Pushpa, I Love Tears: How to Counter Dick Bosses with Some Weeping


Pushpa, I Love Tears: How to Counter Dick Bosses with Some Weeping

Illustration: Akshita Monga

“Fifteen lakh per month!! That’s the rent Virushka will be paying for their all-new Worli abode. And our sources tell us that Virat and Anushka will not be the only two moving into this house. Accompanying them will be none other than Anushka’s first love. Guess who? Her pet dog Dude!”

The high-on-adrenaline reporter gushed from a neutral frame set up on the dingy office terrace, while the PCR went berserk firing “Exclusive!” and “Breaking News” supers all over Virushka’s faces. Just then Tina, often labelled “Typical Aggressive Woman Journo” rushed into the newsroom and suddenly all colour from her face drained.

“You can’t do this to me every fucking time,” she yelled, as she entered a tiny cubicle, occupied by a man with a paunch as big as his ego. He’d been masquerading as her boss for close to a year.

As it turned out, that year was enough to push a seasoned journalist of nine years into her first public emotional outburst. She had broken the Virushka rent story two days ago, but thanks to Paunchy, it got buried as a 90-seconder in the entertainment bulletin. Agreed it wasn’t as earth-shattering as ISI invoking djinns to spy on India, but then her meltdown wasn’t really about Virushka.

What had been simmering deep down was months of endless snubbing, covert sabotaging, side-lining, mansplaining, and systematic confidence-breaking. The reason: Unlike him, she didn’t have a dick! It was simple. The bro code prevailed in her office and it was #DicksOut season all year around. Her response, after a year of giving in, was an “emotional female response” i.e. a whole lot of tears.

But now that you’ve been caught in this crossfire, understand your inner powers and be unapologetic.

But what months of reasoning and pleading hadn’t got her, those 20 minutes of emotional volatility did. She got a new reporting head and life changed overnight. It was a Cinderella story alright. And the fairy godmother was the ultimate weapon in the feminine arsenal – good old tears.

Truth be told, whether you’re working in a millennial friendly workplace or a high-strung corporate office, it’s rarely a level playing field. And by that I do not mean institutionalised discrimination like gender pay gaps, or something as brazen as sexual harassment. The devil lies in the details. Many men believe it is an extension of their job profile to preach, patronise, and undermine a woman colleague or subordinate, or at times even the boss’s work, because “Hey, you’re just a pretty little thing.”

It’s exactly the kind of stuff that may not make for a convincing argument before the HR, but it works as slow poison. It kills faith in your own abilities, one snub at a time. And you feel like quitting every single day.

But stop complaining and woman up! All you need is a strong fight-back strategy.

Remember, the battle of the sexes at workplace is different from any other social environment. Here, a man’s arsenal is more loaded than you think. Look at it from his point of view. He was brought up being told he is the natural breadwinner. He is He-Man. To this man, an enterprising woman is the natural nemesis, who simply waltzes in to win. So, what are the odds he is going to consciously or subconsciously resent you? Fairly high.

The swords were out long before you came into the picture. But now that you’ve been caught in this crossfire, understand your inner powers and be unapologetic. If patriarchy considers women to be more vulnerable, why not deploy it strategically to get what you want?

Evolutionary psychologist Oren Hasson, while analysing the power of tears, says, “In a setting in which someone is threatened, a crying person unconsciously increases survival prospects, because an attacker understands that someone who is crying is defenceless and there is no reason to continue to attack.”

In other words, it catches our Neanderthal Man from the workplace off-guard. For all his manliness, your projection of vulnerability reminds him of his own and in that moment he is shit-scared and wants to run for cover. That is your golden moment that can turn the tables in your favour. Dick – 0. Tear – 1.

Of course, this is not to suggest that you begin squirting tears at the drop of a hat. You’re not a drama queen, even if they’ve already labelled you one. You are simply playing it smart and using what nature gave you wisely – just the way they have been doing. It is not for nothing that a woman’s tears have been both extolled and loathed since the time of ancient Greek tragedy.

But you don’t have to look as far as ancient Greece for lessons in their strategic use.  Hillary Clinton’s tears while running for presidency in 2008 were epic. Of course, they didn’t secure her a place in the White House, but they did script her bounce back when political pundits had almost written her off. Back in the day, the emotional breakdown of Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher is the stuff legends are made of. Interestingly, she cried during a television interview while reminiscing certain trying moments in her father’s life.

And it’s not just women. David Cameron, Barack Obama, even Russia’s posterboy for masculine toughness, Vladimir Putin, and our chhappan-inch-chhaati-flaunting Prime Minister Modi have lavished some well-timed tears, sending out the message that they too are vulnerable. A vulnerability that, of course, would send the media in a tizzy and make the opposition cry foul, but in the end all the tear-jerking – genuine or otherwise – will definitely win them solid brownie points.

What does that tell us? Your tear glands don’t activate themselves only for emotional release. They could well be dubbed as weapons of psychological warfare.

And yet your Neanderthal Man at work believes that tears are a sign of weakness. That boys don’t cry. Let him float in that bubble. You know better.