Popular Perceptions of Masculinity in Rural North Indian Oral Traditions

Prem Chowdhry
2015 Asian Ethnology  
In the oral tradition of rural north India, especially the Haryana region, hegemonic masculinity emerges as an ideological construct in the structure of patriarchy firmly located in materiality. This creates and consolidates male power over various categories of people and highlights several hierarchies of masculinities, caste, class, and gender, including those between males and females as well as those between males and males. The oral tradition, which includes folktales, myths, folk songs,
more » ... pular sayings, and proverbs, enjoys a common currency of social interaction among a wide range of social groups. Together these have been evaluated to provide valuable insights into how masculinities are perceived, lived, or practiced at the local level, and molded or remolded in response to the socioeconomic shifts that are taking place. However, in this region there is also a contrary imaging of masculinity that demolishes all that is regarded as the hallmark of hegemonic masculinity. Registered in women's folk songs, this imaging is considered a threat to male power, authority, and what is perceived to be "masculine." All attempts by upper caste males to censor these songs or replace them have been unsuccessful, thereby highlighting the ongoing contradiction and contest around the concept of masculinity itself.
doi:10.18874/ae.74.1.02 fatcat:e24ezerefnf6vhkrlsyyellc74