Thursday, April 2, 2009

MIP: Men In Pink

This young man I knew said he resented the luxury of ‘choice’ that women had. He loved cooking and he claimed he would have kept a great home and made a great stay-at-home-dad. He did not want a career.

Social stereotypes take away our choice to do what makes us happier and more satisfied... perhaps also content and hence better people. Creativity and talent also thrive when we are not fighting our natural abilities, just to confirm.

So when non confirming women entered the so called male bastions, men also got the opportunity to barge into fields like fashion designing, modeling, dancing, music and cooking. And much maligned beauty.

Little boys have always been obsessed with their hair and their muscles and hats and helmets, and their dad’s belts, shoes, sun glasses and after shaves. Yet one hears of the metrosexual man (e.g. David Beckham and Shahrukh Khan) being put down by those who believe he’s not macho… Maybe there is some envy in this? But the metrosexual man like most non conformists doesn’t care. He makes his own rules. He makes his own breakfast in his fancy, squeaky clean kitchen, if he wants to. He will wear pink if he likes pink. I guess he is happier.

Now come to think of it, why should men not wear pink? Traditionally, anyway, India did not have much gender-bias when it came to colours. Krishna is known to have loved a bright yellow. Pink turbans are as common as brilliant blue and outrageous orange.

Unlike in the West, Indian men were always free to show emotion, though they were not really free to shed tears the way women could. An unnecessary taboo. Because if crying was a sign of weakness, most women would be weak. We know they aren’t, not really. Vulnerable? Yes. Lacking in courage? I don’t think so. Courage has no gender. Yet sometimes we expect little boys to be born Bollywood heroes.

When we were young, my brother and I were terrified of the dark, of most insects, of reptiles and of ghost stories. I was reassured and comforted. He was criticized and lectured.
How was saying “Don’t be a girl!” going to help a child get over normal childhood fears? I was afraid of the same things but I once looked up paryayavachi (synonyms) for coward to tease him.

Years later, when my son was four, he was playing alone in his room, and he started shrieking hysterically. After many reassuring hugs he pointed at a dead bee on the bed.

I called my brother. He did remember my list.

Individual liberty lets you be you. It’s a only antidote for the unfairness of stereotypes. So are men in Pink :)


Bones said...

I agree with the young man - why can't men be house husbands? Why do they have to be only hunter gatherers? If feminists want equal opportunities and choice, 'masculinists' should also get the same opportunities and choice...

Indian Home Maker said...

@Bones Absolutely agree... then we will have a fairer and more just society.

Chirag said...

I was ready to be a house husbands, but my cleanliness and households skills were deplorable.

Did you know the clothes belong in hangers, I mean I used to tie a rope and throw all the clothes over it to use them later :) but my better half told me I was use less, with this and I will have to go out and work :) which I am ok, with.

Why men can't wear pink is equivalent to the a lot of other conformance issues, Bechara Indians have to go through, all their life ;)

When I wear pink, I have to face two set of people, One who indicate I am possible of gayish tendencies, thanks to hollywood and the other set who may not say a thing but will start making assumptions even before talking to me.

I guess an Indian male has satisfy a large set of audience when he dress, hence wearing pink may not be a safe choice.

Well yes, SRK' etc can wear and flaunt pink because there are in a business of creating noise and hopefully changing the norms of a society and either way it make more sense for them.

IHM, consider this, I have a important board meeting and I request your help in choosing a shirt color, will you suggest Pink or Blue? Please answer truthfully :)

I guess you can take the above metaphorically too we (both the gender) have to make safe choices till we have enough money to buy the critics or shut them up.

So, Kartina kaif can wear a really provocative dress and get photograph, but will a Indian saas, expect to meet her Bahu in the same sari.

So I think if we have to wear a pink shirt everyone has to wear it together, or very gradually. Also, when I wear pink, It should be because I want to not because to prove a point. I don't want to do anything to prove a point, and when I do that sometime.

Monika said...

oh i simply loved this post... as u are saying times are changing here too...

a friend of mine is one such... both he and his wife work... his wife has a more hectic traveling job and he maintains the house, does most of the cooking in the weekdays and i can bet my money that the house is much much much cleaner than the house maintained by working females atleast i can safely claim its much cleaner than mine :) and the dishes he makes are like awesome... even if u want into their house any day of the week unannounced the spread would put any well planned dinner to shame...

i have always said and maintain that rootcause of most of our problems is conditioning... like u mentioned too that on the same situation the reactions and advice depending on whether the kid is girl/boy differs and frankly now the onus lies with us to change this and let our kids grow up as equals

Freya said...

