One of the many reasons why men dominate the social and intellectual narrative in India is the absence of female power circles. When men hang out exclusively with other men, it results in the formation of male power circles. In such groups, ideas are shared and influences exerted amidst lack of inclusion. The problem is not male kinship, but how male peers resist the influx of women in their group purely on the basis of gender, even if they are of the same professional cadre or intellect. Thus, men end up omitting women from the narrative, even in fields like art, science, philosophy, etc. Then, how do women influence men, when they cannot even break the basic barrier of lack of interaction?
- When men hang out exclusively with other men, it results in the formation of male power circles.
- Male peers resist the influx of women in their groups, purely on basis of gender, even if they are of the same professional cadre or intellect.
- How do women influence men, when they cannot even break the basic barrier of lack of interaction?
- To balance out male power circles we need to encourage the formation of female power circles.
How do women influence men, when they cannot even break the basic barrier of lack of interaction?
— Neha Dixit (@nehadixit123) December 27, 2018
A website recently published an article where Indian intellectuals nominated 51 next generation rising intellects. As a tweet puts it plainly, 17 men were asked to nominate next-generation Indian intellectuals and naturally there were more men than women in the list. It doesn’t come as a surprise that men picked more men than women. Nor the fact that the current so-called crop of Indian intellects didn’t include a single woman. Women’s contribution to society has long been neglected across homes, offices and even in the intellectual community. But today women refuse to let this pass. They are fed up of such casual omissions of their contribution and talent.
17 men were asked to pick "India's rising, younger intellectuals" and they came up with 55 names.
11 women. 44 men.
— Karnika (@KarnikaKohli) December 27, 2018
The article has generated a lot of criticism on social media for a marginal representation of female intellectuals, from both men and women. However, the biggest takeaway is that if women want equal representation, they need to create and sustain female power circles. We need communities of women in every field which acknowledge, celebrate and promote women’s contributions. While it would be ideal to encourage diverse circles, which aren’t steeped in power and cater to popularity. But we are a long way from attaining that level of commitment and openness among both genders, even if it is in the fields of philosophy and art.
We need communities of women in every field which acknowledge, celebrate and promote women’s contributions.
So to balance out male power circles we need to encourage the formation of female power circles, but we need them to be inclusive of men. The idea isn’t to further alienate men and women across fields, because that is not how we will get rid of inherent sexism and privilege among men. But to bring men over to side with women and opt for inclusion over male bonding. Also, the formation of female power circles will help women create a unified stand against marginalisation. So that it will be impossible for society to neglect them anymore.
Equal representation of women in any field is not possible if we give up on our beliefs at the first roadblock that we hit.
The said online magazine has clarified that it had approached half a dozen women intellectuals to participate in conjuring this list, but they all declined. I refuse to take this as a valid reason, to go ahead and publish such a biased list. They could have tried harder and approached more women, instead of chasing the deadline. It is not as if there are just half a dozen female intellectuals in a country of 497 million women.
Equal representation of women in any field is not possible if we give up on our beliefs at the first roadblock that we hit. We all need to go that extra mile to make it happen. Which means that journalists and writers need to prioritise representation of women over deadlines. Men need to prioritise the common social good over their bro-code. Women themselves need to actively start seeking the company of like-minded women to form power circles in every field on every step.
Marginalised representation of women in various fields isn’t a problem which the society can downplay anymore. What remains to be seen is the extent to which all of us are willing to commit to rectify this wrongdoing.
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.