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the British colonization of India, the racial and cultural dichotomy between
the colonized and the colonizer was highly generated from a sexualized angle,
where the distinction was built upon two extremes, the strong manly English
male in opposition the weak effeminate Indian male. As colonization was a
patriarchal society, the categorization went beyond the conventional opposition
of masculinity versus feminity, which was irrelevant to the context, to set
focus upon the hierarchal scaling of strength and masculinity. The colonial
English model of masculinity was exclusive and politically oriented. It is a
narrow perception where the British colonial model of masculinity was defined
as the sole foundation of civilization, modernity and moral imperialism. The
edifice of the 19th century British India ideologeme, was founded on emasculating
and demoting the non-white, Indian and particularly Bengali masculinity and
manliness, classifying them as primitive, effeminate and incapable of
self-governance. This view did not only downplay the Eastern Indian identity
but it also justified, legitimized and normalized the British Colonization or
what was perceived as ‘British protectionism’. Though this ideologeme was manipulated
and reshaped to fit British colonial interests, colonizers argued that this
ideology was based on a visible scientific and physical truth. The othering and
alienating agendas were rooted in opposing what they perceived as the ideal
English manly male physique indicating strength in opposition to highlighting
the vulnerable and feminine aspects in the Indian manhood appearance. Power
relations were the main generator of the meaning of manliness and masculinity.
Anglo India was defined as racially physically and culturally weak, which was further
emphasized and embodied in the weakness of the colonized man. When two men face
each others, culture, race and civilizations come second after masculine
attributes, this was a colonial strategy meant to make Indians internalize that
belief and unconsciously believe that they are not manly enough. The British Empire
designed this gendered alienation on a multilayered basis, taking evidence from
influential literature works, historians, archeologists and anthropologist at
the time.

first argument on which this discrimination and exclusion was set upon, was the
apparent distinction of physical attributes between the white tall, sharp
English man and the non-white, effeminate Indian man. Where The English man’s
attributes were associated with manliness, masculinity and idealism, it
excluded those who do not fit that category. This ”unmanning” process as
Krishnaswamy calls it, surpasses individuals to hit the core of the Indian culture
as a whole, where the non English, non white physical attributes hold a
cultural, racial and even mental inferiority. Furthermore, it was argued that
physical flawlessness and soul beauty were interrelated. Hence, Indian’s incomplete
manhood was not only said to be aesthetically unattractive but also morally
questionable. In other words lacking masculine beauty was associated with being
evil. The dehumanization and alienation of Indian men was meant to translate
any deviation from the norm of the dominant English model of culture,
appearance and masculinity, as an indicator of inferiority.

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Mental health and psychology also played a
key role in finding Indians another area to be inferior at, where physical
diversity meant deformity and mental health abided by the English white model.
Apart from being unattractive, effeminate and evil, the colonial institution
and works of art also portrayed Indian men as mentally incapable of self
governance and discipline. As they are effeminate and woman-like fragile, which
was labeled as a mental illness in opposition to the firm, morally and mentally
superior white colonizer. Indians’ stronger inclination towards being attained
with nervousness that affects both physical and mental health emphasized their
weakness, vulnerability and decay. Sexually, the Colonial British literature
has often implied the sexual incompetence of Indian men in comparison to the sexual
vividness of the white English colonizer. This idea was founded on highlighting
the effeminacy of Indian men and their physical delicacy.

the end of the 19th century, this colonial system of thought feared
that this alienation would trigger resentment and ethical accusations, which
would eventually bring upon the breakdown of the Empire. Consequently, they
manufactured another dimension and understanding of manliness founded on
educational and institutionalized basis. They resorted to constituting an
ideological foundation of the English “character factory”. Hence, they opted
for setting up ”the ideology of knighthood”, promoting attributes and morals
like duty and the code of chivalry, which deepened notions of gender, cultural
and racial superiority, therefore keeping the grip of power relations under
control. The popularization of such ideology was also meant to supposedly
‘integrate’ Indian manhood in the process rather than excluding and alienating
them. It was carefully designed to create the illusion of social mobility and
moral upgrade, where in fact it was generating an identity crisis and
marginalizing the Indian culture according to British Colonial terms. This
chivalric ideal of manhood was not creating a moral link or a cultural bridge
between the colonized and the colonizer, but was rather generating a disfigured
Indian man that would neither fit British norms nor the Indian culture.

Indian sexual, gender and physical distinctiveness was perceived as a
”pathology”, a disease that needs to be eradicated. This belief portrayed the
feminity in the masculinity of Indian manhood as a mental disorder and a
physical disfigure. This cultural colonial classification eventually triggered
discontent among colonized Indians. A cultural awareness started to grow
stronger and found evidence in the Medieval Bhakti movement. It was a religious
movement that recognized what the British perceived as a weak effeminacy, was
in fact a liberating ideal and an Indian cultural attribute par excellence.
Breaking out of that shaming circle, Indians started to embrace the stereotype
as an identity attribute of the Indian culture.

This shift broke the balance of the colonial systematic power relations.
Gandhi contributed to this awakening; his nationalism set an ideological framework
and a political ground for androgyny as the equal alternative to the British
colonial masculinity. Breaking down the degrading stereotype was not an easy
task, but the change was inevitable, especially under such an alienating and
exclusive system of thought. Eventually Indians recognized their similarities
within their differences and reunited forming a strong identity front in the
face of English colonizers who seemed to be gradually losing the grip of the
power relations they have been establishing.

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