Actor turned author, Twinkle Khanna aka Mrs. Funnybones is famous for her straight forward opinions and tweets full of witty remarks.
The wife of superstar Akshay Kumar also become victims of sexual harassment. Recently, Twinkle has mentioned this in a column for a popular newspaper.
She reveals “A few years ago, a message on my phone reduced me to tears in the car. I had reached breaking point after months of suggestive messages from a wealthy, powerful client that I had been pretending not to understand because all I wanted to do was to complete the project in a professional manner. And so I ended up as a statistic — the 38% of women who faced sexual harassment at work, according to a survey done by the Indian National Bar association.”
I am a fairly assertive woman, and married to a man who onscreen punches holes in walls with his bare fists and yet I haven’t been spared, so I shudder to think about what happens to the vast majority of working women.
Compliment Her Work, Not Her Looks
Twinkle leaves her male readers with a gem- compliment a female colleague for her work, not her legs.Telling a woman she is sexy in the bedroom is fine, telling her the same thing in the boardroom simply deplorable. So think before you croak or it may just be your turn to be doused in formaldehyde and dissected next.
Do not stalk her, touch her, send her lewd messages and emails. And as far as compliments go, try telling her about her great presentation skills, her way with numbers, her astute negotiations. ‘Sexy’ is an acceptable compliment within a work environment only if she is a stripper and you are her pimp trying to boost her confidence before she takes the stage.
In a corner office with a view sits a loathsome frog, his tongue intermittently darting at all the little file-toting flies. This frog is not interested in turning into a prince — he already believes he is one — and stares bug-eyed at the flies, his toys or his employees whatever moniker fits them best in his mind.
Some of the big frogs caught in a net in recent times are Phaneesh Murthy who had to resign from Infosys after his secretary Reka Maximovitch accused him of sexual harassment, Tarun Tejpal who created a Tehelka with his elevator antics and a man whose picture I had framed and displayed when my son shared a stage with him, RK Pachauri, then director general of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), who was later accused of sexually harassing a researcher at the organisation.
A few days ago another big frog was added to the list and came in for some virtual dissection — The Viral Fever CEO Arunabh Kumar who is now making people’s temperatures rise in a way he probably never expected.
His innocence or guilt will be revealed with time but a single comment attributed to him,
‘I am a heterosexual single man and when I find a woman sexy, I tell her she is sexy. I compliment women, is that wrong?’
This doesn’t just make alarm bells ring but is more akin to the hooting of the siren on top of a politician’s car that speeds through traffic lights and pushes its way through crammed spaces, declaring that here is a privileged someone who believes that the rules are meant for everyone else.
By calling a woman ‘sexy’ in a working environment, you are undermining everything she has worked for, the stereotypes she has had to break, the pride she takes in her abilities, and the inevitable guilt that she feels about not being home with her children, just to be there in that office, trying to make her place in the world.