Roohi: Modernity, ‘Authenticity’, and Ambivalence: Subaltern Masculinities on a South IndianCollege Campus

Modernity, ‘Authenticity’, and Ambivalence: Subaltern Masculinities on a South IndianCollege Campus
Author(s): Martyn Rogers
Source: The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol. 14, No. 1 (Mar., 2008), pp.79-95
Published by: Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland
Stable URL:
Accessed: 22-06-2016 12:03 UTC

Author Martyn Rogers in is essay discusses the abject marginalization of the SCs in the hands of the OBC community in the prominent state of Tamil Nadu. He bases his argument in the paper based on a survey conducted in Nagaram College Chennai. The question that he poses and seeks to answer in the article is: How socio- economic and communal marginalization contributes to shaping masculinities in India.

His main argument in the essay centers around the treatment of women in public places and college campus by men of the other community, as having something to do with the power struggle between the communities. The supports this argument with an interview with two SC students named Kumaran and Shankar, who explain not without prejudice how and why do they resort to teasing women of the OBC class.

Rogers clearly states in his article that the OBCs and the SCs are not just communally distinct, economically too, they are at opposite ends of the pole. OBCs send their children to ‘English’ medium schools and eat at the best restaurants in the city, go for English movies at the expensive multiplexes and socialize more with the other sex who are equally affluent. However, the SCs send their children to a Tamil medium school; they watch regional films and commute in buses and other means of public transport. His purpose of bringing this up and the feelings of inferiority that goes with it is to show how ideas of masculinities are formed in the minds of these men.

The author then comes up with the idea of ‘being rowdy’ popularly represented as being ‘cool’ or ‘hot’ in regional and some bollywood films, getting picked up and propagated without reason by college going boys as an integral trait of masculinity. Supporting this argument again he presents interviews of another student of Nagaram College, wherein the students calls this performance of masculinity as ‘college rowdy’ or ‘masquerade’. However this ‘college rowdiness’ is enacted around ideas such as sexuality, physical strength and deviant forms of leisure. Hence, boys take pride and pleasure in eve teasing and picking up fights with the boyfriends of their crushes. Someone who has not done any of this is looked down upon rather not considered a man.

In conclusion the author draws a line on the crisis of masculinity, which he states as the innate inability of the males to alter their violent behavior.

The arguments made by the author relates to my research on how masculinity is acquired rather than something innate and how institutions such as film and media, also class ad caste shape ideas about masculinity.

Limitation: the article focuses less on masculinity and its formation rather lays considerable emphasis on inferiority complex, eve teasing and caste differences.


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