This appeared in Mumbai Mirror...
Plan B for women….
Now that it is official, and we are told men are under siege, what are we supposed to feel / do/ think? This is terribly confusing. Should we be feeling sorry for men? Are we meant to rush to their side loaded with tea and sympathy? Or should we leave them alone till we figure out what to do with …. With…. OURSELVES? Shall we engage the guys in a ‘constructive’ dialogue? Appoint a referee? Withdraw into our respective caves and wait for the crisis to blow over? No.No.No. Ladies, hit that pause button, stay calm and ask yourselves just one important question : what it is we need to do to fix the complex, essentially sex-related problem that has crept up on us. I have given the matter a good think, and here is what I believe will get us the best results. The smart thing to do involves the ‘N-word’. It is a word women aren’t too comfortable with for some inexplicable reason. That word is NEGOTIATE. There is no crisis in the world that cannot be resolved through negotiation of the right kind. Okay…. so here’s the sticky part. Who defines ‘right’? I’d say emphatically and firmly - we do. It is our turn to rewrite the rules. And this is where Plan B kicks in.
Once we are ready to negotiate ( there is no reason on earth to recklessly rush in till we are all on the same page), we can open official talks. Clarity is key at this point. Let’s not make absurd demands . Let’s be practical.And dare I say it – reasonable. Unfocussed anger is counter productive. Plan B states we have to let go of that anger. Surely,we want to improve our own lives, not destroy someone else’s. Stay constructive. Stay selfish. List out everything that has pulled you down as a woman. If there are self-esteem issues, address them in an upfront way. If there are workplace problems, table your grievances and deal with them. If the trouble spots are domestic, don’t shut up and put up. Articulate your feelings. Do so directly with the person giving you grief. The main thing at this point is to speak up.
Sounds easy. But it is one of the toughest things to do, if you have never done it. Take a long, hard look at your priorities. What is it YOU need to change first? Your attitude? Do it!This is really an important turning point for all of us – men and women. It would be pretty idiotic to not recognize its significance and carry on like nothing happened. A lot has happened. Most of it unpleasant.There is a new awakening. And it is female. Women are fighting back.Men are seething about and smarting over this guerrilla attack. Most men are genuinely flabbergasted. Some still haven’t got it.Whether it is Tejpal or Ganguly or Asaram. Unless men realize the seriousness of the current crisis, there can be no meaningful dialogue. In order to push ahead with Plan B, we need to be doubly serious ourselves. Ultimatums like: “ Do this or else,” never work. So here’s step number one: Don’t jump down anybody’s throat . It will go against you. Reexamine your approach - at home and in the workplace. If you are sure you aren’t sending out mixed signals, you are doing fine. Stay consistent. Don’t say one thing and do another. Stay firm. Don’t waver. If you have taken a position, stick to it. Be realistic and reasonable. Good negotiations are about recognizing the other person’s right to present a different perspective. Listen keenly. Be respectful and polite at all times. Nothing confuses the other party as much as dealing with a calm, smiling opponent. Be transparent. Most negotiations go for a toss because people presume too many things and…. scowl!.Be true to yourself – if there is something specific that makes you uncomfortable, say it without embarrassment. Plan B is about resolution and reconciliation. Not revenge and retribution. Sense the mood and push for closure. Timing is everything. Smart negotiators know when to back off. If you believe your objectives have been met, shake hands and settle the deal. Frankly, there is gender fatigue in the air. Most sensible men have finally got the message.
It’s time to be friends. Have fun. And be happy. It’s possible.