Stories about masculinity

#TherapistDiaries: How toxic masculinity impacts fatherhood and other relationships

Who is the strongest man in your life? Did your response comprise of somebody in an authoritative position over you, irrespective of your gender? And what is it that makes this person ‘strong’ in your perception? I remember a time when a certain male cricketer from across the border cried during a match after being slapped by another player. It was in the news for days and we all laughed our hearts out at his tears. Whenever men express their feelings, we call them names that somehow prove they do not fit the golden category of (toxic) masculinity known as ‘macho’. Macho ...

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“They hired a Pathan?! I thought it was for smart people”: Pakhtun stereotyping is not ‘just jokes’

I recently moved to the United States for my graduate studies. At the Denver International Airport, a large poster of Malala Yousafzai welcomed me. I wished this would not be the only time I felt at home, but I remained sceptical. Only recently had I read a news article about the increase in race and religion-based violence in America. I decided to reserve my judgement for later. Inadvertently though, this brought back memories of another relocation I experienced three years ago. On June 10, 2015, a week before I graduated from the Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute (GIK), I received a ...

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Kamran, a soldier eternally

The heavy breathing, bewildered expressions, and tears welling from the eyes of the three people surrounding Kamran saddened him. He didn’t know what to say, how to respond, what reasons to give. After all, he was clueless himself. The silence was silently injuring everyone’s hearts from within. This silence had to be broken, and thus Kamran spoke in the most wavering voice. “Why won’t any of you say anything?  Isn’t it enough for you all that I’m finally here?” No one knew how to answer. Finally, after a long pause, Ammi spoke in an almost inaudible voice. “Yes beta. Of course, we’re ...

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“Look at his arms, they’re huge”: The naked truth of how men have body image issues too

A few months ago, my brother and I were at the grocery store picking up some snacks for movie night. The checkout line was stocked with entertainment magazines and tabloid covers. One of them was Men’s Health – I don’t remember what was on the cover, but they’re all the same.  “Drop 10 pounds of fat now!” “Three ways to naturally boost your testosterone.” “Get huge arms and a chiseled six-pack fast!”  Something like that, I’m sure. What I do remember is that the cover model’s arms looked as wide as my head, and his abs may as well have been sculpted by ...

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Guys with ‘man buns’ are oh-so-hot, but Saheefa Jabbar Khattak gets a pixie cut and she loses her appeal and rights as a woman?

What if I told you that an educated Pakistani model, Saheefa Jabbar Khattak, was denied entrance into a women’s washroom because of her pixie haircut?  Yes, not only were her basic human rights denied, she was also shamed on social media for ‘sacrificing’ her hair length for a photoshoot. #isupportsaheefaA few hours ago, I came across a facebook live video that broke my heart, I mean literally! Saheefa… Posted by Fahad Hussain on Monday, August 21, 2017 To put an end to all the derogatory comments on her photos, Khattak recorded a live video and addressed all the haters directly. She spoke about the double ...

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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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