Macho Kumar is my farmer buddy. Macho is an anachronism, he's outdated. His world hasn't changed in over 2000 years. He is terribly macho. I often invite him to my cafe so I can mentor him about real manliness. Sometimes it goes well, and sometimes we fight. He hasn't beaten up my head yet, so I'm guessing I'm winning. These are the chronicles of our awkward conversations. If you live in India you will see quite a bit of Macho in people you know. Macho Kumar is fictional but machismo isn't. Anyone around you could be a Macho Kumar. I'm a nameless Indian man without gender bias who respects women. I could be you.
Today our beautiful India is reeling under the burden of violence against women and rape. I have even stopped reading newspapers. There is nothing positive to read about this subject. That is why I started this series. I can't take it this hatred and violence anymore.
My teacher always said, "If you can't handle the darkness, light a lamp". I can't handle this darkness, my dear reader, so I lit a lamp with this series. I hope it throws some light in your direction too. If you like it, do share it on your social networks.
These conversations will certainly help you build a healthy and functional idea of what manliness really is. They can be easily adopted for plays or to make videos, if you need help with that, do get in touch with me. I hope one day, soon, that we can all be kind to each other and live happily in a world without violence and rape.
-Ashwin Mohan (Beast)
Part 1: Macho Kumar confronts the Gender Police
It was a bright sunny day but Macho Kumar came in like a dark cloud.
Macho Kumar: I've had it with my daughter.
Me: What happened?
Macho Kumar: She goes out wearing short clothes and then complains that people molest her. Why can't she just dress decently?
Me: Why do you think people molest her?
Macho Kumar: Because she wears short clothes, are you a stupid man?
Me: Would you molest a girl with short clothes?
Macho Kumar : Are you crazy? My wife would kill me.
Me: If she wouldn't kill you, or if you were unmarried, then would you be molesting girls?
Macho Kumar(dryly): Every man in the village does it.
Me: Maybe so but not every man does it, for example me, I don't molest girls. See?
Macho Kumar: If you don't, you're not a man.
Me: I can assure you I identify as a man, Macho bhai. Tell me something, do you lose anything by not molesting girls?
Macho Kumar: Women like it.
Me (alarmed): NO THEY DON'T! But answer me, what do you lose if you don't molest girls?
Macho Kumar: I never really thought about it.
Me: Think now.
Macho thought deeply scratching his beard with a fork. A very tense silence followed after which he almost looked vulnerable for a second.
Macho Kumar: I can't tell you.
Macho Kumar: You will make me feel like less of a man.
Me: That's something you imagine I will do. I don't think gender identity is a choice or can be taken away. No one needs to constantly prove their gender.
Macho Kumar: It's different when you're a man.
Me: I am a man. It's my gender identity. So it can't be gender identity that's bothering you. You must be afraid of being mauled by the gender police.
Macho Kumar: What's gender police?
Me: People who make gender role scripts and somehow link it up with your gender identity and ostracise you or punish you when you don't fall into their gender role script. An example of a gender script is: "To earn your manhood you must molest girls."
But manhood is something you identify with by default, your gender identity is not defined by any action. It just is. Have you known any man who identifies as a woman?
Macho Kumar(shouting): I don't know any HOMOS!
Me: The right word is transsexual. Transexuals don't identify with the gender they are genetically born with. And it's not a defect or a problem, it's very natural and more common than you think. Anyway, I brought that up because I want you to know gender is something independent of behavior, ok?
I was speaking energetically. Macho looked at me suspiciously from behind his tea cup, it was as if he was using his cup as a shield. He sure felt vulnerable so I tried to be more gentle.
Me: Want to know a double standard of the gender police? It's an example of why I don't respect them.
Macho (squeaking): What?
Me: They teach you that a real man fears nothing and then teach you that you have to fear the gender police. I figure that the only reason that you refused to answer my question, "What do you lose if you don't molest girls?", is that you fear the gender police and admitting that fear will make you feel less like a man. However, I don't judge you for this. I just want you to realise that even though it's not easy to change, it's worth it.
Macho: Only a real man can change?
Me: Dude, there are only two conditions to qualify as a real man. 1. You must be a living human. 2. You must identify as male. That's it. It's a matter of identity not behaviour.
I was suddenly at the fag end of my compassion. Macho sensed the snap in my voice.
Macho Kumar: Ok, ok got it.
Macho: But why did you say it was hard to change?
Me: Ah it appears I haven't told you the tale of the monkeys.
I smiled. This was a story I never tire of telling...
Continued in part 2. Macho Monkey Tale.
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