Back in the director’s chair after Dhobi Ghat (2010), Kiran Rao takes over the cinema by serving the right blend of simplicity, humor, and wit in a cup of gentle feminism.

Significantly departing from the typical Indian cinema landscape, which often perpetuates regressive and hypermasculine ideals, Kiran Rao’s film embraces a nuanced form of feminism, delicately highlighting the uncomfortable realities within society that often silence women and strip them of agency in various aspects of life. The film beautifully captures the journey of ‘Laapata Ladies’ (Lost Women) who ultimately discover their true selves and emerge empowered by the end.

Written by Sneha Desai, the story is set up in the fictitious central state of Nirmal Pradesh, where Kumar (Srivastava) is on his way back home after marrying Phool Kumari (Goel). Amidst the hurried chaos of changing trains at night, he mistakenly grabs Pushpa’s hand and rushes off the train with her. It’s only upon reaching the village that he realizes the bride swap, setting off a series of comedic and heartfelt moments. Throughout the movie, the ‘tamboo-jaisa ghoonghat‘ or veil remains a powerful symbol of societal constraints, yet it is not held accountable by the elders for the challenges it poses in identifying women, ultimately leading to the swap. As the story unfolds, Jaya finds herself in Deepak’s joint family by mistake, while Phool is left stranded at the charming Pateela railway station. Here, Phool forms a unique bond with the station’s residents, including the firm yet empathetic tea kiosk owner, Manju Mai (Chhaya Kadam).

The two brides, Pushpa and Phool, are portrayed with distinct personalities. Pushpa’s mysterious nature attracts suspicion from Shyam Manohar, who closely monitors her activities. On the other hand, Phool, feeling out of place at the railway station, forms friendships with individuals working at Manju Mai’s. Kiran Rao’s perspective in the film shines through in her portrayal of empowerment for women on both sides of the spectrum: those who venture out to study and pursue their dreams, as well as those who find empowerment and fulfillment in being homemakers, departing from the ideals of a bashing feminism that solely focuses on women stepping out.

Breaking away from the conventional narrative of “aurat hi aurat ki dushman hoti hai” (women are each other’s enemies), the film also beautifully showcases the power of women bonding and supporting each other. Whether it’s through Manju Mai’s direct conversations with Phool, Jaya’s determined efforts to bring her back home, or Jaya refusing to be lost in the monotony of daily life and helping to uncover the hidden artistic talent of Poonam’s drawing in the process, Kiran Rao skillfully explores the theme of women bonding in the film.

Beyond the female characters, it’s also the male characters that become the heart of the film. Shyam Manohar (Ravi Kishan), the village cop, delivers some witty one-liners and punchlines, keeping the audience laughing out loud throughout the film. It was even Kishan’s transformation depicted in the end who proved to be a greasy-police officer but also someone whose conscience has not been completely corrupted. Srivastav’s portrayal of Deepak in the perfect shades is flawless. Despite occasional fumbles, his profound English and responsible actions toward Pushpa, despite missing Phool, define him as a well-rounded character. His stellar performance adds up to capturing the audience’s hearts.

The film not only captures the lows of the village, highlighting pesticide-driven crops, corruption, and the sickened societal mindset, but also artfully captures the nostalgic essence and romanticism associated with railways. It portrays not only the trains and stations but also offers us samosas and chai. Additionally, it transports viewers to the charming aspects of rural life, spanning from the era of Nokia mobile phones in the early 2000s to Mai’s bread-pakoras, with a little scold on asking for extra green chutney again!

The beauty of ‘Laapata Ladies’ lies in its ‘addressal’ of various issues of gender dynamics, marriage, dowry, education, individual rights, agriculture, and scientific thinking, but without becoming overly preachy or trivializing the gravity of these concerns. The essence of Rao’s film is in its carefree spirit, playful and lively tone, and ability to approach serious topics with a light touch. Exemplifying a cinema that is astute and thoughtful yet spontaneous and genuine, “Laapata Ladies” is akin to a comforting chai-pakora experience. It tackles pertinent issues while also embracing the audience with a giant, warm hug.