I read an article once about this house-husbands thing. Actually, you may find a lot of men wanting to be one, but many don't because of women and the female ego.

Once, when I bragged to someone that my dad made the lunch today, my mom was furious. My mom isn't a home-maker, but she doesn't like the idea of people knowing that my dad can cook.

Devil Incarnate... said...

Men i hav seen that at times really better than women in house keeping. I hav many male frnds, who surprice me al the time on this aspect. Bt at the same time i do c sme steriotype statements also.

I once gifted one of my male frnd a bouquet, though he accpeted my gift, he was sooo shy to show it others,coz according to him "bouquets r meant only for gals". But as a gud frnd of him, who dnt want 2 c any of these tantrums, i made sure that he take that bouquet n ofcourse show it to others also...

nitwit nastik said...

That very true IHM.

IMHO, the reason we see stereotypes is probably because our brains evolved in such a way that we try to reduce complexity. Since human brains have a tendency towards seeking patterns, stereotyping people helps put people in certain slots or categories which simplifies the task of finding patterns in people's behavior. In fact, IMO, stereo types exist because the less the number of different categories our brain needs to deal with, the easier it becomes for our brain to carry on it's other functions. So when we see a pattern of behavior which does not conform to our established ideas, we criticize it. That probably our brain's way of revolting.

Anyway that's just my hypotheses in short and I may be wrong.:-)

Indian Home Maker said...

@Chirag Yes I can see what you mean Chirag.... I guess first we need to stop commenting or judging when we see someone breaking norms - pink shirts are symbolic, in real life there are many other restriction we face and I am sure we have lost many talented brains because of our biases... do you agree?

But these days we see plenty of guys wearing pink T shirts and occasionally shirts also.

Indian Home Maker said...

@Monika I knew you would agree :)
And true, 'rootcause of most of our problems is conditioning' and it does much more damage than we realise!

Indian Home Maker said...

@Freya I agree. My mom is the same :) Women are conditioned to feel guilty and even not-proud of men who take over some of the roles they feel are their DUTIES. If we at least acknowledge that there is a problem, see it for what it is- just some social conditioning, then we take that first step towards breaking some norms.

Chirag said...

IHM the problem/solutions is just that, people who would want to change the status quo are either in capable of having a sustaining a 'normal' life and

People who can change the society would rather have a TV show to select women to be cheerleaders in a stupid cricket game.

So, I guess the thing is, those who can won't and those who want can't

Pixie said...

I totally loved this post... :)

Indyeah said...

Loved this post IHM!
yup its conditioning and nothing else!And even the best of us dont sometimes realise that its conditioning..even when we are dealing with little kids boys and girls both...we dont realise how our words and actions are affecting subtle ways...thats why one has to be really careful...

Men should wear pink if they are comfy not because they have been forced to :D

Tazeen said...

I have a friend who has a stay at home husband. She works for a multi national and is travelling all the time. The husband keeps home, makes sure the daughters goes to her kindergarten school on time and keeps the tabs on dhobi. He is a free lance writer and does work but obviously it is the money maleeha makes that keeps them in style.

Maleeha and her husband are quite cool about the people who hate it most are their parents. Maleeha's parents resent her husband because he is making their daughter work like a dog (her mom's words) and hubby's parents hate Maleeha because they think she has emasculated him somehow. No one notices how happy they are in their reversed non stereotypical roles.

Mama - Mia said...


ah well! M wears his pink shirt pretty proudly. his cousins (girls) sneered saying MY husband would never weat it! too bad for you dude! ;)

have you eva raed Sue's blog? Sunnydays? she goes to work and he freelances from home. its a great read when she talks about the challenges they face. but pathbreakers always do i guess.

so its all bout starting somewhere innit?! M also often says he would rather stay at home. i wish i had enough education to earn a decent salary! then i would have happily let him! sigh!

things will change slowly... hopefully...



How do we know said...

i so agree with you.. men should have a choice too, and i have been thinking of that for a lot of years..

Anonymous said...

I love pink colour and I gifted a pink shirt to my hubby. He used to wear it in India but he refuses to wear it over here. The other day he was telling me that his boss wore a pink shirt. I have been pestering him ever since,I dont think he is going to listen anytime soon :) Stereotypes anywhere suck! My dad is an excellent cook but if my mom is around he will rarely cook! I guess its the social conditioning.

