Unfair and incorrect to label kitty parties as frivolous
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Jan 14, 2019-Monday
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Unfair and incorrect to label kitty parties as frivolous

Unfortunately, the brand image that this concept has created for itself is that of a group of middle-aged women getting together to exchange recipes, gossip and gorge on oily food.

gurgaon Updated: Jan 14, 2019 14:39 IST
kitty parties,gurgaonmoms,women entrepreneurs
Acknowledging and supporting any system that boosts a woman’s confidence and morale should be encouraged and facilitated.(Getty Images/ Representative Image)

Recently, as part of a 15-day social media challenge for women entrepreneurs, we were asked to write down a strand of criticism we received and how it affected us. I recollected this one — a friend’s male colleague at work once called GurgaonMoms a ‘glorified kitty party’. Although this happened during the initial years, it is still stuck with me. While I am neither a fan nor a hater of this popular concept, I definitely knew he was not complimenting our efforts.

After I put down my social media post in response to the challenge, I started wondering why kitty party is seen as something frivolous.

We know that kitty party is a pact among a fixed number of women to meet every month. A pre-agreed sum of money is collected, and everyone who is a part of the kitty gets the lump sum money in turns. They take turns and become hostesses. The meetings usually have a few games, conversations (some call it gossiping) and, of course, good food. This was originally started by homemakers as a means to network, make new friends and of course have some fun too.

Sometimes, even those women who consider themselves intellectually evolved and socially progressive cringe at the idea of joining a kitty party. Unfortunately, the brand image that this concept has created for itself is that of a group of middle-aged women getting together to exchange recipes, gossip and gorge on oily food. It gets associated with bored housewives.

A closer look at it reveals how this not only leads to bonding but there is also ‘distributed trust’, which is created among a group of people. For women, especially for those who are on a break in their careers or have chosen to be stay-at-home moms, this concept creates a beautiful avenue to get to know people, have conversations and make new friends. In a way, this is no less than a support group.

Another stand of criticism hurled at this concept is that people are a part of these get-togethers only to show off all the brands they own, and that they are always trying to make a statement. But I see it happening at any get- together, even at a book club event. All I am saying is that it’s not particularly a kitty thing.

Kitty party was not a very popular concept in Chennai, at least not when I was growing up. So I have always stayed away from joining one. What got me curious was when a very successful entrepreneur posted an invite in the community, inviting other entrepreneurs to join in. Today there are kitty groups created around one’s hobbies and interests. And then, I found a few other kitties from travel to art. Today you will see in many kitty party groups, people discussing social or current issues. Of course, gossip will always be there, probably nothing more than what you will see/hear in a smoking chamber.

‘Kitty-party type’ is a stereotype, and we have to acknowledge that, like all other stereotypes, this is also up to us. Call it a revamp or evolution, you will definitely find serious kitty parties based on your interests that will double up as an effective support group as well.

The intention behind this article is not to promote kitty parties. Do remember that it is another commitment. What nudged me to write this is the fact that when this seems to be a functional support system for women, then why is it tainted and known for all the ‘not so great’ things about it?

A popular female author told me that society is always wary when women form themselves into supportive groups. Women groups and conversations are immediately perceived as either frivolous or catty or both. Women empowerment – the journey has just begun. Acknowledging and supporting any system that boosts a woman’s confidence and morale should be encouraged and facilitated.

An advocate of women’s rights, Neela Kaushik started a Facebook community called Gurgaon Moms to create a local support network for mothers in the city. Today, it has more than 25,000 members.

First Published: Jan 14, 2019 14:38 IST