Women in Safety

Until yesterday, I was stuck with a question:


Why do so many women in safety give up their feminine ethics and fall for masculinity and power?


Today I spoke with an Indian woman seafarer Sarika (name anonymised). Within the first few minutes she says, “it’s not easy to work with all males at sea. The male mindset must change.”


When Sarika became a captain at 29, her peers would address her as a ‘kiddo’. “Forget the sexual harassment, I don’t even want to talk about those painful experiences”, she says.


I am asking myself how much more is buried in the unconscious?


She looks away from the screen and says, “when it happens, you don’t even know who you should speak with, what you should say, who would even listen?”


How naïve to think why people don’t speak up when they don’t even know how to articulate their emotions?


On many occasions, she was sent back home whilst joining ships because the male captain didn’t want women onboard. As I watched her speak, the normality of injustice in her gestures was more profound than the telling of those painful experiences.


In one instance, a 58-year-old chief engineer refused to take her seriously when she asked him to prepare the ship for departure. When she reminds him of her rank, his ego is hurt, and he goes the extra mile to undermine her reputation. Together with his team, he made up stories of an ‘abusive captain not taking care of the crew’s health and hygiene’. Next thing, the ship is arrested in port.


Sarika looks into my eyes and says, “they call you a kiddo. But I have come through a process, right? There is an entire system that has got me to where I am, can’t you see that?”


This is the second time she used the word ‘kiddo’. What am imprint on her psyche!


She ends with a powerful statement. “In my fourteen years at sea, the most difficult thing has been to work with male ego. Ultimately, you realize that you have no choice but to become like one of them.”


I’m thinking back to my question.


Why do so many women in safety give up their feminine ethics and fall for masculinity and power?


Do you notice the framing of this question?


What did I learn?


Once you’ve framed a problem, you’re done for your life.


Frames are mental structures that shape (frame?) the way we see the world. Frames can’t be seen or heard because they operate in the unconscious. Our questions are the result of our ‘common sense’ – automatic, effortless inferences that follow from our unconscious framing.


How we understand the world depends upon how we frame our questions.


My question was biased & narrow-minded.


Through this open conversation Sarika has helped me to surface my unconscious.


How else would I know that which I do not know?


I’ll end with a quote on my coffee mug:


‘Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.’

C.G. Jung


Season’s greetings and happy holidays to all my friends


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