Literary journals and newspapers aiming to reform the religious beliefs and domestic habits of women were common in early twentieth-century North India. Although most readings have focused on how these texts reflected male legislation of women's behaviour, we should look at Muslim reformist literature to understand male experiences; this investigation offers new insights into an emergent middle-class identity defined more by manners than birth. Readings of a previously little-researched Urdu newspaper, Madinah, and its women's section offer new insights on male experiences of reformism, characterized by profound ambivalence. Playfulness emerged in some reformist descriptions of women's voices, channelling the influence of rekhti. Ultimately Madinah cultivated pride in Islam's strict division of gender roles and conversely threatened men with shame for failing to regulate uneducated women. Descriptions of powerful, Ottoman women warriors were framed to incite men to acts of bravery, using reports from Europe as cautionary examples of the over-indulgence of women. While the newspaper offered outlets for men to express curiosity about women's experiences, ultimately reformist literature limited expressions of pleasure. Male ambivalence regarding the implications of the reformist project remained embedded in writing about women.