Women’s Day


Went for a Women’s Quiz conducted for Women’s Day by KQA. It was held right after BizKashi – the Biz Quiz. There were only five teams, so there wasn’t even a need to conduct prelims.

I didn’t originally intend to attend the Women’s Quiz… the Biz Quiz was supposed to be the relaunch quiz of my quiz team from school… nope, I’m not going to lapse into memories here, don’t worry. Great quiz, though I must say I’m rusty… obviously didn’t make it to the finals. Enjoyed being part of the audience… it was a fun quiz to attend. A good set of questions, very well set.

And… I enjoyed it more than the tailored-for-women’s-day-and-women Women’s Quiz. Basically it was because of the sort of quizzing I like. I have a bad memory, and hence I don’t much like questions like ‘Identify [enter image of obscurish person/movie]’, but absolutely adore questions of the form [first para of wiki article with named entities replaced by random letters of the alphabet], or [obscure question common answer].

The quiz in itself was torn between being a Women’s Day Quiz and a Quiz for Women. I was half-expecting to be asked about the common term for Fuller’s Earth (Multani Mitti), or the history of the woman on who Miranda Priestly’s character was based on, now that would have been fun…. but no, it was about boring overachieving women who did inspiring but boring things like win the Nobel.

But frankly… I didn’t get the need for such a difference between the two quizzes. Was it set that way because of some research that proves women are better at recollecting stuff while men are better in working out and analyzing? Or is ‘identify’ seen as being easier than ‘work out’, and women being inferior in quizzing when compared to men need an easier time?

Which brings us to another point I wish to bring attention to… why do so few women quiz? As far as I’ve seen, it’s a matter of priorities and interest… at NITK, most girls were more focussed on a lot of activities which weren’t involved in quizzing and hence there was a low turnout… but why is that? In a population of 250-odd girls in B.Tech, only one or two at max would be interested? Wonder why?

And so it is Women’s Day. Lots of lip-service for women’s rights and all that yada… I’m frankly bored, but I acknowledge extreme-feminists should definitely exist for a healthy society…. just as extreme leftists and rightists should.

What I understand of feminism is this. Basically, for long, women weren’t supposed to think. And had very few choices to make. And as we know, people with fewer choices to make are happier people…. so this arrangement seemed to suit everyone. Then came feminism, suffragette movement and suchlike things. They wanted to get women to think. To not be afraid to think. They wanted women to be independent. Take their own decisions.

But well, they intentionally or unintentionally forgot one tiny detail. That you have to take responsibility for yourself and any decision you take. And there you go. Now you have a bunch who believe in power without responsibility. They forget that being an independent woman doesn’t entitle you to perks, apart from those that come out of sensitivity and common sense. They forget that misandry is equivalent to misogyny.

And then things like Mona Lisa Smile. The movie starring Julia Roberts. I don’t much have an issue with it, but with the people who idolize it. Why do ‘progressive’ women tend to look down upon those women who’ve chosen family over career? That’s what feminism was all about, right? To be able to choose as well as to increase the number of choices? And such a choice is something personal, like religion… you shouldn’t be judged on it… and like innerwear – it’s a matter of what’s most comfortable. And not everyone wants pink.

That said, when I ask “What do you do?’ and I receive an answer like ‘I’m bringing up the future of the world’, it does strike me very much as some sort of a consolationPrize answer. Or an excuse for being lazy. I don’t have an issue with others giving up career for family… just that I don’t like the phrasing.

I’ve met some teenaged girls whose aim in life is to “get married and settle down’ (No, they are not villagers, but from very well-off families where their parents want them to become lawyers and consultants, and are willing to foot the tuition for all of that)… I’m not an advocate of that, just to clarify. No matter what you’ll say about parenting being a fulltime job, if you find time hanging heavy on your hands while waiting for kids to come back from school…. you need a life. Just like I’ll say you need a life if you say you’re very busy and don’t have time to look at your kids’ faces.

A couple of months back, I was watching some of the Pan-IIT videos. One of them was about the low numbers of women in Sci-Tech. The problem is basically that most organizations aren’t women-friendly. More often than not, it’s ignorance and perspective that’s the trouble. Like take for example this situation. Woman’s on a critical project near the deadline. Work goes on till pretty late. Woman’s family doesn’t much like the whole staying late and nightouting. Woman feels work is such and asking for concessions would be un-feministic. Woman understands concern of family and gives in. Woman is seen as putting family over career. Woman given low priority during promotions and the like.

