ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Masculine Spaces

Rural Male Culture in North India

In rural north India, there are thriving and exclusive all-male spaces in the villages which play an important role in constructing gender identities. These extend from the home to the public domain. Reserved and used almost exclusively by the male population, these are spaces where the power and legitimacy of masculinity are displayed and cemented and where men are at a distinct advantage in terms of deployment of power. Masculinisation of space means an access to and control over resources of various kinds - material, sociocultural, political and ideological. Signifying both the symbolic and the material dimension of male power, these spaces validate men's control at home, in the village, community, and wider society while asserting the caste and class hierarchies which are under attack in post-Independence India. Circulating ideals of gendered separateness, they make the presence of males and the absence of females seem "natural". This masculinisation of spaces goes totally unacknowledged and unchallenged even by those most affected. It has merited little comment, discussion or condemnation from any quarter.

I wish to thank Bhupendra Yadav for his insightful comments on an earlier draft of this paper.

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