Women and Power : The Gender Battle

Patterns of assumptions and stereotypes manipulate collective responses. Patterns based on things we refuse to acknowledge or even are aware of. “Strong man”, “Caring mother”, “damsel in distress”, “hen pecked”, “old coot”, “shrew” and more aren’t just common terms, they are common ways in which we see people and there are patterns. There are scales of gender, power and fear for everyone.

To see the astonishing impact for yourselves, observe a group discussion in any group – no matter how “equal”. Observe when decisions are made. Sure, everyone is speaking freely, listening attentively, regardless of gender. But here is what you will see. It will be the voice of the powerful male in the group expressing an opinion, post which the matter will seem concluded. Consciously observing, as you are, you might even find really astounding moments, when most people in the group may disagree with him, yet they will be left accepting this conclusion. And no, it makes no difference if you point this out. They can’t “stop” – you will STILL observe the same pattern.

There are many, many such ways where we can quickly get an understanding of what our unconscious beliefs are, from how they manifest. Specially visible when “logic” was actually going in another direction.

I’m not blaming men or anything. They are doing it as unconsciously as those following them.

Five predictions:

  • A woman will have to fight very, very hard to get her stand accepted as a decision, something a man will be able to shake with a careless word.
  • Observe who was the last person to speak in favor of a certain action before it got adopted, and you will know who holds the string of the group.
  • A single woman disagreeing in a group is likely to be ignored. A single man disagreeing in a group is likely to be convinced.
  • Women are cannon-fodder. In a high risk situation, a woman are likely to be the leaders, till more is known, and men takes over with “expertise”.
  • When members of the group are speaking to a group, check their eyes to know who they are speaking to. Likely male.

You can tell the group you are observing them for these five things, and you will STILL be able to see them. Unconscious processes are, d’uh, not conscious. Can’t be changed, only accepted, and they evolve if thinking changes. They can’t be “acted out” – they are too spontaneous and all pervading. Once you see it, you’ll see it everywhere, including yourself.

See who interrupts whom, who overrules whom, who may judge others without causing offense, and the map of power in any group of people is clear.

You can have an organization with the most women and with the most women speaking that is led by a man or a few men who have the last word. A notorious example to come to mind is the women’s group Femen – that does nude or topless protests to draw attention to women’s rights. Inspired and controlled by a man, femen does not accept protesters that don’t fit their target body “look”.

Countless political parties – even led by women at times fail to challenge problems faced by women when it comes to challenging male behavior. Sonia Gandhi had infamously responded with what seemed to be genuine anger when women workers of the Congress complained about sexual harassment within the party by leaders. From declaring that she would remove anyone found guilty to vanishing into the depths of everyone’s memory has been a telling statement of how much power a woman can wield when it comes to wielding it against the male privilege.

Women are increasingly taking on more power in the world, and its a large scale observation you can make – becoming professional, influential, powerful, etc invariably accompanies many male influences – be it power suits, or coarser language. Increasingly, women are smoking – something that used to be a male thing. Short hair often coincides with increased “professionalism”. Show me the liberated man who exercises his right to wear a skirt to work.

Quick Quiz: For a man to wear feminine clothing is an undermining of his mascilinity, so, for a woman to wear masculine clothing is…. what? Speak louder, I can’t hear you!

I venture to say here, that somewhere in our minds, we associate the male with power and influence. Our so called liberation is also another subjugation by deeming the feminine not good enough in terms of betterment in life.

Think of all the women of power that you admire. Imagine them. What do you notice? Is it anything feminine? Or is it the successful integration of masculine traits?

Many women are deeply disturbed when I say this. They are the ones still fighting a failing struggle for their femininity. They still haven’t pushed their instinctive responses far enough back in their mind to forget them altogether. Words like this make them feel a sense of helpless loss.

[From an email]

“All this struggle to become equals…. its false, isn’t it? We are only struggling among ourselves to become better than other women at aping men.”

Our gold standard is men. Ambitions of women empowerment begin and end with measuring them against men. Same rights, same privileges, same freedoms, etc etc. As though there is something to be envied about the largely insecure and increasingly incompetent male population these days.

