Tackling casual sexism at workplace

Reckless comments made on women are common. But where do you draw the line?

A few recent incidents spurred actor and comedian Mallika Dua to pen her thoughts. A leaked video of Akshay Kumar making a surprisingly misogynistic remark at her, during the taping of a reality show, was picked up by her father Vinod Dua who was appalled by the ridicule his daughter was subjected to at her workspace. This incident has defined the grave subtleties that women often ignore as there may be more on their plate. Her letter explains her stance.
An excerpt from her open letter published online reads, “The comment made to me was undoubtedly and perhaps unintentionally crass, “Mallika ji, aap bell bajaao, main aapko bajaata hoon. This kind of banter or even sharing a cackle with Rohit Shetty while vulgarly demonstrating just how sexually inappropriate dress-men on a film set can be, is nauseating and reeks of casual sexism and age-old Bollywood entitlement. It’s normalised to such an extent that even I didn’t make a huge deal of it. I’m a huge part of the problem. Do not make this about Akshay Kumar and trivialise it. It’s about all of us. (sic)”

Being on the receiving end of casual comments is ridiculously common among women in all professions. Sneha Suhas, a radio jockey and stand-up comedian, says, “When I was in sales, I've heard casual remarks from male colleagues that implied that clients agreed to my sales pitch because I was a girl. Even in comedy, they suggest that I was included for a show because they needed variety for a show and not because I was funny. In incidents like this, you're asked to ignore and carry on. Even I'm guilty of not having stepped up because people may say that I am “too sensitive” or “defensive”. Sometimes you just don’t want to get your hands dirty and let it go, but in hindsight you do feel bad about it.”

Taking into consideration that Akshay Kumar is a star with a huge fan following, such a remark was uncalled for as Kavitha Reddy, politico and women and safety issues activist opines, “Reckless comments are distasteful whether he was crossing the line or not and it disrespects his own stature. If a woman made a similar comment on a man, you would rag her completely. The reason things have gone so far is because women always hold back. If we made clear that such comments are unacceptable, this would not have been a problem now. Sometimes it’s better to speak your mind, politely. As far as Mallika writing her thoughts openly is considered, it’s her prerogative, how she made her stand clear."

Actress Samyukta Hornad, adds, “People make such comments on a daily basis as it has become a part of our daily language. Mallika knew what she was doing and she thought it was right. Sometimes there are multiple solutions to the same issue. You have to find the right balance so that attention goes to the issue and not the person talking about it. ”

Speaking from a psychological point of view, Priyanka MB, clinical psychologist and entrepreneur, says, “We have unfortunately resorted to repressing our emotions and experiences. This act of normalising and letting go, leads to unhealthy coping methods and unhealthy thinking patterns, paving a path to various psychological conditions, most commonly depression and anxiety. We need to remember that our thoughts, feelings and behaviour, influence each other and our thoughts are nothing but a set of belief systems and experiences common to our culture, therefore posing the need for workplace etiquette for both men and women.”

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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