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Here' A Four-Letter Word To Avoid At Work: Babe

23/04/2016 8:26 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
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Business woman looking over the city at sunrise.

Indra Nooyi, the super-successful CEO of Pepsi, nailed what a lot of women feel when she recently said, "I hate being called sweetie or honey...All that has got to go. We have got to be treated as executives or people rather than honey, sweetie, babe. That has to change."

The stereotyping of women is still so prevalent in the 21st century that it makes me want to gag with disgust. Why is there a need to label women based on their looks? In fact, why is there a need to label women at all? Ever bothered checking with a woman whether she likes the term? Or do you just take it for granted that she'll be happy to be called by vacuous names such as honey, sugar, and pet?

The underlying narrative is that good looks have got women where they are in the corporate world or any other workspace.

The underlying narrative is that good looks have got women where they are in the corporate world or any other workspace. While growing up I heard people say things like "You don't have to worry about anything in life because you're beautiful," or "You're so good looking you'll get married fast." Thankfully I never heard such things from my father, who was a progressive man who always encouraged me to study well, work hard and succeed in life. There was never any undue importance given to physical appearance. The emphasis was on excellence and diligence, whether it was in meeting a goal, preparing for an exam or even dressing well for an evening out!

These are the traits that women bring to the workspace and they must be admired and respected for it. It takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice to succeed and when all those efforts are peremptorily dismissed by couching them in words like "sugar", it's absolutely unacceptable. There is condescension in such terms, coupled with sexual overtones, that reeks of a discriminatory attitude towards women at the workplace. It signifies grudgingly accepting women in the workspace but only if they play by male rules and play nice and cute. I've got news for you: women work for the same reasons as men do--to get to the top and be successful. There are no other hidden motives.

I've got news for you: women work for the same reasons as men do--to get to the top and be successful.

Women in India face a unique dilemma with the older crop--what I call the aunty and uncle brigade--who are always asking why a woman works even if she has no dire economic need. And as with all personal probing in India this is done in a very circuitous manner and your 15-hour work day is dismissed as "something you do to keep yourself busy". Women have to constantly justify their reasons to work especially if they don't need the money.

But we women are strong and we continue to skyrocket breaking all barriers in education, work, entertainment. We are unstoppable in our journey to reach the top and any male "honey" who wants to join us is welcome too, otherwise they will be left far behind.

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