Opinion & Commentary

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The Invisible Client

She gets out of the car and hurries towards her husband, who was speaking with the real estate agent. She did not want to miss out on essential details about this property, just like the previous two. Her sandal gets entangled in her saree. She struggles to keep up with them, wishing she had worn her denims today! To be ...
I'm Dr. Swatee Miittal, an artist, writer, and storyteller committed to shedding light on societal issues through deconstructing old narratives. With a Ph.D. in audience behavior with respect to theatre and storytelling, I've crafted stories addressing gender equality, relationships and mental health.
Swatee Miittal

She gets out of the car and hurries towards her husband, who was speaking with the real estate agent. She did not want to miss out on essential details about this property, just like the previous two. Her sandal gets entangled in her saree. She struggles to keep up with them, wishing she had worn her denims today!

To be fair, it was her idea. They were house hunting, and she knew traditional attire would almost always invite looks of approval from prospective landlords. She did not remember when or who taught her these ‘useful women tips’, felt like she had known them all her life.

Both men have already gone inside the property. She follows after them.

The realtor is already in the middle of a conversation “after the lockdown. Look, sir, here is the master bedroom, attached balcony, this is the pooja room” saying he moved into another room.

Trinnnng Trinnnng.

The husband stays back to receive his phone call.

While she continues to follow the realtor who’s waiting in the other room. The two of them just stand there in awkward silence, waiting for the husband.

Once the husband joins them the realtor resumes.

She thinks to herself, had the realtor waited for her if she had received a call instead ?

This was her third property of the day and the realtor didn’t make a single eye contact.

The lease was going to be on both their names, she will be sharing the rent equally. Yet in every discussion she was present, she felt invisible. As if she was just a ‘plus one’ not a prospective client.

She was deep in brooding when her husband came back looking for her, ‘Hey! He’s showing the kitchen, check it out. I don’t want to hear any complaints later.’

She slowly followed him into the kitchen. They did remember her after all. Her opinion definitely mattered in the kitchen!


Ever felt invisible as a woman while making a purchase like buying a car or renting a property ?

When the realtor or agent simply refuses (consciously or not) to acknowledge your existence as a paying client, limiting you to a mere "+1" who's tagging along with the man.

You may be a doctor, a scientist, an entrepreneur or a homemaker, but in that discussion your existence will be that of a "+1". You'll be expected to adhere to that 'graceful womanly' role assigned to you.

I am not implying this to be a universal phenomena, nevertheless it happens enough. Ask a woman around you. Almost always they'll have real life stories to back this up.

Especially in real estate, it is still assumed to be "men talk". Being a woman you can look for listings, reach out to agents, run around making appointments with them. But come appointment time, as soon as you and your husband get out of the car, the (male) agent mostly chooses to focus upon your husband, showing him around the place and discussing relevant information without bothering whether you can hear any part of the discussion or not.

This my friend, is for a home that YOU are going to PAY EQUALLY FOR & LIVE in TOO. You are the 'saree' clad "+1" often carrying the crying kid & just tagging along.

I want to ask such real estate agents, do they even realize that the '+1' is also a paying client whose name is going to be on the lease deed?

Next time when you feel invisible, own your space & speak your mind. Speak up ! Refuse to be treated as just "+1" Don't be scared of taking space, making eye contacts & asking questions.

You Exist. Period.

A Note to Men

Next time if you see this happening, take a stand to include her in the discussion, by simple steps like asking her opinion, making an eye contact.

Waiting for her if she takes a moment tending to a child and allowing the discussion to continue only once she has joined back.

Isn't it time for our service industries to become more gender sensitive and inclusive in daily functioning? Even if that requires having to "de-condition" previous mindsets ?

I'm Dr. Swatee Miittal, an artist, writer, and storyteller committed to shedding light on societal issues through deconstructing old narratives. With a Ph.D. in audience behavior with respect to theatre and storytelling, I've crafted stories addressing gender equality, relationships and mental health.

Swatee Miittal

I'm Dr. Swatee Miittal, an artist, writer, and storyteller committed to shedding light on societal issues through deconstructing old narratives. With a Ph.D. in audience behavior with respect to theatre and storytelling, I've crafted stories addressing gender equality, relationships and mental health.
View all posts by Swatee Miittal

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