Of Guys and Dolls*

Ministhy Dileep | October 18,2013 05:46 pm IST

I read a tribute to some nameless heroes recently. The Husbands of the Fortune's "Most Powerful Women in Business.

" Someone realized that it was time that we raised a toast to that uncrushed spirit and self-composure which never takes a beating when the spouse is often elevated to Elysian heights. Wearing high heels.

 

Check out this excerpt from a story** on the humble support given to "Top Women in Business" by their often inconspicuous, self-effacing spouses. The Fortune List, incidentally, is headed by Carly Fiorina, the CEO and Chairman of Hewlett-Packard, who objects heartily to calling her's a House husband! Following her are Betsy Holden of Kraft Foods (Co-CEO), Meg Whitman of eBay (President and CEO), and our own Indra Nooyi (yippee!) of Pepsi Co. (President and CFO).

 

"MOST POWERFUL WOMEN IN BUSINESS"
Friday, September 27, 2002 By Betsy Morris

 

Trophy Husbands
Arm candy? Are you kidding? While their fast-track wives go to work, stay-at-home husbands mind the kids. They deserve a trophy for trading places.....
..... At Ford, Xerox, Sun, Schwab, Verizon, J. P. Morgan Chase, Coca-Cola - almost everywhere you look in the upper ranks of the FORTUNE 500 - it could be the woman wearing the pants and the man minding hearth and home. Call him what you will: house-husband, stay-at-home dad, domestic engineer. But credit him with setting aside his own career by dropping out, retiring early, or going part-time so that his wife's career might flourish and their family might thrive....."

 

What is grossly underestimated generally (and now gloriously praised) is the role of the spouse (gender regardless) who undertakes the less seen rigor of housework and childcare. Yet the fact of the matter is that we look down our noses on the toiling classes - those that toil by changing the diaper and cooking the bacon. Because, we assume (wrongly) that any one can do it. What a callous attitude! The humble spouse who spends days and nights carrying the home front torch lifted up high, could easily yell***:

 

"O spite! O hell! I see you are all bent
To set against me for your merriment.
If you were civil and knew courtesy,
You would not do me thus much injury."

 

For this special work involves keeping a sane place within the confines of the four walls, far from the madding crowd****. Where souls and bodies are both nurtured. There is the warmth of cooking and wholesome appetites therein. There is order, harmony and beauty within the home. And the baby is bathed.

 

The hot cup of coffee when given to Ann Stevens of Ford Motors***** (by her husband) or the innumerable bright young male executives by their own nameless heroines, tastes the same: of love, devotion and selflessness. Atta boys (and girls!)

 

For talent to get nurtured, some one has to remain supportive. Let us not use the word "Sacrifice". (It irritates the hell out of my nervous system). In the I Lose/ You Win quadrant of Steven Covey, the so-called "Sacrificing" Life Position is called "Martyr". Not a healthy one to have! It saps vital life energy through mutual blaming and dirty laundering.

 

Instead, genuinely supportive people occupy the I Win/ You Win Life Position! This Life Position happens to be called a "Winner". There is a mutual reinforcement of the energy flows, and both appreciate the other for the role done exemplarily well. Doesn't really matter that the Guy waters the garden while the Gal picks up the bill, huh! Or the other way round.

 

The hard thing of course, is to gain the world's approval. Usually the loudest applause goes to the one "running the $ 81 billion company"******. Not to the one who cooks the yummy bologna cheese sandwich. Wearing an apron and sneakers within the kitchen.

 

I don't know about you, but I hereby raise my Cup in absolute delight to the "Caretaker of the Brilliantly Successful Family" - and may his/her tribe increase! And when the stupid world pokes fun at the "newness" of the trophies exchanging hands (Trophy Wife to Trophy Husband), may the tribe members have the spirit to twiddle their fingers placed strategically across their lovely/handsome noses!

 

* Famous story by Damon Runyon; later made into a hit Broadway play.
** http://www.fortune.com/fortune/women/articles/0,15114,370514,00.html
*** Helena's speech in a "Mid summer Night's Dream", Shakespeare.
**** Due acknowledgement to Thomas Hardy's novel entitled, "Far From the Madding Crowd".
***** Reference: Quoted Article
****** Ms. Fiorina runs the merged HP-Compaq after a public tussle for leadership with HP scion Walter Hewlett. 

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Ministhy S. is PG (PM&IR) from XLRI-Jamshedpur, and currently, an IAS officer working in the UP cadre. She has written five books - 'Unequal Equations', 'Learning with Tippy Tortoise: Tales for Kids', 'Happy Birthday: Poems for Kids' and a novel published by Dronequill Publishers, Bangalore....