Tag Archives: Men

To All The Girls I’ve Loved: Sorry For All The Times I’ve Been A Casual Misogynist

 

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I’d like to believe I am a lot of things.

I believe I am empathetic. I believe I am supportive. I believe I am a feminist. I believe I am pro-equality. And thus, I believe I am ‘woke’ – but not woke like all the other woke men out there, I giggle (which automatically makes me like all the other woke men out there).

I’ve called out misogynists. Nipped sexist jokes in the bud. Broken gender norms (and a few plates) in the kitchen. Walked my kid sister to school. Schooled boys who catcall and letch. Literally pushed past drunken men to create safe spaces for my girl friends at bars. Stared men down who stare at women. Given lectures. Taken notes. I’ve supported my women friends. Revered them. Put them on a pedestal. My relationship with all the women in my life can thus be summarised as one giant love letter. I support, and as kids today would say, I ‘stan’ women. I could be the poster boy for feminism.

So you can imagine my surprise when this happened a few months ago at a friend’s birthday party:

‘Jeez, it’s just a compliment,’ I rolled my eyes at the birthday girl, when she dismissed my (obviously uncalled for) remarks about her dress. I had called it ‘skanky, but strong and opinionated skanky’. It was supposed to be a joke, and I was perturbed that she didn’t find it funny. How do I know?

Because she called me a word that most gay men hate to be associated with: a misogynist. Me, a misogynist? I don’t think so, lady. How could I, a self-aware, self-conscious, raging homosexual be even mildly misogynistic? I don’t look like one, do I?

‘…And gay men love women. I love women,’ I thought to myself, citing the fact that around 98 percent of my friends were female. You remember the bit about the love letter, don’t you?

I later caught myself calling a female driver a ‘little bitch’ under my breath (side note: I now stick to gender-neutral abuses, such as ‘irresponsible maniac’) to realise I might have a little problem.

That’s the thing about casual misogyny. It’s a disease without symptoms. There are no flu-like signs. No aching in the bones. No wheezing and whooping. No constricted breathing. It doesn’t come with a dedicated WebMD page (and even if it did, you would confuse it with testicular cancer), or even a prescription.

It’s everywhere, and you, my friend, like me, are most certainly suffering from it too. Gay male privilege is a thing (especially since the cis-gay man is the ‘straight white male’ equivalent of the queer pyramid), and often it feels like our minority status grants us the get-out-of-jail-free card for casual misogyny (for example, Grindr ‘preferences’). It’s our community’s best-kept secret.

I used to think it was my responsibility as a self-loving gay man to make disparaging remarks about the dressing sense (and often, appearance) of my female friends. Being salty is being endearing, I thought. If I am not honest with a woman who I so obviously love, how will she find herself? How will she become fierce? How will she become strong? Independent? A diva?

Because from Madonna to Ariana, from Beyoncé to Britney, from Sridevi to Kareena, we love ourselves a diva – as long as they are perfect.

And just then, when you begin to scratch the surface, you find that there are many shades of sexism unique to gay men. It’s a problem that’s always swept under the proverbial carpet, because that’s the thing about gay men and how difficult it is to identify our misogyny: We can infiltrate the thinnest of cracks, because we are supposed to be ‘brothers in arms’.

But do we really embrace the sisterhood in all its entirety?

An important example is in the wave of profiles on Grindr (and other gay dating apps) that describe themselves as ‘Masc4Masc’, comically butching up their image to get into bed with others like them. Similarly, Scruff’s ‘Most Woofed’ section is pure gold – a grid of hairy, bare-chested men in various states of undress, dousing you with their masculinity. It’s the same everywhere. Femininity, whatever that may be, thus becomes a dirty word – a slur that means ‘lesser’. Weak. Alien. Different.

As a gay man in his 30s, it makes me wonder to what extent I’ve stunted my own femininity – even if I might have done it unsuccessfully – just so I could fit in. Do I walk a certain way that I shouldn’t? Do I talk a certain way I shouldn’t? Do I behave a certain way I shouldn’t? What about my fluid arms and my fluid gait? Most importantly, what about my fluidity?