Read Also: An Attempt at Feminist Validation: Animal

Featured Image Credits: Kindling Pictures/Aamir Khan Productions/Jio Studios

Dhairya Chhabra

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Greta Gerwig’s long-publicized film took theatres by storm this Summer and has become one of the highest-grossing movies of all time.

After months of rigorous marketing and anticipation, people expected grandeur from Barbie and that’s what it delivers. Apart from its over-the-top production, Barbie also manages to bring a fresh concept to the fantasy genre which had started to seem repetitive and saturated. The movie has been carefully crafted in order to cater to all kinds of audiences, irrespective of age.

The film follows the Mattel doll ‘stereotypical Barbie’ and her many variants, who live in a whimsical world where everything is monotonous and perfect. When Barbie starts noticing human traits such as thoughts about mortality, body image issues, she and Ken go to the real world to figure out how to ‘fix’ her. She discovers that unlike Barbieland, which is run by all the empowered dolls Mattel released, the real world is patriarchal and a much harsher place for women. Ken, however, is overjoyed by how much power men have in the real world and heads back to rule Barbieland with the other Kens.

The film is ridiculously witty and has done satire really well. There are unique comedic elements such as the break of the fourth wall or jokes about real issues such as Mattel’s incapacities and Ruth Handler’s problems with the IRS. The dig at the ‘Pride and Prejudice watching depressed Barbie’ caters to a very specific niche and shows that the makers of the movie knew their main audience really well. The costume design of the show is impressive as it remakes actual doll clothes that were released by Mattel throughout the years and is a treat for fashion enthusiasts. The performances by Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling are stellar. The cameos and the musical aspect also add significantly to the overall allure of Barbie.

While the movie ends by portraying the obviously rightful message regarding how no gender should overshadow the other, it does so bleakly. The feminist ideals and dialogues presented are not fresh. But what compensates for it is the unique medium through which a familiar message has been reiterated. The creation of dolls in the image of powerful women and their idolization is inspiring but does not change anything for women in reality. In fact, it sets the precedent for women to “appreciate” the opportunities they now have and make the most of them when women shouldn’t have to always do something extraordinary in order to be paid mind to. This message from America Ferrera’s character is the main power of the film.

Greta’s artistic vision to deliver such a new idea is laudable and so is Mattel’s involvement and accountability. Considering how wide of an audience this movie reached, even if the main point stayed a bit two-dimensional, for many people it might just have been the first step toward understanding the nuances of feminism.

Overall, ‘Barbie’ is a fun, visually stunning and hilarious movie with great performances that leave you inspired. What is that if not cinema at its best?

Read also: The Pitfalls of Therapy-Speak

Featured image credits: Elle Magazine

Arshiya Pathania

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“Misogynism isn’t something that we will take forward. We won’t be passing the trauma of this sexist culture to the next generation.” But are you sure about that?

TW: Mentions of r*pe, s*xualisation and obj*ctification.

I come from two Indias. One where we believe that our generation will be the end of misogyny and sexism, and bring a new age of real equality; and another where we are scared of even posting pictures online because we might be scrutinised and objectified by people we know, where we are scared of stalker exes, and where rape culture is normalised and rape cases are nothing of a novelty.

I belong to both of them, and I belong to none of them.

I believe that we are trying and that we are changing but I also know that we call this a culture of toxicity for a reason—it is a poison that breeds itself, perpetuating through the generations, changing in proportion and manifestation but never really disappearing. After all, it says “survival of the fittest”, not “survival of the best” and your misogyny slips into its place in this world as easily as that missing last piece of a thousand-piece puzzle.

Human beings are social animals, but we are also hopeful creatures. We would rather believe that the next generation won’t have to live with the fears we lived in or face the trauma that we carry with us every day, than open our eyes to the reality which surrounds us. The Bois locker room case which targeted underage girls was not made by old, bored men sitting in the dark corners of their houses, but by school and college students, people we could very well have personally known. A 9-year-old was raped in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, not by grown men with twisted minds, but by boys aged 10 and 14. The Bulli Bai app wasn’t just made by a group of radicalists living many decades in the past, who wanted to silence and suppress women by fueling fears and age-old repressive methods, but by a group that also included a Delhi University student, someone belonging to one of the most prestigious universities in the country.