Smitha said...

@IHM, So agree! Let everybody have the freedom to do what they want!! Let me stay at home, let women work - why not? That would surely be the way forward - when people can take decisions based on what they really want to do - not based on what the society 'expects' them to!

As for pink - I think Pink can look fantastic on men! My husband, for one, looks absolutely yummy in Pink, and Chirag - He used to wear pink for important meetings and was comfortable in it too. As a matter of fact, I have seen several men wearing Pink in London, to work - and they all looked very good in it.. It definitely is conditioning, once we think beyond the 'rules', things will surely change!

Phoenixritu said...

Mine do, you know, wear orange, pink, red, yellow, and they look good in them. Did you know in nature, its the male of the species that struts around in awesome colors, the female is kinda drab? Dont know why this taboo is there these days among humans

2Bs mommy said...

One of my ex-manager would often wear a really pretty shade of light pink t-shirt on Fridays ( casual/mufty day) and I loved the way he confidently carried it off !

Nice post - totally agree.

hitch writer said...

I cant wear pink, I m just not comfortable in them... I cant carry the colour... i can wear maroon... red but not pink !

Bout the house husband... chirag says he was ready but his cleaning skills were deplorable...

well my skills are great... i cook well too... and i really dream to be a house husband.... I really odnt want to go to the office and be the bread winner... no !!!

but my lazy wife !!! grrr...

finally i have pushed her into a business... just yestrday she got her first success... we are celebrating and in the night i quietly told... grow it bigger fast.... so that i can retire.... and take care of the house !!!! I can assist her... but she run the show !!! I ll run the house any damn day !! really !

honestly ! sincerely !! most wantingly !!! :)

but pink ?? no no for me.... lol....

Winnie the poohi said...

I agree! If a man can carry pink color and loves it nothing should stop him

P.S: Some men do wear baby pink shirts with blue formals.. or jeans.. they look kewt :D :D

Winnie the poohi said...

Did you get the comment ?

Monika,Ansh said...

So true. I guess i need to send a link of your post to my Hubby who refuses to wear pink. I bought him a pink shirt which had to be later exchanged for a sobmre white.

Solilo said...

Paryayavachi. I haven't heard that word in a long time.

IHM, do you remember my post which I did as a newbie blogger? This is what I meant. We have stereotypes. We have choices and yet we don't allow men to have their choices. How many of us would agree if our husband wants to be home and be a house husband? The percentage would be less. Very less. Society has conditioned us in that way.

DewdropDream said...

My dad has worn pink shirts to work for as long as I can remember and he totally rocks the look! what's more, there isn't anything metrosexual about his look, he looks every inch the perfect and elegant gentleman he is. And I seriously doubt that anybody in Mysore has ever questioned 'why pink?'.

Of course, here, men wearing pink is more of a symbol. It speaks of the deeper issue of stereotyping. Attitudes are changing for sure and am glad for that. I've seen several instances of 'Don't be a girl!' and 'God! he's so girlish!' and I always bristle at that. I've also encountered clingy mamma's boys being accused of being girlish and I would like to state for the record that the two are NOT the same thing.

Would have loved a house-husband when I was younger... now I want someone who shares equal responsiblity around the house.

feddabonn said...

i HATE pink. but wouldn't mind the house husbad bit at all. actually going through my first chance at giving it a good shot, and it is good. not always "fun", no, but good. lol, and i am NO metrosexual either.

Sara said...

Totally agree IHM, this pink is for girls and blue is for boys thing is just a marketing stunt in the US.Starting from diapers to lunch boxes- everything is either blue or pink!!

Sandhya said...

Its not just about colors, its about driving the type of car also!! Last summer we bought VW Beetle as our second car and everyone keeps asking me "Does HE ever drive it? Its a cute car but not for me" Eh? He drives it all the time and enjoys it too!!

Sandhya said...

correction to my comment "its a cute car but not for men"

@lankr1ta said...

On Tazeen's note, I remember hearing of a lady here in the US whose husband gave up his job ( or was he laid off) and looked after the kids. The "He is making you work" was repeated over and over again. But why should one ever listen to other people? And I do not mean it as a rhetorical question, just wonder at all the noise. I don't now, do as I please and eliminate stuffy people from my life and find myself happier for it. Or listen and nod and not hear( seriously it works)

Bindhu Unny said...

