“Being a man” is quite a universal notion that emphasizes on certain ‘masculine’ traits. Here is an interesting discussion between British Asian men who try to understand the idea of Asian masculinity with which they have grown up.
It is not uncommon to see a man in South Asia being looked down on for not earning enough money. And this definition of enough money is a house, a car (a big one), a wife and a couple of kids for whom he should be able to provide for easily. It is his responsibility to see that everyone has enough to eat, a great place to live in, get the best education and have extra money for other expenses.
This stereotype, I am not sure is limited to South Asians, but definitely more evident in the South Asian community because it is overtly expressed. Most men are brought up to be providers and performers and there are very few who question it. But women too expect this off them and are quite happy taking the back seat in earning money. In fact, we might all know of someone who had a divorce because the husband earned less or became a stay-at-home husband.
In our parents’ generation, it was very common for working women to feel guilty about not giving enough time to the house and for working men it was quite common to not know their children’s age or the standard (grade) of their kids. They have managed to do a good job of transferring these notions to us and a lot of us follow suit. You might know of fathers who feel like failures and probably criticize themselves everyday because they couldn’t fit in to the standard of the ‘all-providing’ father, set for them by society.
The question is do we want equality, are we ready to deal with it at its depth? Then, women also need to be okay being the sole bread winners or they need to be fine with house-husbands. At the same time men need to know to do house-hold chores and be a house-husband, if that be their choice. But again, we are limiting ourselves to gender roles.
The video brings in Indian cinema’s portrayal of masculinity and nothing has changed there in several years. In fact, TV takes this conditioning several notches higher by supposedly showing independent women who are in search of husbands or love. We haven’t dealt with the idea of equality at home or in marriage in cinema and probably we won’t for a long time.
Real equality is looking at men and women as people with different choices. But at this point of time individual choice is really questionable because we don’t know how much of that is conditioning. I have rarely met men who are raised to be house-husbands or who grow up with dream of being a husband, unlike how women are brought up in South Asia. Till we tackle this at its core and keep questioning what we accept as ‘choice’, we are bound to be entangled in our own stereotypes.