Breaking the Patriarchal Gaze


From centuries, our idea of humanity has been central to the macrocosm of MANkind. Our history provides us with substantial evidence of the same. It stems from our comprehension (or lack thereof) about Structural Anatomical Roles. For instance, a version of the cavemen philosophy of men (unquestionably cis-het ones, of course; anything else was inconceivable) going out to hunt and women (assigned female at birth) being confined to cook barefoot in the kitchen is still present today. As much as most of our generation prize ourselves on our progressive thinking, we fail to realize that an individual’s capabilities should surpass their anatomical status. It is shameful to witness our intellectual disabilities harboured through ‘old customs’.

As a result, humankind has been conditioned to believe that we are obligated in perpetual service of patrilineal preaching to our ancestors.We didn’t even know how depleting this kind of thinking was, definitely not until great philosophical thinkers like Butler, Wittig, De Beauvoir and Foucault gave us food for thought. They explained how toxic masculinity fosters from the upbringing of infants to the point when the said infant remains oblivious and unseeing to the curtained reality of Gender Conforming. They enunciate that from childhood itself, priority is given to the birth of those who have male-specific organs; whether or not they identify with the organs in question remains irrelevant. Unfortunately, despite their Herculean efforts, such paradoxically oppressive agencies persist to this day as a fundamental actuality.

A rather apt and unparalleled description of social dichotomy would be De Beauvoir’s observation, “one is not born a woman, but rather becomes one.” Another side of the metaphorical coin is the composition of male hierarchy, the production of this article’s namesake; The advocates of heteronormativity. Following this, the elderly assert supreme authority and as is evident from our country, their word is literally law. As Aristotle points out that imitation is what makes us different from animals, we must also contemplate the repercussions of imitating the wrong thinking of our elders. Think of it this way, if a person kept hurting animals in front of their child, wouldn’t the child grow up thinking that asserting our power over animals is a human right? Similarly, children’s minds are as fragile as sandcastles; they could be swept away in the flow without a strong foundation. Parents spend their whole lives moulding their child’s identity in the same manner their own parents did. And that’s how this unending cycle of cis-het politics set the stage for the queerphobic world we live in today. However, on the other hand, if our generation (Gen Z) vows to raise our children without superficial promises, but actual philosophical lessons concerning individual liberty, then our little sandcastles will develop with stronger foundations, with closed doors for restrictive conventions and open windows for just being themselves, whomever they may be.

Just like a stubborn toddler unwilling to go to bed, we ‘the learned’, we ‘who know better’, we who cringe away from these matters, have normalized gender essentialism as a fact. Girls like pink, boys don’t cry, gravity drags us down; much like our current depraved culture. Consequently, we attach certain unmistakable attributes to being a ‘man’. The attributes in question are further fastened as a courtesy from structural iconography of gender conformity, steadily and stealthily labouring waste to our idealistic individuality. Case in point, cis men being homosexual have been typically categorized as not having ‘enough masculinity’.

The dogma of ‘Man of the house’ and AFAB (assigned female at birth) folks being homemakers is another facet of our social rigidity. The noose of our bequeathed cultural connotations (however delusional, they may be) stands uncontested and ever tightening, due to the lack of voices demanding otherwise. Our age has somehow achieved something unprecedented; we have managed to be even more culturally stifling. What prompted our earliest ancestors to establish these roles? Do we have do abide by these roles even now? What became of those who spoke against such doctrines? Is there no room left for variety of gender outside of the binary?

Furthermore, certain conducts of behaviour, fixed as attractive in men and other as coy in women, infuse monopolization of heteronormativity in us. Identically, having ‘male ego’ is an attractive feature in cis-het men whereas a woman being assertive is classified as ‘bossy’. It’s up to us, we have set upon breaking down stereotypes, there needs to be more female CEOs and Presidents and more exposure to Drag in India. We have to recognize that boys are also susceptible to emotions; rather a person should be allowed to measure their own emotional capacity. Admittedly, some LGBTQ celebrities are representing heteronormative gaps through their attires like @the.chick.maharani and Zain.

In contrast though, massively generalized toxic masculinity exacerbates our already duplicitous social conditioning. The disadvantages of the governing authorities being prejudiced clearly elucidate how it’s mirrored by their followers, certainly not only limited to them but impacting us also. They work in tandem to synchronise heteronormative machinery as the majority, completely devoid of any individuality. Not long ago, the following individual commented that homosexuality was unnatural and that the few scriptures, which had healthy representation of homosexuality, were tampered and unreal. The following statement unravels the consequences of entrusting wrong people with powerful situations:

Why can’t we untie these unsolicited associations of gender with anatomy? Why must certain attributes be restricted to femininity and others to masculinity? What becomes of those who prefer neither or both? To what extent shall our individual liberty be obfuscated for the wants of ‘systematic biases’? With the supervision over the manufacturing of cis-het men as patriarchal monarchs going unsurprisingly well, one wonders when supervision over liberal democracy may take place. The fact that we have to teach people to let us have the dignity of our choices is the evidence of the need for difference. As long as we keep asking questions and remain loyal to Pride, we will make a change. All we need to do is plant a seed of thought; we need to incept our ideas in the n

Aakshi Srivastava
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