Who’s the Man?

The gender issue seems like a tale as old as time, yet its presence is still grievously palpable. Luckily, there are men that are helping to eradicate such a reductive social paradigm.

Take Arunachalam Muruganantham (AKA Menstrual Man), for example. He started a sanitary napkin revolution in a country where speaking of such “dirty things” is taboo. In fact, on average only 7% of women in India use sanitary pads, and only 2% in rural areas. This leads to unsanitary conditions and, in worse cases, disease. This unfortunate situation is due to the social shame that menstruation connotes and to the ignorance surrounding this natural process. At first Muruganantham was seen as a pervert and was shunned by all of his family, but now he’s an entrepreneur that has brought a sustainable business model to rural areas of India and power to the women of that area, and he credits this success to his ability to “think like a woman”.

Or take, Malala’s Father (AKA Ziauddin Yousafzai), whose courage and love has been transmitted to his first born, Malala Yousafzai. As a Pakistani educator, he has always believed in the right of education for all humans regardless of their gender. He begins his TedTalk by describing the solemnity of the day Malala was born, as all the family and neighbors visited to give their condolences that they had given birth to a daughter. Yet, from the second Malala was born, he could only rejoice and love her. Throughout the talk you can hear of his full support and pride in his female daughter, but the most touching and insightful lines come at the end of his speech, when he says, “People ask me, what special is in my mentorship which has made Malala so bold and so courageous and so vocal and poised? I tell them, don’t ask me what I did. Ask me what I did not do. I did not clip her wings, and that’s all.”

Finally, there’s Dustin Hoffman, a successful actor who came to an epiphany of how damaging an influence a society that devalues women has on an individual. In a recent interview, when describing his role in the movie Tootsie, Hoffman becomes emotional when he realizes how he’s been brainwashed in society by valuing women’s physical beauty over their character. He realized that there were many interesting yet unattractive (by his standards) women whom he never got the opportunity to know because he ignored them due to their lack of beauty. When posing the question, “How would you be different if you had been born a woman?” he was able to understand the pressure that women feel in society first hand.

These are the men that I consider to be “a man” for they are human. They ask questions like, “How would you be different if you had been born a woman?”, they dare to “think like women”, and they dare not clip any person’s wings.