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We were at dinner yesterday evening. A group of us had met for a small 'cake-cutting' for a common friend. Four couples, a few kids and a lot of noise! As we waited for dinner, one of the guys asked the hostess to turn on the TV to watch cricket. Women's team. It came as a pleasant surprise when all the guys gathered around the television to watch the Indian team defending their sizable total, bowling to Sri Lanka.
Poonam Yadav was in the midst her tight spell, which would eventually lead India to victory. Jhulan Goswami was trying for a wicket from the other end.
The women, busy with kids and dinner, also watched on an off.
I was watching the game - but was also watching the guys watching the game; to see how they treated women's cricket. I was shocked! Every single comment I overheard was about cricket. About how the ball spun, whether the appeal should have been reviewed. Whether Mithali Raj should have added a slip to put more pressure on the Sri Lankans. Through the hour or so that we watched, the guys made not one single remark that would not have been made had this been men's cricket! They were thoroughly involved in the spirit of the game, having nuanced discussions about technical details and strategy. The only comment I heard that even made a reference to the fact that this was not "cricket as usual" was when one of the guys casually observed, "Umpires are all men, I guess."
I was in the US a while ago when I had to spend time with a bunch of guys watching women's NBA. The scene was not the same. There were constant comparisons to men's basketball and the entire game was treated as entertainment rather than sport. There was even a crude comment or two about the girls playing the game.
None of this happened here. I was pleasantly surprised and so proud of the guys! And of our girls who rocked in winning the match yesterday!
Why then do I claim that I was embarrassed?
It was the women at the party. Us moms. In a shocking contrast to the guys, the women talked about the players looks, their height. The way their necklace dangled out of their shirts. The bald looking spot on one of the player's head of 'thin' hair. How slow and infrequently the ball travels to the boundary due to lack of strength. Small things, all said 'in good fun'. All judgmental.
It was immensely embarrassing!
Why do women treat themselves and other women like this? Why is there inability to appreciate other women doing something different, something great? And the constant need to focus on looks, to belittle and judge? Even in front of our kids. The kids overhear. They imbibe. They emulate.
Women's cricket seems to have taken the country by storm, becoming the rare equalizer where the sport supersedes the gender. Let us use this opportunity, this wave of equality, to level the playing field for women in other areas of life. Women still have many battles to fight. Let them not be against one another.
Picture Credit :Reuters