I was hanging out with my friend Ashutosh and normally when you go out with a man, the payments department is something he takes care of. But this time he simply slid the bill towards me. To be honest, I was a bit surprised because I had never seen such a thing and wasn’t expecting it. A part of me said that if this guy is relying on me for economic support, then he certainly isn’t right for me. He simply said, “I know what you are thinking, but I could either pay the bill and present myself as a gentleman, or I could let you believe that a woman can boss around with bill too.”
Next thing I know, I was quite into him because the things he said, amazed me. I was born into a middle-class family and my younger brother was taught throughout his childhood, that he was not supposed to cry in front of anyone because strong men don’t do that. Also, it was a sin for him to enter the kitchen. Growing up in that environment made him more of a man and less of a human.
But Ashutosh was quite different. I have seen him go through gloomy nights where he would cry a river and get scared while visiting a haunted house. My uncle and my brother, they never ever expressed any signs of fear or grief. Also, I can recall many instances where they would disrespect women or where they imposed their ideas on us forcefully.
The first time I ever cooked for him resulted in a disaster and now he is in-charge of the kitchen. He mentioned how his father would cook for the family when his mom felt sick, and how elated he was when he cooked a whole meal by himself for the first time. I don’t know if this counts as breaking gender stereotypes, but if you talk about equality, I believe that if women can share the responsibility of supporting the family financially, then sharing household chores, is the least that men can do.
I always thought that pink was more of a girl’s colour but Ashutosh had no issues using my overrated pink umbrella. It would have easily embarrassed any other boy. My brother once untied the Rakhi which I made for him just because it was pink. Ashutosh simply said, “When I am using an umbrella, not getting wet concerns me more than the colour of the umbrella questioning my masculinity.”
I know this isn’t a very big example of people breaking gender stereotypes, but I feel that sometimes the little things & gestures leave a lasting impression. Masculinity is not about societal norms of defining a boy as a man only when he is physically strong, never sheds a tear, doesn’t feel pain, or if he is the sole breadwinner of the family. No, it is just a gender. A gender which can coexist with the other and respect it. A man breaking this stereotype by being caring, respectful, understanding, emotional and expressive, is the man of my dreams and is my man after all.