If you’ve landed straight on this post, then I must mention, this is a reply to all the women (and men too) who got offended by an earlier blog post of mine and some of them even termed it sexist. While on and off quite some people have thought that, this particular comment yesterday forced me to write a reply.
Here’s the comment I received few days back:
The incredible sexism in this article made it very hard for me to agree with some of the valid issues that were brought up. Maybe you could broaden your very narrow mindset and consider that women do have dreams and aspirations beyond having another child? Many women would like to be entrepreneurs, but they need to overcome a huge amount of societal pressure to get married and settle down by as early as 20, pressure that is far more than that faced by their male counterparts.
The entire tone of your article is one that stereotypes women into the category of nagging annoyances that are hindering Indian men and their entrepreneurial dreams. I don’t know what women you’ve been dating but maybe you only seem to connect with very traditional women because you, yourself, have a very traditional mindset towards gender. I cannot see a motivated, driven young woman being attracted to someone like you, who doesn’t even acknowledge the possibility of female entrepreneurs in India, in an article titled “Reasons why young Indians don’t turn entrepreneurs”.
I also found your use of phrases like “my girl”, “your girl” and “I hope my ex-girlfriend is reading this” demeaning and bitter.
FYI there are a lot of female entrepreneurs in India. Some at a smaller scale, running beauty parlors, and many at a larger scale, starting NGOs etc.
First of all sorry if you got offended. Secondly, thanks a ton for your comment. While I have received a lot of good feedback on the blog from women and men alike, some have written in to express concerns you have raised and your reply really pushed me to answer you. In fact honestly speaking, I got offended by you terming the article or me ‘sexist’. I wasn’t okay with it so I thought to reply to you. Since the reply was long, I converted it to a blog post itself. Here it goes:
Let me apologise first to all you who got offended by it, in any manner. While writing, that was never the intention. Since it was a rant, the language didn’t turn out to be flowery and some of you felt bad. Apologies again.
Secondly, Anu, this is a personal blog, my version of the experiences i have had. I do not pretend to be writing articles that are rooted in surveys, or has interviewed people in similar situations. After reading my blog, someone actually did that, The Week magazine to be precise – see point 3 below.
Coming to the answer, let me share a few incidences, post that article, they should answer it.
1. One of the very first things that happened was that a female entrepreneur SMSed me, “Dude the sentiment that you’ve expressed in that blog, is the same how I feel everyday. People asking me about when do I plan to have kids and all…” She went on for sometime expressing how she could relate to every bit of that article. [I wish I had taken screenshots of that sms and stored, would have helped today.]
2. Another successful female entrepreneur (now in her 40s) said, “that’s exactly how I felt when I was young like you, why don’t boys want to get married to a female entrepreneur?””
3. In Sep 2013, The Week magazine did a story on “How young entrepreneurs in India are facing a problem in getting married” – A lady journalist did that story. Along with me she covered 4 other (single) entrepreneurs, 2 out of whom were women, again. The crux of that story was same as that of my blog. The problem is ancient Indian mindset/society. And not what you think I am saying, “women”. Couple of more points I must also mention here. First, when this story was being written, the journo asked me to connect to more single entrepreneurs. I asked a couple of “women” entrepreneurs and they refused to say anything in public about this. Obviously, no one will ever complain about them. Since I raise and talk about a norm which I feel is an issue, people are bound to get upset. Second thing is, when this story got published online, it did not get good feedback, for obvious reasons. And was eventually pulled down from their portal! Well, I have a copy of the print issue, can share it if you want.
4. In Nov 2013, a “women” entrepreneur got in touch in with me and honoured me since the post made it to the most read post ever on her community portal.
5. The second most important point, another women entrepreneur asked me to join hands in building the biggest portal for women in India (and possibly the world). Yes, she knew about the post. I can say that with certainty because we had this conversation at the event mentioned in point 4 above. Again, she could have thought the same and could have never initiated this. Today, we are working together.
6. The most important point. Six months after that post, I merged my company with another company, that was run by, not one but two women entrepreneurs. Needless to say, they had read that post as well.
I could go on with more stories but I think these are enough to tell you that my mindset is broad enough to get me the chance to interact with many phenomenal people, women and men, both professionally as well as personally.
Just to make it clear, the problem statement I focussed on was “Indian Society” and not “women”, as you think. Hope this helps.
I’ll even take this opportunity to mention that I strongly support women rights and entrepreneurship. I am a supporter of the #VAW (Violence Against Women) community and have participated in events earlier. And I do read (books like Lean In) to address and understand such problems and how to eradicate them.
Obviously everybody has their own opinion, so some of you chose to disagree while others agree. It’s your opinion and I respect that. If you are still offended, apologies once again.
Update: May 22, 2014: A friend shared her perspective a few days back, sharing it here, with her permission.