'Moustaches Unlimited’ and Pledges Fire up DDU College Students - 23 September
An enthusiastic crowd of about 200 students and faculty members of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya College, Delhi University, welcomed the MenEngage team as a special guest at the annual orientation programme of the Women’s Development Cell (WDC). The WDC of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya College has been actively working in the college campus on issues of women’s empowerment and equal rights for all. WDC convenor Arpita Bhattacharya pointed out that men have emerged as an important partnering constituency as work on women’s empowerment progresses. She added that of late the discourse around masculinity has become significant in the struggle for a gender equitable society. An important view, she said, was of the need for men to reflect upon and undo the manner in which they had been socialized. Empowering women also meant that men should let go of their autocratic hold on power. Thus, this year’s college orientation programme had decided to focus on demystifying the myths of masculinity. Light was thrown upon how popular norms of masculinity had become engrained into the structural system of society, leading to misogyny. ‘Masculine’ men had an autocratic hold over power. The WDC-led discourse sought to bring out the flip side of male power and privileges, discussing how the notions of masculinity induced a great amount of stress, imposed limitations and led to dehumanization in the course of the socialization of a child from boy to man.
The WDC said its agenda was to reach out to boys and men in the campus this year to highlight these concerns and bring out the benefits of a gender equitable society that does not threaten men’s power but instead provides a system by which responsibilities are shared and progress achieved through equal effort from equal partners.
The MenEngage team from the Secretariat of the 2nd MenEngage Global Symposium 2014 facilitated a session on the issue of engaging men and boys for gender Justice. As a part of this, Vasudha Joshi’s film ‘Moustaches Unlimited’ was screened. The film explores the gesture of wearing of a moustache as symbolic of one’s masculinity in various communities and institutions such as the army etc. The film examines the various beliefs, traditions and related social prejudices that revolve around these masculine aspirations, bringing out how such practices implicitly feed into a hegemonic distribution of power of men over women in the patriarchal gender system. Runu Chakraborty, a founder member of JAGORI, Delhi, facilitated the lively and interactive discussion that followed the screening. She brought out issues and concerns that were integral to the understanding of popular notions of masculinity and the consequent misogyny and denial of access to power and control to women that they propagated.
The students took pledges to promote gender equality. Male students also pledged to own up accountability and responsibility on the issue of gender justice from their positioning as a man in society. Female students also took pledges that they would seek to raise awareness among men and boys about their role in bringing about a gender equitable society and its benefits to all.