I was at a meeting the other day. I had to present, talk, move around, work, think, be in command, be gentle, be smart, intelligent – you name it. But what was I worried about the evening before? Me : The person I claim to be, Me : the person I want to be, Me : the person I use to be?? I wanted to be me but I wanted to be taken very seriously. I wanted to not project a stereotype, nor did I want to be glanced at in one second and ‘dismissed’. ‘Dismissed’ because I work on ‘gender issues’ and the people I was dealing with were of the opinion that ‘this is a baccha jaccha issue”. No sir, it is not, of course not. But well, I had to make that break or move in 20 minutes. I had only 20 minutes to change mindsets, make my move and nail ‘gender equality’ into the operational plan for that program.
So, getting back to it, what was I worried about ? My thoughts, not really, I knew what I had and wanted to say, My work, My competencies : not really again. I had that covered too. I was confident in my work, my skills. So, what was worrying me ? The fact that I needed to stick to my goals and yet be flexible in my methodogy, No again! Because I am flexible in my approaches but will not budge from my goal…
So what was worrying me? Something as ridiculous as ‘what the hell should I wear to ensure that I am taken seriously.” To not come across as an overbearing woman that they would like to dismiss, to not come across as being too serious, too feminine, too girly, too womanly, too manly, too too too….
And ultimately, I chose Me. I chose to stand in front of these gentlemen as me. It doesnt matter what I chose to wear. What was important was that there was a nagging thought. The one we usually have when we are called for an interview, or a very important meeting. I struggled with it all night long. I woke up in the morning wondering, okay, decision time : what should I be worrying about? My work and presentations or my stupid attire. And then it struck me. I was experiencing patriarchy. By myself. In the midst of my own mind, my own thoughts led me to believe that I needed to be in a particular manner, to be accepted, to make that good impression, to be taken seriously. I wondered then, how many men even bother about this when they are working? Do they even care how they look for a meeting, for the reasons I stated above?
Its Patriarchy. A pinch of it. Which attacked me all night long. How did I smash it? By recognizing it. By facing it. By working on it. Not by denying it. Not by hating myself or condemning it. But by addressing it, by talking it out (with myself), by staring and wondering…what, when, how, why, whence forth, therefore.
In my experience as a woman, as being part of all and every movement for justice and equality – beyond boundaries, beyond nationalities, beyond space or time, is also about power — the renewed fear of diminished power, the threat of expanded power, the longing for denied power. I felt all of it. In that humble moment of understanding, I realised the way to Smash Patriarchy, is to confront it, to look it in the face and say ”You wont change me”. I also learnt this : I am responsible for what I say and how I say it. I managed to nail the meeting. My goal for the 20 minutes was achieved. But what I learnt will stay with me forever. Experiencing patriarchy with your own mind can destroy you, can make you rethink and review even your own values and resolves. It is scary, but can be overcome with very strong resolve.
Wishing all of us a journey in which we overcome patriarchy and live freely. Free from our own prejudices, minds and socialization.
About the Author
I am primarily a woman and a human being…the rest is ‘by the way’.. 🙂
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