“A wonderful day to spend among women in leadership” said Rashmi Karthik an attendee of Women #BreakingBarriers Bangalore. Breaking Barriers is now coming to Pune, Panjim, Kolkata, Coimbatore, Chennai. Register now to attend!
The truth is that women still have only ourselves to depend on. Most men don’t seem to realise the gravity of sexual harassment and other violence women face.
While #MeToo is flooding over all of social media, I am surprised that so many men are shocked by the sheer numbers. Didn’t y’all know this was happening all around you? Weren’t you the one laughing at all those sexist jokes during coffee breaks? Didn’t you forward that ’10/10 wife’ WhatsApp message? Didn’t you encourage that friend to ‘really’ go after that hot babe?
Ok, I am digressing.
Meanwhile, in my parallel professional universe, I had one of my own #MeToo moments. No, not this kind. Let me set the scene for you.
Its 4PM on a Wednesday evening and a few people have gathered around the center table in my office at Raleigh.
I smell heated butter and cheese. I look around and decide it must be wafting from something on that table, which should definitely be worth devouring. I walk over and its popcorn, you guys!!! Someone actually got butter-and-cheese flavored microwave popcorn packets and they were there, right out of the machine, hot and crisp! What a welcome break!
In that jolly expectant mood, I blurted out, “If only you had got masala tea to accompany…sigh”. The guy who had got the popcorn, quickly chided me with something on the lines of, “I should have got tea as well for you? Do you think I am Modi?” A female colleague just passing by changed her course, came over and rebuked him with an, “I heard you. You should respect your PM!”
Before you begin to assume and start debating her reaction, that’s not the premise of my story, so please read on.
After she left, people started reacting heatedly with ‘how can she do that? Did she even know what we were talking about…. etc. etc.’ You get the idea. But I wasn’t joining in. Curious why?
Because while someone said how can she just barge in and tell off without knowing about our discussion, my reaction was: ‘Sometimes you don’t need a context to barge in’. Getting everybody’s attention, I presented my case with a situation I was involved in, back in India a few years earlier. Its worth mentioning and important to note that by this time, its only men around the table. (Because of course only women gossip and waste time in chit chat!)
An old man is slapping/beating an adult young woman outside their home, pretty much on the street in full public view.
Won’t you intervene? Do you really need to know the reason for this violence? Will you wait to ask for a justification?
I was appalled that no one, yes people, NOT A SINGLE FUC**** PERSON, immediately reacted in the affirmative. Everyone took their own sweet time to solve their dilemma. Dilemma? Why IS there a dilemma? It’s the most basic thing to do! Didn’t you have a humanity/morality/civility chapter in school?
But hold your horses, because there’s more! Prepare to be blown away by men’s thought processes about common sense (or rather, the lack of).
So, after a while when someone said, ‘Yeah maybe I will. I mean first I need to know who is this guy…I mean maybe if it’s her boyfriend…I mean…I’ll have to see…. I mean….’. I decided to bring him out of his misery and solve the mystery troubling his pea-brained universe.
‘Ok. So, you decide to intervene…to meddle…thank you! But the guy warns you off saying he is the lady’s father and you should stay out of his business. What then?’
I kid you not, every single man in attendance there, unanimously voted, in an instant, that they will walk off because he has a ‘valid’ point.
And I am standing there with the very, very, very, scary realization, that –
Girls, we are very much on our own with these educated, civilized morons around us.
Sigh. Time to go back to my imaginary utopia.
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Single female, crossing 3 decades of earthly life, enjoying adventure, fine tea, books and reading
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