Gender stereotypes are hurdles for individuals to grow in a society. Do you still remember the outstanding performance by the veteran actor Kamal Haasan in and as “Chachi 420”? As I recall, on men playing women characters that have impacted the age-old dynamics of our society, “Chachi 420” is one such character to be included early on the list. Indian society and culture have definite gender roles that put men on the spot when it comes to breaking them.
Especially for artists who have to play female characters for their profession, it must be difficult.
So, are men in Indian society breaking through gender stereotypes by playing female characters and dressing up as a female? Well, the answer is a big YES.
Over time, we have seen a lot of changes in the performing arts industry in the take on men dressing up as women. We have heard male artists telling their stories on how difficult it was for them to play a role that required them to step out of their gender behaviour; how people have often made jokes about their art and questioned their masculinity. The struggle has definitely been different for popular artists and non-popular artists.
Often, Kathak and Kathakali artists have told their stories on how difficult it was for them while growing up because their peers used to call them names as they used to perform female acts. But there are male actors who have received applause for their roles as female characters. This has definitely changed things for small stage artists to get acceptance.
There has been a surge in male artists doing female roles since the Indian Television Comedy shows like “The Kapil Sharma Show”. People who have loved the female characters played by men in such shows have normalised the idea of men dressing up as women for our society. The trend has caught up in creating comical acts with men dressing up as women and today we even see social media influencers doing such acts. This has immensely impacted people’s thoughts.
Social media influencers and a newfound trend to fight gender stereotypes.
The internet with its two different sides never ceases to amaze the audience with its content. Where on the one hand there are hate and misogyny, on the other hand, social media influencers have started accepting gender neutrality and have started defying gender biases. Videos of the grown-up male section of the influencer community have started surfacing online, putting on makeup and talking about how make-up is gender-neutral and should not be considered as something that defines women.
Makeup truly is an art, which shouldn’t be confined to women.
Influencers like Ankush Bahuguna and Siddharth Batra promote the idea of gender equality and how there should be a disassociation of materialistic things with women. Such ideas reach to a wide audience and help to fight gender stereotypes. Siddharth Batra is a digital content creator associated with mostly fashion and creating new looks for his followers. He has added #guybeauty to his Instagram bio, which has more than 700 posts and people actively performing in it. Ankush Bahuguna is a digital content creator and actor who recently started talking about how makeup is gender-neutral and how one should wear what makes them feel good about themselves, it doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you are comfortable, you are entitled to wear.
Other social media influencers like Kusha Kapila, Srishti Dixit, and Prajakta Kohli started a mini TV series named ‘Behensplaining’ in 2019, the series had aired around six episodes before quarantine and now has continued the series while the artists shoot from their respective homes. The show talks about issues imbibed in the Indian culture that have a serious need to evolve. The hosts talk about it in a manner, which consists of both comedy and sarcasm, enough to make people understand that there is a problem.
Body positivity is another concept that is being taken very seriously in the social media community, but it is far from being accepted. With other things going on in the country, the societal changes and understanding that there is a need for change are very important. The world, which is moving to social media, has given influencers a platform to talk about the things associated with empowering women and promoting gender neutrality.
Adding to this, it is equally important to note that although women need to be uplifted and also the fact that men have an equal right in society. Not more, not less, but equal.
Inequality and harassment still exist, but isn’t it a little overwhelming coming across posts and people on social media who understand the need for equality, sometimes?