'Double Standards' by Anita Guha
When I was just a little girl, they said I could have it all
I only had to study hard and heed my parents’ call,
I followed rules, learned many new things, did what was expected,
Yet once I joined the workplace, I didn’t feel so accepted.
Were my parents incorrect; did they not have a clue?
Why’s what I wear and how I look more important than what I do?
I wanted to contribute, but when I spoke with passion
The boss said it’s more agreeable if I simply stick to fashion!
When Rohit argued fiercely, he got praised for being decisive
But I was told that being demure was better than incisive.
Arvind was made Leader: assertive, strong and true
I was called aggressive, with a rebellious point of view.
And so, I tried to change my traits to conform to what they wanted,
Fairly desperate to be liked, I persevered undaunted.
Weeks turned to months; I found myself diminished by self-negation
The firm where I was working lost my spark of innovation.
The gender double standard to which I vainly tried to adapt
“Be nice,” “don’t argue,” “smile” – became a handicap
To navigate workplace politics where authority often rules
Must I use feminine wiles to be perceived as cool?
Being sweet & meek and kind of dumb was so unlike the real me
I couldn’t hunker down no more, I needed to be free
Of all the shoulds & musts & don’ts – the mien that was expected
My own unique identity could no longer be neglected.
I sought a more inclusive firm: “Accept all that I am
I’m mind and body, strong and soft, not a pretty, docile lamb.”
I’ve finally begun to find my voice, stand tall and shout out loud.
It’s time you also shed your fears; throw off that feminine shroud!