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While talking to other women, I realised that this is a common experience with most women across industries. And it does not matter if the woman is married, unmarried, separated, interested, or not interested.
Palki Sharma, a senior journalist recently said this in an interview: “After your late night shifts there is a tradition of hanging out and drinking / smoking in newsroom. This is generally a men’s thing, as you will hardly find any woman there.
I don’t avoid because of late night or that I have to go back home early. Its because, MEN still get the wrong message many times. And if my choice is between appearing snobbish and reserved and appearing ‘too open and friendly’, I will take the first one. I don’t want anyone to get the wrong message. Because honestly I am not interested in anyone, I am here to do my work.”
How many of us associate with this thought process? I know I have avoided late night get togethers, or drinks at a party for the exact same reasons.
People, especially men think that women at work who drink and come to parties are “available” and cannot even in their wildest dream imagine that a woman can enjoy herself / network without looking for a dalliance. The worst is when the men use alcohol as an excuse to cross the boundaries and attempt to become “friendlier” with their women colleagues.
And thanks to their conditioning and the way a woman is portrayed in the media, even if she says No politely, it is still taken as a Yes by the man, since a No by a woman means she is playing hard to get. And if she says No rudely or rebukes the guy then she is termed arrogant and difficult to work with.
And it is bad especially for younger women, who have left homes for the first time and are in their first job. They are not yet confident of rebuking the advances and are scared of the consequences of saying NO, as most of the time these men are their seniors in the organisation.
Believe me women do not have it easier when they say no to drinks or to attending the parties. As then they are taunted that they are not cool, they do not know how to network or be part of the team. And worst when the men in these ‘Boys Clubs’ get ahead in their career because of the networking and deals are closed over drinks.
So both ways it is a lose – lose situation for the women.
While talking to other women, some ideas that some of us employ which helps in such situations are to create allies (men to women) in your workplace who have each other’s back during these get togethers. And if you are in a senior position, then creating strict boundaries as part of the company culture also goes a long way in avoiding such situations.
What are the some of the things that you have faced and how have you dealt with it? Do share your experiences so that we can all learn from each other.
Image source: vgajic at Getty Images Signature Free for Canva Pro
Strong believer in the power of conversations and finding comfort in uncomfortable conversations. Love to encourage both genders to break the chains of patriarchy and come into their own indentity.
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