A new study has explored how the average Indian male interprets the idea of ‘masculinity’ and how that shapes his interactions with women.
The study, ‘Masculinity, Intimate Partner Violence and Son Preference in India’ by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW), shows a very high prevalence of violence against women in relationships across many states in the country.
Most of the 9,205 men interviewed showed that they were convinced that masculinity is about acting tough, freely exercising his privilege to lay down the rules in personal relationships, and controlling women.
Around two out of five men in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Punjab and Haryana, where the study was conducted, were found to be ‘rigidly masculine’ in their attitude and behaviour, as they firmly stated that women should neither be seen nor heard.
The study used a masculinity index to measure the degree of behavioural rigidity, based on levels of control men practice in intimate relationship and their attitudes towards gender equality.
“Gendered ideas of masculinity and childhood experiences are significant contributing factors behind men using violence. This research identifies alternative expressions of masculinity that offer pointers to effectively engage men and boys in achieving gender equality,” said Frederika Meijer, UNFPA India Representative.