Thursday, August 23, 2012

THE WILY WAYS OF WOMEN


No this is not a salty / spicy post – it is serious!

While we can laugh at the bumbling ways of men, we women do not exactly cover ourselves with glory when it comes to the way we interact with each other or with the world in general. Someone once told me that we make the worst enemies! I couldn’t agree more. We can balance malice in our hearts very well with a smile on our lips! We are also supposed to very good at “under hand dealings”! Our methods require careful analysis and the most dangerous thing about them is that like everything else we are precocious when it comes to perfecting them- we start rather young! Much has been written about female adolescent behavior ( those of you who are interested  can read this wonderful book called “Queen Bees and Wannabes” by Rosalind Wiseman. ).

Bullying as we know is very much a part of teenage. While boys indulge in physical bullying which is very tangible and is therefore something against which action can be taken, the methodology employed by girls is very subtle and psychological. There is no way one can point a finger at the perpetrator. While bullying is one side to female adolescent behavior there is also another one that surfaces while  dealing with competition. My daughter has been at the receiving end of the later.    

The problem started a couple of days back during the term exams. There is a girl in her class who gets top marks in most subjects ( particularly science and maths). However this child does not do very well in subjects like English, History etc. While my daughter is not exactly the class topper in history, she is considered to be very good at it as well as  English. So what this class topper has been trying to do is to create a situation of a “set up” in the examination hall. During each of those exams she has been trying to whisper and ask my daughter some silly doubts ( “what is the spelling of suggest” being an example). Initially surprised my daughter was wondering why she needed to cheat since she was the class topper. She then worked out that the reason must be to create an environment where it would appear that it was my daughter who was whispering or cheating. This would result in her being asked to leave the exam hall thereby reducing the competition! To say that I was surprised would be an understatement- I was shocked that someone so young could indulge in something so wily! I was not sure though if this was my daughter’s imagination. However I learnt later that this same girl , during a previous class  test in Physics had suddenly asked another girl ( who she considered her rival in Physics) very playfully and loudly “Hey S- cheating huh?”. S was predictably thrown out of the class!

I shudder to think how this girl would shape up as she grows older!

I have often wondered what makes us like this? I mean there are no excuses for such behavior but there must be a causal factor. It is not exactly  encoded in the X chromosome- that I am pretty much sure of !  So if it is not “nature” it must have something to do with the “nurture” part ! Every person is a product of the way they have been brought up. Girls, I realize in our male dominated society are socialized into a situation where they do not get what they want by asking for it directly. They are also expected to exhibit charm, softness and sweetness – qualities that are so intrinsically positive that they probably have no outlet for negative feelings. So what we end up doing is using indirect methods which are very difficult to decipher but which help us in getting to our goals. Besides, much of behavior is also learned. In the case of girls the role model for female behavior is the mother! We behave the way we see our mothers behaving within our family. Our behaviors are also influenced  by whether we have fathers who also expect stereotypical behavior from the women in the family. And if we are in a family where we also have brothers the chances are that we may often have to resort to these kinds of wiles – especially if it is a family that discriminates between boys and girls.

I have thankfully escaped these traits since I come from a family where my father was the only male and my mother a very dominating person. So we have never really seen her resorting to indirect hints or behavior where she says something and means something else. Of course  I suspect she was a different person when she was not married – as she lived in a joint family with a two brothers and a dominating father who would not have tolerated such behavior from any of his daughters.  

But my mother in law was a different cup of tea. An extremely beautiful woman who was very highly educated, her mantra in managing her husband was to constantly seem helpless in front of him arousing his protective instincts! She tells me that she had always handed over her pay check to him and never asked for anything other than housekeeping money. According to her own account the first time she entered a bank was after his death! She often used to advise me  to adopt similar behavior while dealing   with her son probably not realizing that both these men were  completely different from each other! I did try sometimes just to test waters but I was told very brusquely to “Stop being a pseudo” and “be yourself”!

 Being low on the wiliness quotient also made me rather slow in understanding and interpreting such tactics employed by other women and girls. Where it took me over three decades to understand the behavior of my sex, my daughter I am glad  is able to detect and deal with it in her teens.

There are degrees to false behavior that I see and tolerate among my sex. I see women who give me hugs and air kiss and then draw their knives out. Though I am ready with my defenses I find it difficult to deal with the hugging bit- I would rather hug a good male friend/ colleague!  I see some girls in my daughter’s class do the same- hug each other and some of the moms. I  noticed that where moms are concerned such behavior is restricted only to the mothers of  boys!!! I seriously wonder why? I can’t believe it is because they might want to impress a boy by being nice to his mother or is it because some mothers of daughters would see through such behavior more easily?

As society closes in on the gender gap, I should have thought the current generation of girls would not need to exhibit such traits to get their way- but then there is always the upbringing by parents who seem to have forgotten that we are living in a different world that is moving more towards equality in terms of boys- girls/ men- women!  Many of us women – particularly those who are educated and employed should have the confidence to stand up and fight, ask for what we want or like instead of relying on those age old “weapons of the weak” !



