And the lady will have…

Posted: January 13, 2013 in Life As I Know It, Travel, Uncategorized Rambling
Tags: , , , ,

India is a male dominated culture. I knew that going in, but to actually experience it is another thing. I figured women were second class, men were valued more, and men were respected more. From what I’ve read and experienced that’s kind of true, but it’s not so overt as that — though it must be noted that where I’m spending my days is either at the hotel or at the office. The office is filled with smart, educated and progressive folks. The way I’m seeing male dominance expressed is so “subtle”, almost underhanded so that it feels unintentional.I’m traveling with two women. Both are older than I, which in America would garner a certain amount of deference. At a restaurant, say, it would be “ladies first”. Here, tonight at dinner (At a Pizza Hut, which I love even more) the coworker I was sitting next to wasn’t given a menu, just me. The server addressed me first, asked me if we wanted one bill or split checks, served me first, etc. At the office, and in some other places, there’s a weird tendency to address the man, even if a response should be directed at a female. Or if a woman asks a question, the response will go to the man — on more than one occasion, despite being a “junior employee” I was asked if decisions being made were okay, as if I was somehow the person by whom decisions should be run.

It’s quite uncomfortable, really. But it really is subtle — it’s almost like accepted sexism that nobody realizes they’re doing. Now that’s not to say Indians are outright disrespectful to women, they’re not (that I’ve seen and experienced. I don’t want to get into the Delhi Rape Incident or anything). And women seem to be treated pretty fairly and as equals the majority of the time. But there’s just something so odd about how men are addressed first, and are assumed, and understood to be superior. As if we’re better, I guess. It’s disconcerting and I’m not a big fan of it, because in the back of my head I feel like I have to make up for it, so I’m constantly trying to address the women, and bring conversations back to them. In our training classes, it’s also not infrequent for women to be interrupted by the men as if they weren’t even talking. It’s not necessarily super common, but it happens and no one bats an eye. On a couple of occasions I’ve watched closely to see if I can catch any sort of flicker of a reaction from the women, but I haven’t been able to see much. It seems like it’s accepted and nobody really notices. But that’s just the perspective of an outsider, I guess.

Some other cultural observations:
Their Comedy Central plays episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond.
Their FX is 90% shows from Canada that you’ve never heard of, and the audio is about 1/4 second slow.
They play the same 6 commercials on every channel.
I STILL don’t know why there are two batsmen on the pitch at the same time in a cricket match.
I think some of their porters/hotel staff call me ma’am.
The hotel staff seems to always answer “thank you” with “thank you”.
Every Indian who’s found out that I make my own beer LOVES it, and wants to hear all about it. They are fascinated.
On tv, whenever a character has a cigarette they flash a graphic that says that smoking is harmful and can kill.

Since I have no ending for this blog, here’s a picture of a T-Rex made from seashells I took at a market on Saturday.

I shall call him Seashell Rex.

I shall call him Seashell Rex.

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