I don’t hate men. Love them in fact, but I don’t believe they are paragons, and I am not blind to the emotional challenge to the whole masculine identity that “development” brings. They are as insecure as we are, because of these same facades. What we get overruled for, they get overburdened with. Everyone in over their heads. Low honesty. Lots of defensive judgments of others, particularly for being different. The problems happen when this inherent bias gets exploited to harm women because the odds then really get stacked against the women. Which is why, even when we are all humans, have emotions, feelings, etc the list of injustices against women for being women far outdistances injustices against men for being men.

A mistaken war of genders starts, where men oppose attempts to create space for justice by magnifying their own experienced suffering. this is as much an attempt to relate as feeling ignored, but it serves to sabotage the well being of women, because these objections too come with the bias heavily supporting the man’s word. Hurt men feel victimized, and abusers enjoy the screen.

Other times, people mistakenly attempt to create justice by setting “equal” standards. This is of course trying to create for women, the “gold” standard of men.

In the times of my life when I was able to set my own standards of what would be good and right in my life, I achieved exceptional things. I led a nomadic life, I had affairs, I lived in the high Himalaya, bred horses, trekked in exotic lands, healed animals, I did all kinds of things men wouldn’t have dreamed of. If my ambition was to arrive at that gold standard, I’d have missed out on a lot.

When our goals are our own, there is no insecurity, because they are real, meaningful, and look doable from where we stand, because they are measured in effort, not result. Our relationships prosper. No longer is another woman quietly measured in a race for power. No longer is a man someone to win the approval of.

Someone today called me a feminist. It is as appropriate as calling me an atheist. As a compliment, both are equally irrelevant, because they talk of things I’m not interested in. If it comes to being on the side of an issue, that is where I am. Normally? No.

A kind of enemy’s enemy is my friend? No! I’m not against either God or Man. Let them do what they will. My purpose emerges from within me. I’m free.

By free, I don’t mean that I never fall into this unconscious subjugation. Of course I do, like every other person, unless they grew on some island alone. By free, I mean that by acknowledging it, by accepting it, I free myself to unhesitatingly accept when I do it, and if it is dysfunctional, I am able to move on without feeling “wrong”.

I find that men are often much more tuned to femininity than women are. Possibly because they are interested in women, and not men. In many ways men suffer this progress more, because they are the gold standard, but their world is increasingly cracked in many places. The overt, spectacular privilige of being a man, of receiving unquestioning service and nurture is eroding, but they are privileged still – only in ways that don’t feel enough. They don’t FEEL privileged. I have lost count of the number of men who speak less than happily about modern trends in thought for women, which is a caveman thought on a superficial level, but on an experiential level, there is little of the feminine self to gravitate to. In their words, I hear deprivation and abandonment under those sarcastic, defensive layers of protection of their vulnerability. What does it mean to be a man, if no woman with awareness of her womanhood is around?

And men are going through challenging times. Not only do the women do whatever they want, they wear whatever they want, get maternal leave without scolding, earn and contribute to household incomes as much if not more, are fine managing their kitchens, and can speak their needs easily. Their traditional role is changed, but the measures of self-worth remain and are increasingly taken to higher standards.

So here’s the deal.

I am hoping for more freedom for women.. After being overtly suppressed for centuries, it is natural, but not necessary to spend another while quietly imitating in order to feel empowered.

Its like the Elephant, who as a calf was tied with a string and as an adult was perfectly capable of breaking the string, but believed that it was his limit.

Please note before you argue that village women suffer a lot, etc. This article is specifically speaking of women in a certain “development hit” environment, where their potential to celebrate the opportunities available to them is vastly undermined by the assumptions still caging them in. But the circumstances are certainly there.

Join the Intellectual Anarchy!

About the Author

Vidyut
Vidyut is a blogger on issues of National interest. Staunch advocate of rights, learning and freedoms. @Vidyut