Aren't men supposed to wear pink shirts? My husband wears. And he's more than willing to become a house husband if I start earning as much as him. But that's not going to happen. :-)

Years of conditioning creates these stereotypes. I think it's changing slowly.

vishesh said...

I agree with Chirag...though I am never a one to be bound but sometimes to preserve the very thing called freedom,we need to be quiet and follow certain things....

And as for men being allowed to show there expression...hmm...(see the smiley error post in my blog :) )

Ordinary Guy said...

I completely agree IHM.... it is always social conditioning.... :)

It has now become 3 months since I have come here to the US and it has been an enlightening experience so far...
I always thought that I would hate cooking and I would suck at it, but now I actually enjoy cooking!!
I knew nothing when I first came here, now I am pretty decent cook, and I realize that cooking is hard work.... :)

and regarding pink, I could never carry it with confidence.... :) but yes, most of the things are due to social conditioning.

Imp's Mom said...

Oh I so love this post! Conditioning! No matter how much we progress a person makes in his life, till we change the way we think or adapt to new practices, men will not wear pink. I love to see men in pink, I think its a great color and I have not seen one man look terrible in it.

I'd love to see more men wearing pink and breaking the social conditioning.

Charakan said...

i like blue more than pink and is not good at house work. May be conditioning or I may born just like that.

Anonymous said...

I loved this post.
You have said everything that I have ever wanted to say on the issue and with so much more clarity.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree!

I also am fine with women with moustaches. I mean it!

Dhanya said...

In India, men who stay at home are considered as sissies. Men are supported to earn whereas women are required to be a good home maker. Rules made by society. Like you said, we should be able to do what we actually want to.

As for metrosexual guys, I think it's ok as long as they don't go overboard like plucking their eyebrows or something.

Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...

IHM, would you believe I had no clue about this color preferences until I came to the US. I grew up in a small town and men wore pink just as they wore blue or red or green. No other thought went into their minds before they selected their shirts. It just needed to appeal to them. I was in for a rude shock when I heard about the reservations men in US had about the pink color.
I still don't think a lot of people are aware of reservations attached to pink color.

astralwicks said...

repression is regression

Masood said...

Tell me something IHM and I am probably deviating...

Is the caring side of man more appreciated or the macho side? Or a mix of both? Or is there a third kind? :P

Indian Home Maker said...

@ Monika Let me highlight a part of it…
i have always said and maintain that the root cause of most of our problems is conditioning...that on the same situation the reactions and advice depending on whether the kid is girl/boy differs and frankly now the onus lies with us to change this and let our kids grow up as equals

@ nitwit nastik I guess you are right : ) But aren’t stereotype dangerous? What do you think?

@Chirag Absolutely right, I guess the thing is, those who can won't and those who want can't

@Pixie Thank You :-)

@Indyeah Absolutely, “Men should wear pink if they are comfy not because they have been forced to” That is what I mean, if we did not need to confirm we’d lead happier lives! Nobody should be made to do anything just because it is the done thing.

@Tazeen Thanks this example!

“No one notices how happy they are in their reversed non stereotypical roles.”
But I am so glad, they are living their life their way without hurting anybody (except those who are hurt only because they are living it their way, that’s unfair and can’t be helped!)

@Mama - Mia :) Yes, path breakers always face challenges, I will definitely read about her experiences!! .

And yes it is all about starting somewhere … things will change slowly. In fact we can see these changes in our daily lives -in our ads, how they are reflecting these changes, in our books, movies :-) .

@How do we know So many of us are thinking about it, that is why this is changing!

Indian Home Maker said...

@ homecooked Stereotypes anywhere suck! I agree!
And my mom would not even dream of letting my dad inside the kitchen, she thought it was her duty and if he entered the kitchen she was neglecting her duties :)

@Smitha - when people can take decisions based on what they really want to do - not based on what the society 'expects' them to people will be much happier.

@ Phoenixritu Oh yes I can imagine them carrying off all colours brilliantly! Oh yes look at peacock's colours and Lion’s mane.. . Sad that men are restricted from enjoying some colours – though of course now this is changing.

@2Bs mommy I guess he liked it he wore it happily so he could feel confident in it!

@hitch writer You should not feel the need to have to wear pink just to confirm, it's entirely you choice. not wearing pink if you don't wish to is also important :)

And you keep encouraging and supporting her, I am sure you guys will see lots of success – my best wishes to you both : ) It will happen.

@Winnie the poohi Imagine anybody other than the wearer making such an issue of what colours a person should wear, it should be nobody’s business (unless it is a uniform).

