(Published on International Women’s Day on Women’s Web)
Pink streamers welcome me, red roses decorate my desk, I get ushered in like a princess. No, dear, it’s not my birthday. It’s Women’s Day and I belong to the lucky 1 percent of the female population that gets treated like a queen.
So, as a part of the Women’s Week, we had a session over tea with the CEO. There was a nice little pep talk, screening of some wonderfully inspirational videos and an urge to participate and make the whole discussion livelier. The event was proceeding fine, in the sense that no one knew what to say to most of the things. And some were trying to pitch in with their stories. I, of course, kept mum throughout because, well, I am always the life of the party, you know.
I mean, we all know what gender equality is about. The topic is now kind of stale, isn’t it? What else can you add to it?
And then when there was too much quiet and the CEO was like, it’s getting too uncomfy and I am the only one speaking, one of the women saved everyone else’s neck by dishing out some sort of platitude relating to multitasking women, the hard journey of balancing, blah blah blah. And then emerged a question – why don’t we see more women in higher positions despite there being so much brouhaha over women empowerment and shizz like that. (She might have worded the question differently, but this was primarily the essence.) Of course, the answer went like things are changing but the changes cannot be overnight; they will be gradual and happen over time. Und so weiter.
Then, someone shared a story about a girl fresh out of college who opted to take up sales and told the zonal manager that she had no problem touring outlets with salesmen; she had a scooty and had no qualms about being surrounded by males and stuff like that. Everyone lauded the girl’s grit and the anecdote was heard in good cheer. Of course, me being me could only think of one thing.
Why does this story get attention?Why is the story of a woman raising her voice and charging into a male stronghold such a novel prospect even today? It should be passé by now, shouldn’t it? After all, it has been more than a decade since 8 March, 1917 when women first got enfranchisement in Russia and the International Women’s Day was born. But the struggle for recognition hasn’t ceased yet. It has only changed form and geography.
Why does a girl need to be all rowdy and cut-throat to be able to storm into a male bastion? Why don’t we accept an ‘un’extraordinary woman in a male domain? Why does a woman have to be just the best to reach the levels that are otherwise crowded with hoity-toity but lazy unremarkable men?
And how come it doesn’t work the other way round? We don’t have soft-spoken men staying away from scary jobs just because they are so. We still have words like ‘manned’ for patrolling and not ‘womanned’. We still have men expecting women to be fiery, as if women can be either fiery or dumb, as if those in between don’t deserve shit.
Men of all types will be accepted but women? Aah well, women need to move through fire and brimstone to deserve the respect of the ‘naturally-competent’ men.
Why don’t we talk about women who let go of emotionally manipulative men as brave? Why don’t we talk about women who battle inferior treatment from other women as brave? Why do we attribute every bad-tempered woman as someone who must be PMSing?
Do you know the saddest thing about this whole thing?
It’s that the issues today are still seen as women-centric and not people-centric. The fact that women’s day still has to be celebrated to remind the world that there is a species they might have overlooked on 364 days of the year is probably a thought worth giving.