Stories about masculinity

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Jr and Maria Toorpakay Wazir will have none of this gender conformity nonsense, and we salute them

A few days ago, I had the privilege of watching two videos. The central individuals in both the videos are totally different. One is a scion of the most famous political dynasty of Pakistan, while the other was born into a more humble background but managed to garner fame and success through talent, determination and hard work. One is a bearded young man who speaks softly and eloquently, while the other is a tough-looking female who talks in what would be considered a “masculine” manner in our society. One is a man who is trying to tell the world ...

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Will Priyanka Chopra’s Baywatch help normalise swimsuits for Indians?

I was 13-years-old when I first watched an episode of Baywatch. All the boys at school had been talking about the show in hushed tones. They said it was very B-Y, a term they used to describe a bikini-clad woman. The B referred to the bikini top and the Y referred to the bikini bottom. I was in ninth standard, and my mother had decided we would get cable only after my 10th standard board exams. Also, parents in general did not want teenagers to watch a lot of shows on cable TV back then to curb “western” influence. I watched ...

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Moonlight is cinematic poetry

Issues of identity, sexuality and masculinity have always been fascinating subjects in cinema, but rarely have they ever been explored with such beauty, mastery and eloquence as they are with Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight. A film that simultaneously feels both grand and intimate and a film that leaves a lasting impact on you, whether it is through its subtle, fleeting touches or it’s vibrant, vivid images. Mahershala Ali and Alex R. Hibbert in Moonlight (2016)Photo: IMDb From the first frame to the last, Moonlight is a balancing act that never falters. It introspects the life of Chiron, a young African-American boy in Miami, through three ...

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Being a man isn’t just about masculinity

“But that’s how we guys are.” Is a common response when a woman asks a man about a few traits and attitudes that are seen as manly and macho. While walking on a street near you, in a mall, or even when couples enter weddings – a familiar scenario ensues. The husband can be seen walking a few steps ahead of the wife for sure, and the wife trudging behind him, adjusting her ensemble, trying to catch up. For Pakistani males, Def Leppard’s classic Two Steps Behind You is too mushy I’m sure. It is seen as some mark of masculinity to walk at least ...

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Why are Indian and Pakistani men hell-bent on perpetuating sexual terrorism?

Another day, another news report about a horrific rape that once again highlights the distance India has to travel to ensure true equality, freedom, and justice for its women. In this latest incident, a 21-year-old was gang raped again by the same five men who had raped her three years ago. This incident is beyond outrageous and is a measure of the abject failure of the law and order machinery in ensuring that justice is served and all perpetrators of sexual crimes are punished appropriately. Out of the five original rapists, two were apparently out on bail and three had never ...

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Why are Pakistani men scared of being fashionable?

Browsing through magazines and websites, I’m sure most of you feel that fashion is very female-centric. And when I say female-centric I do not mean to sound misogynistic or anti-feminist, I’m merely stating that women dominate this industry, ranging from modelling to street style to bridal fashion. In South Asian countries, especially Pakistan, where the society is more patriarchal and chauvinistic as opposed to other countries, it makes sense why fashion is not seen as something that men could or should associate themselves with. Young boys and men are usually nurtured in such a way that fashion becomes a sort of ...

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Dear Faisal Qureshi, just stop the hypocrisy. Please.

Dear Faisal Qureshi, Let me start by saying that while I am a film critic whose reviews are published weekly in Pakistan, I rarely watch Bollywood ‘films’. In fact, the last time I tried, my brain snapped shut, and I vomited uncontrollably for a few minutes. Later, I was diagnosed with Post Bollywood Stress Disorder (PBSD), a mental health condition provoked by a shockingly bad Bollywood film. I was sure I would never watch something as horrific again, until I saw your video response to Indian actor Saif Ali Khan’s comments on the Pakistani ban on his film, Phantom.

Now, I must admit, at the very least, you ...

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Why do jihadists hate women but love pornography?

One of the defining aspects of our culture right now, though it is rarely acknowledged and discussed, is the problem of the young man. We often reflect as a society on the way in which our culture, especially as it is articulated in the media, has very strong and very negative consequences for our young women. From the way in which our media is affecting our cultural understanding of normal body image, to the psychiatric disorders (including but not limited to eating disorders) that ravage a shocking proportion of our teenage daughters, to the ways in which this new ...

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Gender roles and the ‘macho male’ complex in India

It is the year 2014 and much has changed in the world. Technology has made monumental strides towards advancement – today we can communicate with another person sitting across the globe with the mere touch of a button or the swipe of a finger. Medical and public health initiatives have worked synergistically to eliminate some of the most virulent diseases plaguing the human race, such as the polio virus in India. One can confidently state that “everything is subject to change” with respect to all arenas governing our lives. But despite these notable achievements, it is disconcerting to observe that our attitudes, ...

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#HeForShe will not make you any less of a man

In an era where celebrities predominantly exercise an almost magnetic influence over their fan base to promote products and virtually dictate the way the populous dresses or behaves, it becomes exceedingly rare to see an individual stand up and talk about a pertinent issue. Emma Watson, an actress known mostly for her performance in the Harry Potter series, showed how celebrity power can be used in a positive way. Speaking before a UN conference, Watson kick started her ‘HeForShe’ campaign, a movement which aims to achieve gender equality by including men in the fight against female oppression. Although as a race, we have ...

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