In these recent weeks, we have yet again seen another popular case of domestic abuse. Though the entire nation was shocked, there were many who defended the abuser. This just simply shows that there are members in our society who are ignorant towards domestic abuse.
What is conditioning you ask? It is basically opinions or viewpoints that exist in our community and how this affects the decisions and choices you make. This conditioning happens to all genders and I will address the female conditioning in my upcoming article. There are many aspects to this conditioning that we speak off. Let’s start with emotional vulnerability. From the get go, many men are taught to view vulnerability as a weakness. ‘Be strong’, ‘man up’ and ‘win at all costs’ are common phrases in our society.
- A real man is someone who is not afraid to pick up a fight and get physical. If he feels that verbal resolution is better, then his manhood is questioned!
- A real man is always physically, emotionally and mentally strong. They are not allowed to cry or god forbid, that might be the end to their social life, as they will be bullied by other people. Phrases like, “ Don’t cry like a girl” or “Don’t be a pussy” have become so common that people do not realise saying these only means that you are subscribing to patriarchy.
- A real man is authoritative, dominant and emotionally retarded, because it is cool to be insensitive.
- A real man will put a woman in her place and does not believe in equality. Yes, I went there. So, in our society, if a woman is more successful than her chauvinistic husband, then he has to take a leadership role in the relationship by playing the, “ I am your husband, and you will do as I say” card!
- A real man will not show affection to other men. If a straight man is seen kissing another man on his cheek or just showing affection in general, he will still be ridiculed for that. This is a common phrase,
“Bro, don’t act like a gay or bapok”.
There is so much fear for some men when their male friends show affection to them. The question is, why is it so hard for straight men to show affection to each other?
These are just a few stereotypes that I am aware of. Some people would argue that many indian men from our B40 community lack the education to know better, but the argument is flawed. You don’t have to be an educated male to not be an abusive person, because this behaviour happens in all different levels in our society.
So many Indian boys might have been exposed to physical violence growing up or our Tamil movies do a very good job in perpetuating the existing stereotype. There could be a few scenarios on how this turns out. The common ones are these;
- Karthik sees his dad hitting his mother so he will hit his wife in the future.
- Karthik sees his dad hitting his mother and he does not want to repeat the same cycle because he knows it’s wrong. But if he is provoked, then he might remind the wife that she is lucky to be married to someone who won’t hit her.
- This would be the most ideal scenario. Karthik is an empowered individual who will not take abuse lightly. He grows up to be a man who knows how to respect a woman without thinking he is some big deal. Remember, you are not doing anyone a favour by showing basic courtesy and manners. It’s called basic for a reason!
However, to break free from this, the intention and mindset is the key point. There is no point if Karthik tells his wife this, “ See, you should be lucky, I did not hit you. My dad used to hit my mom. Don’t provoke my anger”. The crux is the mindset and that is flawed.
Men like Karthik are not even aware of this conditioning we speak off because they lack the leadership of questioning the system. They are too comfortable with the privilege that has been given to them. This just means that they are so used to this behaviour and their mind blocks any new potential growth. The lack of fluidity shows in their character and speech.
I believe that, people do mess up. However, it is in how you handle the mess up and your following actions. Abusive behaviour can be treated with the correct anger management training, but the real question is, would a privileged man let go of their abusive behaviour? Because the alternative is very different. The alternative, is them being feminists, and realising that men and women are equal and no one is going to take abuse or bad behaviour.
We are all flawed, but how is it that so many men out there are fantastic role models for people? Everyone is different in their own way but this falls under the category of basic manners and character. No one should ever be applauded for not being an abusive person. The standards need to be set higher.
Do you know of other forms of conditioning men go through? Please comment in the comment section below. The only way forward is to help bring awareness and understand the magnitude of this conditioning we speak off.