April 25, 2012

The Curse of Venus

Posted by Shreya at 5:11 PM
So here I am sweetly working and minding my own boring business when the client walks by and says, “You’re looking good today.”

I’m not sure how to react. So I don’t.

Instead I bury it somewhere at the back of my head, and hope that it was a figment of my imagination. Until the next day.

“Off the record, you’re distracting people on my floor, they’re asking me to make your project last longer.”

I maintain a straight face. I study his face. No perverse leer. Not even a playful expression. Just a smile. The kind which seems harmless enough, but instinct tells you that you should want to box his teeth out. But instead, I continue to discuss the documents in front of me with him.

This isn’t just me. Nor is it an isolated instance. Nor am I sitting in the middle of a street in some company which has no women. Quite the contrary. This company has a lot of women. And a lot of HOT women. Like that should make a difference.

So I ask around, I ask other women I know on how they react to such comments, and believe me, EVERYONE has faced them at some point of time. When I worked in a production house, I heard crap about “Don’t you want to become an actress?” from the studio manager. When I joined my next job, I was informed about colleagues crowding over a laptop drooling over a pic of a tattoo I had up on Facebook. When I go to a client location, I hear other stupid shit.

So I asked around. I asked men and women I knew about how they would react to such awkward situations. Was I being too polite in just ignoring the comments? Was I encouraging them? Or was it worth it to make my job a living hell by objecting every time a guy said something inappropriate?

The responses were, well, interesting to say the least.

“This is what sexual harassment policies are for.”
“You pretty girls na, you have a problem with everything.”
“It’s your fault, you were nice to them. Hence they think you’re a pretty little dumb thing and treat you like one.”
 “Err….don’t wear all these fancy dresses and pants to office?”
“Stop over-reacting to everything. It’s harmless.”

Right. See, the point is, I’m not saying that all the men at work are out to rape me. But in the day and age where even the slightest sexual innuendo in some joke that a guy sends you on your BBM can be considered as grounds for suing for harassment, where exactly do we draw the line for inappropriate behavior?!

And just by the way, thanks for letting me know that since I take care to look decent at work, and actually talk to colleagues in a workplace dominated by the not-so-fair sex, and prefer being professional, it clearly is my fault. It brings back nice memories of Delhi police and the idiotic lot who nicely say that women and their ‘loose’ behavior is what attracts rapists and molesters in the NCR, and clearly the solution is for us to be clad in burqas and not be allowed out of our homes once the sun sets.

I’m from Delhi, and I’ve grown up believing that as long as you’re a human form who appears to be female (read: have boobs), it’s apparently every man’s birth right to stare at you and share his amazingly witty comments with you. But I was kind of hoping when I switch cities, when I switch local Blue line buses for a formal office setting of the highest order, when I switch the creeps on the street for highly educated men in suits, some things would have changed.

Sorry, I guess that was just my mistake.

P.S. This is my first post for Darlings of Venus, and believe me I hadn’t meant it to be this one. I am just SO PISSED OFF!!!


Mystical Skeptical Me on April 25, 2012 at 7:59 PM said...

Heyyyy Girl! Welcome here! This post is brilliant. You are absolutely right.I mean, even I have been told that I am paranoid when I try to question the overtures. *Shrugs*

Good Write Up :D :) :)

abhinav rastogi on April 25, 2012 at 10:47 PM said...

nice write up !!! just feel sad that the pathetic state of society has reached the corporate circuit and is corrupting the work culture. I guess everyone should mind their own business rather than poking into the lives of people in the adjacent cubicle .


Raumali Dasgupta on April 25, 2012 at 11:33 PM said...

Great post, and so true... why aren't we girls allowed to be comfortable anywhere?

Arch on April 26, 2012 at 7:23 AM said...

Give it back. Seriously, why would someone call it harmless and keep mum? May be I am too fiery in talk.

Shreya on April 26, 2012 at 9:48 AM said...

@Mystical Skeptical Me - Thank you!! And we are NOT paranoid. I'm assuming if I said something like this to a guy in office tomorrow I'll be termed as a flirt or a slut or something. Talk about biases!

@Abhinav - It's good to hear that from a guy, frankly! Thank you!

@Raumali - Well, apparently because we crib and over react to everything. Apparently.

@Arch - I would love to give it back. But then the men will look at each other and shrug. And then I have to come back to the same place tomorrow, and work with these same men. Cowardly, I know. But whatodo.

Mystical Skeptical Me on April 26, 2012 at 10:41 AM said...

Exactly! I've myself been tagged as an incorrigible "flirt" because I've complimented men. Hypocrites, people are. *Shrugs*

Shreya on April 26, 2012 at 4:38 PM said...

@Mystical Skeptical Me - Oh well.

Makk on April 26, 2012 at 7:33 PM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Makk on April 26, 2012 at 7:33 PM said...

Well, There is a balanced attitude.

I know its quite difficult term, I have used. It is there and it works.

and of course perverts need to kicked right in balls every time you see them.Its upto you how often you can do that. :)

maithili on April 27, 2012 at 10:32 AM said...

Hey Shreya welcome here! What a strong post. I had myself nodding in approval at each statement of your post. Yes laws exist but where should one draw a line is the question. Even in schools and colleges the scenario remains the same. To the extent that when you create a fuss against such jokes or comments you are tagged "uncool"! Its a circle that can be broken only if we women start inculcating a sense of value for the other sex in our sons! We can only help create a better place for the next generation :P I dont see a solution for the "present"

Shreya on April 27, 2012 at 11:33 AM said...

@Makk - A kick in the balls...that has been on my wishlist for some time now! :)

@Maithili - Thank You! Well...at least in school and college I could tell the guy to fuck off without too many repurcussions. Well, unless he was a gunda in delhi or something, in which case it might not be that easy ;)

But ya...Sons...they have a nice ethical task ahead!!! :)

Aditi Ray on April 27, 2012 at 12:41 PM said...

Lol.. I started readin it with a it-is-going-to-be-a-boring-post mood... and as the lines passed by, my head has been nodding frivolously.... its a i-know-i-know gesture!!
but its so true Shreya!!
esp the last para... just soo true!!

and secondly.. welcome to DoV!! :D
its wat v call... 'dhamakedaar entry!!' :P lol..

Anonymous said...

Oh.. that's pretty sad... Men do not respect Women. And Work crowd is the exact same street crowd may be with a shiny wrist watch and a fancy mobile phone. I tht only my office is filled with such loosers... Guess it's the same case everywhere.. don't think too much of it. Happens all the time! And I think ignoring was the best way to deal with it.

Shreya on May 1, 2012 at 11:26 PM said...

@Aditi Ray - Well...I guess I should be thankful I didn't bore your pants off, in a completely non-sexual harassment kinda way ;)

Ever since I've written this I've realised more than ever how many girls are facing this crap! And most are as clueless as me on how to deal with it! Oh well.

And thank you :)

Shreya on May 1, 2012 at 11:29 PM said...

@theconfusedgraduate - So, its decided then, I need to think the whole world is Delhi, and well, just ignore it.

Feminists would kill us for that solution you know, but frankly, as weak as it sounds, its the easier way out, and the only way to get some work done, I guess.

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