What does it mean to be masculine? The Women and Girls Lead Global project in India aims to challenge harmful gender stereotypes that may contribute to gender-based violence, and to cultivate a group of young role models who are inspired to take action to promote positive notions of masculinity. As I’ve begun talking with young people around the country, I realize that many of them have not thought much about what masculinity looks like, or how gender stereotypes can contribute to violence and injustice. The photos here represent a journey through urban cities and rural villages in an attempt to ‘reveal’ the Indian masculinity, as lived by the people of the country.
Cases of female sexual harassment, also popularly known as "eve-teasing" continue to rise in India. Media like this advertisement – representing women as objects that play into male desire – sets up a power dynamic that may contribute to such harassment.
Boys learn from an early age that showcasing physical strength and defeating someone else in a fight are considered to be "powerful" and "masculine."
Toys also have an important impact on children's cognitive and social development. One of the most prized toys among boys is the "gun". It gives them a sense of power and control over others, including girls.
Surely boys learn to cherish their toy guns from somewhere. Men with weapons are considered to be powerful and strong. Most of the guards in India are men, and if a guard holds a gun license, then he is actually paid a higher salary.
The moustache in India is another symbol for masculinity. Guards are also paid more if they sport an impressive moustache.
Moustaches come in many shapes and sizes, believed to give men power.
Being muscular and brawny is also considered to be directly proportionate to a man's masculinity.
Taking Up Space
The way men occupy public space often suggests a certain sense of control or power – less restricted in where or how they sit, and free to spend their leisure time out in the open.
Show of Strength
The show of strength in public spaces is largely a man's domain. The men pictured here lift a car to clear the traffic in a South Delhi market.
A Heavy Load
The man pictured here carries a heavy load followed by his wife carrying their baby. Patriarchy expects women to take care of children while men are stereotypically associated with doing laborious work.
Cooking Like a Professional
Domestic cooking in households is done by women, but when it comes to getting paid for preparing food, women are often excluded. Most restaurants in Delhi employ male chefs.
The Boys Are Watching
Boys and young men absorb all the cultural messages around them, and learn – how to behave in public and what to expect from relationships. What will you teach your boys?