Sexism at Toastmasters

Sexism at Toastmasters

January 31, 2016

Happy… One of those rare occasions when I was not addressed MTM
I’m a toastmaster for a good four years. Every time my name is called out, with the prefix ‘Madam Toastmaster’ I take a second to respond. And when I see my name written MTM Nisha, I think it’s landed in the wrong inbox.
Like when I graduated to ‘aunty’, I asked the husband, “Do I look like one?” It was only after I had my baby and her friends started addressing me ‘aunty’ that I felt comfortable with the title as a requirement of culture, tradition, respect, generation lapse…
But I still can’t fathom why MTM? Don’t I look a woman? If that’s so, why not Gentleman Toastmaster (GTM) for men? And what about transgenders? Imagine addressing them LTM, GTM, BTM…how regressive!
Similarly, MTM is plain sexist! Period. I am glad to see changes in the collective conditioning, sporadic though.

This is similar to how a married woman who is not employed is called a ‘housewife’. We have mortals who believe women who do not earn a living do no work. Changing their rusted mindset would be a herculean task. So how about a change in addressing women instead?

If a married woman who stays at home is called a housewife, then one who goes out to work should have the name of the organization prefixed to her name. Fair enough?
A married woman employee should be called AppleTech wife, Vidya Bhavan wife, Hotel Chin Chu wife…
It has more than one advantage. If you do not like your spouse’s name or are tired of your family name, voila! you get a new name. You can change it every time you switch your job. What more, you would come up on internet search engines more often. Easier way to virtual fame, too.
Now, if you aren’t comfortable with numerous others sharing your nomenclature, then you may zero it down to the unit of work in the organization and vet it down further for more specific names. For instance, if a married woman employee of, say, AppleTech finds it too general, she can opt for Software Development wife and if she finds that widely used as well, then settle for Boss wife! Mr. Stephan wife! Dr Shinde wife… or MS Robert wife, MS Meera wife…
How ludicrous! Hello, I am married to Sachin and am Mr. Stephan wife! Or Hello, I’m married to John and am MS Rachael wife!” I’d love this one the best… “Hello, She is my wife and Mr. D’Souza wife.”
Aww! Let me stop lest your imagination runs wild.
Least of all, revising a woman’s title will certainly cause cultural shocks, as we are used to boys being called Master and when they grow up addressed as Mr., while a female starts off being a Miss then a Mrs. followed by being a Ms.
If a man can be called Mr. irrespective of his marital status, why should a woman be Mrs.?
Now, think of this, a woman in a relationship with a married man is called his ‘mistress’, while that male will still be a Mr. The suggestion I got when I bounced the thought off was to call such men her ‘mattress’.
It simply gets murkier, if we analyse the nomenclature we are handed down. Suffice to say, it’s a hu-MAN’s world!
Nisha Sanjeev


    January 31, 2016

    Men are from Mars and women are from Venus…..Toastmasters statistics show woman is 53% compared to Men47%…"Madam" is a term of showing respect to women.If this is sexism?If a man mocks about wife…or a woman mocks about….Husband then it's classified as "Relationship"….Can any women deny that they don't like being"felt special"…in simple words Agar aapko MTM…tag nahi chaiye..toh nahi..Aapke jaise khullke bolne waali…Toastmasters jam hai…Tm Nisha????

    January 31, 2016

    It's kamm hai????

  • Nisha Sanjeev
    January 31, 2016

    Ha ha Mr.VIP…you got me "IN". Thanks for the compliment.
    Lemme check on the stats and then will reposnd in detail.. Meanwhile, husband-wife joke is my next target. It should be banned from Toastmasters… let's get innovative.

    February 11, 2016

    Hahaha..this was a hilarious read! But the points you mentioned are very valid. Gender discrimination is a huge issue; not just in India, but all over the world.

  • thanni achayan
    February 29, 2016

    I believe this is a world class rant with some profound language in use. If you take a look at the definition of the word “Madam” in the dictionary, it is defined as below

    (often initial capital letter) a polite term of address to a woman, originally used only to a woman of rank or authority:
    Madam President; May I help you, madam?
    the woman in charge of a household:
    Is the madam at home?
    the woman in charge of a house of prostitution.

    I believe many a trigger of being uncomfortable with certain words is very personal and formed from prior bad experiences. I will give an example in my own house, where my wife uses the word “shut up” which I find very uncouth and derogatory for some odd reason. I am a big fan of the English language and the refined upper class style English. I also know that the English people use the word liberally and do not go through the same emotions as me. But I find it derogatory and cannot stand that word being used in my house maybe because it is not accepted in the refined sense of the language.

    As per the above definition, the first 2 meanings of the word are used out of respect. Unless, you are not comfortable with the third definition and have had prior experience with the word, I personally feel Madam Toast Master is perfectly fine and very very respectful.

  • thanni achayan
    February 29, 2016

    This is in response to Archana sharing your article with Emirates Group Toastmasters Club. And yes there is a possibility that I could be biased to the word Madam 🙂

  • Nisha Sanjeev
    March 1, 2016

    Thanks for stopping by Shanaya!