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The Last Among Equals
Wisdom Letter #27 | The One About Women
Happy International Women’s Day to all our readers.
Its funny that half of us on the planet have a day to ourselves, while the other half gets the other 365.
Actually, its not funny, its SAD.
Evolution has not been kind to the fairer sex. While giving them the biological responsibility of bearing children, it didn’t give them the great physical strength required to dominate the species.
That privilege was reserved for Men.
Evolution found that to be an efficient model to proliferate the species. As is true in most things where evolution plays a role, this model was effective, but not efficient.
Its true of how our brain functions, its true of how our body functions. And its definitely true of how our society functions.
Come to think of it, we can blame all the male chauvinism in the world to evolution. Some respite for men I guess.
Yes, we can blame evolution for everything, but not after we are intelligent enough to acknowledge its impact. (So no respite)
The very fact that we are able to talk about it should qualify us to go past it and graduate into a higher level being. And yet we don’t.
Chauvinism is rampant in society today.
And its not even about educating the population. We all know the highly educated amongst us indulging in blatant chauvinism. And even the most intellectually advanced indulging in casual sexism in everyday life.
Its a hard problem to solve.
And it becomes harder when we see how even the modern feminist movement is sometimes misguided and misled.
In George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the last commandment that the ruling class wants the commoners to follow goes something like this — “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”.
Today, on The Wisdom Project, we talk about the less equal gender of our civilisation, the shortchanged gender in ‘mankind’. In this two gendered species, Men may not be the first among equals, but Women are definitely the Last.
We talk about how difficult it is in India to make it big as a female athlete, where does the modern feminist movement fail, why are men so aggressive all the time? And what can women do to grow in an inherently chauvinistic society?
And Yes, one more thing…
WE MADE A PODCAST!
India’s strongest Woman
Its difficult being an athlete.
Perhaps its more difficult being an athlete in India.
And perhaps, its a lot more difficult being a female athlete from the North Indian state of Haryana.
Vinesh Phogat is a champion wrestler.
This feature article that The Economist did on her is the perfect way to start off Women’s Day.
The 2016 Bollywood mega hit ‘Dangal’ was about the journey of her uncle and his daughters, but Vinesh’s journey is no less deserving of a movie of its own.
Its equal parts tragic and heroic. Its full of drama, passion and emotion. And yes, its as much her journey as its her mother’s.
Also, as Mr Modi would like to say, #SheInspiresUs.
Checkout the article —
(12 mins read)
We love to read Mark Manson.
His clarity of thoughts on social issues that affect our day to day lives is unparalleled.
In this article about feminism he meticulously zooms into where is the modern feminist movement going wrong.
He draws parallels with the feminist movements of the 1920s and that of the 1960s. He makes a point that while those movements had clear tangible goals which required systemic changes to our institutions, the challenges we face today are more intangible and undefinable, and require systemic changes to how people’s minds work.
These may be harder problems than we are prepared to solve. But he does give a ray of hope towards the end.
Check it out —
(10 mins read)
Also, check out his post about what’s wrong with men and where does all the male aggression and toxic masculinity come from. This is the root cause of all the sexism we see in society today.
Its hard to say when and how the problem of chauvinism will be solved in society. But one place where it can be solved in an easier manner is our corporate world. Its way more difficult to remove the rampant sexism in the villages of North India than it is to remove the casual sexism from the plush offices of Bangalore and Mumbai.
Yes its a low hanging fruit but we must rush to grab it.
Misogyny is a problem we see across society at large, but it affects the individual at a very personal level, and she must learn to deal with it in a very personal manner. In that sense, the problems that a female wrestler from Haryana faces are not more/less than the problems a female software programmer from Bangalore faces.
But the solutions for the female programmer might be more apparent and she may have more examples that she can follow to breakout in this male dominated world.
Sherly Sandberg is one such example.
She wrote a book in 2013 titled ‘Lean In’. It managed to get polar reviews across the board.
To her proponents, she is a role model, making a dent in the male dominated world of silicon valley, CXO club. To the other side, she is the elitist female CXO, who could use her influence to make organisations "Lean In" and enable more female inclusion, yet she chooses to blame women for not wanting enough.
While each of those argument may be true in their respective context, as a reader, it helped me as a practical guide to grow in a corporate structure. She talks about the perception that the society, and women themselves have about their abilities and how that holds them back. She talks about how to go about these perceptions in a more practical manner by citing her own examples.
One important analogy that stuck with me is the concept of "Jungle Gym"
The book talks about "Jungle Gym" as a better equivalence of corporate structure than a "ladder". In a ladder someone has to step down for some one else to move up. Whereas in a jungle gym there could be multiple people at different levels, taking different paths to reach to the top.
This analogy gives you a lot of creativity in thinking about your role in an organisation and not restrict yourself to only one possible growth path.
"Lean In" is a quick and easy read. Its inspiring at best and elitist at worst. Sandberg comes across as a likeable reference for many of us trying to fit work and life together.
Check it out —
ProChoice vs ProLife
Abortion is a sensitive topic, one that gets people very defensive and aggressive at the same time. Its not something we are comfortable talking about as a society. Its a conversation we hardly have at a large scale even though it impacts all of us in some way or the other.
It is also the topic for the first episode of The Wisdom Project Podcast.
We get into the muddy debate of when does “Life” start and what must a woman contemplating abortion be going through in her life. What must her state of mind be to lead her to this decision. And should society or the government have any say in what she chooses to do with her body?
We sent out the podcast in an email yesterday to all out subscribers, and we got a mixed set of responses. Responses that highlight nuances in the debate that we may have missed, but more importantly, responses that help take the conversation forward.
We will update the original post with all the responses that we get.
In case you missed it, check it out now —
If you feel strongly about the topic leave a comment on the piece, or drop us a line on Whatsapp. We will be happy to have a deeper conversation one on one.
Signing off for the week, here’s a quote worth thinking about —
A Woman with a Voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult
We need to build a culture that gives women a secure space to express their opinion. More importantly, as women, we need to reflect deeply and do the hard work necessary to form an authentic voice.
Think about it.
If you liked what you just read, you might like Wisdom Letter #7, where we talked about stepping out of the box. Check it out here
The focus of this newsletter is to curate timeless ideas from across the internet, we tend to stay away from “what’s in the news today” generally.
But we realize that social media has the power to spread misinformation and panic very rapidly based off of whatever is going viral at the moment. Such misinformation online can have serious consequences in real life.
There is a need for curation of sane voices on social media that help clear the fog around issues that impact all of us.
The Novel Corona Virus is one such issue. For the past few days we have been curating diverse opinions and thoughts on this pandemic on our Facebook page. We will use that platform to curate meaningful content that helps form sane perspectives on issues that matter. Connect with us on Facebook.
This was Wisdom Letter #27. In case you want to revisit any of the previous 26 letters, checkout our entire archive.
And if you’re wondering why we are doing this project, what is the point of it? checkout the intro post, it might make some sense!
Tell us what you liked or disliked about today’s letter. We really appreciate all the responses that we get and are hungry for more. Hit reply and lets get talking.
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Aditi & Ayush
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