When we hear of these incidents, we try to separate our world from theirs. We try to build them up in our heads as monsters who exist as an anomaly. But does the world create monsters, or do the monsters just belong in the world? Are we grasping at straws, trying to be optimistic, trying to find a new explanation for these horrors every day? Are we deliberately looking for factors and reasons that are solvable, so that we can glaze over the rotten foundation we, as a society, are standing on?

Our generation talks about the end of an era of doing things wrong, but we don’t realise that the fight isn’t about the few people around us, but about the thousands upon thousands of others who aren’t. We keep hiding behind our curtains of doe-eyed beliefs that people are changing, while in reality, we are only creating walls between these different mentalities. The fact that we don’t see it every day, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist anymore. 

If you are still itching to give an argument against this, itching to add a dash of optimistic rant and talk about all the “good” people around you, think about this: If I ask you to count on your fingers the number of people you know who have never made a misogynistic comment, who have never objectified or sexualised someone, who have never made a problematic joke, wouldn’t your ten fingers end up being too many?


Read also “Why Is Gen-Z So Pessimistic?” https://dubeat.com/2022/01/why-is-gen-z-so-pessimistic/ 


Feature Image Credits: DU Beat Archives


Manasvi Kadian

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With its skillful cast and brilliant script, Pagglait is a 2021 dark comedy-drama that was released on Netflix on 26 March 2021. It’s a must-watch for everyone interested in deconstructing the hypocrisy and blatant misogyny of Indian households within a patriarchal setting.

Written by Umesh Bist, Pagglait is a narrative about Sandhya, an Indian woman caught in the ugly shackles of a meaningless marriage. With the passing away of her husband, she gradually becomes the woman she needs to be. The thirteen-day ritual of her husband’s passing, brings her to self-growth and self-worth, thus giving her a rebirth. Thus, devoid of a very dramatic or scintillating plot, the Netflix drama revolves around Sandhya who has to die in order to be reborn, like a phoenix rising from the ashes.

While Sandhya struggles to rediscover her newly gained identity, one can see a number of plotlines weaving a narrative that points towards the oddity surrounding the institution of marriage and the convenient ignorance of a woman’s wants. Such ironies can only exist in an Indian context where death brings more enlightenment than life, itself.

Set in the grimy streets and ancestral abode of Shanti Kunj, the plot opens with men and women grieving in their own little ways, while they also struggle to meet ends. What follows is a series of complex rituals so as to perform the last rites in a rightful manner. It’s not much later that the audience is also introduced to the “log kya kahenge” ritual with quirky comments including a relative saying how Sandhya “is not inauspicious as their horoscopes were compatible” when someone tries to question Astik’s passing. 

We are introduced to a rather bored Sandhya in the following scenes who casually yawns while reading the condolences, and later demands coke instead of chai so much so as to let everyone believe that she is not really grieving the death of her husband. The audience remains rather perplexed if she is in denial or was her marriage too hollow to even allow her to grieve. The rest of the storyline, then, becomes a quest of answering such questions so that Sandhya can gradually embrace her unresolved feelings and move forward as an individual. 

Acts such as the disgust of Sandhya on seeing the white sari that her mother brought for her or the frustration of her brother-in-law having to shave off his head further allow us to deconstruct and reassess the depth and effectiveness of such rituals, and if they really stand for anything at all, especially in the face of individual identity and pursuit in the 21st century. Other concerns such as the disgust of Sandhya’s in-laws at one “Nazia Zaidi” and the religious discrimination still prevalent at large hover in the background which all come to the forefront in this patriarchal framework of an Indian setting. 

The fact that her mother regards Sandhya topping her batch in MA English as the “qualification” required to get a nice groom with a 70,000 salary further makes one contemplate how deep the roots of such blatant misogyny and orthodox upbringing really go.