@Monika,Ansh If the reason for not wearing pink is personal dislike it is different but if it is conditioning than it is unfair to the wearer.

@Solilo Paryayawachi ... long word lots of spelling errors to watch out for :)

Yes Solilo, I will love to read that post again now! We are unfair when we do that, when We have choices and yet we don't allow men to have their choices. But this is changing, in bigger cities atleast... and it started with both the parents working and then with one of them working from home …we’ll see these changes continuing I think.

@ DewdropDream Attitudes are changing and I find it’s really sad, that we still hear,'Don't be a girl!' and 'God! he's so girlish!'

@feddabonn Did you read the link that defines metrosexual? There are so many definations, I chose the one that I think best defines.. and it is really nice... do take a look.
And I will love to read about your experiences :)

@ Sara I agree just a marketing stunt, and a very successful one!

@ Sandhya Loved your response!! “ Eh? He drives it all the time and enjoys it too!!”
Well answered Sandhya!

@@lankr1ta I agree, do as I please and eliminate stuffy people from my life … Or listen and nod and not hear( seriously it works) I am sure it does work.

@ Bindhu Unny That’s what you have chosen, it isn’t forced on you :-) I agree, ‘Years of conditioning creates these stereotypes. I think it's changing slowly.’ Yes, no matter how regressive some elements in our society are, it’s changing.

@ vishesh Hey how do we do this? “some times to preserve the very thing called freedom, we need to be quiet and follow certain things....”
Do you mean letting people decide for themselves is not right…?
I would love to read that smiley error post! Link please : )

Indian Home Maker said...

@ Ordinary Guy We have all read about your cooking experiences, or adventures I should say, ordinary guy :)
… and I am so glad you are enjoying it now. Cooking for yourself also lets you eat healthier!
And being able to say no to a colour you don’t wish to wear is also a choice : )

@Imp's Mom Men wearing pink is also symbolic… same as girls wearing whatever they are comfortable wearing.

@ Charakan Could be either!
...but this post is more about individual liberty Charakan…and I am sure we all value that!

@tearsndreams Thank You!! And I love all your posts on gender equality.

@bigotblog “I also am fine with women with mustaches. I mean it!” Also if they are uncomfortable with a mustache, it is up to them to get rid of it. We know the girls in lower middle class families are not encouraged to go to parlours or to wax or pluck their eye brows – although it’s their bodies, they have no control. No different from having no control over abortions, or female foeticide, although it is their bodies.

@ Dhanya “As for metrosexual guys, I think it's ok as long as they don't go overboard like plucking their eyebrows or something.”
I would say Dhanya even if they do pluck their eye brows, some guys do have eye brows that require some plucking, it’s their life : ) ………Why not just let them be?

@Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) In India I know traditionally there was none. Men could dress colourfully, and even now a lot of people, even in the cities do wear colourful shirts and T-shirts, some know but don’t care, some don’t even know!

@astralwicks ‘repression is regression’….? I agree!

@Masood I think different people appreciate different sides, but generally it will be mix of strength and sensitivity. Alone one will look like cruelty and another like weakness. So both go together. Agree?

Yogesh said...

Parents are the only teachers who can help overcome the stereo type thinking which would help their children at later stages of their lives and in a way change the thought process of the society.

The stereo type thinking takes place because we don't care to question everything that is put forward in front of us. In a way, we tend to agree with the prejudices.

There are house husbands but in a relatively small numbers who work from home and at the same time take care of the house & kids when their wives are at work.

I don't think men are averse to wear the color pink, but yes wearing an gaudy pink t-shirt will make raise questions about your sexuality (thanks to prejudice thinking).

Maya said...

well men do wear pink, if its much lighter shade.

but from what i understand, women are the ones who attract the opposite sex, by their way of dressing. so these bright colors suits their nature.

it has to do with attracting its kind of genetic.. i m not able to put these things into words so will leave it here..

amit said...

I am ready to be a house husband but I don't want to get beaten up by the Ram Sena for living off my wife's money! :)

Masood said...

IHM, Yeah I agree. Guess it has to be a mix of both.

Wearing pink comes off as being a sissy in various quarters. It's even a sign to show you are gay.

But I feel it comes down to how secure a man feels about himself. I absolutely don't mind wearing a good well-fitted pink shirt (provided its not that gaudy pink. any lighter shade goes) or even peach or lavender for that matter.

Btw, I took that first born tag! :)