A course for men to share, care, and cook

The workshop is conducted by Murali Mohan Kati.

The workshop is conducted by Murali Mohan Kati.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Ever since he became a father a year ago, 33-year-old graphic designer Narayan has been reflecting on his role at home and traditionally assigned gender roles. Is his duty limited to being the sole provider for the family?

In his endeavour to seek answers and discover facets of himself, he has signed up for a weekend course, simply titled ‘Reserved for Men’. The two-month course aims to ‘provide young men the space to reflect on their lives as men and gain new perspectives’.

Participants will also be taught skills and values usually assigned to women: they will learn how to share, care and cook.

“The very fact that there is such a course speaks volumes on social mores and gender roles. But I’m excited and look forward to the course,” said Narayan.

The course is being taught at Baduku Community College, which is part of Samvada, an organisation that works with youth from marginalised groups and offers flexible course formats in subjects such as sustainable agriculture and waste management. Murali Mohan Kati, the principal of the college whose brainchild it is, said the idea of running such a course took root many years ago, but became reality only after he experienced fatherhood. It gave him new perspectives on gender roles.

“Globally, the focus is now shifting towards sensitising men. Masculinity is at the root of many problems in the social sphere, including trolls issuing rape threats on social media. Masculine studies is taking a big leap in gender studies academically as well. We are trying to help a set of men reflect on their lives,” Mr. Kati said.

Vineeth R., an economics lecturer who has signed up for the course, said that every time he washes up after dinner, he hears a little voice in his head telling him it’s not his job.

“I often see myself as helping my wife. That’s wrong. Doing the dishes is my responsibility as well. But the conditioning is too hard. I hope I gain a clearer perspective on this through the course,” he said.

‘Reserved for men’ will also equip men with skill sets to help them lead a more fulfilling life.

Mr. Kati gave the example of the simple act of expressing one’s emotions. The stoic man who does not indulge in sharing his feelings is a common cultural stereotype. To counter this, the course will enlist psychologists and relationship counsellors who will teach participants how to create a space conducive to talking about their feelings.

Group activities and theatre workshops will be tools to help men empathise with the women in their lives.

Participants will have to bring a female member of their family – a partner, mother, sister – during the last two weekends. “Many youth in their 20s face issues with their mothers and start screaming at them. They are even clueless about menopause,” Mr. Kati said.

To maintain diary

Those attending the course – men in the age group of 21 and 40 – will maintain a diary recording their reflections. “By the end of eight weeks, if they begin questioning themselves and their role even in small everyday tasks, the course will be a success,” he added.

The course will start from September 22 and will be held for a duration of eight weekends for Rs. 1,000.

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Printable version | Sep 30, 2020 9:35:18 PM |

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