The discovery of Astik’s pre-marital affair, then, only becomes a catalyst in allowing Sandhya to break through this rotten carcass of a marriage, thus giving her closure. She gradually moves forward on the path of knowing what love is and understanding that she can only love someone else when she falls in love with herself.

Such discoveries are underlined and garbed in the layer of humor and mocking of Indian funerals, in general. In fact, the comic scenes are a relief to the serious undertones throughout. There are a number of parallel scenes running at the same time, in an attempt, of perhaps contrasting the same. Although the ending does become somewhat predictable with unnecessary build-up, it succeeds in its aim of communicating the larger message. The numerous characters and their respective growth and storyline allows us to see a bit of grey in each and every one of them. Malhotra’s acting in particular would be an apt one, especially for the role. She brings to her character, an unsaid obligation to give in and yet the need to break free.

Thus, Pagglait, with its progressiveness is a groundbreaking narrative in the Indian cinema. It’s not just the story of Sandhya but of every Indian woman: the pagglait for whom “everyone is ready to decide what’s ‘right’, and what she ‘should’ or should not do, but nobody once actually asks her about what ‘she’ wants”. The dialogue “Jab ladki log ko akal aati hai na, toh sab unhe pagglait hi kehte hain!” leaves the audience with more questions, allowing them to take such discourses home with them: into their own lives and of those around them.

Click here to watch the trailer! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xVqPbvLzX4)

Also read: #DUB Review- The White Tiger: A Gripping Tale on the Class Structure of Indian Society


Featured Image Credits: Wikipedia

Annanya Chaturvedi

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Language creates a link between gender binarism and the system of patriarchy. The existence of this bridge has been internalized by societies that are thriving towards progress.

Like other social systems, Patriarchy is also created by humans. It becomes rigid when something as absolute as patriarchy pierces into the most basic thing related to human behaviour, language. It then becomes a tool used by a group of social animals to assert and maintain their dominance in culture.

The structure of patriarchy is woven in a manner that sustains itself through deep-rooted sociological patterns. Language, which acts as the primary medium for communication between people, is one of the breeding grounds of the system of patriarchy. Women being subjected to certain roles is a product of gendered languages, and thus the way we speak reveals many facts concerning human behaviour.

Conversations become important to break societal structures. But if the tool itself is based on a gender binary, then it is the status quo that perpetuates. Almost 75% of the world’s languages employ a sex-based system, which also indicates the sheer usage of male pronouns. These pronouns clearly display gender binarism, which classifies gender into two distinct forms, thereby ignoring the existence of many other genders which should be recognized by the social system.

One’s gender can be communicated with the use of pronouns. These pronouns have a power that goes beyond these societal structures. Articles that a person reads have capabilities of bringing out the biases within people. Many such articles with heavy usage of gendered language go unnoticed by the people. The use of terms like ‘chairman’ ‘fireman’ suggests two things. One, that these positions were believed to be reserved for men only, and women were not allowed to take such jobs. Two, that the existence of many genders was disregarded in society.

A lack of representation has fueled the existence of such languages. Most of the editors of the Oxford dictionary have been men. Websites like Wikipedia and Reuters are dominated by men. The community of authors around the globe largely consists of men, most of whom lack the understanding of the implications associated with the use of language in such a manner. Patriarchal values are thus maintained by the structure itself. It is a vicious circle.

To bring about inclusivity, gender linguists suggest three things: Re-building language, using words differently, and creating new words. Such new words include ‘mansplaining’, which refers to a man explaining something to someone, in a condescending manner, to assert his influence. Use of pronouns like ‘they’ ‘their’ can help to build a discourse that would aid the society at large. While some may have an issue with ‘they’ being used in a singular context, many others argue that ‘they’ should be adopted as English’s standard third-person, gender-neutral pronoun.

Language is a mirror of society and its beliefs. Gendered languages, therefore, reflect how society has failed to progress in a way it should have. Waves of feminism have appealed to linguists around the world, to create languages that are inclusive and non-binary.

