This post is a result of a conversation I had with a very close friend a few days back.
I may have extreme opinions on a lot of subjects and being a woman a lot of people expect me to be a feminist. But, the truth is I am not a closet feminist and just because I believe that the women of this world have a very important role to play in society, it does not automatically make me a bra-burning ‘activist’.
Now, back to the conversation… the topic was quite personal, so I wouldn’t dwell too much in to it. What got me thinking was a comment he made about a personal preference… he said he would prefer that his wife should not work. Ok, now before readers jump to the conclusion that he is a chauvinist and an egotist… let me clarify that he is neither (ok… a bit of ego in any human being is not bad… contrary to all that preaching). He did say that it would be a blow to his ‘ego’ if his wife works… she could be educated as much as she wants but if she has to trudge to an office daily and work under someone else, it wasn’t acceptable to him. Now, though I didn’t discuss in detail about whether he thinks her place is in the kitchen… I know for sure his opinion on that. Well, let’s just say that the girl who would end up being his wife (if he does marry) would be treated no less than a queen.
That is not really the topic… it was just a catalyst that set the reaction in my brain going. I started thinking of the role of women in the society, in a general sense. In today’s world, it is not always possible for every couple to survive on the income of just the husband… (I use the gender specific ‘husband’ instead of spouse for a reason, which is explained later). On a similar note, with increase in societal pressures and the need to be the best in everything puts a lot of stress on the women in what is ‘traditionally’ her domain… the kitchen (and the territory inside the house, except maybe the remote control of the bad-ass TV).
Now, back to why I used husband instead of spouse… this stems from the fact that the world is wired to a traditional belief that the men chop the wood for the fires and hunt the meat for the dinner (and lunch and breakfast)… which slowly evolved to include bread… which he now had to earn either by planting his own wheat (quite different from sowing his wild oats) or buying it from a farmer. And thus MAN got termed the BREAD-EARNER of the family. (Here, I would like to add that I didn’t see the point at all… I mean… well, until he gets the meat cooked or a sandwich made he would still starve… and I don’t think the men of those days lifted a finger to spread butter on their slice of bread; so he would earn his bread and still starve). The WOMEN, the NURTURERS… Aah! That lovely notion of us women being the caring, loving givers… again a very traditional notion stuck in a time-warp that still dates to pre-historic times. So we have now established two strong ideologies which have withstood the ravages of time when they should actually have crumbled long back and adapted themselves to the changing world and times… and not to forget, the terrors of inflation!
About why I have blabbed on so much about something we all already know and have debated on many a forum… well, it is because I strongly believe that every woman has a right to be a career woman and every man has the right to want to cook a 5-course meal for his wife and kids. I believe society should not have (should never have had) a say in this matter. I have been called a career woman by a lot of people, but though I would be bored to death if I do not have something to do… it does not imply that I enjoy working for someone else. I decidedly do not… I would prefer to do something I like and be my own boss… and this is relevant in both home and office. If I could retire from a working life today and just sit back and do creative work, I wouldn’t blink twice before I do it. Would that make me a boring house-wife?… I think NOT… what it would make me is a very satisfied woman who has finally had her way in life.
© Surya Murali