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Back to the future: Myths about Eve

By Evelyn A. Opilas
May 18, 2017


Asian diary, a column by Arjuna in DEPTHnews Asia 30 April 1993, compared myths about working Eve and their likely consequences, bearing striking resemblance to issues we still debate about.

Arjuna wrote then: “CENWOR, or the Centre for Women’s Research, distributed an elegant ‘slim diary’ for 1993. It contained, among other bits of useful information, the meaning of myths relating to women in the paid labour force. It was called ‘The obstacle course’”.

Arjuna, said to be a pen name of noted Sri Lankan journalist, the late V. Tarzie Vittachi, who I had the privilege to work with as a tyro journo with the then Press Foundation of Asia in the early ‘70s, continued:

“Myth: A woman’s place is the home.
Consequence: Only hire women if there are no men available for the job.

“Myth: Women’s salaries are supplementary; their husbands earn money to support the family.
Consequence: If a woman is hired, we can pay her less.

“Myth: All women want to get married and raise families.
Consequence: Don’t waste time or money training women for greater responsibilities.

“Myth: Women know how to take orders; they are accustomed to this from their husbands, brothers and fathers.
Consequence: There is no need to consult women about the work they do; just direct them, tell them what to do.

“Myth: Outspoken self-confident women are troublemakers.
Consequence: Hire docile, subservient women without much self-confidence.”

Sounds achingly familiar?

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