When a society progresses, each element has to cope up with this progress. Language is one such element. With the inclusion of a multitude of identities and genders, the world is moving towards an era of inclusivity and structural reforms. These words are a product of thought. Thought can be altered through conscious effort and reasoning. Gender-neutral words and pronouns can bring about change in society. Thus the power to create a discourse lies in our hands. Change lies in our hands.


Kuber Bathla

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Pornography through videos, images, and stories has been prevalent since time immemorial. Humans are inherently voyeuristic which has led to sex and pleasure being placed at the pedestal. Staring from the Kama Sutra to virtual reality porn, we surely have come a long way. 

Pornography with its several dimensions and categories has gradually developed into an extremely male-pleasure centric idea. With perfect bodies catering to the patriarchal idea of beauty, porn not only encourages a false set of reality and expectations, but it also paves the way to the idea of men being dominant and seeking pleasure in the suppression of women.

PornHub’s #4 most-watched video of the first week of January 2020 with over 4 million views is of a teen girl with her hands/feet shackled down, mouth gagged, penetrated with a machine and electrocuted. Several individuals objected to the very act and deemed as non-consensual, evoking violence and abuse.  However, the performer, Addee Kate, later clarified that it was consensual.

Manvi Jain, a student of Sri Venkateswara College says, “Understanding porn is extremely subjective because there are so many categories of porn. For instance, if you watch femdom, it’s more empowering as the woman is in charge and is not shown as an object. Whereas, if you watch BDSM or just plain vanilla, it portrays the woman as a mere sexual object.”

BDSM or Bondage/Discipline, Dominance/Submission, and Sadism/Masochism has been questioned and refuted as highly patriarchal and sexist towards all the performing genders. Seeking pleasure by evoking pain in others through torture is inherently leading to a dominant and submissive relationship where mostly, the male and female respectively take their positions.

Even though consent forms the ground rock of all sexual practices, why are porn and its categories considered demeaning? 

BDSM and degradation of women hang on a very thin thread. The difference between the two lies on a concept as simple as consent. It is essential to understand that dominating and choosing to be submissive is a choice, however, constant consumption of a similar kind of act, say, male domination over a female, implicitly states the normalised hierarchy in a heterosexual relationship.

Sneha Agrawal, a Journalism student says, “In porn, women come with the very heavy cost of losing control over how they’re being treated during the course of sexual activity. Porn normalises such treatment, where men inherently feel that it’s normal or alright if they behave in a certain manner, which is the most problematic part.” She continues talking about how porn serves as a ‘sexual guide’ to a large number of adults. The repercussions of which is, they assume whatever is being done to their partner in order to derive pleasure is normal.

On similar lines, Disha Arya believes BDSM to be inherently problematic and arising from a desire to control. “I dislike how rough sex is romanticised. I dislike how male domination and female submission is normalised. We as a society expect women to be submissive. Men are introduced to porn pretty young, seeing this as the norm, they believe that they’re the ones who are supposed to take control.”

Porn is inherently so male-centric that they had to make a separate category to cater to women’s needs under the banner of ‘porn for women’. In 2016, there was an increase of 168% in searches for lesbian and 218% in female-friendly. These numbers portray that mainstream porn clearly doesn’t cater to their XX chromosome audience. Talking of consent implying choice and desire, 64.6% want to be dominated as opposed to the 53.3% men.


Feature Image Credits: Goodreads


Anandi Sen

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Cuss words are somewhat an integral part of the language we use in our daily lives. However, this aspect of language often shows particular genders or sexual orientations in a negative light.

In 2016, the Oxford University Press (which also publishes the Oxford Dictionary, one of the world’s most preferred references with respect to English) was the topic of a heated row online. The row started because a Twitter user pointed out that certain words that have negative connotations, were explained using sentences that featured women. For example, the word ‘nagging’ was followed by a sentence that involved ‘nagging wife’, ‘housework’ (not necessarily a negative word but a stereotype) was used in a sentence ‘she still does the housework’ and ‘rabid’ was followed by a sentence that used ‘rabid feminism’. On the other hand, the word ‘research’ was followed by ‘He prefaces his study with a useful summary of his own researches.’

