International Men’s Day is a humanitarian holiday celebrated globally on November 19 each year to acknowledge and appreciate the contributions of men in personal and social spheres, and raise awareness on men’s issues.
Today, we applaud men who go the extra mile to embrace their emotional intelligence, who aren’t fazed by patriarchal expectations that hurt them just as much they hurt women, and those who brush off toxic ideals of masculinity with ease and pride.
Here’s a look at six of them, who are unapologetically living their lives:
1) Ravishankar VM and Surya VM: Kolam, with its origin in Tamil Nadu and prevalence in other Southern Indian states, is traditionally drawn using rice flour by the ‘women of the house’ in a bid to bring it good fortune. Brothers Ravishankar VM and Surya VM from Thiruvottiyur in Chennai, however, challenged the ritual with misogynistic undertones during the lockdown last year. After having rediscovered their passion for the art form and dedicating time to perfecting it, they now regularly share their colourful creations on Murai Vaasal, their Instagram account with over 37,000 followers.
2) Kermin Bhat and Abhishek Monde-Bhat: At a point when the patriarchal norm of a woman taking her husband’s last name post their marriage has been normalised, Kermin Bhat and Abhishek Monde-Bhat present a refreshing take on theirs, with the man taking the woman’s name instead. The interfaith Maharashtrian couple remain united in their approach towards women empowerment and highlight one of the more important themes of gender equality — having the agency to pursue independent lifestyle choices.
3) Ankush Bhaguna: Of MensXP fame, Ankush Bhaguna is known for flexing his makeup expertise on social media, where he can also be seen creating looks for other web creators. “Are you trying to tell me that your masculinity is so fragile that it would get hidden under some translucent powder?” he asks in an Instagram reel that went viral last year. Notably, Ankush has criticised people for casually referring to him as a “revolutionary”, and gives due credit to queer individuals for popularising the movement first.
4) Sahitya Dewda: Pune resident Sahitya Dewda is a full-time homemaker and stay-at-home father to his five-year-old daughter Mishka. In an interview with Beehive, he talked about his wife Reshma’s professional growth coinciding with their daughter’s birth. The MBA graduate’s decision to prioritise his domestic duties did raise a few eyebrows, ranging from presumptuous parents at playgrounds and his family members based in Burhanpur, Madhya Pradesh, but he recognises why fulfilling gender roles is a flawed concept and loves his life the way it is.
5) Akhil: Based with the 108 ambulance service in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, Akhil is a male nurse who has often faced the stigma of being employed in a profession predominantly associated with women. A native of Kollam district, he fights societal taboos everyday, often projected by women, and finds joy in helping his patients in the remote area where the nearest hospital is a 45-minute ride away. The role of male medical personnel such as Akhil is extremely significant as the lack of prenatal healthcare is one of the leading causes of Indian women losing their lives during childbirth.
6) Mithun Shyam: Previously an IT professional, Mithun Shyam’s decision to become a full-time Bharatnatyam performer in 2010 was met with amusement and doubt in equal measure, but that didn’t deter him from following his heart. He’s trained in the Vazhuvoor style of Bharatanatyam and has performed in countries including China, the United States, the Middle East and Thailand. In an interview with Deccan Herald, Mithun, who trains over 500 students at Vaishnavi Natyashala, spoke out against male performers being termed effeminate. “Dance is my way of attaining salvation… when I am dancing, I am surrendering and that is all that matters,” he said.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)