Now there’s definitely a holistic approach that’ll work for everyone, but the problem is no one’s going to begin thinking that way unless they are told to…. not coming across women in the workspace for long doesn’t much equip you well to be sensitive to women in your workplace.

And one lady brought it up that IITs are generally unfriendly places as far as women are concerned. Her point was that it brought in the worst of all evils of society in a closed location. At NITK, I’ve come across the lowest forms of MCPness, the saddest forms of prejudice, the worst perceptions of women…. I can empathize.

A good number of men seem to agree – some openly, some not so openly – that women aren’t as smart as men. They go on as far as to say it might probably be the result of having two X chromosomes…. some sort of genetic modification that might have happened…. or maybe women were just meant to be dumb. Oh, and their justification when attacked is “I have never met a woman as smart as a man’. And when you do give some examples where a woman is indeed smarter than most men around her, she is classified as a freak of nature, or her character and means of obtaining success is debated upon. These are not people from the Sri Rama Sene, but just regular engineering college students not necessarily from a feudal background.

Muthalik is just one of those men who shout out their opinion on women in public. There are tons who share the opinion, though silently. In that way, Muthalik is not the problem, but one of the symptoms of a much larger problem…. other symptoms include tame, yet dangerous private opinions like mentioned before.

Most of the issues are due to lack of communication and empathy and sensitivity. IMO, sensitization should be a mandatory part of syllabus (rhetoric… not to be taken literally), considering the backgrounds of most people who enter IITs and NITs. The problems that occur here occur less in places with more balanced gender ratios. And that’s why we need to improve the gender ratio in Sci-Tech. To prevent the objectification and stereotyping of women from festering.

We also need more women who are roleModel-material. Comments like the one above occur due to a dearth of these. If all the women you’ve grown up seeing are simpering nagging housewives, or chammak challo sorts, chances are high you’ll assume all women are either one of the two or freaks of nature. And that is irrespective of your gender.

But frankly, I’d not be giving the complete picture if I didn’t say that at NITK, I’ve also come across some of the nicest, most empathetic, most accomodating and most sensitive men I’ve ever met… and I’m a much better, happier person for it.

About wanderlust

just your average books-and-music person who wants to change the world.
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18 Responses to Women’s Day

  1. verma7 says:

    Freak of nature. LOL. Do you characterize yourself as chammak challo or freak of nature. πŸ˜›

    I was labelled an MCP by some females around in NITT, but I always wanted somebody to stand up to me and prove otherwise. I would love to ask them what made them FCPs?
    The general logic (or the lack of it) goes like this: http://www.xkcd.com/385/

  2. wanderlust says:

    @verma7:
    im sorry, but I don’t subscribe to that sort of classification.
    i dont get it… you wanted someone to stand up and prove you’re not an mcp? you might as well expect pigs to fly.
    and how can someone both stand up to you and prove you are not an mcp? unless it was you who went around asserting that you are one? in which case the girls were going according to your plan of labelling you an mcp?

  3. verma7 says:

    @wanderlust:
    The statement about the classification was supposed to be humorous. Please note the smiley and the absence of a question mark(?) at the end of it.

    Perhaps I got my phrasing wrong, I meant that I wanted somebody to prove that girls were equally good or better in some respects. I don’t expect anyone to change who I am. But that’s how we learn, from observing others.

    Did you see the comic? I am sometimes rude or perhaps condescending irrespective of the other person’s gender. Girls assumed me to be an MCP.

    Peace.

  4. wanderlust says:

    the question was rather out of place and unwarranted for. even as a joke. my sense of humour is more like this.
    why do you need someone to prove it to you that women and men are equal? it’s something you are supposed to take as a given.
    and who wants to go around proving platitudes and reinventing the wheel?
    and if you say ‘girls are dumb’, it is seen as a sufficient condition for labelling you MCP.

  5. Shreevatsa says:

    Most women around me are indeed smarter than I am, and it’s not (just) because I’m stupid. (And no matter who or where you are, chances are that all the dumbest people you’ve seen are men.)

    You’re right about needing more women as role models β€” “Marie Curie can’t be expected to carry the whole load herself, and posthumously at that”, as someone said. Actually, there are a lot of role models, just looking around, but for some reason they tend to not be held up as such. I met someone who’d been through an entire undergraduate degree in maths, and didn’t know that the “Noether” everywhere was a woman. And then there are all those obnoxious comments by Watson about another potential role model, Rosalind Franklin. It’s really sad…

    I’m one of those who believe that we need, not for women’s sake but for science’s own sake, to get more women in science, by any means necessary. [Disclaimer: The link does not suggest agreement/endorsement, just an example of the many points of view people have.]

