[MONOJIT LAHIRI does a reality check.]
Move over Sly, Arnie, Salman and gang - its myth-exploding time! This might come as shock to the brawny bozos in love with their bulging biceps, but muscles are the last things toda.y's new-age women fantasize about when exploring possibilities of a rich and enduring relationship. Silly things like love, care, trust, thoughtfulness and respect race ahead on their r0adar and work as killer aphrodisiacs to the thinking woman, yearning for a guy who dares to baby-sit, buy veggies, take his turn in the kitchen, change nappies, spring amazing surprises and yes, cry when emotionally charged - without the terminal fear of what the world will think about him and his precious, fragile, male ego!
An eminent sociologist once described Man as "an animal so lost in rapturous contemplation of what he thinks he is, that he overlooks what he inevitably, ought to be!" Nothing exemplified the visible perpetuation of this self-congratulatory myth than the celebrated MARLBORO MAN ad. It sought to portray America's - (and therefore the world's) ultimate masculine dream, the definitive epitome of maleness; seductive lifestyle statements symbolizing all that men (ostensibly) strive for - Freedom, Success, Control. The strong, silent disposition that celebrates the dynamic face of bold, brave, virile masculinity.
Truth is, this crazy, dumb and unreal masculine dream is killing us because it imposes artificial compulsions on the male psyche. Men are "supposed" to be the ones with endless strength to cope with any problem without flinching. Play football, chop wood, repair the car, make smart, savvy, success-driven moves at the work place, drink with the boys and never ever display emotion or gentleness, sensitivity or caring … that's for Cissies! In short, machismo is the name of the game and its' about how well we wear our strong, silent, toughness. This tunnel view - drummed and programmed into our stupid brains right from school - triggers frightening results… Take the case of an aged couple. If both are living and one is infirm, chances are it's the husband. The one-time tower of strength is invariably pampered silly, wheeled about and even spoon-fed by his still-healthy wife. Much as men may want to change, an unspoken societal code decrees that it is not masculine to cry, seek help, express tenderness or release pent-up emotions. So, over the years that repressed guilt, fears and frustrations wear his mind and body down and he seeks escape in illness, frequently more psychosomatic than organic. Result? The man's physical, emotional life is drained casting a dark shadow on his wife, family, relationships, job - everything upon which he has built his life …
Why does all this happen? Because this epidemic of pseudo-masculinity has placed our existence on a "performance" mode with our manhood's "success" or "failure" determined by "what we do" rather than by "who we are". This, at the end of the day, is eroding our physical, mental and emotional health and by dictating those long, hard hours and strong, silent disposition, spawning an irreparable divide between us and our families. That much for the MACHO MAN in whose vicious image we seem to be more imprisoned than free, right?So what's the solution, brother? The answer is liberation. The very word undoubtedly, can scare the living shit out of most men because they instantly equate it with the (dreaded?) Women's lib! In actual terms, there is nothing to get so paranoid about. If "women's lib" sent out mixed and confusing signals it's because it appeared to mean different things to different people and project the movement in a daring and aggressively feminist manner. Freedom. Equality. No gender bias. No bras … ouch! Quickly translated, it means the term liberation can spark unnecessary controversy if fuelled by posturing, rebellion or by self-interest and not defined in a lucid, easy-to-understand manner that connects with the heart of the matter. The men's liberation, we advocate, relates to freedom from society's false standards of masculinity to a more confident, relaxed and composed manhood. It's based on the simple premise that you don't have to prove your manhood everyday of your life. It frees you to connect with the space between your heart - express love, gentleness and kindness; value and cherish people close to you; show emotion without inhibition; pursue a different set of values that enrich and enlighten rather than restrict or limit. In short, relax and discover a dimension of maleness more empowering than a million MARLBORO MEN.That's what women want!