26 Comments on "Women and Power : The Gender Battle"

  1. Prashanth Nair | July 5, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Reply

    Hi Vidut,It Is an interesting read,but there is a lot of assumptions made in the above article which may not be true for all situation, let me put it down in hope it will open more windows of varied views.1) In assumtion that only baritone male voice has the max influence on the listeners,i would rather say it may depend on what is the group about (topic) but if it is a discussion about some thing which involves more thought process i find, people who talk in low confident logical reasoning gets more ears & attention of others.2)I disagree with on your observation  that women are “cannon fodder” in your language, on the contrary, women are less inclined to take risks, rather prefer men take lead and sanitize the pathway for them to walk.You have mentioned in the article of time spend healing animals, then you would have been privileged to observe, in nature when animals give birth to young ones there is a 90 %  probability that all male cubs will die as young,only female survives to adulthood.Reason ? because male take more risk with their surrounding than the females, who would prefer staying put in their den or being with their mother,ending up paying with their lives.Those instincts stay with us even as grown ups,extending it to us because we are the same,3)I dont know why you say men use” coarser language”,on the other hand men are more polite than women,more pragmatic in handling issue and lot less personal when handling issues at hand and it is not meant in any degrading way for either of the sex, it is just that those are respective tools for their survival.4)When you say  ” Show me the liberated man who exercises his right to wear a skirt to work” I find the direction of the article  confusing because women are entering men’s domain,I don’t understand the logic of men wanting to wear skirt,may be if they enter women’s domain they will pick up a apron i guess,anyways pants are worn because it is easy to manage while moving about,and Business suits are mindless cultural import.Even if a women is wearing a business suit what does the cut and make of the suits enhances, broad shoulders or curvy hips ? Broad biceps or elegant bosom?
    5)You are confusing yourself when you say “Our gold standard are men”,the real gold standard is Power and Success or whatever one wishes to achieve, and women who wants reach those heights, try to take those tools which will help them to get there. 6)Quote  “As though there is something to be envied about the largely insecure and increasingly incompetent male population these days.” why would you say so I wonder,is it a personal observation or general trend you are speaking off ? I guess every women who have made a mark in the the traditional field of Men would had to put up against lots of opposition by the men in the society, but she would definitely have had solid support of a man somewhere around her and that was not because of the man’s insecurity but because of the confidence in ones ability to understand other person ability and skill set to succeed in life out there.Confidence does not comes with Insecurity.
    7)I couldn’t make what is it you are trying to say please clarify when you say” What we get overruled for, they get overburdened with. Everyone in over their heads. Low honesty. Lots of defensive judgments of others, particularly for being different.”

    8)There are times when I act more male than many men I know.I read this line multiple times  but could not come to your conclusion,because nowhere in your article you have mentioned anything positive about men or may be i assumed men are in capable doing any good after reading the above.My take on the subject will be that we have to take on tools that will help us survive in the environment we are in, but difference in man and women will  always be there in their own ways, be it physical, mental, thought analysis of situation , etc ,etc ,etc…. because we perceive our surrounding differently so action would be somewhat different. I hope you will take the criticism constuctively.RegardsPrashanth Nair 

  2. Prashanth Nair | July 5, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Reply

    Hi Vidut,It Is an interesting read,but there is a lot of assumptions made in the above article which may not be true for all situation, let me put it down in hope it will open more windows of varied views.1) In assumtion that only baritone male voice has the max influence on the listeners,i would rather say it may depend on what is the group about (topic) but if it is a discussion about some thing which involves more thought process i find, people who talk in low confident logical reasoning gets more ears & attention of others.2)I disagree with on your observation  that women are “cannon fodder” in your language, on the contrary, women are less inclined to take risks, rather prefer men take lead and sanitize the pathway for them to walk.You have mentioned in the article of time spend healing animals, then you would have been privileged to observe, in nature when animals give birth to young ones there is a 90 %  probability that all male cubs will die as young,only female survives to adulthood.Reason ? because male take more risk with their surrounding than the females, who would prefer staying put in their den or being with their mother,ending up paying with their lives.Those instincts stay with us even as grown ups,extending it to us because we are the same,3)I dont know why you say men use” coarser language”,on the other hand men are more polite than women,more pragmatic in handling issue and lot less personal when handling issues at hand and it is not meant in any degrading way for either of the sex, it is just that those are respective tools for their survival.4)When you say  ” Show me the liberated man who exercises his right to wear a skirt to work” I find the direction of the article  confusing because women are entering men’s domain,I don’t understand the logic of men wanting to wear skirt,may be if they enter women’s domain they will pick up a apron i guess,anyways pants are worn because it is easy to manage while moving about,and Business suits are mindless cultural import.Even if a women is wearing a business suit what does the cut and make of the suits enhances, broad shoulders or curvy hips ? Broad biceps or elegant bosom?
    5)You are confusing yourself when you say “Our gold standard are men”,the real gold standard is Power and Success or whatever one wishes to achieve, and women who wants reach those heights, try to take those tools which will help them to get there. 6)Quote  “As though there is something to be envied about the largely insecure and increasingly incompetent male population these days.” why would you say so I wonder,is it a personal observation or general trend you are speaking off ? I guess every women who have made a mark in the the traditional field of Men would had to put up against lots of opposition by the men in the society, but she would definitely have had solid support of a man somewhere around her and that was not because of the man’s insecurity but because of the confidence in ones ability to understand other person ability and skill set to succeed in life out there.Confidence does not comes with Insecurity.
    7)I couldn’t make what is it you are trying to say please clarify when you say” What we get overruled for, they get overburdened with. Everyone in over their heads. Low honesty. Lots of defensive judgments of others, particularly for being different.”

