Month: February 2014

Opressed Majority: What do we really want?

I saw this video go viral and the question that has haunted me for long time came flashing back. Why do we talk about gender so much? And why are there so many different viewpoints to this discussion.
I have met many men and some women who claim they are gender neutral. What this means is that same rules apply. At work, its about business and everyone has equal say, equal accountability, equal expectations on competency and empathy. With friends, it is about friendship and no sexual advances or feelings.
I have met fewer men and many women who don’t see this equality. They see that women have different challenges and require more empathy. More empathy towards their situation. At work, staying late is problem; for married women there are additional household responsibilities, for mothers there are additional children responsibilities and there can be lot more. With single friends, the thought of benefits or more.

And then there is limelight on certain women or videos or blogs or discussions.
Marissa Mayer attracts criticism because she could afford taking care of her new born much more easily than most other women do. Is this justifying her success by how she can afford to work as many hours as she does?
Sheryl Sandberg’s book attracts criticism because she writes on topic about women and has never had to live through many of the situations she talks about. She is criticised to not have real empathy because she doesn’t know what its like to be in that situation.
There is that Harvard study that Sheryl Sandberg quotes in her TED talk  (http://www.ted.com/talks/sheryl_sandberg_why_we_have_too_few_women_leaders.html)  about how changing the name in case study shifted expectations and called for harsher judgement.There is criticism and thoughts around that too.
I have attended women in leadership forums with discussions on sometimes passive and sometimes not so passive discrimination. I have personally experience it when my boss did not give me a high profile project because I had just gotten married and did not want to “disturb my newly wed life” by “giving me demanding work”.

What are we really dealing with here and what are these women fighting for?
Do we women feel proud when more women making it to the so called success of CXO level?
Do we like such videos that show how you would feel if you were in our situation? Is that what we are looking for – empathy? Or are we looking for change and what kind of change? Is it equality that we want?
I have a few guy friends who want to be househusbands because they can afford househelp and feel they wouldn’t mind running the house, manage the househelp/s, take care of kids, not have to stress over work problems and then have a happy drink in the evening.  There are so many men who want to retire early and so many women who start working after their kids have gone to college.
I always wonder if this is individual thought or collective gender specific thought process. Of course there will be exceptions to each side but these exceptions would be minority.
It makes me wonder what would be ideal society situation. Patriarchial or matriarchial will either way be hierarchical. We can go by the principle of ‘live and let live’ and even that is difficult to define. We can consider role based society the way defined in ancient vedas.
This makes me think again about equality and fairness that everyone talks about. Can we ever be truly unbiased and non hierarchical? Cognitive research has found biases inherent to us.
What I see is that change is inevitable and the way we are progressing, change is more rapid than we could fathom or anticipate.

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