On Campus

Lessons on acceptance, adapting and achievements

Pradipti Jayaram | Updated on February 06, 2014

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Lady, You’re Not a Man! based on the real-life experiences of author Apurva Purohit, CEO of Radio City 91.1 FM, is perhaps, one of the first self-help books in India targeted at working women.

While the theme is a welcome change from the infinite number of weight-loss books targeting the same demography, the style of writing is similar: anecdotal, first-person, with liberal doses of culturally situated-humour to make an Indian audience relate to it better.

The book is divided into three sections – Acceptance, Adapting, and Achievements — each ending with a recap under ‘ten lessons’ (presumably, for the lazy!).

Each section comprises chapters covering a multitude of topics ranging from how to train interns and husbands “to be a part of one’s support systems”, to managing household crises and office emergencies. Apart from this, it provides tips to deftly climb the corporate ladder “by prioritising what’s important and not”. The book makes an ambitious attempt at covering great breadth in a to-the-point fashion. Since brevity is the order of the day, given our fleeting attention spans, the merit of the book is its size — it’s a compact, 192-page guide to help women ‘have-it-all’.

Purohit’s pithy analysis is entertaining, and its attempt at universalisation of the working woman’s experience is commendable. It enables the reader to seek solace in the fact that she isn’t alone in her journey. The book gives a fillip to experience-based writing in the working women’s domain in India.

Gender relations

Where the book fails is that it oversimplifies the act of negotiating power. In the guise of compromise, the author, perhaps inadvertently, reinforces traditional stereotypes and normalises patriarchy. For instance, there’s an entire chapter on accepting “the fact” that women are better multi-taskers than men, and hence they should ‘accept’ a disproportionate burden of housework, instead of challenging it. “I accept that I’m a multi-tasker and thus will end up doing more work” she sermonises in the recap chapter titled The ten lessons of acceptance. While challenging this notion might be the less popular choice, it is an important decision women have to be taught to make, if any sort of shift needs to be brought about in male-female dynamics in the future.

Having said that, in the latter part of this chapter she rues “...that life is unfair, not only for women but men too.” Here, Purohit tries to throw light on the gender bias men face, as they are often perceived solely as a provider. Society’s unfairness towards stay-at-home fathers, and the need to debunk the myth that men cannot be adequate caregivers, are weighty issues she tries to grapple with in just a few words.

While no resolution comes from this, what this chapter, and many like it do, is that they make an attempt at starting a dialogue, and a worthy one at that, on the importance of breaking gender stereotypes.

In toto, the book tries to straddle the trivial and the essential when it comes to women — at the work place and the home, and simultaneously acts as an initiation of sorts into a larger schema of gender relations. It’s empathetic, candid and short, and makes for a light weekend read.



Published on February 06, 2014

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