    8)There are times when I act more male than many men I know.I read this line multiple times  but could not come to your conclusion,because nowhere in your article you have mentioned anything positive about men or may be i assumed men are in capable doing any good after reading the above.My take on the subject will be that we have to take on tools that will help us survive in the environment we are in, but difference in man and women will  always be there in their own ways, be it physical, mental, thought analysis of situation , etc ,etc ,etc…. because we perceive our surrounding differently so action would be somewhat different. I hope you will take the criticism constuctively.RegardsPrashanth Nair 

  3. hey Gity how are u and how is your life going on i wish the best life for u, contineue your writing, you are the best. i miss youuu.

  4. hey Gity how are u and how is your life going on i wish the best life for u, contineue your writing, you are the best. i miss youuu.

  5. hi Gity how are you? i am very happy as a afghan person that you wirte such topics crealy and show the fact, all the best to you.

  6. hi Gity how are you? i am very happy as a afghan person that you wirte such topics crealy and show the fact, all the best to you.

  7. hi, your article very great and i am happy you write about the problems of women in our society this is right that most of women have a bad condition but i am happy you show the way and speak with them, i think you are the best writer that you write the things that they are fact and you speak very crealy, God bless you dear and all the very best to you.

  8. hi, your article very great and i am happy you write about the problems of women in our society this is right that most of women have a bad condition but i am happy you show the way and speak with them, i think you are the best writer that you write the things that they are fact and you speak very crealy, God bless you dear and all the very best to you.

    • I wrote this after reading your article.  Part II is also online now (excerpts from a book): 

      http://harmanjit.blogspot.com/2011/06/on-men-and-women-part-ii.html

      • Thank you for sharing this article. Frankly, I think this has pretty much nothing to do with mine, but I’m glad it triggered the subject, because it is a comprehensive monument of the utter moral depravity of the average Indian male.

        The overall impression I get from your article is that men find it fine to disrespect the personhood of a woman and that you find that normal and fine and a circumstance that women must deal with alone – as in conform or live with consequences. While I have no doubt that this is a widespread view, I seriously refuse to take responsibility for the lack of an editor between a man’s dick and brain. 

        I’d say its your problem, because bullying, raping, abusing, demeaning anyone – man or woman is something that’s luckily illegal – whether we enforce it adequately or not. Slut shaming is prevalent – true, but it is also not an ideal to aspire to. You seem content to live there. Frankly, I have only contempt for such views, but am fine seeing as how you have no authority over my life and are free to become whatever you aspire to.

        It does creep me out that we remain a society where such thoughts may be freely chest thumped as some kind of insight.

        Consider this dude, by your standards, a young boy had better lean modesty fast, because pedophiles exist, and since they are more powerful, the consequences are entirely the boy’s to bear. Why have child protection laws? Why make them a special case? While you are at it, pliss to also ignore old people being killed by robbers. After all, robbers exist. If they can’t manage their own security, they deserve to die, right? Or at least throw away all their tempting valuables.

        They should be on par with an adult male of prime age. Defend or die. Luckily India is not a wildlife sanctuary… yet. Compute that.

        The only other misfit in your monument is that you forgot to tell rapists to target the bold women who disregard these laws. Statistics say that women who appear quieter, less inclined to create trouble or publicly confront them are more likely targets of rape. Compute that too.

        I find this utterly pukeworthy.