It’s sad that so many of my peers feel the same way. Gay men of a certain age and nature are being increasingly daunted and disgusted by the feminine – unless it’s safe, or a joke, or a reality show like RuPaul’s Drag Race. Is it right?

Not in the slightest.

Internet quotes will tell you to ‘Spend time with women, strong women. Women who cheer you up and cheer you on, women who teach you, women who support you. Spend time with women who will make you laugh, women who have opinions, and women who will call you on your bullshit. Visit ugly places, pretty places, dangerous places and strange places with them. Eat, laugh, make merry and be silent with them.’

What do they not tell you?

To put yourself in their shoes. To be them. To embrace them. To treat women as equals, not assets. To respect (and revere). To laud (and love). To support (and take a stand for). And what if I don’t?

Just tell me to go make a sandwich.

Can We Stop With The #BoysAndTheirToys in 2018?

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Relationship experts, Internet proverbs, and magazines at the dentist’s all tell us the same thing. Men are from Mars, women are from Venus. Men are from Mars, women are from Venus. Men are from Mars, and women… well, you get the gist. Two planets apart, millions of miles away — now repeat it till you believe it.

But that’s the thing, it’s a myth. Men don’t necessarily need to come from Mars – they can come from Venus, Saturn, Neptune or even Ganymede (that’s Jupiter’s biggest moon for the astronomically unaware). In fact, they can come from anywhere they want, just like they can be whoever they want to be.

We might have been conditioned to believe that men need to be (or behave) a certain way, but the dictionary has never told anyone to be a classic d***hebag who smokes like a chimney and eats like a pig. Like I discussed last time, men aren’t a result of their toys, tempers and tastes, they are a result of their manners and their mottos.

Years of conditioning aside, it all usually starts as soon as you come kicking and screaming into the world. See, as a child you don’t understand the ramifications of what you say or the fact that one day, you’ll be embarrassed by what you’ve done – it’s like an Archiesversion of being sh*t-faced drunk and uninhibited – and no one has taught you that you have to behave a certain way just because, so you usually screw that up. You say the wrong things. You act the wrong way. You ask for the wrong toy.

As a child, I’d never had a kitchen set of my own – I had a lot of clowns, cars, books and GI Joes – and any time that I found these miniature cooking utensils freely available was a revelation. I would usually snatch an hour or two with them at my cousin’s, or play house with them with the girl next door.

It was pure, unadulterated joy, and I used all of it to bake make-believe macarons. It was big joke in my extended family, but I didn’t really care (also I really didn’t know). So finally, on my seventh birthday when my parents asked me what I wanted, I thought I’d jump at the idea – the only sort of jumping I would ever do.

I remember being really nervous about not getting anything at all, but I was also nervous that I’d be laughed at, so I checked and double-checked to see whether I really could ask for anything I wanted.

“Yes, please,” they said.

So I asked for a kitchen set. I don’t really remember the exact reaction, but it was politely explained to me that I couldn’t have one because kitchen sets were for girls.

I was crushed. So I asked for books. Video games. Toy cars. Spaceship models. The complete He-Man collection (side note: I got greedy).

For me, playing house wasn’t just about clanking those tiny utensils together; I wanted to act out all the ideas in my head – scripts I’d never be able to live but knew by heart. My crazy imagination was dying to see all the stories I scrawled in my little notebooks come to life.

And then Lego came along, and changed everything.

Conventionally, there was nothing wrong with a boy playing with his Lego set – I could build houses, and cafes and parks, without being disturbed. But the attempt to ‘Masc’ things up wasn’t far away – I got the fire station starter pack one birthday, but I ended up making a fancy condo (albeit with poles) with that as well.

The boys toys stopped coming my way though, and my bedroom filled up with books (and even more Lego sets), but it was a distraction from the seemingly endless amazement that I wasn’t macho enough – not playing sports or climbing trees. As long as I had my nose deep in a book, no one asked me why it wasn’t looking up football strategies online.

Eventually, my fascination with building homes and stories helped; I went on to become an architect, and then a writer, so I could say it all worked out for me – but my childhood remained the same.

A lie.