17 comments:

KParthasarathi said...

An interesting read.My own feeling is that wiliness is not an exclusive preserve of women and that men also exhibit such traits.May be the former employed it more than menfolk as the they had to use the brain instead of the brawn.
I have seen the classmates of my grand children.I find types vary.Some are very good natured,some selfish,some clever while some are cunning and some even dumb.The competitive spirit and the desire to excel is seen generally more amongst girls while boys take it easy.
I liked the perceptive analysis

Rahul Bhatia said...

Too many things covered in a single post about wily ways of women! See how difficult it is for a man to understand her:)

Jack said...

Meera,

I agree with KP above that such traits are not confined only to girls. A good read which gives insight into thinking by girls. Hope your daughter takes due precautions against that classmate.

Take care

Meera Sundararajan said...

Thanks for your comments. @ KP and Jack yes wiliness can be seen in men/boys too but lesser as KP says because they use their brawn more.

Roshan said...

while i loved the post ( and genuinely hated the topper who was screwing her classmates around ), what makes me laugh is the irony of the first line.. "No this is not a salty / spicy post" You realise this has been chosen as a Spicy Saturday Pick in Blogadda, right ? :))

anilkurup said...

Is it in the chromosome, gene? If I say yes, I fear backlash from the self acclaimed feminists. Leaving aside that, I think it is more from the formative age that tells on the character boy or girl, man or woman.
As you said about hugging, I know a bunch of people who would hug you and spell out sweet words but at the same time plunge the knife at the back while hugging
Again that includes both man and woman.

But all said and done the feminist weapon that the friend of your daughter used is a purely female weapon. Men are more vociferous . But the fairer ones can slice through like knife through butter.

Rahul said...

Disturbing...While manipulation and psychological tricks are acceptable to a point..what that class mate of your daughter is doing..is simply disgusting..:-( I wonder what kind of family she is growing up in...

Meera Sundararajan said...

@ Roshan I did not know about the selection of this post into the "spicy" category.

@ Anil, while both men/women, boys/ girls may indulge in such behavior the law of averages seems to be pointing to us

@Rahul, I pity the child she is only coping with the pressure she must be experiencing from her parents at home- the need to stay ahead at all cost!

Cloud Nine said...

"be yourself" - very true, once we start being our ownself, the wiliness wears off. The incident you narrated about the little ones in really shocking, i wonder what kind of parents 'nurture' such children. Belonging to the bold, out speaking lot, i can understand the 'hug and draw the knife out' part. And sad we do come across such specimens everyday. The number seems to be rising:(

Cloud Nine said...

And hey, Congrats on the Spicy Saturday Pick:)

ashok said...

thoughtful post Meera...lot of questions here...

Bikramjit said...

How I missed this post is beyond me ..

good one

But going on a tnagent dont you think all this competition and all the rush is making people veyr very competitive and hence if they dont get what they been working for its heartbreaks and what not..

so much pressur is put on kids these days be it a boy or a girl , I think its the same on each of them

and its all this that is bringing the wrong side MORE amongst kids I mean you have urself given a example .. SAD

Bikram's

simply mee said...

I seriously believed i left a comment in this post meera,.....what happened to it?

simply mee said...

Ok, i will say it again :)

There is so much pressure on the child to be the best by parents. Some wants to live their lives through their children, and the children wants their parents to be proud of them, hence they can do anything to achieve that, which is what your daughter's classmate was doing, using a devious plan so as to stay on top! Who knows, maybe she will be spank so hard? In Nigeria, the children change the score marks after the report sheet is given because they are afraid of the beating. I don't support this. I like children to be themselves. Not all her cut out for academics, some are very clever with technical. Parents should learn to balance the two and accept the child for what he / she is, can help in fine tuning or honing their skills. Like i do say, no child is dull, it simply depends on the environment and teacher!

Meera Sundararajan said...

@ Simply Mee at the outset - apologies, I have been ill and been rather erratic in checking mails and publishing comments. You are right it is the pressure on the children that makes them do all these things. Changing marks in the reports is something that children have been doing from the time we were students :). I also know of children who forge their parents'signature on the reports. All these are not things we want them to learn when we educate them -right? But our own behaviours make them do all of this.

@ Bikram while I agree with you about parental pressure bringing out such behaviours in both girls and boys I think boys deal with it differently - they cheat in exams when they have not studied for it or do not know an answer but girls as we can see do underhand things just to get past competition

@ Cloud Nine thanks for your compliments. I think we are increasingly becoming a false group of people - showing something outside and being something inside.

simply mee said...

I am so sorry to hear you were down.
Glad to hear the surgery went well.
Wish you quick recovery, and good health.

Meera Sundararajan said...

Thank you dear Ibhade for your message. :)

Post a Comment

 
;