After a short film with Alia Bhatt which discussed the concept of women's safety, Vogue has released a new film under it's VogueEmpower series and this one deals with the psyche of men or so you'd be inclined to think.
The film is directed by Vinil Mathew who has made Hasee to Phasee. It has Madhuri Dixit making a fleeting appearance in it. The film talks about how boys are taught at every stage of their life that "Boys don't cry." The way the film unfolds, we see boys at each stage from infants to elementary school kids to teens to college students, all being given the one same message: that boys don't cry.In the end, however the film takes an unexpected twist, when you see one man, (you think he's about to cry) hurting a woman quite badly.
A close-up of the woman's face shows us that she's been beaten up by this man, who's either her husband or partner. It's then that Madhuri Dixit appears on screen and says that "From the beginning, we teach boys not to cry. Perhaps it time we taught them them not to make others cry".
In short, the film is about domestic violence and might leaving you scratching your heads for a little while, given the rather convoluted path it takes to get to its message. Sure no one is going to deny that it's high time that men and boys were made to realise that physical abuse or even mental harassment of a female partner is just plain wrong, but the film doesn't do that in a manner than is effective and strong.
The film links two completely different sides of masculinity as though one is always responsible for the other. It seems to imply that because we teach men not to cry, they like to make women cry.
There are many problems with the "boys don't cry" version of masculinity, none of which the film addresses. For starters it's bad for the men themselves because this idea expects them to live up to some bizarre notion of the tough, 'real' man where crying would compromise their identity as men.
For many men, living up to this image can be very hard and those who end up crying, even in front of their closest friends, often face ridicule or are reminded of the male motto, 'Boys don't cry'. This the film shows quite accurately.
However, the film never addresses how 'boys don't cry' impacts male psyche but takes an abrupt turn to a completely different issue: of domestic violence and men who hurt women.
The film concludes showing a man, cold, unyielding and impassive, twisting a woman's arm. The message seems to be this: men who don't cry in public and are not prone to show of emotions are most likely to hurt women. And that isn't remotely true.
While trying to puncture the 'macho man' stereotype, the film creates another stereotype, which suggests that men, uncomfortable with the show of emotions, might end up hurting women.
The one good thing about the video is how it shows that the man and the woman are well-to-do, presumably educated individuals living in a posh home. That the video acknowledges how domestic violence isn't something that only your maid faces and is not class specific, is laudable.
But where the whole domestic violence message is concerned, the video is not ground-breaking. Just like 'boys don't cry' is one aspect of the so-called 'real man', patriarchy has insisted that crying is the exclusive domain of women. And when the video says men should be taught not to get girls to cry, it's just reinforcing this idea, that girls are the weaker ones, the ones who will cry because of a man. It, perhaps unwittingly, places power in the hands of the man and asks them to not make a girl cry. That isn't what empowerment means, isn't it?
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Updated Date: Oct 28, 2014 09:16:52 IST