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    With the raucous bellow of women empowerment being a peremptory edict after the Harvey Weinstein expose, men are languishing in the tenebrous alleys of obscurity. The voices of men are reduced to mutterings as the world focuses on the expressions of women. The chauvinistic male is being ignored and their voices being drowned in the din of female uprising. Are we ignoring our men? Are they being heard? I, as a teacher at Khaitan Public School, one of the top CBSE schools in Ghaziabad will try to find out.

    From the beginning men are taught to be tough and fearless. They are forbidden from expressing themselves emotionally by clichés like ‘Don’t cry like a woman’, ‘Act like a man’, ‘Boys don’t cry’. Such comments not only ensconce them in a veneer of fake intrepidity but also create an image for them which they are forced to follow. So, are men really free to carve a persona for themselves or the society does it for them? The society chooses the adjectives that define men.

    They are not accorded freedom to steer clear of these set stereotypes. We should be talking about the freedom of men rather than women, isn’t it? Growing up to be the breadwinner of the family puts a lot of pressure on men. They do not have the liberty to sit at home and do nothing. The burden of performance coupled with the necessity of earning big bucks weighs heavily on their shoulders. They have to be successful and prove themselves to be worthy of being a man. Are these men at liberty to defy stereotypes?

    Marriage is another domain where men need to balance their acts. The strain to handle the wife on one hand and mother on the other lends color to their otherwise colorless existence. We have often relished jokes that travel around ridiculing men of being submissive and meek in marriages, while women take on the coveted title of being the ‘Home Minister’ with aplomb. Even here men do not have the autonomy to voice their opinions or take a side. By the way, taking sides can mean self-annihilation.

    Men think women to be diffident and weak but these descriptors are more applicable to them instead. The veneer of strength, power and valour which masks their outward appearance is deceptive as men are dependent on women not only for emotional strength but also for encouragement and motivation. However, the question arises that if men do not have the right to choose the physiognomies that define them, can they play the role of a benefactor to women.

    The truth is men can’t give women anything when they themselves are shackled by an image and role decided for them by society. Men who claim to be the patrons of women, men who claim to be custodians of women safety, men who claim to bestow freedom on women as a blessing are oblivious to the fact that the joke is on you and them. They do not realize that the pseudo preeminence that they enjoy is a façade. In reality it is the women who command and rule their world.

    However, it is rightly said that where ignorance is bliss, it is folly to be wise. So leaving men to bask in the glory of their self-created bubble of greatness and superiority, I as a woman have the last laugh.

    Indeed, The Joke Is On You!

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