An enlightening session on “Masculinities and Space in India and Beyond” was conducted as part of the “Simply Beyond Binaries” workshop. The session aimed to delve into the intricate connections between masculinity, queer studies, and gender studies. Dr. Debashis Mitra, an Assistant Professor, delivered an insightful presentation, providing a comprehensive overview of masculinity studies and its relevance in contemporary society.
Dr. Mitra initiated the session by expressing gratitude to the panelists and participants, emphasizing the significance of masculinity studies as an emerging field that is intrinsically connected to feminism. He emphasized that the study of masculinity does not seek to belittle men, but rather aims to comprehend the social constructions, power dynamics, and cultural expectations placed on individuals based on their gender.
During his presentation, Dr. Mitra shed light on the concept of hegemonic masculinity, which represents the dominant form of masculinity upheld by society as the ideal. He elucidated how this idealized form of masculinity perpetuates harmful gender norms and restricts the possibilities for alternative expressions of masculinity. Dr. Mitra highlighted the importance of challenging and deconstructing these norms to foster a more inclusive and diverse understanding of masculinity.
Moreover, Dr. Mitra explored the intersectionality of masculinity, acknowledging the overlapping dynamics between gender and other social categories such as race, class, and sexuality. He emphasized the need for an inclusive approach that considers how various identities intersect and shape the experiences and expressions of masculinity. By acknowledging these complexities, Dr. Mitra encouraged participants to adopt a more nuanced understanding of masculinity.
The presentation delved into the ways in which the concept of masculinity is constructed and performed in different spaces. Dr. Mitra discussed how spatial dynamics influence the formation of masculine identities, examining how different spaces, including the home, workplace, and public spaces, shape and influence these identities. He highlighted the distinct challenges and opportunities presented by urban and rural spaces in India, which contribute to diverse manifestations of masculinity.
In addition to exploring spatial dynamics, Dr. Mitra emphasized the importance of studying masculinities in relation to queer studies. He elucidated how queer masculinities challenge traditional norms and expectations associated with masculinity, offering alternative ways of understanding gender and sexuality. By examining the experiences of queer individuals, Dr. Mitra highlighted their negotiations of masculinity within a heteronormative society, encouraging participants to critically reflect on the diverse expressions of masculinity.
The session concluded with a vibrant question and answer session, where participants posed thought-provoking inquiries and engaged in meaningful dialogue with Dr. Mitra. The questions spanned a wide range of topics, including the role of media in shaping masculine identities and the potential for transformative masculinities in patriarchal societies.
In summary, the session on “Masculinities and Space in India and Beyond” provided a thought-provoking exploration of masculinity studies and its interdisciplinary connections. Dr. Debashis Mitra’s presentation offered valuable insights into the complexities of masculinity, highlighting the need for a nuanced understanding that recognizes the influence of various social categories and spaces. By delving into the intersections of masculinity with other fields of study, such as queer studies and gender studies, the session broadened perspectives and fostered a more inclusive understanding of gender identities and expressions.
Read more session reports from Day 5 of Beyond Binaries: Understanding Sexual Identities and Queer Rights Issues in India