and it continues

A friend pointed me to the oberver article and that is how I found out the blog usedtobesomebody. If I had not added it in my bloglines, I would not have remembered to read her blog again. Nothing against her or her choice, it is just that there wasn’t anything very interesting about her blog. that is all. I read her new posts with less interest. But, it has started getting interesting with her recent post on toxic sisterhood

I couldn’t help but smiling when reading Janice Turner’s article, as the tone was very much “I had it tough so should you” and I smiled again when I came back to Gaby Hinsliff’s post that she felt the same too. But there are some truths in Alexandra Shulman’s article that I have heard men and bosses talking about women who take long maternity leave and they return back only to ask for flexi hours or part time, worse, they get pregnant again (or already pregnant when they return to work) and take another one year maternity leave. One of the girls in my antenatal group clearly told her intention to take another year off and she was so sure to get pregnant before returning to work! I would have moaned if I were her boss. Now, that touches the tricky question Gaby Hinsliff is asking.

Before going to the point of toxic sisterhood, let us ponder little more on the motherhood and working mothers and their lives a little bit more. I searched for Lorraine Candy’s article to read about the rebuttal to Shulman’s article, Gaby Hinsliff was talking about. I didn’t find great rebuttal in it, may be it is to do with my poor English skills. But what I felt was that why is she doing everything? She doesn’t say anywhere that her husband shares as well. She says that

removing all out-of-date food in the fridge in case my husband gives it to the children, checking new term dates, arranging more nanny interviews and cleaning glue off the recorder practice CD

are in her list of things to do. why, I ask. I believe it is as much her fault as her husband’s that they have got into this habit of not sharing responsibilities related to raising children, if indeed he doesn’t share much.

I liked Richard Reeves article from a father’s point of view. I agree with him that fathers should be given better paternity leaves which would allow them to take better part in their children’s lives. Men these days are surely doing a lot better than before, but if the policies are so favouring women to stay at home more and hence know more about children and men work more and bring money, it just makes it harder for the change to happen. Kathryn flett article talks about “having it all” from a single mother’s point of view. Interestingly Gaby Hinsliff doesn’t link to Reeve’s article or Flett’s article at all in any of her posts (unless I have missed it). Agreed that she is not doing an exhaustive piece on this topic. but, I find it very selective.

Now coming back to the toxic sisterhood, yes, I have seen many women who share the sentiment that “I had it tough, so should you”. One friend of mine suggested that I should give my child nappy free time when she visited me just after Muffin was born, when she found my newborn tortured with a nappy tightly tied to her bottom. How do you clean poo and wee if she does it and if  it goes all over on the floor (and mine is carpeted)?, I asked. Her answer was, I did it with a boy, why can’t you?!! Right! it is about I had it tough, so should you. I still asked, what is the purpose? She couldn’t tell me one. It’s not about the moms who do elimination communication, as at least there is a point to it.  When some women see Balan doing childcare (and also for little things around the house), they immediately come forward to help him out asking him to go sit in the lounge. It is the toxic sisterhood, I say. I am in total agreement with Gaby Hinsliff about the toxic sisterhood. One doesn’t have to go to a work place to analyse about women bosses and women employees to understand the toxic sisterhood. they are all around us. all the time. But to answer her question, I have been a boss and I have worked under a woman boss. I have been that mean single woman colleague to working mothers who were struggling to balance between working life, childcare and the typical Indian men who thought they did a great favour to their wives to achieve the noble motherhood (which elevates them in the society) by being sperm donors. When I was that mean single woman colleague, I argued that if women want equality, they should work equal to men. I still agree with that in the general sense, but in Indian scenario, women can be spared with some more family friendly policies.

When I was a employee under a woman boss, I was mostly admiring and observing how she dealt with the men in the men dominated business world. I didn’t have kids then, so didn’t ask for any flexibility and didn’t observe her attitude in that matter. She was indifferent to me as was with other women colleagues and men in our team as far as I know, or I was oblivious to that. Eitherway, I didn’t feel any favour or toxicness.

When I was a boss I was lenient towards a parent who had a disabled child. It was not a woman, but a man, if you are curious. I also had a working  mother who was more into how to make most of the holiday entitlements and put the office as not her responsibility. It was not just me, but also my other women employees didn’t like that attitude. Now, why define these issues by our sex? I wouldn’t have liked that attitude if a man was like that, and I am sure my other colleagues would have felt the same.

So, no, I didn’t experience the toxic sisterhood in the workplace, but I do in the social set up. It is not just the Indian women, but western women do it too. The links I have provided above prove it themselves.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. WA
    Nov 16, 2009 @ 23:32:06

    Toxic sisterhood? This sounds like a new name for the varadhakshinai kodumai cases whereby the maamiyaar says I brought so much when I got married so my daughter in law should too! So in other words underneath everything our feminist(irrespective of their colour) sisters are no differnt to the pattikaattu women! Oh well.

    As to paternity leave, its about time.


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