participate in
feminism, with valid reasoning of their belief.
LGBTHIQ movement and Feminism
In the 1990s, India witnessed another wave of male participation in feminism, in
the form of LGBTHIQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexuals, Homosexuals, Intersex, Queer) movement
led by nonheterosexual and nongender normative men. Feminism in India, now, was
evolving in its meaning, changing from being a social reform movement for women to a
crusade for equality for women as well as transgender, homosexuals, bisexuals etc. [42]
Gautam Bhan A Senior Consultant of the Indian Institute of Human Settlements,
stated his views, during the same conference, Loyal Interlopers? Men Doing Feminism in


Loyal Interlopers? Men Doing Feminism in India (16-17 December 2014) [An event concept note]


Loyal Interlopers? Men Doing Feminism in India (16-17 December 2014) [An event concept note]

Drawing upon a personal history of involvement in both womens and queer

movements in Delhi, I argue against the privileging of a difference in sex (as opposed
to caste, religion or class, for example) as a diving line between what is and is not
feminism. I argue instead that feminism must indeed account for difference in
identity but it must do so inter-sectionally. It must not be reduced to a narrow
reading of identity politics that binds the possibilities of more dynamic, interconnected and inter-sectional feminist politics.

After the reinstating of Section 377, which criminalizes homosexuality under the
India Penal Code, the fight for equality of LGBTHIQ groups in India have become harder.
However, despite movement objectives being different from that of the womens rights, it is
still counted as a part of feminist struggle, because their ultimate motive is the same: equal
rights in the society.

Gender-bias discrimination did not exist in our world since the beginning of time.
It came into being gradually, as humankind tastes the fruit of its power, weakness,
intelligence and pride. Likewise, the vice of this discrimination and the violence related to it
will not go away that easily either.
Over the ages, the staggering inequality between men and women has lessened
in comparison to what it used to be a century or more ago. Women, now, have access to
more freedom and equality than they did back in the nineteenth, eighteenth or seventeenth
century. In every arena of work, be it arts, science, economics etc. women are performing
as well as men.
However, the drastic reality of discrimination remains unchanged. Though lesser
as compared to what it was ages ago, gender-based biasness and violence against women
still prevails everywhere in there world, as well as in India. In other words, although we have
come a long way towards social, political and economical equality, there is still a long way to
This journey to equality cannot be successful and whole in its sense, unless men
participate and/or feminism. It was to be understood and accepted that feminism aims for
equality for all, not dictatorship for women; that it is cause not only for women, but for the
equality of transgender, bisexual, homosexual, queer, and also for me. Feminism is a
crusade for the betterment and equal rights of all, and will be incomplete without the active
collaboration of men.


Feminist Theory: Examining Branches of Feminism

Anjali Hans; Feminism as a Literary Movement in India (IRJABS)

Benjamin V. Hubbard; Socialism, feminism, and suffragism the terrible triplets

F.L. Morton & Rainer Knopff; The Charter Revolution & The Court Party

August Bebel; Woman and Socialism

Michael Flood and Bob Pease; Undoing Mens Privilege and Advancing Gender
Equality in Public Sector Institutions


Mrinalini Sinha; Colonial Masculinity: The manly Englishman and the effeminate
Bengali in the late nineteenth century

Samita Sen; Toward a Feminist Politics? The Indian Womens Movement in

Historical Perspective

Dipesh Chakrabarty; The Difference-Deferral of a Colonial Modernity: Public

Debates on Domesticity in British India David Arnold and David Hardiman, Subaltern
Studies VIII

Ratnabali Chatterjee; The Queens Daughters: Prostitutes as an Outcast Group in

Colonial India


V. Geetha; Theorizing Feminism: Patriarchy

Kamla Bhasin; Exploring Masculinity

Basic Concepts: Sex and Gender, Masculinity and Femininity, Patriarchy (unit 1.4)

Sarah C. White; Men, Masculinity and the Politics of Development

Ann Oakley; Sex, Gender and Society

Second National Family Health Survey (2003)

Domestic Violence in India 3; ICRW report

Alison M. Jaggar; Feminist Politics and Human Nature

Sharanabasappa. B. Ragi & Jyoti. S. Bamman; Mahatma Phule and Women's

Emancipation (International Referred Research Journal, June,2011)


















Maharashtra Navnirman Senas article on Justice Mahadeo Govind Ranade












Gillian Gaynair; Gender Equality: Indian Mens Attitudes Complex (International

Center for Research on Women news article)


Loyal Interlopers? Men Doing Feminism in India (16-17 December 2014) [An event
concept note]