From a toxically masculine creep to a soft feminist!

by- Manoj Sri Harsha

I’m a man, and when I usually tell people that I’m a feminist, they assume me to be gay! It does not matter, though. Why? Because I’ve stopped judging people by what they are doing. If someone dug up my past, they would call me a hypocrite. I’m a feminist now, but I wasn’t always.

Something that I’ve done in my past still creeps me out. I stalked a woman, and I used to stare at her, thinking that she would like the attention because that was what they had taught me in films. I’m pretty much filmy, and I took films seriously! There was this dialogue in a very famous Telugu film, that says “Any girl will definitely fall for a man, you just need to try harder, and it might take a day, week, or sometimes even a month; but finally she will and must fall for you!”

When my favourite star uttered this nonsense with his lips, it felt ideal! That was what I had in my mind when I was staring at that poor girl’s face every day in my classroom. I was 15 back then, and my hormones were in the boom. That’s the most dangerous age to be toxically masculine, and alas! I was. I didn’t harm her; neither did I torture her mentally. But the thought that I used to stalk her creeps me this day. “I shouldn’t have”.

When I was 17, I was having the belief that women are better in-home than studying and working. I held this belief because I hated how many of the people I know have done higher educations and yet never worked in their lives. They got married and were housewives. I saw it as a waste of seats. “If you are not motivated to work, why are you studying and wasting seats?” I was angry at women for stealing men’s opportunities. Little did I know that they are never given the option.

In India, we have feministic movies that often get trolled by people with memes. By people, I mean most of the men. They hate the idea of Indian women opening up, ‘coming out of the kitchen’. They are making the feminist movement look like an exaggeration. I never held the thought that feminism was to be given any importance.

I liked a girl, and she loved me back. Time had passed, and she decided that she didn’t want me however. Everyone around me told me how good we looked together, and I couldn’t get over the fact that she doesn’t belong to me anymore. Little did I know that she never ‘belonged’ to me. No one ‘belongs’ to someone. We all are people, and possession is just a psychological construct. We don’t owe and own each other.

I don’t know how it happened and when it happened, I can’t even tell you the right time. But something has changed me around my 18. I started understanding how girls are treated in their homes. I began to see everything with a new perspective. My experiences as creep and typical rejected youth have flowered into regrets. My mind knew that this was not right. My mind knew that I should not dwell and possess over someone who did not choose me. I now knew that creeping over a girl was cringy! My life has been different; I always mess things up and then realise how they were messed up and wrong. Similarly, I held stereotypical beliefs that were induced to me by the people around me, and I was blinded by the very truth.

I call myself a feminist; I take no shame in it. No matter if you choose to call me a faggot, homo, impotent or whatever. I think the feminist movement is about being aware of genders and promoting gender equality. It is not just dedicated to women. It breaks many indoctrinated rules which have no real purpose in our lives. This post is a confession to all the boys that are reading this. It’s okay if you were a douche when you were a kid; because you didn’t know. Innocence is forgiven. But when you are a responsible adult and when all the knowledge is present right on your mobile phone, and you still are a douche, then you must consider changing yourselves. There’s nothing called as ‘manlier’, and if there was such measure, being a feminist is the manliest thing I’ve ever done.

Even the men are stereotyped and are forced to have several responsibilities, and that’s what this movement is. Men are expected to be rough, strong and brute-like. That’s why I like to call myself a ‘soft’ man. I don’t wish to be a dumb brute. I’m a civilised person and hence go soft about my feelings, opinions and thoughts. Yes, I’m soft, and I’m a man. This movement is a rebellion against the myths and conventional generalised beliefs about gender. I have made peace with my past, whatever I was, that had made me what I’m today. The present is what matters; an adult person with awareness of consent is what matters. It is never too late to understand the consent. It is never too late for being sorry and regretful for your past actions. It is never too late to accept your past, learn and adapt from it; never be it again!

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