Saturday, May 14, 2011

STREE SHAKTI- WOMAN POWER

Well, it is finally out – the people’s verdict…!
 
Interestingly,  in two out of the four states that went to polls we have two parties ( The AIADMK and the Trinamool Congress)  headed by  women  ( Jayalalitha and Mamata)  emerging winners! So it is going to be a very likely scenario in the near future where we will have these two ladies becoming the Chief Ministers of their respective states. In addition to the two existing women Chief Ministers – Mayawati        ( of Uttar Pradesh) and Shiela Dixit ( of Delhi) we will have four states being governed by women leaders!

There were a lot of sniggers and jokes in the office yesterday from the men – most of which were in rather bad taste. The reason being that with the exception of Sheila Dixit who is a widow we will have three unmarried women as leaders of their respective states. All these three ladies are also perceived to be very arrogant and headstrong- “Frustrated spinsters” was the comment that I heard across the lunch table! 

There were others who wanted us women to sponsor a “treat”.

 “After all it is now going to be a woman’s world” said someone…! While sponsoring the treat was not an issue, what really struck me as simplistic was the assumption that now things would get going for women.

 I will now try and reflect if women as leaders are in anyway different from men. Would they be kinder, more democratic, creative etc? I am sorry to say that while I have a lot of admiration for these ladies who have made it, it does not seem like there is going to be any difference in the way they execute their leadership.


I have worked for nearly two decades with women at the grassroots promoting leadership and it has shown me that the hunger for power is something that is gender neutral. A woman’s group leader in a small village is as capable of misusing the group funds as a man. She is as autocratic and as easily led by sycophants as men. Her core agenda for addressing women’s causes are as much determined by the  “what is in it for me/” factor as it is for the men.

So why have anything different by way of expectations from a woman leader?

 Having said that I would like to mention that what is probably different is that mistakes made by women in leadership positions and aberrations in what constitutes a “normal” life are not forgotten as easily as those of men. A woman’s personal life always comes under the scanner giving scope for a lot of judgemental comments  when compared to a man in leadership. For e.g our outgoing Chief Minister was a man of multiple relationships ( wife, mistresses etc etc) with multiple children out of each relationship. But somehow people seem to think it is normal. What is abnormal and discussed very vividly is a supposed homosexual relationship that the soon to be Chief Minister is supposed to be having with a friend. There are also speculations about a daughter of  hers from a previous relationship who is well “hidden” in another town.  
 
There are also comments about how these women made it to leadership. Mayawati has a Kanshiram in her past while Jayalalitha a MGR ( I am not sure about Mamata though…!).  I would like to ask “So what?”  They have obviously had to use these men to get to where they are just as these men used them for what they saw in them. No one seems to say anything about these men. And like I had mentioned in one of my previous posts – there is always a man behind every successful woman!.

Coming to the  issue of a woman’s leadership style- I think there are two types. There is one which is a rather arrogant style of functioning and there is another which is the manipulative style. I have had the experience of dealing with both styles of leadership in my life.

The arrogant style is often an easier one to deal with in the sense that it is far more open. I had a boss in one of my first few jobs who used to constantly talk down to me simply because she was about three times as old as I was! Every time I had an idea which she shot down she would ask “ How old are you?”  When I quietly announced my two dozen  years she used to tell me triumphantly “ My years of experience are more than that!”.  But I had my nice times with her when she used to deal with me like her youngest daughter prescribing home remedies for illnesses. During some of our closer moments she also almost confessed to me about how hard she had to struggle to get to where she was and therefore she had a pride ( read arrogance) in her position!!

The biggest threat in the form of female leadership are ofcourse those women whose styles are of  the manipulative variety. I had a boss like that and believe me folks she was one of the nastiest women I have ever worked for! Every time she saw me she used to welcome me with a hug but she used to ensure by all her actions that I never grew within the organization!  There was a misunderstanding once between us about something which she never confronted me with! Instead she conveyed the message of her displeasure through another woman in the organization along with a veiled threat..! This lady never committed to anything and mistrusted all. She never said “Yes”or “No”. It was always the slippery as eel comment “lets see..!”

I think manipulation comes naturally to some women especially those who have never got what they wanted by asking for it directly. Unfortunately as I am not of that category I fail to understand them.

