Ashwat Sehgal, 26, Entrepreneur; Arjun Shankar, 26, Senior Copywriter; Sahil Gupta, 29, Restaurateur; Jason Solomon, 31, Mixed Martial Artist
We got talking to a collective of men across fields and ages, and asked how they felt about everything from date-night protocol to whether a feminist can be sexy...
Q. Who should pay on a first date?
Jason: "The man—if he wants to go on another date. Otherwise, equal rights be damned, she'll think he's cheap!" Ashwat: "The first date is the guy's chance to impress the girl—and it's an unspoken precedent that's set. I will pick up the tab." Sahil: "My instinct is to try and pay in most situations—even when I'm with friends. I won't insist on paying on the date, but I would definitely offer."
Arjun: "We assume we'll pay—but it's nice to have the 'reach'. If she attempts to pay, you know she's not going to be too 'dependent'. I also don't want to be accused of being an MCP later, so I'll let her pitch in if she really wants to."
What if your girlfriend made more money than you? Ashwat: "In most relationships, one person has the upper hand—monetarily or otherwise. I won't mind."
Jason: "My girlfriend makes more money and she takes me everywhere, and I love it!"
Q. And if she was more successful?
Arjun: "If she was doing something different, I'd be happy! But if we were in the same field, I'm not so sure."
Jason: "Most men want to feel like 'the man'. But that's changing. It's more about whether you're insecure, and about how you deal with it."
Ashwat: "I'd really want her to. I think I'm okay with doing my thing well, and letting her be great at what she does."
What does feminism mean to you?
Jason: "Honestly? I don't even think women know what it means! Some think it means hating men, some think it means just loving yourself. The idea is pret-ty skewed."
Sahil: "I finally understood feminism after listening to Emma Watson's speech—and it's wanting to be equal to men in every way possible. But it's starting to feel like women, having come so far, have started to not need men. I hope that's not true."
Arjun: "'Feminists' can be a bit aggressive. They can read into a lot of things as 'anti-woman'."
Q. If a woman told you she was a feminist, what would you think?
Jason: "I'd think to myself, 'tread carefully'. You never know what you might say that could offend her."
Ashwat: "Oh, yes. The fear of accidentally upsetting her is real. They can be a bit sensitive to the things you say—even if they weren't intended as anti-feminist."
Q. Do you expect a feminist to look a certain way?
Sahil: "I think people think all feminists are these 'jholawali LSR girls' (Lady Shri Ram College for Women, New Delhi), who protest and do street theatre, but I certainly don't. I feel like, in terms of the way they look, it makes no difference at all."
Jason: "People have this idea that 'feminists' are kind of synonymous with butch-looking women. But I think a supermodel could be a feminist. It has nothing to do with what you wear, or how you look. "
Q. Can a man be a feminist?
Arjun: "I wouldn't call myself a feminist I don't like the label, because it prizes one sex over the other."
Sahil: "Yes! I studied feminism in gender studies, and I'm still getting full clarity on it—but I definitely am."
Ashwat: "I think everyone should be a feminist—but it's a bit messy right now. The first thing to do is to get a handle on the definition."
Jason: "I think the word 'feminist' is anti-feminist. I prefer 'humanist' because feminism puts women ahead of men, instead of equalising them."
Q. Would you ever consider being a stay-at-home husband?
Sahil: "I need to think about that..."
Arjun: "I'd actually feel pretty sh*t about myself. I don't think I'd be okay with not doing anything. But I wouldn't be okay with her being a stay-at-home mom either. I think we should both be doing a variety of things."
Ashwat: "I'd be happy to stay home and take care of the kids—but I feel like I'd need to do more."
Q. And do you think a woman would take to the idea as easily?
Jason: "I think a strong, independent woman would. Who wouldn't want to come home to a nice, home-cooked meal and a foot rub?"
Ashwat: "If she's actually making enough, I'd imagine she'd be alright with it. She's making the bread, and I'm baking it!"
Sahil: "Why not? If she doesn't, I think that's something to be a little bit worried about. She needs to hear Emma Watson speak!"
Arjun: "I think asking her for money might be awkward, and I don't know if she would like it either."
Q. What do you think women are worst at?
Sahil: "Where do I start?! But, I think making a decision—and sticking to it."
Jason: "At driving. And directions."
Ashwat: "I think they're terrible at letting something go. Forgiving and forgetting is not their style. In a fight, they'll bring up something that happened two years ago!"
Arjun: "They're bad at getting along with each other. They hate on each other immensely. The words 'She's a b*tch' are uttered too often."
Q. Do you think, sometimes, women say they're feminists without behaving like they are?
Sahil: "I think, very often, they believe in equal rights, but they can't always shake off the things they expect men to do for them."
Ashwat: "I find it contradictory when, sometimes, a woman can be making as much as me, but she'll expect me to foot the bill."
Arjun: "Women who say they are feminists often date incredibly controlling men. I don't understand the logic there."
Jason: "Most definitely. I hate that word, because women tend to throw it around without knowing what it entails."