>The company finally decided to spend a li’l money on us apart from the measly monthly salary they give us (Salaries will always be measly. Otherwise, we’d be unambitious!). So there we were, 20 people from 10 cities converging for a conference in Goa. Making people work in Goa should be made a crime punishable by law. Making people sit through meetings from 10 in the morning to 7 in the evening in a sea-facing room with a view of the golden sunset on the beach should be made a bigger crime! But since it’s not, we could do little but use all our concentrated efforts to stay mentally within that room.
Outside the conference room, though, I was using all my concentrated efforts to fight something of a gender situation. Let me put it this way – I was the youngest member of the female sex present at the conference and the centre of unwanted male attention for reasons other than work. But how do you react to men – ranks senior in the official heirarchy – when they’re hitting on you? Do you react to them in the same spirit that you would react to harmless flirting outside the workplace? Or do you snub them, just like that?
Honestly, I was flummoxed. And I did neither. For most part, I ignored it, refusing to get pulled into even ‘harmless’ flirting. But I was super uncomfortable. I’ve realised that women, good-looking women if I may be immodest enough to say so, are forever being slotted as people who want to manipulate their looks to climb up the professional ladder, their good work be damned. But I want to be known for my work and not my looks, because I work my ass off to put something on the table that counts. And because I like to dress well and won’t land up at work in shapeless kurtas and the same pair of shoes every single day, doesn’t mean I don’t know my job. It also doesn’t mean that every man I talk to and share a laugh with at work is someone I’m flirting with. I hate being judged like that.
I won’t lie: like every woman, I like the attention from the opposite sex. But there’s a time and place for things. At work, I can appreciate a compliment, not a pick-up line.
Also, why is the onus of fending off the undue attention on the woman, I ask. I’m no Sita, and won’t have a trial by fire. Why can men not be responsible for respecting the Lakshman Rekha?