Talking Gender and Masculinities with Young Men: Situating Women in Men's Narratives in Rural UP

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Talking Gender and Masculinities with Young Men: Situating Women in Men's Narratives in Rural UP

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In 2021, gender empowerment and equality have become household terms in India, but gender violence in various forms has also increased substantially. There is a puzzle here- how can violence and empowerment go hand in hand? A critical offshoot of this puzzle in India where caste hierarchy is deeply embedded in every social problem is that Dalit and subordinate caste men have been grossly vilified by the feminist movement which has been a space largely occupied by dominant-caste women. This problem is messy between caste and gender complexities. My study dives into exploring these complexities by highlighting young Dalit men’s narratives. Do men, including young Dalit men, have a role in sustaining gender discrimination and patriarchal structures? They do. But what is this patriarchal structure that they find so hard to push back against and where does it come from? Brahmanical Patriarchy, a water-tight model that has sustained gender and caste discrimination describes how we live in societies that are shaped by gender, caste, and economic relationships, and in turn shape them through our decisions and actions. The term conveys ideas that are deep and complex, very similar to how the participants in this study, who are young Dalit boys from rural UP, describe their lived experiences in the form of narratives. This study advances three main arguments: First, I follow Nagar’s approach, and through an intersectional analysis that deeply intertwines my narratives with that of the participants’, this study demonstrates the possibilities of building critical solidarities where power differences are insurmountable through honest and open communication. Second, it complicates the idea that violence does not happen in a vacuum and young men are not born perpetrators but enabled through narrative tropes that come from tenets of Brahmanical Patriarchy. And finally, using an intersectional approach I add nuance and narratives that the ways in which Dalit women face a unique form of oppression that dominant caste (savarna) women do not. In addition, this study also touches on the struggles that young men from Dalit families face given the heightened state of uncertainty that circumscribes their daily lives. At large, this study reveals how gender violence, especially in intimate relationships, gets normalized through narrative tropes. Finally, despite the limitation of this study with only Dalit men as participants, I argue that narrative tropes constitute the very fabric of Brahmanical Patriarchy, and certain dispositions and prejudices towards women, exist irrespective of caste affiliation.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June 2021. Major: Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development. Advisor: Joan DeJaeghere. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 267 pages.

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Chatterji, Devleena. (2021). Talking Gender and Masculinities with Young Men: Situating Women in Men's Narratives in Rural UP. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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