Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is a woman of many empowering firsts. And upon her victory, she has imparted this honour even to her husband Doug Emhoff, who is set to become the first-ever Second Gentleman of the United States. Throughout the election campaign, Emhoff is said to have been the strongest cheerleader for Harris, who is his second wife. So naturally, her win too was best celebrated by him. He recently tweeted out a picture with Harris in a tight, loving embrace, captioned, “So proud of you.”
That picture was coveted by some, envied by many, and adored by most around the world. On the homefront, journalist Barkha Dutt, capturing the sentiment of several Indian women, shared Emhoff’s picture writing, “Please show me the Indian Man who’d be secure enough to be this man.” Expectedly, Dutt is being severely trolled for her seemingly audacious remark highlighting male insecurity. With a “how dare you” attitude, scores of people have swooped down on her for raising questions about their behaviour for apparently no rhyme or reason. But does her stance on the issue warrant trolling or introspection? Are men being irked by the truth of her statement?
Please show me the Indian Man who'd be secure enough to be this man. ❤️ https://t.co/46YsknZY6g
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) November 11, 2020
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Are Indian Men Capable Of Supporting Their Wives Like Emhoff?
Men who are their wives’ biggest support systems, and the women with said husbands, may not agree with Dutt’s views. Sure, there are couples in India that can boast of being each others’ companions instead of just legally welded partners. But how many of them can boast of manifesting their companionship into public affection without shame when the need arises? How many men will be secure enough to bask in the glory of their wives’ achievements without resentment?
One may argue that Emhoff’s lovely picture was only for optics. But beyond that, it’s symbolic of a bigger message about the bond of a husband and wife. In India, especially, the situation is always such that the wife is ever so appreciative of her husband’s job promotions or how he helps her out in the kitchen (as and when he wants to). The husband, meanwhile, sneers with his friends over a WhatsApp joke about how wives are such headaches or how she is making him toil in the kitchen.
Also Read: Why Can’t Indian Men Take “No” For An Answer?
India’s Conservative Outlook Towards Hugs & Kisses
This is not to say that progress hasn’t been made at all. Much of the Indian youth wouldn’t hold back from sharing a quick kiss or a long hug on the streets. But how many of us can affirm that we have seen elders in our family expressing their love with such candour? At family gatherings or on social media? Social mores and conservative laws are still an impediment to our culture of public affection, which is oftentimes only limited to young, dewy-eyed couples strolling in Lodhi Gardens.
But does the onus of it all fall on today’s Indian male? Our patriarchal culture has preached ideas of toxic masculinity and repression of male emotion for years together. So how valid is Dutt’s expectation for Indian men to emotionally respond to events around them? But notwithstanding its validity, shouldn’t a woman be allowed to question male behaviour?
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The male ego, which is so infamously fragile, is what often holds back Indian men from abandoning their alpha male position to truly cherish a woman and her victories. And with the backlash to Dutt’s tweet, it is also evident how much offence the male ego takes when questioned.
I am sure in your country Pakistan all men are like this.
Such stupid people like Barkha Dutt are celebrated by the intellectuals. Just a proof how dumb and malicious are these so called liberals and intellectuals. pic.twitter.com/oVOp0zd4Z5
— Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri (@vivekagnihotri) November 12, 2020
Male behaviour will not change overnight, and neither will India’s outlook towards public affection. But questions around them need to be raised, without any superiority complexes. People should be allowed to freely appeal to positive changes in the opposite gender if it will help society progress. And progress cannot come without some love and emotion now, can it?
Image Credit: Doug Emhoff/ Twitter
Views expressed are the author’s own.