Saturday, October 20, 2012
‘If I had the power to change something, I would change….’
This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda
If I had the power to change something, I would change men’s attitudes towards women’s education and careers. In India, when Jyotirao Phule, along with his wife Savitribai Phule, began educating girls sometime around the 1840s, they had no idea that 150 years down the line, women would come to believe that the same was a bane instead of a boon. Sure, they were successful in educating women, but they didn't realize that they would have to change men's attitudes and thinking as well.
The reasons are not hard to find. Earlier, when women were not educated, they had no means of livelihood, as is the case today. They were forced to stay at home and take care of the household chores. For them, their life began and ended with their family.
Once the women were educated, they began going out into the world and seeking gainful employment in one form or the other. The ability to earn their own money gave them immense confidence. Slowly and steadily, they began rising the career graph almost on par with or, in some cases, even better than men.
While initially, the men accepted this change openly, it was later realized that this was only going to boomerang on them. They realized that not only were women smarter and more hard-working than them, but they were in it for the long haul. This led to a lot of insecurities among men. Till today, it is believed (maybe rightly so) that men have a problem in reporting to a woman boss.
From the female viewpoint, while she was happily climbing the career graph, at home, she was not spared the household chores. If at all, they became more difficult considering she was supposed to do them either before or after work notwithstanding how tired she would be at the end of the day. Also, while a man’s identity came to be associated with his grade or designation, a woman was still known as somebody’s wife, daughter or mother.
A single thing that irks me most is men’s attitudes towards successful women. It’s easy to assume that a woman would have reached a position of success only because she would have portrayed herself as easy. Her hardworking attitude, her skills and her knowledge would have played absolutely no part in it. Also, while a man who speaks his mind is appreciated and applauded, a woman who speaks her mind is actually looked down upon and branded arrogant and brash.
After having proven themselves for so many years, some organizations or bosses are still hesitant to award the top jobs or the juiciest projects to women. Since they are not capable of handling a women workforce, they take the easy route and pass on the work to men.
In some organizations, women taking leave for marriage or even for delivering a child is looked down upon completely ignoring the fact that if it weren’t for this, none of us would be alive, including the men. Instead of supporting and giving them a few concessions, the same is treated as a liability.
Another bone of contention is the fact that men think they can get away with flirting with a woman, though she may be a professional and want to discuss only work with you. How many of us have had our male colleagues or clients say to us, “Your face seems very familiar. Have I seen you somewhere?” Though on par with them and working with them side-by-side, men still treat women as objects.
The media doesn’t help either. Products selling insurance or asking us to save for the future always sell them as “for your son’s education” and “for your daughter’s marriage”. The following advertisement is so retrograde that the makers should be publicly thrashed for the same; parents discussing marriage and how expensive gold is for their 5-year old daughter: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckfQWYGAvKM
If I had the power to change, I would change all this. I would request men to treat women as their equal and ensure that they support and encourage them in all spheres of life; be it at work or in the house. I would exhort them to recruit as many women as possible in their team or their company and see the benefits for themselves. I would request human resources to have special workshops on handling gender biases and gender-related issues. I would change people’s thinking towards a boy and a girl’s education, career & marriage preferences and the choice of having children. I would change men’s attitudes towards women from merely an object to an inspiration; someone who can positively influence and bring about a radical change in their lives.
Joseph Conrad, the Polish novelist, said it best when he commented, “Being a woman is a terribly difficult task, since it consists principally in dealing with men.”