There’s been some progress, at least in moving away from the ‘pinkification’ of girl’s toys and allowing them the freedom to play with what would traditionally be called boy’s toys – their cars, dinosaurs, cowboys and all that.

It’s an important fight and we need it, but when it comes to the other side of the coin – little boys just dying to pick up a play doll or a play house – it’s a harder sell. Not to mention that in 2018, gender is not just about ‘boys and girls’. Everyone is finding their own way. Boys can play with girl’s toys and girls can play with boy’s toys. Heck, there’s no such thing as boy’s toys and girl’s toys anymore, just like there’s no such thing as a man’s job and a woman’s job.

How can I be so sure?

A few weeks ago, as I played house with my nephew, I asked him what he wanted to be when he grows up. He wanted to be a superhero, his grandmother, a policeman and a race car driver, in that order (He also said he wanted to be ‘happy’, but he’s always been a bright kid). He’s four years old.

His reasons for wanting to be his grandmother were simple. She made all the decisions at home. He wanted to do the same thing. We both high-fived and had tea with the underlying matriarchy in our makeshift hall.

My four-year-old nephew might be a doll (no pun intended), but the rest of us still have a long way to go. Countless dreams (and bones) get crushed every day because men are supposed to be breaking their heads (and their backs) at the workplace, or the gym. So here’s something for you to take away – do what interests you, not something that ticks all the boxes for becoming the quintessential man.

Am I gay because I played with dolls and kitchen sets, or despite the fact that I really couldn’t? Would it have really made any difference? With ‘traditionally masculine’ sports’ stars now coming out of the closet, there really is no fail-safe to stop your child from becoming ‘less macho’ (not even a good ol’ football can save him. Sorry about that.)

If you’d rather your child grow up sad and ashamed, the toy really isn’t the problem here. If they grow up to come out as gay or bi or trans or seem “less of a man”, it’s not because you bought them a Barbie doll when they were seven (it’s probably because they are built in a different way then you are.)

And even if it turns out to be true, so what? Be proud of them and pat yourself on your back for being such a great influence!

Just buy that kitchen set. You’d only thank yourself later when your son (or brother) gets you Eggs Benedict in bed.

You are welcome.

PS: My parents are, and have always been, great and very accepting and shielded me from a lot of bullsh*t (homophobic or otherwise) in life. They eventually did get me that kitchen set, only they pretended it was for my sister.

Every Man’s Guide to Surviving A Breakup

 

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It’s happened.

So you’ve just gone through (what you feel is) the worst breakup of your life. You’re standing all alone in your apartment, with your now-no-longer-jointly-owned cat, half of your belongings, and half of your heart. You’re single and stressing out over waking up to an empty bed, and an emptier life.

But I’ll tell you a secret.

You’re obviously going to get through it. All you need are a few essentials to start over before you get back in the game. So how about you prep your house (and your heart) with this essential Post-Breakup Bachelor Pad Survival Kit?

1. Crisp white sheets

Nothing screams the single life than brand new white sheets, completely devoid of the stains and smells of your monstrous ex.

It makes your dull, depressing apartment (and you) appear larger and brighter, and is the perfect background for the various vacation flings you’ll bring back home over the weeks to come.

2. A super-sized box of condoms

All the vacation flings that you bring back home aren’t going to cover themselves.

3. Instant noodles

You’ll need packets and packets of instant noodles, because you won’t feel like cooking anything more complicated. It’s your 4 am friend and you can douse it with everything you’ve got — the spare bit of ricotta cheese, some tomato ketchup, a little smidgeon of Tabasco, oregano that you painstakingly collected over years of pizza deliveries, a healthy drizzle of soy sauce and the dozen expletives you didn’t use in your goodbye email.

And as you wait the quintessential two minutes for the water to boil, you can cry. Because that’s enough time to cry your heart out.

4. A tub of your favourite ice cream flavour in the fridge

Ice cream solves what retail therapy can’t. Enough said.

5. A strong resolve

Every once in a while, you’ll have this sudden urge. It will hit you in the middle of the night as you toss in bed, or when you are answering emails at work. It might even hit you when you’re writing out a birthday card for the best friend. This is the urge to get back in touch with your ex, and ask him to take you back. You’ll beg, you’ll plead, you’ll reason, and you’ll hate.

