Have you ever caught yourself saying or thinking something you totally don’t want to say or think?
No, my dear friends, this is not about what you secretly think about the next cute guy or girl. Though most of the times, that’s what you catch yourself doing. But I am talking about something else.
I met a woman the other day. We had interacted on phone earlier, about her finances and investments etc. In our one hour long telephonic conversation, she was very forthcoming about her unstable income from the business she has started, her responsibilities – her child and old parents, her need to plan and invest for her child’s education etc. It so happened that I invited her for a meeting.
Before she arrived, I wondered and apprised my boss that the lady had not mentioned her husband, and has stability concerns. We will either have to ask her or figure out ourselves on the husband situation Or plan her things with whatever she tells us.
She arrived, with a radiant smile, a string mangalsutra and so much enthusiasm. And told the boss exactly what she had mentioned to me.
No mention of her husband. Neither we tried probing and proceeded to discuss things with her around whatever information she provided us with.
Then she mentioned responsibilities of ageing in-laws and immediately my eyes shifted to her mangalsutra.
It was my mind assuming things and cross-checking the evidence.
Then she mentioned something about her husband and then some and then some more. She specified that retirement is not an issue since husband is taking care of that. She has to take care of her child’s education.
It did not take long before I realised that all was okay with her and so much was wrong with me.
It hit me that what I did, even if unknowingly, was so sexist!
It disgusted me.
She was an independent married woman absolutely in charge of her life and with shared goals and responsibilities. And she was clearly doing a good job at it.
For my work I talk to a lot of people. The hard fact is that except this lady, every person I spoke with in past 3-4 months was a male. And I would speak with them, discuss their details, assist them through the process etc without ever wondering about their marital status or without EVER speculating about their wives.
To put it in clear words, a man may have nothing and still I would not wonder if he has a supplement income.
When she connected, suddenly the deep sexist societal thinking made its move.
What is amazing is that she was well equipped with the minimum investment required, so there was no reason for me to doubt her or to have biased thoughts about her.
My prejudice noticed her mangalsutra when she entered and double checked it when I had a doubt .
There is no excuse for this episode that I can give myself.
You know what makes it even weirder?
That majorly I handle finances in our marriage now. If you were to talk to me, chances are that I will end up speaking about our money with an “I” instead of “we”, I may also not mention M in the entire conversation, I am also as worried about the unstable situation and share it openly and I also assume responsibility for my in-laws when planning stuff!
It was almost like I was meeting myself!
And then for me to have such prejudices, was an eyeopener.
I have forgiven myself because what else do you do, right? It is not like some other man has been a sexist and I can create a scene, shame him on Twitter and Facebook, be a staunch feminist because I will never EVER falter.
Isn’t that what it has come to? Calling out others more than staying alert of your own thoughts and actions? Feminist women claiming they ALWAYS treat the other woman right?
A man can falter, but I? Never!
Well, I faltered and honestly, at the end of the day, I so wished it was about catching myself thinking about the next cute guy. But it ended up with me and my prejudices, eye to eye.
The good thing? Well I got to meet a woman who was taking charge.
Also published on Medium.