        • pukeworthy or not, if you “seriously refuse to take responsibility for
          the lack of an editor between a man’s dick and brain”, then that is your
          choice. I would, on the other hand, be rather careful if I were
          driving on Indian roads and not scream: I “refuse” to take
          responsibility for others’ lack of driving skills.

          You say: “It
          does creep me out that we remain a society where such thoughts may be
          freely chest thumped as some kind of insight.”

          You must be pretty
          heavily brainwashed to get crept out by the reality that human beings
          are still pretty much animals when it comes to sexuality.

          As for
          your analogy of young boys, that doesn’t hold because he cannot be
          expected to know about the big bad world, and need to be protected. And
          by the way, I am all for laws for protection for anyone who is too weak
          to protect themselves (be it men or women), but let there be due
          process and let not the laws be misused.

          As for your statistics
          of docile women being more probable targets, I guess you consider
          docility and modesty as synonyms. I don’t. By all means resist, and
          modesty is one form of preemptive measure against sexual ogling and
          attacks.

          You don’t really seem to have read my article. Thanks for visiting, though. 

          • Hi, 
            I moved the comment to a separate post as it was off topic. Would appreciate it if you commented there.

            Do it quick, I want to reply 😀

          • Gity Yosufi | June 2, 2011 at 8:21 am |

            hi , i didnt know your mean but i want to say i just write the problems of women in my society that they have and thier limitations by thier families and husbands, i dont say that docilelity is tragedy and women must not be docilebut in my society men abuse from thier docility and take them all of thier rights,

        • pukeworthy or not, if you “seriously refuse to take responsibility for
          the lack of an editor between a man’s dick and brain”, then that is your
          choice. I would, on the other hand, be rather careful if I were
          driving on Indian roads and not scream: I “refuse” to take
          responsibility for others’ lack of driving skills.

          You say: “It
          does creep me out that we remain a society where such thoughts may be
          freely chest thumped as some kind of insight.”

          You must be pretty
          heavily brainwashed to get crept out by the reality that human beings
          are still pretty much animals when it comes to sexuality.

          As for
          your analogy of young boys, that doesn’t hold because he cannot be
          expected to know about the big bad world, and need to be protected. And
          by the way, I am all for laws for protection for anyone who is too weak
          to protect themselves (be it men or women), but let there be due
          process and let not the laws be misused.

          As for your statistics
          of docile women being more probable targets, I guess you consider
          docility and modesty as synonyms. I don’t. By all means resist, and
          modesty is one form of preemptive measure against sexual ogling and
          attacks.

          You don’t really seem to have read my article. Thanks for visiting, though. 

    • I wrote this after reading your article.  Part II is also online now (excerpts from a book): 

      http://harmanjit.blogspot.com/2011/06/on-men-and-women-part-ii.html

      • Thank you for sharing this article. Frankly, I think this has pretty much nothing to do with mine, but I’m glad it triggered the subject, because it is a comprehensive monument of the utter moral depravity of the average Indian male.

        The overall impression I get from your article is that men find it fine to disrespect the personhood of a woman and that you find that normal and fine and a circumstance that women must deal with alone – as in conform or live with consequences. While I have no doubt that this is a widespread view, I seriously refuse to take responsibility for the lack of an editor between a man’s dick and brain. 

        I’d say its your problem, because bullying, raping, abusing, demeaning anyone – man or woman is something that’s luckily illegal – whether we enforce it adequately or not. Slut shaming is prevalent – true, but it is also not an ideal to aspire to. You seem content to live there. Frankly, I have only contempt for such views, but am fine seeing as how you have no authority over my life and are free to become whatever you aspire to.

        It does creep me out that we remain a society where such thoughts may be freely chest thumped as some kind of insight.

        Consider this dude, by your standards, a young boy had better lean modesty fast, because pedophiles exist, and since they are more powerful, the consequences are entirely the boy’s to bear. Why have child protection laws? Why make them a special case? While you are at it, pliss to also ignore old people being killed by robbers. After all, robbers exist. If they can’t manage their own security, they deserve to die, right? Or at least throw away all their tempting valuables.

        They should be on par with an adult male of prime age. Defend or die. Luckily India is not a wildlife sanctuary… yet. Compute that.