Responding to this, Oxford Dictionaries said that the sentences do not reflect the views of the publisher but instead are picked from ‘real world’ usage. While that may be an explanation, it begs the question, how often do we see our common usage of language represent women in a distasteful manner? And how does this misogynist language creep into the part of language that is generally frowned upon, that is, cuss words?

My mother tongue is Hindi, and when you’re a Hindi speaker, the worst thing you can possibly say to a man is possibly a remark involving some combination of his mother’s/sister’s/wife’s/daughter’s genitalia. Of course, if you think about it, the usage of body parts that relate to women’s sexuality goes in line with the narrative that the patriarchy has been trying to establish- that women are primarily sex objects and the idea of women indulging in sex is deplorable, to say the least.

Similarly, in English, several words that had a different meaning altogether when they were made, have been transformed to mean something else altogether, right now. ‘Pussy’ was originally a word for a woman with qualities similar to a cat, except it later became a term for a vagina and subsequently for a non-assertive male. Similarly, ‘mistress’ was the female equivalent of what we know as a ‘master’, that is, someone who’s in a position of authority. However, over time, it has been used for a woman other than a man’s wife who a man has sexual relations with. Same goes for words like ‘cunt’, ‘cuck’.

This linkage of women’s sexuality with words that are generally used to insult shows how deeply the patriarchal mindset has become a part of our daily lives and how we also often use words like these without realising it’s implications. That, however, is problematic because of two reasons.

Firstly, as we’ve already mentioned, it reinforces the patriarchal notion that women are merely sex objects. This is a huge disservice to what women, and people in general are. One could argue that sex isn’t a bad thing except in most cases people have been conditioned to think of it as something that’s immoral, and even in that case, it doesn’t cater to the fact that women can be so much more too. Reducing them to just one thing is antithetical to the idea of human dignity, which is intricately linked to the idea of a person’s capabilities.

Secondly, by creating a perception that women are merely sex objects, the usage of these words also normalises the idea of sexual oppression against women. Sexual assault happens not because of short clothes or women roaming around at night (as some politicians from India would like you to believe) but from the fact that the offender sees themselves as more powerful than the victim. When women are linked to an act that is in general considered immoral or inferior, the power dynamics that enable oppression are reinforced and thus it becomes easier to accept the idea of forcing oneself on someone.

To truly achieve equality, it is incredibly important to build a gender-neutral version lexicon of profanity. It’d be really unfair to say that our society is equal unless that’s reflected in the deepest layers of our language too.

Image Credits: Twitter/The Hindu

Khush Vardhan Dembla

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This International Men’s Day, let us dig deep into the social construct of toxic masculinity, and how women, knowingly or unknowingly, contribute to it.

Masculinity, as a concept and a reality, has evolved into much more than what it used to be years ago. Scholars have drawn attention to the fact that ideas of masculinity are tied less to the body and more to socio-cultural ideologies and practices. Masculinity, as an ideal, is not naturally given, but is a social construct with different parameters of fulfilment. To be born a boy is considered a privilege, but one that can be lost if one is not properly initiated into masculine practices. Besides, male adults must maintain this privilege through regular performance.

Emphasising on the privilege given to men, it is a position of power, and we often consider this position viable when there is a clear depiction of that power. This power expects men to be dominating, aggressive in bed and beyond it, and violent. History is witness that the supporters of this power are often women – women who have internalised this concept in the name of culture and habit, and then preach it, or women who just do not speak against it. Toxic masculinity is not a man’s issue, it is a societal one.

We have all been raised with these fascinating stories narrated by our grandmothers, such as The Mahabharata and The Ramayana. While these have been revered as holy texts, these books are not direct connections to God, but just tools of internalisation of wrong expectations and pseudo-spirituality. In the popular dicing scene, Draupadi, after her harassment, questions how she can be harassed, not because she is a woman, but because she is the daughter of a renowned king, Drupad, indicating how women are just property, first of their father’s and then their husband’s. On the other hand, Sita is often pedestalised and widely celebrated for never questioning her husband. These texts which are taught at universities, schools, and even in households have created unjustified expectations for men and lack of individuality among women.

