Let’s Get Together, Gals

Jyoti Shekar

I have always envied the old boys’ network. I wish we had something similar. Of course, I am sure we would not call it the old girls’ network. But whatever the name is, it is an impressive phenomenon.

You can see the corporate boys all huddled together and being all buddies whether they like each other or not. Somehow expectations from each other are not too high. They don’t have to prove themselves in friendship or in work. I mean, obviously, the better employee becomes more successful and all that, depending on whatever ‘better’ means to the organization.

But the point is, mistakes are excused. They watch each other’s backs.

I am dying to see this phenomenon in women. Let’s call it tough girls’ network, if that makes you feel better. But let’s do it.

Men are geniuses according to me. Not only do they have this whole system of patriarchy since time immemorial, but despite all protests, they manage to still hold onto it. Not only that, they have got women advocating it like nobody’s business, and thinking it’s a grand idea and that they are somehow helping humankind survive by telling other females not to cross the line.

I see our mothers falling prey to that. Then why would mothers in law be any different? Hence starts the cycle of discord between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law.

Just the other day, someone told me how they feel women are women’s biggest enemies. And I had responded, “Sorry to disappoint you Sir, but patriarchy takes the cake in being the biggest enemy of women.”

There are a few reasons why, I think, women stand up against women:

  1. As mentioned above, they are convinced through years of training that patriarchy is an excellent idea and for Darwin’s theory to work, they need to follow it absolutely.
  2. Even if they don’t follow the logic in point number 1, they are worried that they will no longer be accepted in society if they do not follow popular belief. Let’s face it, most of us are afraid of being different.
  3. We have to go that extra mile to prove ourselves. One mistake, and we feel we are out of the race forever.

I can go on more, but you get the drift, I am sure.

Let me prove this point to you.

The other day, I went to this conference with a male colleague of mine. I am female, by the way. In an ideal situation, the gender of either of us would not matter since I am not narrating a love story. Well, in my opinion, even in a love story, the gender should not matter to anyone other than the parties themselves, but I digress.

Coming back to the main plot of the story, I went to this conference with a male colleague of mine. Let’s call him Dick. No offence intended to him or anyone else, I just happen to like the name. You can call him Tom or Harry if you like.

Dick was going to give a presentation for an hour. We had prepared for it the day before and were all set. We entered the conference room, and there were all these gentlemen (around 100 of them) who put the ‘old’ in the old boys’ network. The whole gang studded the room like yesteryear stars.

Anyway, not to be fazed, we went confidently and sat in the front row, waiting for our turn to speak. We got our chance just before lunchtime. My esteemed colleague went to the podium and started his presentation. But the poor man got nervous. I do not blame him, a room full of shiny heads and glittering white hair would do that to any of us youngsters (well I was a youngster at the time).

Dick started the speech and within a couple of sentences lost his nerve completely. He glanced at me skittishly, and said my name aloud, after about five minutes of his faltering speech. I froze and waved a ‘hi’ to him. He said, “No no, do you have anything else to add to my presentation?” I was completely flummoxed.

We had one hour on the stage, and were only five minutes into the hour. I looked around, blinked and then self counseled myself. Chatty that I am, I told myself this is right up my alley, I can do it. Confidently, I got up and walked up to the stage feeling like Steven Seagal trying to save the day!

I went on to the stage and started talking. I somehow managed to engage them for the next forty minutes. But when we had only fifteen minutes left, I had run out of things to say! Well, I could have said more, I am chatty remember? But that would have sounded more stupid and irrelevant that what I had said already, just like my law exam answer papers, where we had to write a hundred thousand words even if we hadn’t a clue as to what the question meant. So I magnanimously told them I would not like to bore them any further and that we should adjourn for lunch a bit early.

Whew! I felt like I had done this brilliant job by saving the company, bailing out the nervous colleague and added some stars to my reputation. We walked up to the lunch room. And imagine my surprise, rather disappointment, jealousy even, when the entire crowd of silver and/or shiny foxes flocked to Dick and congratulated him on his great effort. They told him, “It happens to the best of us, old boy.” And they exchanged numbers. Later on, they called him, he got a lot of sales done (after all, he was a sales guy, invincible in one-to-one conversations) and they all lived happily ever after.

Meanwhile, I stood on one side of the lunch room with my plate full of food, happy that I can now get my money’s worth from the conference with no one judging why a woman is eating with so much happiness. Because, of course, no one even looked at me…

*All images used in this article are either Eyra’s own design or widely and freely available on the internet.*

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