        The only other misfit in your monument is that you forgot to tell rapists to target the bold women who disregard these laws. Statistics say that women who appear quieter, less inclined to create trouble or publicly confront them are more likely targets of rape. Compute that too.

        I find this utterly pukeworthy.

        • pukeworthy or not, if you “seriously refuse to take responsibility for
          the lack of an editor between a man’s dick and brain”, then that is your
          choice. I would, on the other hand, be rather careful if I were
          driving on Indian roads and not scream: I “refuse” to take
          responsibility for others’ lack of driving skills.

          You say: “It
          does creep me out that we remain a society where such thoughts may be
          freely chest thumped as some kind of insight.”

          You must be pretty
          heavily brainwashed to get crept out by the reality that human beings
          are still pretty much animals when it comes to sexuality.

          As for
          your analogy of young boys, that doesn’t hold because he cannot be
          expected to know about the big bad world, and need to be protected. And
          by the way, I am all for laws for protection for anyone who is too weak
          to protect themselves (be it men or women), but let there be due
          process and let not the laws be misused.

          As for your statistics
          of docile women being more probable targets, I guess you consider
          docility and modesty as synonyms. I don’t. By all means resist, and
          modesty is one form of preemptive measure against sexual ogling and
          attacks.

          You don’t really seem to have read my article. Thanks for visiting, though. 

          • Hi, 
            I moved the comment to a separate post as it was off topic. Would appreciate it if you commented there.

            Do it quick, I want to reply 😀

          • Gity Yosufi | June 2, 2011 at 8:21 am |

            hi , i didnt know your mean but i want to say i just write the problems of women in my society that they have and thier limitations by thier families and husbands, i dont say that docilelity is tragedy and women must not be docilebut in my society men abuse from thier docility and take them all of thier rights,

        • pukeworthy or not, if you “seriously refuse to take responsibility for
          the lack of an editor between a man’s dick and brain”, then that is your
          choice. I would, on the other hand, be rather careful if I were
          driving on Indian roads and not scream: I “refuse” to take
          responsibility for others’ lack of driving skills.

          You say: “It
          does creep me out that we remain a society where such thoughts may be
          freely chest thumped as some kind of insight.”

          You must be pretty
          heavily brainwashed to get crept out by the reality that human beings
          are still pretty much animals when it comes to sexuality.

          As for
          your analogy of young boys, that doesn’t hold because he cannot be
          expected to know about the big bad world, and need to be protected. And
          by the way, I am all for laws for protection for anyone who is too weak
          to protect themselves (be it men or women), but let there be due
          process and let not the laws be misused.

          As for your statistics
          of docile women being more probable targets, I guess you consider
          docility and modesty as synonyms. I don’t. By all means resist, and
          modesty is one form of preemptive measure against sexual ogling and
          attacks.

          You don’t really seem to have read my article. Thanks for visiting, though. 

  9. Really Vidyut, if you are comfortable in your own skin, does gender matter ?  What’s all this war of the sexes bit ?  Or conspiracy bit ?  From a purely testosterone perspective; if my Shakti loses, I lose, so why the hell would I want to loose ?  As a woman, why would a dame want her man to play second fiddle ?  As opportunities open that a person likes, people take them.  Sure Afghanistan has an issue allowing women to qualify but not practice, but I imagine your blog is read by educated people to whom gender is not an issue. I will be happy to participate in any action plan for Yogihood.  Serious.

    • As for an action plan, the only world we can influence is the one we reach.  So why not start a petition campaign, send emails to the Afghan embassies across the world – focus on one hypothetical border at a time.

  10. Really Vidyut, if you are comfortable in your own skin, does gender matter ?  What’s all this war of the sexes bit ?  Or conspiracy bit ?  From a purely testosterone perspective; if my Shakti loses, I lose, so why the hell would I want to loose ?  As a woman, why would a dame want her man to play second fiddle ?  As opportunities open that a person likes, people take them.  Sure Afghanistan has an issue allowing women to qualify but not practice, but I imagine your blog is read by educated people to whom gender is not an issue. I will be happy to participate in any action plan for Yogihood.  Serious.

    • As for an action plan, the only world we can influence is the one we reach.  So why not start a petition campaign, send emails to the Afghan embassies across the world – focus on one hypothetical border at a time.

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