After talking to a series of women on the ideals of toxic masculinity, one realises that often these ideals are perpetrated by women, especially in our Indian households. These women have gained the limited positions of power by being Maamis, Chachis (maternal and paternal aunts), Nanis (maternal grandmother), or even mothers.

One of the students, on the condition of anonymity, said that it was not his father who told him that boys don’t cry. It was his mother. A full childhood, the student said, of being told to suck it up and brush it off, to take it all in but never let any of it out. In the recent movement of speaking against toxic masculinity, a man wrote about his wife, how he loved her, how she often cried in front of him, how the one time he had cried in front of her, she had uneasily left the room, how he had made sure to never cry again, and how he did not know if his tear ducts even worked anymore.

One of the great things about the popularity of The Handmaid’s Tale last year was the arrival of a useful shorthand term: Aunt Lydias. Aunt Lydias are women who willingly, harmfully participate in a terrible misogynistic society. Aunt Lydias are real. Aunt Lydias are why toxic masculinity is a societal problem. I have heard the term “boys will be boys” thrown around by a mother at a parent-teacher conference, justifying why their son attacked other boys or lifted up girls’ skirts. “He’s just pulling your hair because he likes you” is something female grade-school teachers have been repeating for years. Especially when Indian primary education is dominated by female teachers, it harms girls by making them think unwanted attention is their fault, and it harms boys by making them think that harassment and affection are the same thing.

Sadly, the first person to tell me I was “asking for it” was not a man, but my own aunt. If we all really want to find a solution to eliminate toxic masculinity, it has to be against the individuals propping up the institution.

Feature Image Credits: Kartik Chauhan for DU Beat

Chhavi Bahmba

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Let’s all take a ride through the jungle of Hyper-masculinity to know how it affects our men and how can we help them to emerge out of this jungle safely.

Many people consider hyper-masculinity as an interchangeable term with toxic masculinity. While both of them are by due diligence of patriarchy, both have very different context and meanings.

Toxic masculinity means to use masculine traits to be abusive, hostile or to hold social power to condescend others. While on the other hand, hyper masculinity is just an very exaggerated form of masculinity, which works towards reinforcing the conventional and rigid concept of masculinity.

Taking an example, for instance you’re walking on the footpath, you see a car parked next to it, the car has a man just sitting, what’s amusing is the moment a girl passes by he cranks up his football radio or tries to loudly tinker his car so that girl can see how  masculine that man is. This in its truest form is hyper-masculinity.

Hyper-masculinity, is a sociological term denoting exaggerated forms of masculinity, virility, and physicality. With that answered, let’s trying answering few other questions to understand this concept better.

Why are we considering hyper-masculinity as a dire problem?

Every man is not the same. The individual freedom that each man is entitled to is often taken away by hyper-masculinity. It burdens them with unrealistic standards of being a man. It promotes a binary concept of gender, than what it is, fluid. In many cases it leads to violence against men, and in all cases it leads to mental harassment.

Scholars have suggested that there are three distinct characteristics associated with the hyper-masculine personality. They are-

  • The view of violence as manly
  • The perception of danger as exciting and sensational
  • Callous behaviour toward women and a regard toward emotional displays as feminine


Consider the above with these few real life examples of our own nation.

  • A 12 year old boy was beaten traumatically by his classmates for wearing a pink shirt to his classroom.
  • More than 56% of men face psychological abuse from unrealistic male expectations.
  • Almost all boys have always been told that they’re not supposed to be kind or gentle or even cry.


Hyper-masculinity enforces toxic masculinity which paves way for many social evils like rape culture, mental harassment and much more.

How have we internalized this behaviour as a society?

Hyper-masculine archetypes abound in the mass media, especially action films. There are uncountable films that features a strong, silent hero who exhibits no emotion as he dispatches his enemies. A female lead character with exaggerated “feminine” qualities is often added to accentuate the masculine traits of the hero.

