The campaign works on changing the perceived ‘masculine’ attitudes and behavior around the following five key themes:
Language (Gender-based abuses, traditional gender-biased proverbs and idioms, phrases like “Don’t be such a girl” and “man up”)
How and what people speak influences how they think and behave. Language has a direct impact on how people interpret the world around them and people along gender lines. Gender-based abuses and traditional gender-biased proverbs and idioms like “Don’t be such a girl” and “man up”, and the use of profanity with derogatory and sexual connotations for women are perfect examples of the same.
The use of gender-biased language can subconsciously influence the way people think about each other. Your thoughts are often reflections of your social climate. Most of the phrases you say and jokes you make are from other people or sources. In this way, language is not only recognizant of but also a reinforcement of the culture around you.
The more frequently gendered language occurs, the more likely it is that people develop bias which leads to prototypes for a particular role. This can affect a wide range of behaviors and lead to subtle biases.
Language is usually not seen as an important contributor to gender inequality, but research shows that language affects perceptions. Perceptions, in turn, affect behavior. Eliminating male-centric language and using gender-neutral language is the first step to moving forward and eradicating sexism in language and in turn a meaningful move toward gender equality.
Honor (A family’s honor becomes unfairly dependent on the woman, while a man is allowed to believe he can even make detrimental choices without consequences)
Honor, especially with regard to family, community, and society, for some reasons has mostly been a women-centric issue. In the Indian context (and south Asian), the family’s honor becomes unfairly dependent on women and girls. While a man is allowed the freedom to a very large extent to make choices without consequences, women and girls are forced to pay the price at the cost of losing their lives in extreme cases.
There are distinct forms of active and passive ‘honor’ which can be mapped onto the expectations of traditional masculine and feminine behavior, whereby men are supposed to be assertive and respond with violence to slights upon their own, or their families ‘honor’ and women are expected to maintain their own fragile honor through complete conformity to social norms of feminine behavior.
Acts of honor-based violence include female genital mutilation, acid attacks, forced marriage, as well as many other forms of physical, sexual, and psychological abuse. Honor killing is the most extreme form of Honor Based Violence where the supposed offender against family honor is killed to restore the ‘honor’ which has supposedly been lost through her behavior. India has some of the maximum registered cases of honor-based violence every year.
Freedom of choice (To make choices that don’t restrict individuals within gender stereotypes and roles)
Often one’s individual choices are restricted by gender stereotypes, norms, and role expectations. What can be a welcome choice by men, is the opposite for women and vice-versa. Freedom of choice also has a direct correlation with one’s social, psychological, political, and economic autonomy and well-being experienced by them.
It is usually comfortable and easier to exercise your rights and make life choices that conform to the social norms, gender being one of the most important ones. Many times different forms of violence are used to keep men and women intact within the gender framework. In India, there is a strong correlation between very low female employment and freedom of choice for women, which appear to be rooted in society’s concern for women’s “purity.”
In a multi-county survey, women were asked ‘how much freedom of choice and control you feel you have over the way your life turns out.’ The result captured the ratio of men’s to women’s responses: Women in developing countries reported having relatively less control over their lives than those in developed countries. There is particularly little freedom of choice for women in India, the Middle East, and North Africa.
Division of labour at home (Attacking the notion that household work is a woman’s work)
Do men and women do equal amounts of housework and childcare today? Although the domestic division of labour has become more equal over time, especially since the 1950s, the gendered division of domestic labour is still unequal.
The household work is usually divided among family members based on gender stereotypes and the work inside the home is usually considered a woman’s work. Such work in most cases goes unnoticed and unpaid. Women still do the lion’s share of the household work and the stats don’t change significantly even in cases of working women!
Parenting (To filter how parents engage with their children when it comes to gender issues and roles)
The fact that most of the values, beliefs and perceptions with regards to gender role, power equations and aspirations are set in the domestic space and homes is well established. Hence, parenting becomes one of the most crucial pieces of the puzzle which has an enormous role to play if we want to have a large-scale impact.
Children’s development happens through observation and imitation. Gender is one of the first social categories children become aware of. By the time they are three (3) years old, they have formed their gender identity. So much so that it limits boys and girls in socially constructed ideas about what one is or isn’t permitted/supposed to do within their gender. Let your children take the lead and experience their gender with as much fluidity as they wish.
Women often balance many roles and responsibilities – inside and outside the home. In terms of childcare, it is often women who take on the primary responsibilities. It is important to remember, however, that if and how a father is involved in childcare is not linked exclusively to biological characteristics, but depends more on how men and women are raised and whether they are raised to believe that men can also take care of children. Although girls and women are frequently brought up from an early age to care for children, men can also learn to care for a child – and learn to do it well.
When young boys interact with and see men (fathers, uncles, family friends, etc.) in a caregiving situation, they are more likely to view men’s caregiving as part of the male role. They may also be encouraged to question gender inequality in the home. In other words, greater participation of men in caring for their children may have a dynamic impact on gender relations, insofar as children will be able to observe their parents’ behaviour and learn a broader meaning of what it means to be men and women.