I recently read the headline of a post which says, everyone, want women empowerment and like strong women, unless they meet one and believe me I instantly wrote yes, without even needing to read the same in-depth. Many of my colleagues, friends, family members feel that I am a really strong woman who is breaking the stereotypes by my professions, habits, hobbies, lifestyle etc. But I disagree with that. It’s not just the profession or the way you conduct yourself makes you strong but it’s also the society that plays an important part by accepting a woman the way she is. Accept her the way she is without judging. I am not saying that we are perfect and I do agree that everyone must improve but expecting that improvement to be of a certain way or tagging all girls with some criteria is not justice.
I always wondered why female bosses are been stereotyped as bossy and aggressive, why people say that it’s difficult if you have got a female boss. For that matter even if you are an individual contributor with the brain of her own and opinions you will be tagged as Rude, aggressive, not friendly etc. When people are ready to accept that there is a difference in the basic nature of men and women that’s why there are books like ‘Women from Venus and men from mars’ then how can you expect that a female manager and a male manager would have similar ways to respond to a situation. Let me tell you I am speaking from my experience that if we will not be aggressive then no one will take us seriously. One smile or one loose discussion with a peer or team member where we took the topic lightly and then the entire thing is gone.
I carry a stern face at my workplace though I was the chirpiest one when I was in college now I don’t mind if someone will call me aggressive, or full of attitude or rude. There was a time when I use to care about it and use to talk politely but then I realised it’s better to be tagged as rude instead of letting people take advantage of your nature by delaying the work and later on putting the blame back on you by saying females are not good managers. But that doesn’t mean that I am not friendly with my colleagues I also enjoy tea breaks, random gossip etc. but one has to define boundaries between work ethics and friendly behaviour especially when you are women who have been continuously judged.
Trust me it’s not easy to be a strong woman, you will be judged every now and then just because you have opinions, you stay by what you say, you cannot get persuaded easily and you have your way to manage your task, team, home and life. I don’t understand what’s wrong in that? We all have grown up looking at these qualities only. Be it our father, mother, elders, teachers etc. Did your teacher got persuaded by your crying face when you need that 1 extra mark to compete with your classmate, was your parents reacted normally on the habits which they disliked in you then when a boss is correcting you who has been grown up learning not to adjust or let go then how come she is aggressive or bossy or rude?
I know I am not a strong woman. I still care for the society before saying anything, I still face criticism, on many occasions, I lie about my preferences because of the fear that others will judge me. I am not a strong one but I am walking on the path to becoming one. As it goes by the saying, change comes from within hence I thought to pick 3~4 topics/ incidences and will be working on my reaction to those situations rather than expecting the other person to change themselves.
Life in a metro: Don’t stare upon us when I enter a crowded metro compartment with a stern face, don’t expect me to be apologetic as I am travelling in a general compartment not the ladies one (dude udhar pair rakhne ki bhi jagah nhi hai) I am not expecting you to offer me your seat neither your hand, I know how to stand still but you also please be gracious and say ‘Excuse me’ (the most exploited word of English language after sorry) instead of pushing me when you have to step out. And please don’t be judgemental. Office to hume bhi Jana hai na, late to hum bhi ho rahe hai to crowd me aenge hi.
Office meeting: Yes, of course, let’s do this, what’s the deadline, common words right. Sorry, I don’t think I have the bandwidth to do this, I have tried it but this doesn’t seem to be working, I am running 10 minutes late, please consider these words also to be normal when coming out of a women’s mouth. We are also a human being and yes we do complete things and work but sometimes it’s not feasible and we need help. With help, I don’t mean that we are playing the victim card always. Same goes for disagreement on any topic. If we are not agreeing and we have our reasons please don’t push that bad. A woman sitting in the same room is also well educated and must have got relevant experience just because she is outnumbered and not in majority doesn’t mean that she is not rational or logical
Chay, Sutta and Makeup: Yes I like to discuss lipstick, brand, colour shade, my handbag, etc. my colleagues. Please don’t judge me when I apply lipstick in public that’s my choice and I feel I like to look good throughout the day. Don’t you also do the same when you discuss the Sutta break saying damn there is lot of work I need some fresh air, or you ask your office pals to take a sutta break, your chay pe charcha and stuff, don’t you brag when you wear that special Louise Phillip 3 piece suit for the office meeting? It’s not my fault that I dress up well everyday and hence have got to discuss the same with my hive while you rarely get this chance. And please don’t judge when we are also discussing sutta, that’s our choice, isn’t it?
I drink, no I don’t, Yes, I like Whiskey: So… so what. recently one of my colleagues was talking rudely to his wife because she took a sip of whiskey from my glass. Dude, it’s just whiskey it’s not tagging your partner as a bewda or bewdi.. how come Vodka and wine are acceptable but not Whiskey or scotch. Believe me, till last year at many occasions, office parties I use to say that I don’t drink because I did not have the courage to face those judgmental eyes who will pass on their judgement much before the Supreme court will pass on the judgement on the Nirbhaya case, so one flip due to high heels and I am gone, I will be tagged as ‘chadh gayi hai madam ko’. I also witnessed another incident where my friend who use to buy booze for his girlfriend who is now living in some other country was saying to her that now you will not drink alcohol if I am not with you. I was like what….. I was so surprised, that female is 29 years old, well raised, strong-headed female, doing excel in her career is now getting orders from her would-be husband because the guy is insecure that whether she would be able to handle herself or not.
These are some of the small incidences which I have mentioned here. I am not saying that travelling in the metro, preferring scotch over wine or discussing lipstick is gonna make anyone strong but it’s the opinion that matters. One has to be opinionated to be strong; one should have the freedom to choose, opt and live by their choice or to change their choice if they don’t like it. It should come from within. You can’t expect women to be strong and then you will keep on judging them.
P.S: I have always been surrounded by strong women in my life be it my mother, sister, aunts or my grandmother, soon will also write about my upbringing and how these strong ladies of my life have enhanced my self-development.