The CEO of Pepsi, Nooyi, thinks that women

The CEO of Pepsi, Nooyi, thinks that women "can't have it all". But neither can men. So what is she really trying to say? That women have some kind of additional burden that doesn't affect the male of the species?

You’re the CEO of Pepsi? Whatever. Go Get Milk!

I’m sick of seeing semi-gleeful reactions to Indra K. Nooyi, the CEO of Pepsi’s statement about how women “can’t have it all”. What shocks me more than the garbage her mother gave her about how she should “leave that crown in the garage” is the fact that she accepted it. A more appropriate reaction would have been to slam the door in her face and ask her to leave the house the next day. Read her account of what happened in the first paragraph. And tell me it doesn’t want to make you puke. Let’s go over the little things one by one.

The husband is “tired”, but apparently she can’t be

Nooyi comes home from work at midnight and her mother (who seems to have sat up late just to deliver this little gem), tells her that she needs to get milk. When Nooyi asks her why she didn’t request her hubby instead who came back four freaking hours ago, the mother replied that “he was tired”.

I guess I missed that part of female biology which exempts them from getting tired as well. That too when she’s back home four hours after the male. Also if he was tired at 8 o’clock, he must sure be feeling refreshed now right? I’m not blaming the husband here – without further information I can’t tell whether or not he knew what was happening behind his back and if he was aware of his mother in law acting like a total jerk to her own daughter. So he gets the benefit of the doubt.

Oh one other thing. What exactly prevented the mother from getting the damn milk herself?! Was she bedridden?

Like I said, I’m not shocked that the mother behaved in this atrocious manner per se. What pisses me off is that an educated, “empowered”, confident woman like Nooyi presumably is, just sucked it up and took it to heart. Her mother told her:

“You might be president of PepsiCo. You might be on the board of directors. But when you enter this house, you’re the wife, you’re the daughter, you’re the daughter-in-law, you’re the mother. You’re all of that. Nobody else can take that place. So leave that damned crown in the garage. And don’t bring it into the house. You know I’ve never seen that crown.”

Notice the complete lack of enthusiasm, surprise, joy and the general absence of a congratulatory atmosphere. Oh, your daughter is now the CEO of Pepsi? Screw that! Let’s put her in her place by condescendingly referring to her “crown” and bring her back to reality. “Now go get some milk!”

Dear Mom. Meet door.

Apparently men can “have it all”?

Ok, she makes a fair point. Here it is:

“I don’t think women can have it all. I just don’t think so. We pretend we have it all. We pretend we can have it all. My husband and I have been married for 34 years. And we have two daughters. And every day you have to make a decision about whether you are going to be a wife or a mother.”

This sounds reasonable. Except that it doesn’t just apply to women now does it? She talks about how “WE” pretend and “WE” can’t have it all, obviously referring specifically to women. But why? Is it possible for a man to spend hours upon hours every day with his kids and also spend bucketloads of time at work? No, it isn’t!

So why may I ask is this little dialogue restricted only to women? What the hell are you trying to imply? I know what it is. You think that women have some god sent duty to take care of the family and children and that men are exempt from this kind of work. Otherwise you would never have restricted your insights to one gender alone. Apparently a woman having a work/life balance isn’t “having it all”, but a man doing the same is A-ok.

Honestly, women like this who buy into the stereotype bullshit and from whom you expect better, do more to harm gender equality than anyone else. Because people listen to them. If a khap panchayat makes a statement like this, you can pity them (to an extent) and say that they’re jerks who don’t know better. But coming from a successful woman, it’s much more horrific.

So let’s push back on this “women can’t have it all” crap. Because men can’t either.

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  1. Thanks so much for this post!!!! It said exactly what I was thinking but was too cheesed off to write about! !


  2. Thanks for this post. You have said everything I was raging about. I am a single mother and my mom is no different. I am no ceo though and have a low profile job which helps me maintain an excellent work life balance (I feel). It enables me to give as much time to my daughter as I want and yet makes me financially comfortable.

    However my mother never has anything positive to say and all I have heard her saying is “meri to baat hi nahi sunti”…as if I am a pet dog and should be obeying her every command!

    What is strongly feel but have not been able to articulate is that perhaps such moms are jealous of our position…independent professional, responsible mother having a life of our own, taking our own decisions and basically being in control of our lives. Its something she never had for sure and perhaps makes her so resentful to see another woman “having it all” so the emphasis is on “you can’t/ shouldn’t have it all”


    • In reply to Smita

      I guess since your kind of lifestyle runs contrary to everything they’ve ever done, it represents a threat to them. Particularly if they don’t believe in the “different rules for different people” paradigm. It’s like a defense mechanism…


    • Western Point of View says

      In reply to Smita

      So your mom doesn’t have the right to complain? She’s gotta worry about her reputation in the community. You seem pretty Westernised, but remember that’s a pretty big deal. Even here, if someone ruins your reputation, heck that can get in the way of even certain jobs.

      Let her complain, I mean c’mon the lady gave birth to you. I listen to what my mom says and my wife listens to what her mom says. Sure we disagree, but you’ve gotta give respect where due.

      So no, women can’t have it all, nor can men. NOBODY can have it all. Its a little thing called life.


  3. Bhagwad,

    Fantastic post. Reading this interview turned me speechless. All I could get out was, “What the heck???!!!” and “Wow” (the disappointed wow). Thank you for articulating so well, why this is wrong.


  4. The most savage of people come here and call themselves “victims”.


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