My unending search for the next binge introduced me to a stunner of a show, ‘Godless’. This western, set in the 1800’s, centers around the fate of a tiny town called La Belle which is now inhabited only by women. After a mining accident consumes most of its male population, the women come to terms with being self-reliant over time. Hereon, the few men and boys that remain are nourished and conditioned by the ladies of La Belle.
On this note, International Men’s Day with this year’s theme highlighting the need for ‘Positive Male Role Models’ caught my attention. Upon reading more, I discovered that the theme stems from a growing concern of children growing up without a suitable male role model and the effect that this could have on the rest of their lives. I could not but think of all single mothers acting as Mom & Dad. What happens there? Do the boys grow up to be less of a man under a woman’s tutelage? Even in a regular setting like my upbringing, I’ve always been closer to my mother and spent substantially more time learning from her as compared to my father. A Male figure can be in the upbringing of a young boy. But, is it so that a role model must be gender specific? Especially in today’s era where boys and men need to learn more about respect and consent, isn’t a good way to learn this from a woman?
While role models may start in our homes, they eventually move outwards to environments like our workplaces where we commonly relate and look up to people. In the PR and communications fraternity, women considerably outnumber men and chances are you will be under the management of a female lead. Most of my corporate life I’ve reported to a female manager. This spans from when I started to present day where the CEO is a female as well. This was the same in my earlier organization as well. Hence, it’s safe to say that most of my professional conditioning has been thanks to women. Not having a ‘Positive Male Role Model’ was not that bad. In fact, I am sure I learnt more about being a man from the women over the years. Empathy, meticulous attention to detail, conditioning people and patience to a level. You tend to a bit about yourself as you teach. Subsequently, I’ve gone on to manage all female teams and passed on the same along the way. Lessons given or imparted were never dependent on the gender.
Beyond work, I’ve learnt some of my most cherished activities no thanks to a male influence. From fulfilling morning runs across Bandra, widening my reading habit from Carlos Ruiz Zafon to Jhumpa Lahiri, trekking across Kheerganga in Himachal or just calming the nerves with a Mandala drawing, all these came from different female ‘Role Models’ who are so in their own respect as to what they do. If anything, if we are to get past the ‘Bro culture’ which can make men myopic, it is feminine guidance early on which can make us more rounded individuals.
Being Male is a matter of birth, having a role model is a matter of choice and should not have any correlation. As Thomas Monson said it best, “We tend to become like those we admire.” Admiration is not gender specific. This Men’s Day lets recognize the right needs. Role models are crucial. A role model should not be gender specific, as long as you have someone who believes in you and you can look up to gender should not be a precursor.