  6. Tuna Fish says:

    Women and Quizzing …
    there were about 50 gals , and 400 guys in each batch in NITK. may be 2 gals and about 30 guys took to quizzing seriously. The ratio is the same.
    One more thing I observe. I say *obscure thing* occurs in *obscure place* , and *more obscureness*, isnt that cool? Most gals… * What the deuce is that to me? * look. (well except you ofcourse) .Hence I get dejected. Well, I would be wrong to claim that most gals are not trivia people, as I have not tried this on as many guys. I might be wrong. So, you sort of loose the hang of the whole thing and start drifting away.
    I guess in NITK, they even stopped putting up *next quiz this-this day* notices after some time in girls block.

  7. sg says:

    To leave the serious note of this article, I’d like to mention that sometimes I wish I was some arts major who got married right out of coll and who has alteast 2 kids by now. LOL I guess, I am just plain lazy.

    Regarding the oh-so-serious topic of this article, I guess if the girls just take a chill-pill and don’t give a damn to what guys think, that’ll be a sure grave to the MCP line of thought.

    Peace Indeed πŸ™‚

  8. wanderlust says:

    @shreevatsa:
    regarding that link: there was a comment by a natalie there… i sort of agree with her.
    @tuna fish:
    Incineer saw wide participation from both guys and girls, even in organizing committees. in almost every committee there were active girls. quizzing and lit however didn’t match up to that.
    non-trivia folks… quite a good percentage of guys are non-trivia. and i found even the triviaFreak girls didn’t much bother to attend quizzes. guess it was an nitk thing, having to do with the way it was conducted, publicity, etc etc.
    but then that’s nitk
    in bangalore, where you have a good percentage of women, and where the gender ratio isnt as skewed as at NITK, only ten-fifteen women made it to the womens day quiz. and most of them were wives/sisters of kqa members. And even at school, where gender ratios are more or less equal, you’d find hardly one or two girls on stage in the finals of a quiz.
    but another thing i noticed in school quizzes was that the same set of people made it to the finals of every damn quiz that was conducted. there were a few new ones here and there, but there were a few must-haves at every final.
    useless additional information: a good percentage of these finalists made it to nitk.

  9. karthik says:

    “And one lady brought it up that IITs are generally unfriendly places as far as women are concerned. Her point was that it brought in the worst of all evils of society in a closed location.”

    Paul Graham makes a similar point in one of his essays. Much of his argument applies to a different demographic, but the part about near-isolated closed societies turning barbaric sounds similar.

    Despite a tremendously skewed gender ratio, I never witnessed any brazen acts of scorn (against women) or misogyny at college. Perhaps this is an IIT/NIT thing, or perhaps I ventured in social circles where this is Not Done.

    Do you have a conclusion in mind when you start writing one of these essays, or are they tidied-up trains of thought? They make for a very interesting read, either way.

  10. Shreevatsa says:

    @priya/wanderlust(which do you prefer?☺): What the natalie observes is something general to men who have been treating women as ‘exotic’/objectified, etc. (and have broken tact filters, I guess). The fix is to improve the gender ratio, as you said.

    Also, you might be over-analysing the differences in the quizzes. When one starts with a topic and is trying to find questions to fit with it, the nature of the questions that come up is likely to be different.

    (Aside: “KQA” brings many fond memories :)… did you use to participate in quizzes in school, around 2000-02? What school were you in?)

  11. Siri says:

    You were at KQA? Where? I was there too, and damn, I seem to have missed you.

    As for girls and quizzing, I think there are a lot of rational reasons why. Aww forget it. Happy womens’ day.

    And yeah. the quiz could have been much less trivia-ish. One of the ladies took it up with Arul Mani after the quiz!

  12. wanderlust says:

    @karthik:
    no,no… it isn’t the social pressure brought about by naturally-occurring hierarchical schemes or anything… it’s just that you have a bunch of misogynists or guys with absolutely no idea of what girls (or for that matter, people) are like thanks to them spending two years or more inside a book, each of them validating the others’ wrong ideas about the other gender.
    a friend of mine told me this.. no way of verifying it… but apparently in BASE bangalore, if a girl entered a room to write a weekly test, some guys in the room used to walk out and into another classroom mercifully (for them) girl-free…. and IITs and NITs have a not-unsignificant population of folks like this.
    it’s not blatant misogyny… everyone knows that’s wrong, but the attitudes of some people take a long time to change. like saying a girl was ‘asking for it’ when she is being teased… even if they acknowledge that the teasing is wrong and it is not something they would do themselves.
    i have no idea how my posts pan out… i start writing about something and conclude something else… at times the conclusion is contrived, but i mostly type whatever’s running through my mind.
    @shreevatsa:
    it takes most people a trip to the About page to realize priya=wanderlust… so for the sake of continuity, wanderlust will do. though im sure most people don’t much read the comments section.
    i did think of that, that maybe it just happened that the questions turned out this way. But then, it’s KQA, and even the quizzes they conduct in random inter-school festivals were way better than this. the topic wasn’t so narrow that they’ll be at a loss for questions to set. And I don’t want to believe folks at KQA will ever be at a loss for quality questions.
    Yes, I did quiz in 2000-02.. oxford cbse i was in…. are you from carmel school by any chance?
    @siri:
    were you among the bunch of girls in team three who were answering every damn question and went on to win the quiz and who *almost* got the connect a dozen times?
    or the one in team 4 who told me ‘don’t worry, we’re all equally bad’?
    i was the one in a bright red top in team 1, with a totally bored look and in total giveupax mode in the second half and who made and received half-a-dozen phonecalls *during* the quiz.

  13. Siri says:

    yeah, we were team 3. I was in a black-brown top and getting hyper every two seconds(I was once told I’d cause an earthquake at a quiz). I nearly took out a gun and shot everyone when we didn’t get the visual connect. How embarrassing that was!

    Damn, how ever did I miss you? (PS-send me your email ID please. Im hoping to meet you at OUR quiz fest-which is next week. I’ll send you an invite. πŸ™‚ )

    If you are scared of spammers-> http://www.utpt.blogspot.com πŸ™‚

  14. karthik says:

    “but apparently in BASE bangalore, if a girl entered a room to write a weekly test, some guys in the room used to walk out and into another classroom mercifully (for them) girl-free”

    Wow. Now that is just plain weird. (Again, I missed noticing anything of the sort. BASE, 2003-ish.)

    Posts of the train-of-thought type are more fun to read, you never know what’s coming next.

  15. Shreevatsa says:

    Yes! I was in carmel school, how did you guess? I think we were one of the “a few new ones here and there” teams. I too remember there were the same damn teams at the finals of every quiz. I remember the Oxford cbse (was there more than one Oxford school at quizzes?) team had a girl in it, but that’s all I remember πŸ™‚ (and that their uniform looked grey or so… was it?)
    I agree; KQA usually had great questions for anything… oh well, I can’t imagine why the questions would be so different, but I’d rather assume it was accidental, Hanlon’s razor (“cock-up over conspiracy”) and all that πŸ™‚

    The BASE thing (disclaimer: I was in BASE, although hopefully not one of the guys mentioned): besides the obvious explanation they were uncomfortable around girls, isn’t it possible that they were just being considerate and letting someone write a test in silence? πŸ™‚

  16. wanderlust says:

    @siri:
    check mail.
    @karthik:
    i wasn’t in BASE myself… this is something I heard from other girls who went there between ’02 and ’04.
    @shreevatsa:
    noisy test-writing at BASE? hmmm… new to me… i was under the impression the BASE nerds gave their best arjuna-like concentration to the task at hand, which involved a lot of silence or something and irritation at the slightest noise.

    i didn’t guess the carmel bit… i knew (no, i don’t mean that to sound creepy)… you were one of the regulars on stage, guruprasad’s teammate weren’t you?… i remember you from vijaya bank (two years), seek, paul’s and a couple of other quizzes, some of which were conducted by kqa. and yeah, i’m the girl from the oxford team. and yes, our uniform was gray.
    so…. hi again πŸ™‚

  17. Shreevatsa says:

    Hi again πŸ™‚
    “It’s a small world” (at least, south bangalore). Yes I was guruprasad’s teammate, and I wouldn’t say “regular”.:p Your memory is amazing, despite what you claim about it.

    The BASE thing is definitely *very* weird now. I thought first from what you wrote that only the girl was industriously taking a test on her own free time and the guys were just loafing around (because that’s all I remember doing at BASE) chatting about movies or sports or… girls. In which case their leaving the room might make a smidgen of sense. What you say is totally bizarre. But for some reason I don’t doubt it πŸ™‚

  18. wanderlust says:

    the memory works better only for people i’ve met and the embarrassing stuff they’ve done. in other areas, especially when it comes to details, i’m no better than an amnesiac.
    and yeah, south bangalore is a verrrry small place in terms of degrees of separation. everyone seems to know, or atleast know of, everyone else.

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