The other way of internalization comes from family power dynamics. It’s imperative to realise how to raise our men. Mothers raising their son to be tough, to not allow them to play with dolls and laugh at any sensitive thing they do are the prime cause of this evil.

Often, these ideals of idol men are enforced on men of the society by their most inner circle of family and friends, making them feel maybe this is the way to be.

How can we help?

The biggest help would recognising this behaviour and calling it out. If it’s been told as wrong then are there, it will be stopped from being a norm. Calling out of people, movies even elders is the way to go.

The other way is to sensitive about it with them, this is what they’ve seen their entire lives, they would need time to realise this isn’t the way to be.

Another way could be to normalise them with them also expressing their feelings and also crying.

Hyper-masculinity isn’t a man’s problem, it’s a societal issue. It’s a burden with which most men live, and it’s time for them to break free.


Feature Image Credits: What’s wrong?

Chhavi Bahmba

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As another bride walks down the mandap, adorning a Sabyasachi Bridal Wear, somewhere out there, the founder Sabyasachi Mukherjee, makes another sexist comment. With a history of subsequent problematic comments, we now know his definition of a Sabhya naari

Popularly known as the man who revolutionised Indian bridal couture, Sabyasachi’s distinctive style is a blend of Indian traditional dressing on the modern-day woman. With several accolades to his name, “Sabyasachi-bride” is the new societal superiority norm. With that amount of influence over the global and Indian wedding market, he’s bound to have a heavy audience following and social media presence. 

The official Instagram handle of Sabyasachi showcases his creation on models (read: superficial women) and some of his personal thoughts, occasionally. Quite recently, he garnered major flak due to his statement on overdressed women, caked with makeup and the deep void in them. Implying a highly problematic notion that, ‘overdressed’ women use dressing up as a coping mechanism to cure their ‘wounds’. A woman requires no reason, per se, to dress up. Even though he provided an apology, the Instagram army wasn’t ready to accept his explanation. Well, how does it even matter if a woman is overdressed, underdressed or naked? 

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Nandini Sukhija, a student of Mumbai University, says “I find it bizarre for a designer to judge women who like to dress up. Whether or not to accessorise is a personal choice and not a reflection of one’s struggles. I was never in favour of idealising the standards of beauty like designers often practice. His sexist remarks only further deter me from even considering designers like him when it comes to making purchases.”

On International Women’s Day, a post celebrating “self-confidence” was uploaded with courtesy to a plus-size model in his lehenga, glowing in her dark skin with a plunging neckline; so much for “inclusivity” and brand promotion. Sabyasachi is infamous for his models portraying the fair, lean and thin women- the conventional definition of the Indian beauty. Using a woman who doesn’t fit into the sphere of the “ideal woman” is always celebrated, but not in the context of promoting self-confidence; it just implies that someone who doesn’t look like what society expects them to, is burdened, resulting in having a staggeringly low-confidence. 

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Devashree Vaidya, a student of Psychology, states, “I think of him as a man who reeks of disguised misogyny, coupled with an intense amount of saviour complex. I believe he’s a person who believes it’s his duty to enlighten people about their own feelings and desires.” 

His blatant sexism exists beyond the social media world. At the Harvard India Conference in 2018, the designer said, “I think, if you tell me that you do not know how to wear a saree, I would say shame on you. It’s a part of your culture, you need to stand up for it.” Savarna cis-men have long been dictating cultural norms and traditions on women. Even though he had issued an apology for saying “shame” in his statement, but as they say, Freudian slip never lies. A time when women’s clothing and choices are still dictated by unasked opinions; no bonus points for guessing which era we live in.

Sabyasachi deals exclusively with women’s clothing and as a designer of his stature, he must keep up with fourth-wave feminism. His series of sexist comments is a deeply conditioned mindset regarding what an ideal, docile Indian woman aka Sabhya Naari should reflect. Time and again he has provided apologies for his mishaps, but how much is too much? How long will we tolerate and continue growing up his sales whilst writing articles against him? 

Feature Image Credits: NDTV

Image Credits: Sabhyasachi’s Instagram


Anandi Sen

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