“I must admit, I wallow sometimes, consumed in my own self-pity, I sulk but don’t act”
Being a strong woman isn’t an easy job, fortunately for me - I am surrounded by many other inspiring and awesome women who don’t believe in getting things out of turn just because they are women- I truly admire them! However, when things are outright dismissive, stereotyping women or holding them unworthy or abusing them because men prefer boy clubs, I feel deep remorse but I do know that good men feel it too. How they choose to respond is upto them however.
But let’s face it, both men and women stereotype women - When she is good at her work and has a point of view- she is a very 'dominating' woman rather 'arrogant' or 'abrasive'. When she chooses work over family, she is a 'ruthless' woman. When she fights her way up, she is an 'aggressive' woman. When she leaves him, she is a 'promiscuous' woman. When she befriends male colleagues, she is an 'easy' woman. Her 'appearance' is discussed more than her work. We are all guilty ! if she is not very strong to resistance - shut her up or shut her down one way or the other, characterize her, control her, manipulate her, label her, make her feel she is different, not up to the mark or not ready yet. Oh! she is strong and can fight back ? threaten her, belittle her, dehumanize her, assault her, just control the heck out of her. But this isn’t restricted to men only I bet! I see a lot of insecure and jealous women doing the same to other women. Are we questioning the female toxicity around us, the same way we are pointing fingers at men these days?
Most women are subjected to discrimination and marginalization in some way or the other- it is a fact that I am not disputing at all — but should we just blame men for this misery? What about our own tribe ? we somehow got into fighting with 50% of the world but this time around we should take some of this blame ourselves. We must accept responsibility that in some ways we contributed to where we are today and if we want to change that — we must move out of our comfort zones and some of the stereotyping ourselves first.
Blame it on the patriarchal society, the man is a recognized ‘provider’ for the family and the woman raises children- but that was a 100 years ago - Right? Wrong !!! We are yet to come out of sub-sets of this harrowing mindset first — “The fairer sex” that’s what we let people call us and I see a lot of women taking pride in being the 'fairer sex' - that's not a problem in itself but in someways a start of it. It distinguishes us, makes us doubt ourselves and fellow women in their capabilities every single day. Whether it be our looks, our thoughts or our performance at work – we are the ones judging first. There’s always something we think we could do better, something we wish we were more of and something we wish we didn’t have. Being self-critical is not such a bad thing for either a man or a woman, however women tend to border around continuously estimating their self-worth rather than just being critical.
Studies have proven that there is no fundamental difference between a man and a woman’s brain, it is settled that the confidence level is not based on gender but competence, so there should be no difference between a woman or a man running a Fortune 500 company or running for a Government office. But look at us, for centuries we have believed that men are providers and women are home makers, so when a woman tries to get out of these confines, more than the others she herself is half assured in her own prowess and the value she might bring. Add to the mix, her peers doubting her, other women alienating her and men despising her. She is made to think she did not deserve the promotions, salaries and life that she created for herself. Not knowing how to ask for or how to get what she wants, she is then pushed to use the 'Woman's' card. Instead of overcoming this regressive way of thinking, we start protesting, taking the ‘weaker sex’ route, using sexuality as a bait and share similar love with other women! We love labeling 'feminism' and are quick to discard woman who don't stand with us as ' anti-feminists'- bravo!
At Work — Women need to be treated differently strictly for reasons of anatomy and hormones and for all other purposes equally. That said – No man should ever be allowed to deal with us in a manner that compromises our safety or mental and physical well-being — that is a non-negotiable! Female vulnerability in situations like this cannot be discounted. So, we owe it to other women to voice it out when mistreated and make sure we support them at all cost. Work for organisations where men (AND women) understand personal space and choices, if they don’t respect this, leave right away. People who have no empathy to act against breach of privacy or comfort in a meaningful way – don’t deserve you!
When a woman complains, she isn’t ‘making this up’ 9 out of 10 times as it takes a lot of courage and personal strength to revolt or be a victim.It seems far easier to swallow pride, ignore and move on than speaking out about harassment. Don't ever underestimate the pain of re-living discomforting experiences. But, in no way I am suggesting that it is unlikely to happen the other way around or that men cannot complain. Unfortunately men need to accept that the default assumption here is that they have the physical strength to overpower her and hence their behavior needs to be subservient consciously or unconsciously. Most laws are designed in a way that put onus on men and they must re-think their behavior at work, whether they like it or not.
