It’s a man’s man’s man’s world

Muscat Daily - - NATION - Mo­hana is the chief ex­ec­u­tive and manag­ing ed­i­tor of Apex Press and Pub­lish­ing. If you have any com­ments, please email her at mo­hana@apex­me­

Seven years ago, at a bank in In­dia, where I had gone to re­struc­ture a loan along with my brother, the bank man­ager stead­fastly re­fused to ac­knowl­edge my pres­ence. The ac­count was mine, the loan was mine, I asked the ques­tions but my brother re­ceived the an­swers. At the end, when I said thank you, my brother was told, “You’re wel­come, sir.”

Things haven’t changed much as we stand in Jan­uary 2018. Men still pre­fer dis­cussing facts and fig­ures with men, or they as­sume that we wouldn’t want to bother our pretty lit­tle heads with bor­ing stuff like num­bers. I guess terms like de­pre­ci­a­tion or amor­ti­sa­tion should strike ter­ror in a woman’s heart, so why bother us with that?

If I knew how to knit, these are the times I would like to pull out my knit­ting nee­dles. I re­mem­ber a col­league pre­sent­ing a bud­get where he showed a 73 per cent growth that was in re­al­ity 12.8 per cent. I am not a fi­nan­cial whiz but I did go to col­lege. He fi­nally fig­ured out that I know how to use a calculator and con­cen­trated on fran­ti­cally re­work­ing his bud­get.

Many men con­tinue to be un­com­fort­able shak­ing hands with a woman in a busi­ness set­ting – and these are not ones who may have re­li­gious rea­sons for do­ing so. Even worse are the limp, apol­ogy-of-a-hand­shake hand­shakes, that make me think I should go back to my roots and greet ev­ery­one with folded hands.

For­get the bank man­ager, but even in busi­ness meet­ings here I have found men who pre­fer di­rect­ing their ques­tions to other men in the group, rather than the woman, even when the woman is se­nior to her col­leagues.

I re­call a meet­ing at an in­sti­tu­tion, where our host (a Ful­bright scholar no less and we only heard about it 16 times), com­pletely ig­nored me be­yond the manda­tory greet­ing. I was like the child­hood in­vis­i­ble friend that only my col­leagues could see and no one else.

I’ve never for­got­ten the prin­ci­pal of a school many years ago who was hor­ri­fied that my male col­leagues had ‘al­lowed’ me to drive them to So­har and said so with­out hes­i­ta­tion.

I re­mem­ber think­ing at the time that it didn’t mat­ter where a man comes from in the world, and he came from a far more lib­eral coun­try than mine (or any from the re­gion I live in), but ob­vi­ously, they seem to share the same view of what women should be do­ing in the world.

Men con­tinue to make the mis­take that woman are mal­leable and can be flat­tered into favourable busi­ness deals. They do know that they are equally sus­cep­ti­ble to flat­tery, so it could eas­ily work the op­po­site way, right?

Net­work­ing dur­ing the tea-cof­fee breaks at sem­i­nars is al­ways a pain for an un­ac­com­pa­nied woman. Men tend to gather in groups and some­how women are not en­cour­aged to join in. You smile, say hello and move on. If you break the pro­to­col, be pre­pared for re­ally awk­ward mo­ments, where no one, in­clud­ing you, will know what to say next.

At many evening gath­er­ings, men still con­gre­gate on one side to dis­cuss mat­ters of im­por­tance while women gather in another to gos­sip (of course). And there is still an em­bar­rassed si­lence if you cross over to the men’s side and an at­tempt is of­ten made to dis­cuss ‘some­thing lighter’ that suits our del­i­cate sen­si­bil­i­ties.

All of this does not hold true of all men by any chance – and I know enough and more who don’t do any of these things. But there is a sig­nif­i­cant enough num­ber who indulges in the at­tempt to keep us en­shrined as the ‘gen­tler sex’.

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