Women as leaders, I find are also more subject to insecure feelings ( real and imagined). I guess it stems from the way we are brought up where confidence as a quality is not nurtured in us. I guess it also has a relationship to the hardships that they have gone through and the price that they have had to pay to get there that makes them more insecure than men.

 Finally a word about this “frustrated spinster” thing! I don’t know why men seem to think that S-X is the answer to everything! No wonder they value their “mojos”so much! I for one fully understand why a woman sacrifices her desire for a husband and family for leadership. A family and a husband takes up all of a woman’s time. So she has no time for anything else.

Besides, folks, which man is as seductive and sexy as “power” ?

12 comments:

Uma said...

lovely post Meera! I have had women bosses who can be nasty and bitchy..power is a heady thing that addicts both genders alike.

Gayu said...

A serious post....wonderfully penned...
"A family and a husband takes up all of a woman’s time. So she has no time for anything else."
I truly agree....
Sometimes being a mother...wife...working woman...huh...I hardly get time for myself...

But then....at the end there is some satisfaction...:)

Regards,
Gayu

indianhomemaker said...

I agree 'hunger for power is something that is gender neutral'. Great post.

Loved the last line the best.

cloud nine said...

Dear Meera:) that post was right on time. Tamil people have done the grave mistake of voting this lady to power:((( Lets see how she plays these 5 yrs in office. Game 1 already started, she wants to shift Assembly back to St George Fort! Arrogance at its worst!

Ibhade said...

Women! we are our own worst enemy...friends i know of complain about their female bosses.. and admit that men are more understanding....me thinks it has to do with pride.

Deguide said...

Amma & Mama ta have swept the polls, hope they clean up the admin and reform their state

KParthasarathi said...

Your article set me thinking how would our country look like if it had more women leaders not only in legislatures/governements but also in educational insititions,industries,other organisations both governement and private?I think the country would be a better place with women leaders at the helm ignoring the few black sheep even amongst women..They are there in men also.To my mind women would be less corrupt(mark my word less) than men,more ethical,more compassionate, more collaborative and better decision makers .
Why is it then that women are found scarce in leadership positions?I believe despite all tall talk it is still men who control the recruitment and the few who make the grade possibly had to walk the extra mile and do much better than their male counterparts.Despite their number the women haven't got their rightful share of political power.Once they get their power,women will have a better and equitable deal. Even in a liberal country like US, men are averse to have a woman president.
Let us welcome the few who have captured power instead of grudging it

kamalika said...

1.Ur articles are hot and so straight as if pointing an arrow towards your targeted ones.

2.In 1970s theere was a commnt tat SASIA is ruled by Widows INDRA, SHEIK HASSINA and SIRIMAVO and now turn of womn in INDIAN states..

3.marital status has no connection wit leadership stat. in the earlier regime we had AB Vajpayee, APJ and M KAmaraj of yesteryears. what all they had to worry abt is country. so bachelors warm welcomed to Public service.

4.And even in men u can find ARROGANT and manipulative leaders. u r rite.. arrogant leaders atleast harsh but straight to facts. But the other ones will b never outspoken.,. will nt stop u if u r wrong.. U cant find meanings for thier behaviours frm OXford dictionaries...

5.All these ppl dont belive in others. and as a result ..these parties have no second round of leadership.only the leader has to fight frm Front , Back and rear end of the battle.

dr.antony said...

I loved your concluding question.very true.
Because everything follows power..women,wealth and the rest of the frills.
In many ways they are not different from men,specially when it comes to corruption.Jaya had set standards for corruption and vengeance.

Rhapsody B. said...

Blessings.....
This is a great and well articulated post. I agree that the thirst for power is gender neutral and that the misuse of funds can be as adequately misused by women in power just as men.

Men seasoned in the ideology of patriarchy are threatened by women in power, they precieve it as a replacement to they power and control. Men with this thinking is dangerous and are prone to violence, may the lord have mercy on their wives because their behavior is not different from the members of the KKK and Arian Nations.

Great post.....
Stay blessed.
Rhapsody

Meera Sundararajan said...

Dear All

Thank you all for your kind comments!. Sorry I have been late in responding as I was away on a holiday. I would like to welcome some new comers to my blog- RhapsodyB, Indian Home maker, Uma, Gayu and Narayani Karthik.

Tomz said...

"the hunger for power is something that is gender neutral." excellent quote..good governing and corruption take place irrespective of gender..rmbr Kanimozhi's case..

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