This is one area where I believe other women could have done a lot better in playing a significant role and making it safer for the victim– rather to my utter disappointment most women are either confused between taking a stand or out-rightly rejecting a victim’s account, judging her intentions just to come across as 'accommodating', 'modern' co-workers and get brownie points from their male colleagues since they aren't victims yet. Instead of coming together for safety of women at workplace in a real and promising way, women are tending to make a case for themselves under the guise of #MeToo, asking for preferential treatment or a gender quota just as an entitlement, in the name of diversity or a right or a privilege- I believe this is asking for bigger trouble. Men and women collectively are the future of the world - all the hate, negativity and name calling will make it extremely uncomfortable for both genders to maximize each other's potential and bring synergies at workplace.
For any job qualifier, the starting point should be education, aptitude and attitude required – I’d rather have organizations not look at the gender field or erase it from resume while recruiting. Move over gender quotas for employment, we have started to make a case for every little thing from maternity to period leave — girls, there are rules around this in every country and unless the organization is blatantly flouting those please stop complaining - this takes you several notches down on equality conversation. Giving birth and raising a child is the utmost privilege given to women-kind but whether you need to be in a job while doing this or not is your personal choice and situation. We do ourselves disservice by holding others hostage to the choices we make. Men make life choices too just that they don’t super impose theirs on others, while we bask in the glory of being a multi-tasker, quintessential super mom who wants to depict amazing work life balance all the time. We are constantly trying to prove our existence and consistently failing in our accomplishments, re-affirming our own belief in lack of capabilities and how undeserving we as species are! We do more so we cry more and that becomes our stereotype. We all have good days and bad days at work, some men have ’em too — Why bring your gender in to describe the hard life? Choosing to play women may seem tranquilizing in some work situations, however this leads to greater insinuations along your career.
Now on the personal side — We have this inherent need to be “Perfect” — a perfect mother, a perfect wife, a perfect girlfriend! We remember children’s allergies, we design the shopping list, and we know where the spare set of keys are. We multi-task. We are just better at remembering birthdays. We cook good food. We love catering to loved ones, and we make note of what they like to eat. We notice people’s health, and force friends and family to go see the doctor. We listen to our partner’s woes, forgive them the absences, the forgetfulness, the one-track mindedness while we’re busy organizing a play-date for the kids. We applaud success when it comes [to others], the promotion for him. It was their doing, and ours in the background. Besides, if we work hard enough, we can succeed too: all we need to do is learn to lean in. While men take no such pressure on themselves and live their lives enhanced successfully.
We are obsessed about the smallest details of everything and every part of our lives. We worry about our relationships and our families all the time. If one part isn’t perfect, we have to obsess over it until it’s either perfect or no longer part of our lives. Every day we feel guilty about something that we shouldn’t have to feel guilty for But that’s just what we’ve come to understand. A simple thing to understand here is that we are in control of nothing but ourselves, so why try and control things that are not in our scope. Perfect lives do not exist, the sooner you accept this fact, the happier you will be. It takes partnership even at home and everyday is a collective struggle- not yours and yours alone. We assume the guilt while men transpose it. It may seem like a winning attribute, but it’s actually our downfall. There is no ownership in taking the blame, it is a recipe for disaster. What we don’t realize is the pent up negative energy that this creates within us and I strongly believe that all this striving for perfectionism makes us even more cynical and intolerant.
While each gender has different ways of handling and approaching things, at the end of the day we are both members of humanity. The difference like I said, is restricted to anatomy and hormones. Those who think that the two groups are very different merely lack perspective. #MeToo raised some serious concerns but it’s about humanity in the end – turning it into a male bashing band wagon will hurt women more in the longer term.
I think smart women will not generalize and not become part of reckless name calling, because they believe that men and women are fundamentally same and same rules apply to both. Smart women will not fall into designing their own pitfalls and allow the superficial differences to penetrate and eat up untapped opportunities. I would like my daughter to grow up into this smart woman and more importantly my son to grow up as a man accepting and respecting women as equals.We, as women need to take a step back and reassure ourselves and fellow women who are rather unwittingly participating in this self-depreciating band-wagon. Be classy & fabulous - the girl you are meant to be!
“Of course I am not worried about intimidating men. The type of man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the type of man I have no interest in.”―Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie