Friday, February 8, 2013

Father goes to work. Mother cooks food.

So now I am a research scholar. Don't ask me researching on what, I don't have much of an idea other than the broad area. All you need to do is attend a few mandatory courses, read up a little bit and then generally loaf around. One of the mandatory courses involved a session on communication. The session deals basically with how you speak, how you write, and how you present your information.
There is a male professor, a room full of students, three fourth of whom are students, AC lecture hall, projector, and a PPT to be projected. The class begins. This professor was teaching us how placing stress on different words in a sentence makes a difference to the meaning. Of all the sentences that he could use, the one the man could think of was: "A woman without her man is nothing."
1. A woman without her man is nothing.
2. A woman without her man is nothing.
3. A woman without her man is nothing.
4. A woman without her man is nothing.
5. A woman without her man is nothing.
I surprised me that a professor who has been teaching in a reputed institute, like an IIT, could not think of a better sentence. A sentence that was not demeaning or disturbing to at least 25 per cent of the class, a sentence that did not hurt. It was not a discussion on gender. There was no need to use a sentence like this. A simple "The sun rises in the east" or "Take the dog for a walk." would have served the purpose. But no; irrespective of what subject you are teaching, which kind of audience you are teaching, you need to make a point that women are nothing without the men. Are men this insecure?
All this while I thought it was the school text books which told us "Father goes to work." and "Mother cooks food." were the worst culprits. Your teacher then told you boys help father in the garden and girls help mother in the kitchen. I thought once you grow up and go to colleges, universities, IITs, things will change. I am wrong. In humanities departments we boast of being more aware, more sensitive to the issues of gender, caste etc. We consider ourselves to be liberal, progressive, sensitive and what not. And then we do things like this. It is one thing to preach equality and gender sensitivity and another thing to think of what you say and do in your classrooms.
I learnt my lesson. There is no point in growing up and leaving school and going to fancy institutes. They still give you the same crap. 


  1. Great.
    So... Does that mean the communication teacher ultimately failed to communicate what he thought about gender equality?

    Howz this? :-P
    A woman, without her man is nothing.

  2. That was shocking. How did you sit through such a class? It is so disturbing. Did nobody speak up? May be in your assignments and presentations as part of internals, you can try to enlighten the poor soul.
    I feel if you have friends in class who think like you, you can do a collective eye-rolling or something:) Yeah, but I know that feeling. Was he consciously trying to offend or is he reading from grammar books written in Jambavan's time? Either way, hope he gets enlightened soon.

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. This is a pretty common construct mainly used to show the difference a punction mark can make - A woman! Without her, man is nothing - this is the other way to look at it.

  4. @ Rineez, gender equality must not have crossed his mind in the least!

    @Meera rolling eyes, yes, a nice way to react. :-) But in IIT campus we are a minority. No reaction can make any kind of difference.

    @Anandam, Loved the way you punctuated the sentence!! ;-)


      Take a look at this - it's a well-known example. Your English Professor just didn't use it properly :)