Pecking order and pandering egos

Pecking order and pandering egos

At a wedding party, I was nibbling on hot, crisp starters. “Winter weddings are great, you don’t sweat in your Kancheepuram saree,” I insightfully thought. As I was drifting into my slumber with another paneer tikka in my mouth, my friend’s daughter slipped next to me. After a few pleasantries, she asked a question that was bothering her, “What should you do when you know at work you are stack ranked by men?”

I said, “For what? Ask them to focus on their work.”

She looked pensive and exasperated, “NO! they are stack ranking all women based on looks, fitness, smartness, coolness, oomph, shapes and brains!”

Well, I choked on the tikka I was enjoying. I had been working for many years and now I wondered if this was what these stupid guys had been doing? Went back to my girls/women gangs and posted to understand the reaction; they went berserk, talked of how they have heard or experienced or both; “Men are so dumb, after few drinks they let the cat out while socializing after work, that is how I know this exists,” and the other was saying “half the guys go around showing their bum cleavages, can’t hold their pant on the hip! They are talking about us.”

Some demeaning/unsavoury details got bumped off. In all this mess the question, “Does this happen?” got addressed, but “Why this happens?” was muddled and up for debate; why objectify and quantify? A regressive thought of looking at a woman as a sex object? Fantasy or belief that women are there to serve their lords and masters? Is it a gender thing? So, what did civilization and education teach us? Instead of groping upfront, do it in your free time and at private places mentally? What does this mean to women? Knowing covertly or overtly of being ranked? Does this make women anxious, competitive?

Do women in the pecking order unconsciously push to race? Do they come dressed to be noticed, starve to look a size less, spend to stay ahead, fight and bitch each other to be up in the ranking? Its predatory and primitive, a raw sense of animal instinct drives the thought, even if it is covered by a linen jacket or Diesel jean; there is no winning at the top for any woman, remember where the list got generated, in the reeking space between men.

As for men in their la-la land of visualization at that sleazy moment of ranking, for a split second, if one of them looked at himself in a mirror he would probably wake up to a reality that no women out there are even thinking of him or any of them!

Female gangs when they get together think, talk, laugh and discuss more exciting stuff like food, hopes, dreams, aspirations, family, clothes, fragrance, health, fashion, travel, flowers, diet and in that list, comes last the noun called ‘men’. Well, that is the truth men must live with.

Tell me a story of who you are, and see who I am in the stories I live. And together we will remember that each of us always has a choice.
– The Dance, by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Sunitha Lal is a Human Resources professional and organizational culture expert, based out of Bangalore. She has over 25 years of experience spanning diverse industries and geographies. Because of her keen interest in understanding human behavior, she views organizational dynamics through the lens of behavioral science, psychology, and anthropology.  


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