“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
As actor Sushmita Sen’s three-year-old letter to her daughter Renee recently went viral, we celebrate the unparalleled, beautiful relationship that exists between a mother and her daughter. In the letter, Sushmita encourages her daughter to choose her own path, face her fears and apologise to no one.
It’s time to counter the age-old ‘guilt’ that is forced upon working mothers for ‘abandoning’ their children for their careers. We, humans, have evolved over three billion years and yet we still live in an age where we are made to apologise for choosing our preferred path.
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“But times, they are a-changin…,” croons Bob Dylan.
We, as women, will no longer apologise for going after what makes us feel independent, passionate, successful and happy.
Here are some lessons from all mompreneurs to their daughters encouraging them to grow up fearlessly and unapologetically in this shamelessly patriarchal society and to take the business world by storm.
Apologise to no one
“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!”– Audrey Hepburn
No, we do not live in the ‘world of men’. Men exist because of women. When you enter a business space, know that you will be judged. On the way you look, on the way you dress, on the way you walk and on many such parameters. They will try to stare you down into intimidation and try to objectify you. Casual throws of endearment like ‘hun’ and ‘sweetheart’ they use, to stop you mid-sentence in the conference room, is not okay. Keep your head up high and strut in there. Know that you were asked to be here for a reason. You are valuable to the company, just like anyone else, and you aren’t going anywhere.
No, we do not live in the ‘world of men’. Men exist because of women.
Remember, who the boss is!
“Let me listen to me and not to them.”- Gertrude Stein
If you’ve been promoted to a senior position among your colleagues, get ready for a ton of ego clashes. Men and women will try and break your confidence and control because, unconsciously or not, they rue the fact that they have to answer to a woman. Well, too bad for them. You are their boss because you’re damn good at what you do and don’t you let anyone forget it. So if you need those files delivered, you get those files delivered. No one, I repeat, no one messes with you.
Know where to draw the line
“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – J.K Rowling
No one starts their career smoothly. A few bumps along the way are like the mandatory tests we’re all subjected to in life. But when you’re a female fresher, be prepared to have a mountain of menial tasks piled down on you. They will try to manipulate your naiveté and convince you that they all did it, too. No, they didn’t. And, neither should you. You are a part of their team, on the company’s payroll, and no differentiation in digits should disallow you to command the respect you deserve.
Casual sexism is still sexism
“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” – Audre Lorde
Quite often, we are compelled to laugh at sexist jokes in good humour to avoid being labelled as ‘uptight’ and ‘prudish’. But what we don’t realise is that this is what encourages them to see how far they can go with these ‘harmless’ jokes. If you remain quiet, before you know it, this turns into a nagging habit. So don’t let the fear of being disliked keep you from putting your foot down when you think they’re being inappropriate. You’ll thank yourself for it later.
Steel yourself from the world of chauvinism
“Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live.” – Anne Sweeney
I’m not going to lie, it’s not going to be easy. You’ll go for meetings where some clients will not take you seriously. You’ll have them mistake you for an assistant or a receptionist. They’ll often ask you to call your male counterpart because they can’t ‘reason’ with you. Take all this in your stride. Let them think whatever they want to. At least when you finally pull the plug on their 17th-century illusions, you’ll have front-row tickets to see the look of shock and begrudging respect for you on their faces. And then, just smile.
The world is yours for the taking, darling. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)