The new YRF mini series Man’s World is a star-studded attempt to show people what kind of sexism women face on a daily basis. The protagonist Kiran is your run of the mill Mumbaikar guy who laughs when his father criticises his mother’s cooking and makes arguments against feminism at work. Kiran spends an entire day at office feeling that women get more privileges that they don’t deserve. So he asks God to right the balance. What if men were in women’s position? Guess what? God grants him his wish. Kiran wakes up with stomach cramps and sees his father cooking breakfast and asking him to help out. So the story continues…
The series, with only 3 episodes out till now has gained momentum and people are watching and talking about it. Kiran’s plight in the world of reversed gender roles is meant to show people what women face on a daily basis, right from lecherous stares to workplace harassment. First of all, it needs to be said that this is a good attempt to bring everyday sexism to light and give importance to the feminist movement. Although well-intentioned, the series trips over itself on several counts.
The series has taken inspiration from the French short film ‘Oppressed Majority‘which was also about gender roles reversal. However, while the French film stuck to a logical reversal of roles, Man’s World seems to have gotten a few things wrong. Although roles have been changed, we are led to believe that anatomically men and women remain the same in Kiran’s world. However, Kiran still gets his periods and suffers through it. I am yet to understand how that can be without a uterus. Also, being inspired from the French film, the series shows women peeing on the road. While the French film showed women squatting while peeing, which is the norm, Man’s World shows women standing up and peeing in a stream that hits the walls. Again, I am baffled about how they were doing that without a penis. Call me picky, but I’d like some biological accuracy in my very important series with a social message.
Everyday sexism at the workplace and on the road is not very pronounced or loud. It consists of subtle acts and talks that most people miss. The series however has resorted to showing a very loud and in your face sexism at the workplace and on the road. The boss says to his face that he got the promotion as a token gender promotion and then tried to come on to him. The colleagues shout their opinions about men and treat them like meat. The directorial team decided to go with other YRF legends and skip the subtlety. However that is the key message that needs to go out.
The fundamental problem however with the series is that although they tried to see things from the perspective of a woman, the series is made by men and for men. After the gender role reversal, men dress like men and women, also dress like men. The French short film showed a gender role reversal where women were feminine, but acted and said things exactly like a man would do in that situation or in that role. In Man’s world, the women act masculine, they wear pants, they chew paan and spit on the road, and they pee standing up. Why is it so hard to imagine that women could be oppressors even when they are feminine? Why do you need the smaller woman to give her jacket to the guy because he is cold?
A woman can be the dominant gender without being chivalrous or the equivalent of Shah Rukh Khan in every YRF movie. Women don’t need to scratch places wearing a tapori shirt on the road because that is exactly what a guy would do. The protagonists’ best friend turns into a feminine man who sits around styling himself all day and gives him advice to show cleavage to get a promotion. The show has confused gender roles with traits and personalities. Also, if you stereotype women even when they are men, what good are you doing anyway? It would have been a better picture if women were women, men were men and only their gender roles in society changed. I’m sure that was the intention.
All in all, the great attempt at showcasing everyday sexism has faltered and ended up still being a Man’s world.
Featured Image Credit: A shot from the series.