#MeToo in Pakistan: Actor Adnan Malik Asks Men to Discard Toxic Masculinity

#MeToo in Pakistan: Actor Adnan Malik Asks Men to Discard Toxic Masculinity

#MeToo has been a flashpoint in Pakistan recently and actor Adnan Malik spoke about the issue hence
#MeToo in Pakistan: Actor Adnan Malik Asks Men to Discard Toxic Masculinity
Adnan Malik

It is heartening to see male celebrities speaking up against the issue of toxic masculinity. It was very recently when we came across Adnan Malik, who also appeared in the critically acclaimed film 'Cake', made a very powerful statement. We have always known Adnan Malik as a strong actor and director but his current words have made him love even more.

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There are so many debates about the ethos of masculinity these days. Men, in general, are threatened by a rising tide of assertive, boundary-defining women who have had enough of the casual misogyny that has defined the gender politics of the 20th century (and of course much longer as well- but who reads history? And that’s another conversation) With powerful (and I say welcome) movements like #metoo and #timesup, I think we as men really need to reappraise what it means to “men” and “masculine”. —- While growing up I was teased for being sensitive. When my newly-testosterone-fuelled classmates in middle school went around stomping ants nests, I remember being so angry at their self-centered-ness, as if they had to express their dominance over everything around them to feel like “men”. I raised my voice at their thoughtless brutality but was teased (read: bullied) “here comes mr. Don’t kill the ants”. The teasing stayed with me for a few years but I survived because I had other things going for me. I was also an excellent sportsman, liked by the ladies because I was respectful (and goofy), had good enough grades and essentially had parents who were kind and thoughtful and raised me with the values of living in harmony with the world around me. They saw my sensitivity and nurtured it and supported me. They never wanted me to be the alpha, hyper-sexualised, mega-successful man that so many unfortunate young boys are pressured into emulating. I was told to be “me”, to find my “own truth”. I learnt to believe that being vulnerable, and having integrity and being kind and listening to other people and being respectful of women and seeking their consent in all decisions pertaining to them was the way that I could grow into becoming a “man” —- And as for “Mr. Don’t kill the ants?” Well, it came full circle and he was asked to be a @wwfpak goodwill ambassador last year. Stick to what you believe in. Trust in your sensitivity. It’s your strength. Don’t be so brittle that you ultimately break, because life is tough and when all’s said and done, you only really have yourself to live with. So make that person likeable.

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‘With powerful (and I say welcome) movements like #Metoo and #Timesup, I think we as men really need to reappraise what it means to “men” and “masculine”. 

Isn’t it unfair when boys and girls are assigned gender roles right from birth? When someone knows they are expecting a girl, the whole shopping is about pink color even if it is a feeder. When they expect a boy, even the baby shower balloons are blue. When they grow up a little, a girl is always expected to play with dolls and floral toy tea sets. We bring all the cars, building blocks, etc. kind of activities for boys. As they have grown up more these differences become even more pronounced.

Not only this we also expect the genders to have a specific mindset and behavior pattern. For example, boys are expected to be crude and invulnerable at all times. If at any time a boy breaks into tears, this will be considered a massive failure. He will not be considered ‘man enough’.  Qualities like strength and emotional stability are associated with men only. We even forget that they are also humans. Men also feel pain. They also cry. But the social construct does not allow them to do so.

Due to these toxic masculinity standards, we have produced a generation of bitter and vile humans. This has not only created problems for women who have to deal with them but also men themselves. Toxic masculinity also considers strong women a threat. However, times are changing and people are beginning to realize the evils of toxic masculinity. Adnan Malik also talked about his childhood when he started developing a thought process about this issue. He questioned this even then.

‘While growing up, I was teased for being sensitive.'

Here Adnan also credited his parents for raising him well and not inculcating the standards of hyper-aggressive the alpha male in their young son.

‘…essentially had parents who were kind and thoughtful and raised me with the values of living in harmony with the world around me. They saw my sensitivity and nurtured it and supported me. They never wanted me to be the alpha, hyper-sexualized, mega-successful man that so many unfortunate young boys are pressured into emulating. I was told to be “me”, to find my “own truth”.

At last, he leaves a message for men. “Stick to what you believe in. Trust in your sensitivity. It’s your strength. Don’t be so brittle that you ultimately break, because life is tough and when all’s said and done, you only really have yourself to live with. So make that person likable.”

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