Today I’m angry…. beyond words. I’m furiously typing this on my phone because I don’t want to waste time by going to my laptop, switching it on, logging in and what not and risk losing my chain of thoughts… or my anger.
I’m angry at every parent who dares to show their girl-child that she can dream of real equality. I am angry at every son who thinks that he deserves an educated woman who will quit her aspirations and ambitions just to make him ‘ghar ka khana‘ (home-made food). I’m angry at every girl who listens to such dimwits.
I’ll tell you the source of this anger…
I got off a phone call from a friend who told me she had left her well paying job as a Software Engineer only to reprise the role of a homemaker, because no one in her husband’s family supported her work. She was miraculously calm throughout the conversation, but I was beset with rage. This friend is a university topper, a gifted singer and had plans to set up her own business. To hear her leave it all behind just so she could do something that her husband’s family could afford getting done by a house-help, was heart-breaking to hear.
I instantly flashed back to all those women I know, including me, who have had reasons to leave their jobs and sit at home. And oddly enough, most of them belong to ‘well to do‘ families. Even more oddly enough, many of them didn’t even have children at the time when they quit their jobs, because if you have children, it could make sense. But what sense does it make for a highly educated woman to just sit at home and look pretty? It made me wonder about what female-education really means to us Indians.
Is it just a ticket to a good matrimonial match, or is it just a badge for the girl, to be worn on parties and gatherings, but never to be really used in her life time?
My friend’s case is not a solitary one. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I have already talked about how women from lesser educated backgrounds in our country are left with minimal education, just so they can be married off at a young age. But to see this plaguing even so called ‘educated and well-to-do families’, is beyond my comprehension.
It only means this – that no matter how well educated a woman maybe, she will always first be just ‘a woman‘. It doesn’t matter that that woman is a university topper, or an engineer (like my friend), or a lawyer (like me) or otherwise capable of being something else… something more. It’s a tag that means that the person is good enough to do only what women should do –
Take care of the household
By no means do I mean that taking care of the house is a menial thing. No, in many ways it’s a far tougher yet less rewarding job. I am a homemaker, mostly, so I know just what it’s like to juggle so many roles. And ywt, I rue the fact that I had to give up my job after I got married. For a while I felt useless being just a homemaker, when peers around me were doing well in their jobs. But I found another way of working, and even though I’m not exactly sated with what I’m doing right now, I’m happy because I know it’s only a stepping stone for something far more, and I know I have supporters.
But there are millions of women out there who don’t have the luxury of moral or any other kind of support for work; Doctors, Engineers, MBA’s who are told,
Why do you need to work? Your husband earns well enough…
If you have a to work, become a teacher (who told you cultured idiots that teachers have less hectic jobs?)
Our Indian Culture does not permit it!!!
But our Indian Culture permits us to seek the following type of girl, like she’s a commodity –
Homely, tall, fair, slim, well educated girl for their tall, fair, handsome, 6 figure earning Son (This is an example of what most matrimonial adverts in newspapers read like).
Oh, and our Indian Culture does permit us to flash our daughters-in-law’s/wive’s educational qualifications like a trophy, but her working is not permitted?
Just what’s the point behind looking for a ‘well educated’ girl if the girl has to leave all her education behind, shut herself inside your doors and work towards making a ‘good wife‘? And by the way, just what the heck is a good wife?
Is a woman who works, but ensures that her household is run properly with the aid of a house-help, or handles the house even without help, not a good wife?
Is a woman who is ambitious and earns more than the man of the house, not a good wife?
Is a woman, who after a tiring day at work, comes back and serves you food from a container, not a good wife?
If your only motive of marrying a ‘well-educated’ girl is so that she knows how to read and write, can hold a decent conversation with your peers and colleagues, can talk about the latest gossip on Page 3, or FB, and can educate your children, then be assured, a simple matriculation can take care of all of that too. If that is the motive, then no girl who seeks an alliance should ever be allowed to dream of being anything other than just a barely literate woman. And by the way, the irony of this country is, that someone who can only sign their own names, is also considered literate. Then by all means, marry a girl who never wishes to obtain a higher education to be something more than ‘a woman’. For heaven’s sake, don’t marry a highly educated girl and then crush her aspirations into the ground by telling her that she is,
‘ONLY A WOMAN’
Copyright ©2017 by Pradita Kapahi.
All rights reserved.
Image Credits: ArtsyBee