On “#StartWithTheBoys – A film by Vinil Mathew starring Madhuri Dixit for #VogueEmpower”

I saw this advert on the tele yesterday and am sharing some of my thoughts on the same.

It seems a well-intentioned endeavor targeted presumably on the urban populace.

It tries to drive home a pertinent point but doesn’t do a very good job of justifying it.

Men are,  since their childhood, conditioned to bottle up their feelings and crying is shamed, usually, by comparing crying boys to girls (another very subtle point is that why being compared with girls should be worth getting shamed over ?!), eventually creating men who are distant, apathetic and prone to unleash violence on others and even their family members.

Madhuri Dixit, in the video, says “बचपन से ही सिखाते हैं की लड़के रोते नही हैं, शायद बेहतर होगा कि हम सिखाएं कि लड़के रुलाते नही हैं” (We have taught our boys not to cry. It’s time we teach them not to make girls cry*)

Now what I find worth getting miffed over in this statement is that the suggestion that boys be treated as human beings and not as emotionless robots trained to achieve professional success at all costs, is primarily motivated by the fact that men who don’t express themselves emotionally, often do it violently. Men’s well-being, somehow misses the agenda, and the campaign assumes a very noticeable gynocentric focus, with men just as a means to an end i.e. women’s safety and happiness.

Now, I am myself am a great supporter of Women’s (or anyone else’s, for that matter) empowerment and am often vocal about it as well, but I still feel irritated at the absence of consideration of males as human beings in their own right.

Also, the prescription that boys be taught to not make girls cry seems..well, a bit condescending. Instead, why not teach everyone, both boys and girls to respect each other and decency, balance out presence of genders in all spheres of life, e.g. Why don’t we talk of absence of men in homemaking but only of absence of women in boardrooms?

Their is another prevalent tendency to assume that domestic violence is always initiated by men and only women are the victims.

Never the less, I think I’ll leave it at that. There is no reason to doubt the intention of the ad-makers, in all likelihood they were trying to make a good campaign against Domestic violence, which is no doubt a very serious issue. What we need further is a well balanced gender discourse which doesn’t assumes a primarily gynocentric view and bases its argument with a gender-blind perspective. What surprises me is that even a lot of very learned people fail to realize is that in the real world, problems can’t be solved in isolation but we need to be mindful of the synergy of all the parts; men and women are no different and have their fates intertwined together and will need to work together to break free from them.


*English translation copied from the official VOGUE India YouTube Video



  1. So true … I loved the ad until Dixit came on with her message …. the way they showed the various situations in which boys are told not to cry was beautiful. So when I saw the last scene, I thought they were trying to say, look what happens when you don’t allow men to be human beings, in an indirect way, we are teaching them to be aggressive, violent even. That would’ve been the logical (and such an important) conclusion – but she went off on a tangent.

    I agree it’s also a bit condescending to women.

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