Yesterday I was at the Facebook office in Delhi. And this is what I saw.
Since I don’t have the knack to write so succinctly, I was amazed at how someone could precisely explain the biggest problem that women face in this world.
So here is another long essay about one line
This is a patriarchal world. It has been always like this. I am a man and I have experienced (and enjoyed) the privileges I received as a boy – not only over my sisters but over my mother, aunts, cousins, school and college girlfriends and every other female around me.
Here is a sample of a conversation in the 80s –
We are going to a movie, why don’t you join us?
* What time is the show?
Its 9 pm in the night.
* I can’t make it then. Why don’t we go for a 3 pm show?
There is only one show.
* Oh. So then you guys can go ahead. I can’t make it.
* My parents won’t allow for a night show.
But the movie theatre is just a 10-minute walk.
* No. That can’t happen. I don’t want to argue with my dad. You guys can go ahead.
Conversation over. Nobody said a thing. Neither we nor the girl who lost out on 100 such occasions every year. Yes, 100. Or maybe more. I feel shitty about it now. Because I was never told that these were privileges only offered to men.
At work, I was privileged to work under 2 female bosses. Both were hard on me. But not once did I hate them. I was unhappy with the treatment I was meted out at certain times, but I knew that a man as my boss would have been no different. Also to have a female boss in 1995 was a small miracle in itself. But I am happy I got the opportunity and I quickly realized that in life there is not much difference between a man and a woman.
One of the other things that made me realize the inherent equality in the relationship between a man and a woman was through books. What I saw in life around me and what I experienced in the books I read was completely in contrast. But I was attracted towards my authors’ view of the world.
When Pu La Deshpande said that Sunita Deshpande is a far better and smarter person than him, I believed him. Because he said it with such honesty and grace, and without an ounce of jealousy. And I thought that if my icon can say this about his wife, then who am I to deny this reality to the women in my lives?
Maya worked even before we got married. All my life she has earned more than I did. I was never jealous of it. The girls I know from college have made great choices in their lives. Some have decided to work, start independent ventures and some have decided to raise kids. None of these are ordinary jobs. They are amazingly extraordinary, considering that these women have carved themselves out of a heavily patriarchal society like India. It would have been tough, but their faces don’t show the frustration.
Raising kids to me is the most extraordinary job in the world. More important than being the PM, President, and CEO of a billion dollar company. Many women do this by choice. And I not only respect this choice, I get an inferiority complex because of I know how incompetent I would be as a single parent. I have always believed that even though children are technically raised by a husband and wife, mothers raise their kids as a single parent. This is a truth not many men will tell you
Where does professional work fit into all this busyness that women have taken upon themselves? Full-time mother is an accepted role for even a highly educated woman in our society. Many women fall for this trap. They believe that staying at home and winning brownie points in family events – “My wife manages the entire house. If she goes away even for a day the entire house collapses with chaos.” is the greatest tribute to their existence. This is partially true.
Harvard research has proven that women who work become better role models for their children than housewives. It does not mean that every woman has to work outside the house. It just means that a woman who has a professional identity beyond a stay at home mother is a better role model for her kids.
Despite all the research backing a working woman, many educated women resist getting out of the house because they fear conflict. The conflict of their inability to balance both ends in a perfectly coordinated fashion. The guilt of coming back to a house where maids raise their kids and feed them food every day. All this is a far bigger challenge to conquer than letting go off a part-time job that pays nothing. But all this is a mere mind game and nothing else.
Steven Pressfield expresses this beautifully –
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frighten us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
To all women in my life and to all women who care to read this post – that poster I saw in Facebook office is the single biggest problem with educated and empowered women in the world who face the day to day conflicts trying to juggle roles.
There is no work-life balance. It’s a myth. Life is a struggle to carve your identity in the short time that you will visit this earth. It does not matter what your husband feels, your boyfriend believes or your parents and in-laws think. It does not really matter. What matters is who you think you want to be. What you think your kids should remember you as.
And for that to happen, as the poster says, all you need to do is to get out of your own way.
Think about it. Because I am not saying this. Facebook says this. And the COO of Facebook is a single mother.
- Sikh outfit to gherao Yogi, Bhagwat during US visit
- Raghuram Rajan Behind India’s Declining Growth, Says NITI Aayog’s Rajiv Kumar