Award-winning writer and researcher Deepa Narayan explores various facets of being a man
today. Narayan and her team interviewed hundreds of middle and upper-class boys and
young men through her Podcast show hosted in Hubhopper Studio. In a conversation with Thought Habitat, Deepa Narayan is speaking about the perception about men and how it has changed over the years. Also, about her podcast show – What’s a Man? Masculinity in India.
Tell us about the journey of starting the podcast – What’s a Man?
It was during the pandemic and I had completed my book Chup which focuses on what it means to be an educated middle class woman and how 7 trained behaviors and habits keep women disempowered, so I wanted to talk to men and find out more about their inner lives.
There isn’t yet a single book on educated middle class men in the cities in India so I wanted to start this conversation about men with men.
I was surprised so I reached out to boys and men and they were very happy to talk openly about themselves, their lives, issues and what it means to be a man today for them.
You’re someone who understands gender dynamics. What have been some of the interesting findings and insights you have gathered on our relationship with masculinity and what it means to be a man in India today?
Men are stuck in other people’s expectations and their own expectations of an ideal man which is actually very different from how they want to be in a world where they all believe in gender equality but in reality it is difficult to share power and practise equality. A typical definition of uneven 7 year old boys of a man is: someone who is powerful, dominant, strong, aggressive.
You have interviewed some big names in your podcast hosted on Hubhopper. How did you choose the speakers? Any parameters? Please share your experience of interviewing them?
I chose men who were willing to talk honestly about themselves, their internal struggles despite their successes. Some men were not famous and others who were famous but who had changed themselves to become better men, by going to therapy or somehow changing and then helping other men to change by opening up. This includes Abhish Mathew, Amish Tripathi, Sushant Divgikar, ex Army General, General Panag and many others from different walks of life including a gym trainer who works with film stars.
In your opinion, how is the perception of Men in the country changing?
I think one third of the men want to change and are struggling. Unfortunately there are very few places that one can have a conversation at and seek guidance. One of the biggest struggles that men face is to connect to their emotions as they are trained to be unemotional, except being allowed to express anger.
In a nutshell, what does it take to be a Man in India?
Just be born
How do you feel about podcasting as a format?
I love the format as you can record from anywhere, also during a pandemic and get good sound quality, it makes people more available and most importantly you can listen to it at any time, when you want, even in bed with all lights off!