I'd been reading; I'd been listening - with my usual mixture of reactions ranging from 'but how?' and 'don't tell me, not again!' - to the whole French 'women are crap' controversy.
And I was thinking, I'd like to meet Mr French. No, seriously. I would. I have no understanding of how a mind like that works. He is as much a curiosity, to me, as a dinosaur. And I want to see how men like him look; the kind who think - and say - that women are crap.
Then I read about these women. And I thought, maybe Mr French should meet all these women.
Better still, we should let Mr French meet Judith Miller. Or Maureen Dowd.
Or both of them.... Together.
Or all of us. At once. Then, he would truly be neck-deep in shit. Or crap.
On another note, I remember going to the Indian Women's Press Corpsfor a press conference (no, it was not organised by, or for, women exclusively) a few months ago. I was wondering why there should be a separate press club for women. So I was given some literature (they have a library too) to read. Turned out, it was set up more than 10 years ago.
I cannot find links to the essays from the founders, but the idea was to start something that gave women journalists a space to call their own. Their own watering hole. Their own chill zone. Their own cheap (relatively) eatery. Or (what the hell) their own bitchfest, for times when they needed it!
The Press Club - which is to say, THE Press Club - was/is a male bastion.
It needed storming, no doubt, but sheer numbers were not doing the trick. There were too many women journalists out there who felt left out of the 'club', even as they sat there. It was 'not a place for women'. Women journalists drinking/smoking publicly raised eyebrows. Tip-offs weren't shared with women. Women's issues weren't being taken up. There weren't enough women editors around. etc.
Now, I don't know whether all these factors are reason enough to have a separate press club. Nor do I know whether it makes a difference to the profession. But I have to say that I like the place.
There are some 350 members. It is a small-ish place and gets very packed during press cons, but it is cool and smells nice. The garden is well-kept. People are polite. Any random member whom you don't know from Eve, smiles at you. The food is good (so I've heard, with special praise for the biryani.)
A couple of weeks ago, I went to THE press club for another press conference.
And I was appalled!
Everything was falling apart. Spit-marks on the staircases, corridors smelling of sweat and piss, paint flaking off, male journalists talking LOUDLY - not on the phone, mind you, but to each other, across the hall - while the poor panelists (who had paid to use the facilities, incidentally) were trying to ignore them and finish their speeches.
The receptionist downstairs was rude. People hanging around outside leered. Everyone wanted my phone number, and being in the 'fraternity', it is hard to refuse. It is also hard to hang up on the 'fraternity' when they call you late at night on a Saturday. Not to share a tip-off. Not to pass on info. Oh no... but to 'just chat!'
And no, I do not like gender-based segregation. I do not like 'women-sit-here; men-sit-there' kind of places. And I do think that segregation is too high a price to pay for equality.
But if I'm ever taking membership, I know where I'm headed... towards the, umm, 'crap' corps.