For those tough moments, you’ll need a tough heart.

6. An emptier smartphone

Delete the texts, the pictures from your vacation last year, the bill receipts from your dates, the sexts you sent each other on your anniversary and the screenshots you saved to use in a fight later (and did). Delete it all. Cleanse your phone, and then use it to call a friend over. Call all your friends over.  Share your ice cream and your instant noodles with all of them. Repeat till you are happy.

7. A Netflix account with high speed Internet

The only remedy to the perfect post-breakup life is HD quality television, free of commercial breaks (and moments to linger back to your vile ex.)

Good luck binge watching through three seasons of Black Mirror as you try your best to chew on your lukewarm instant noodles from last night.

8. A bottle (or crate) of Cabernet Sauvignon stacked away in the closet

There’s nothing like some Bordeaux loving to get you out of your slump, and into bed with the cute writer you’ve been flirting with all of last week.

9. A yoga mat

At some point, you’d open the blinds and want to lose all the ice-cream induced weight. You’d want to get back in the dating game. You’d want to look like the best version of yourself.

On that day, you’ll buy yourself a yoga mat (because deep down you know you’ll never stick to a gym membership right till the very end). You’d effectively end up using the mat as a background for your next Grindr picture.

10. Optimism

One day, after an hour’s worth of Pilates on your new yoga mat, you’ll sit up straighter than before and tell yourself that this isn’t the worst moment of your life. You’ll throw out the leftover ice cream and drink the last bottle of wine. You’ll wash the noodle-stained vessels and put them away. You’ll tell yourself that you’ll be OK.

You’ll eventually start believing it. Because you will be OK.

Meet The Men 3.0: The Sapiosexual

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Ranveir, 27, is a high-profile accountant with a high-profile MNC.
And yes, that’s how he describes himself.

He likes his matcha tea and his sourdough bread, and twice a month, he likes walking his dog on weekends. Ranveir guffaws at racist jokes, and occasionally ghosts a nice guy because ‘things are moving too fast, and I can’t handle all the expectations of this relationship’.

While the fact that he spells his name that way might ring a warning bell, something else seals the deal.

Ranveir is a self-proclaimed sapiosexual. How does it change anything?

Let’s get it straight. The word sapiosexual is thrown around as casually as the phrase ’sane and sorted’ is used on Grindr. It’s a security blanket used by boys to keep the douchebags away (completely unaware that it makes them sound like one too), assuming it’s going to draw in a string of smart, suave and eligible men straight to the bedroom (and beyond). But that’s the thing.

All the smart, suave, eligible men are taken.
And they don’t call themselves sapiosexuals.

Continue reading Meet The Men 3.0: The Sapiosexual

Number Fifteen: The Therapist

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Art Work: Aakash Dewan.

It’s a sweaty Friday afternoon – but we are indoors, wolfing down second helpings of chicken schezwan noodles, and trying to get the waiter to get our drinks (two large pegs of rum with a little cola, topped all the way with ice) to our table. The air is heavy with cigarette smoke and endless chatter – you can smell the waywardness of our lives. I want to ask him whether he would like to share a smoke – but first, I have something more important up my sleeve –

‘What’s your name?’

Continue reading Number Fifteen: The Therapist

Guysexual Recommends: ‘Find Your Magic’ By Axe.

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The What?

The ‘Find Your Magic’ advertisement  by Axe.

The Why?

Because Axe finally reaches out to ALL men in the world – the misfits, the crazy ones, the theatre geeks, the nerds and the gays. ‘You need abs to sell a deodrant’ said no on ever.

Here’s to you, deodrant company of the masses.

The Where?

Find the trending video on Youtube right here.

Guysexual #Go: Salvation Star’s Taboo Soiree!

 

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What: Salvation Star’s Taboo Soiree!

Where: Bungalow 9, Bandra (West), Mumbai.

When: 9:30 PM onwards, Saturday, 23rd january 2016.

Why: Because hey, these parties are always overflowing with cute boys and tasty cocktails (or is it the other way around?). Plus, guess who’s the digital partner?

*shameless self-promotion*