“Email messages should be like skirts,” says Dr C. B. Gupta in his book titled “Basic Business Communication” which I am supposed to read for one of my main papers this semester. I am pursuing my B.Com Honors from the University of Delhi and this is one of the prescribed books that we, the sixth-semester students, have to read.
In equating emails to skirts he aims at establishing the email etiquette that should be followed. So emails should be like skirts, they should be short enough to be interesting but long enough to cover all the valid points.
Clearly, Dr Gupta hasn’t seen enough skirts or has a certain ‘preference’ when it comes to skirts. Why else would he forget that there are other categories of skirts too? Take the following for example
1. The Long Skirt: Covers all ‘valid points’ but might or might not ‘arouse the interest of people’.
2. The Miniskirt: ‘Arouses interest’ but doesn’t cover all the ‘valid points’.
3. The School Skirt: We have them as a part of our school uniform. Are they short enough to keep things interesting, Sir?
At first, I found Dr Gupta’s remarks hilarious, but that moment passed rather quickly, and rage took its place. When I posted a picture of the page where he talks about the email etiquette on WhatsApp, I got replies from many angry friends, all women, who failed to see the humour and Dr Gupta’s point in the text he’s written. The first question that came to mind was this: why would such an esteemed author and the former Head of Department, Department of Commerce at the Sri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC), would even think of writing such a sentence in his book? As I sat and pondered on that, bang came another question, the more important one. Do our dear educators at the Delhi University really expect us to ‘memorise’ this crap and write it in our papers? If yes, will I be granted good marks if I reproduce this verbatim in my paper, following the dreaded way of rote learning, something I have been doing since the first semester?
I am not going to write another paragraph on the pressing issue of patriarchy or misogyny which is evidently prevalent in our society and our education system. I am just going to say that words have power, and to impose such kind of learning on impressionable minds may not lead to the formation of an egalitarian society. A generation that is just beginning to understand each other, all genders, as equals doesn’t need this kind of sexism in its textbooks. So here is my request to you Dr Gupta, please remove this sentence immediately and replace it with words that make sense, and frankly, matter. Thank you!