‘Ek Titli, Anek Titliyan’—when a girls club unites to call out the hypocrisy at workplaces
This new generation of girls are burning both bridges and bras with impunity
Falsus in Uno, Falsus in Omnibus.
It’s Latin for “if you cheat at Uno, then you probably cheat at everything”.
Just kidding. Actually, it means if you cheat or lie or are false in one thing, then you probably cheat or lie or are false in everything.
And for me, this is the logic that justifies us taking a very strong stance on #MeToo as employers.
We’ve spent too many decades tolerating all kinds of shady behaviour in the workplace (predatory sexual behaviour, drunkenness, violence) because the person indulging in the shady behaviour is otherwise “a star performer” or a “genius” or “irreplaceable” or “well-loved”.
The sentiment I’ve often heard expressed in the workplace is, “I don’t give a rat’s ass what he does in his personal life, as long as he’s still delivering the numbers, I’m cool with it. It’s none of my business even.”
But Falsus in Uno, Falsus in Omnibus dictates that it is impossible to be a creep in a silo. You can’t keep that sort of thing contained. Eventually, inevitably, your essential creepiness will start affecting your work too. The entitlement, the selfishness, the bullying, the dishonesty, the sickness will all taint your performance in the long run. So will the sheer pressure of living a double life.
And that is why, when a sexual predator is ousted by a victim (probably at great personal risk and trauma) it behoves the organization who employs the predator to give the victim an attentive hearing, and not just look at it with their very short-term, oho - how-will-this-affect-my-quarter, hat on.
Because now it seems that our #MeToo moment may finally be upon us. It’s still a pale, me-too version of what’s going on in the US, but it’s definitely more than we’ve ever had in India before. And it doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. There have been revelations of sickening, full-on physical assaults; lots of unsavoury harassment on the phone; predatory older colleagues in publishing and advertising abusing their position and slightly pathetic, bumbling passes by authors. The girls are finally speaking up, across industries, single voices are turning into a chorus, and like in the old Films Division of India film, Ek Titli (one butterfly), is turning into Anek Titliyaan (many butterflies) with a vengeance.
We live in an all-time shallow age, where everybody has two versions of themselves. The glossy, photoshopped Instagram version, and the untouched, warts-and-all real version. And these have gone beyond being merely skin-deep. We now have two versions of our personality too—the feminist, liberal, secular, emancipated exterior and the chauvinistic, patriarchal, bullying, regressive interior.
This carefully drawn veil between our personal selves and our private selves is being rent by a new generation of “troublesome” young girls who don’t understand that good girls don’t talk about these things in public. If they do, they’ll be the ones shamed for being a bunch of name-dropping, panty-dropping hussies, not the good, blameless (mostly) married men they’re accusing. But unfortunately for the men, this new generation of girls doesn’t really seem to care. They’re burning both bridges and bras with impunity, and I’m so proud of them for doing it.
In fact, it seems like finally, a girls club is rising to counter the long established boys club, and it has learnt from the boys the vital lesson that in unity alone lies strength and security.
This girls club is calling out the hypocrisy and duplicity that’s existed in our workplaces for decades. And I think that’s healthy. I think their revelations are natural and inevitable, and all part of a vital, corrective process that will help repair the exhausting and debilitating schizophrenia that’s currently ailing our work culture. We need to support them, investigate their allegations, establish a zero-tolerance policy and majorly reset the system.
The sooner we all become the same person, in our private and public life, the healthier our workplaces will be.
Wine to Five is a bimonthly column featuring the random musings of a well-irrigated, middle management mind. Anuja Chauhan is an author and advertising consultant.
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