Regressivism – IS / NOT

Recently the Sunday edition of the sister publication of this newspaper had a piece by a well-known Indian author on the advantages and benefits of having a career woman wife, as against one who stays at home, in the context of the film Cocktail. The piece went viral and many people, including my wife, forwarded me links to this article, which while being an interesting, thought provoking read, seems to put down women who stay and work at home.

I discussed this issue at length with my wife and other friends while writing this piece…it went through at least three major iterations and revisions given the kind of heightened emotions involved with such topics. Here are my thoughts starting with one major postulate – women at home are also “working” women.

  • The premise that a woman working outside the home (career woman) needs to turn herself into a woman staying and working at home (at-home woman) to get her man as depicted in the film Cocktail – IS regressive.
  • If a woman decides from the very beginning that she really does not want to be a career woman and is happy being an at-home woman, taking care of the kids, the husband, the rest of the family and the home – NOT regressive.
  • If a career woman decides to become an at-home woman out of choice, for whatever reason – NOT regressive.
  • More importantly, to assume that a career woman is “better” than an at-home woman – IS regressive.
  • And to assume therefore that at-home women do not “work” – IS equally regressive.
  • If a man wants to marry an at-home woman, that’s his choice and while it may seem regressive to some, that is a personal choice any individual has the right to make – NOT regressive.
  • But, if a man, after marriage or as a pre-condition to marriage, forces the career woman to give up her job and become an at-home wife – IS regressive.
  • Also, if a man believes that his at-home wife is a lesser person than someone else’s career woman wife  – IS regressive.
  • Also, if a career woman decides to give up her career as a pre-condition to marriage – NOT regressive, assuming this is a conscious choice she is making.
  • Men not helping their career women wives at home – IS regressive.
  • Men not helping their at-home wives at home – IS equally regressive.
  • To make a woman change her first name after marriage – IS regressive.
  • Forcing a woman to abort a female fetus – IS regressive.
  • To assume that kids of career women will turn out to be better and more independent than those of at-home women – IS regressive.

It is in the end all about choice. It should be absolutely fine, if a woman decides to stay and work at home…out of choice. And it does not mean that she is less intelligent or less useful or less productive, just as a woman working outside the home is not necessarily smarter or adds more value to the family or takes the nation ahead. As long as the choice exists, neither situation is better or worse.

The problem arises when the choice is taken away and a person is forced to be what she does not want to be. And just as a woman can be forced to give up her career or not have one, many women who work outside their homes also do so, not out of choice, but because they are forced to. Issues in life almost always cut both ways!

14 Comments

  • So it’s ok to change a surname / identity that a woman has had all her life, but it’s not ok to change the first name? What rot.

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    Seriously. It’s not OK to change either. I used first name because thats the easier one to understand.

    Frankly I don’t know why more women don’t take a stand and stick to their first and last names both.

  • Dr.T.N.Mahadevan wrote:

    Bhavin i wish you had a software in your PC to carry out the Iterations and Multiple Regressions to get more options since most of your answers tend to give a free hand to,” It is Regressive”. Not accepted. My experience with a career motivated wife who loved the home too is it is feasible with some iterations on the options and solutions. I am confused on the subject since i am on cross roads with my Engg Professional D1 who had to be on sabbatical for 1 yr. It is my W’s force with solution to take care of the Grand kid that has moved the wheel again. At the same time i feel that my W was right with her guts and grits at 64. Thanks for the Topic and the min iteration you have done with your W+ friends.
    Warm regards
    TNM

  • Satyameva Jayate!
    Now you are adding value to the world by using your God given talent for the welfare of others.
    Earlier you used to write about the world which was limited around you and your locality. You criticized some who crossed your path and praised those who walked with you.
    With this article you have risen above the self and wrote from the heart which may benefit and change the mindset of the readers.
    No wonder it is said ‘Pen is mightier than the sword’.
    Keep it up!

  • Ravi Ramakantan wrote:

    I agree with Deepa, Bhavin. Why in the world should a woman change her name (first or last) after marriage. I feel it is repungent. What if I were to my name to Ravi Shah? NO way!!

  • V.Subramanian wrote:

    It is difficult for anyone to disagree with most of your postulations. However the huge distiction is recognition as achievers and the resultant fame and name that comes along with it. Naina lal Kidwai, Chanda Kochar,Shika Sharma, Indira Nooyi,and several such women have achieved recognition.
    Even if all husbands were to recognise and appreciate the role played by their wives in building ther homes, Name and Fame can be achieved only by career woman. I cant figure out if this thought is regressive or not.

  • These days many ladies keep their first and last names. Often working outside the home is a question of economics, not just “I must make use of my education”
    And yes, considering a stay at home a lesser mortal IS indeed regressive.

  • Prakash Nanavati wrote:

    Changing name/surname is one of the lesser regressive issue – wonder how others have not reacted to more serious issues mentioned correctly. The piece by your colleague was quite regressive – I must say.

  • I agree with Bhavin that both working women and stay at home moms work equally hard but only women who work outside the home are acknowledged as working women. How about categorizing house work too as a job that either parent can take up while the other goes out to work

  • I agree with bhavin stay at home moms work
    equally hard my mother who is 80 years old
    looks after the home we cannot think how
    we can manage lunch and dinner without her
    held

  • Ganesh Parameswaran wrote:

    For long as a teacher of Economics I had firmly believed that women working at home perform productive work that has an economic value and hence shall be accounted for in calculation of national income (GDP). At present it is excluded and is a serious flaw. I agree with Bhavin’s checklist.

  • g.r. jankharia wrote:

    In our country housewife gets frustrated because nobody thanks her for all that she does with very economic competence. moreover she fails to keep pace with modern gadgets and this is most annoying and young generation does not realise that given the same opportunity housewife anyday outsmarts the working woman

  • G.R. Jankharia – I agree with you. They are really big assets in keeping a family unit going.
    Bhavin – controversial topic well presented. I feel you digressed at the end of your points.
    At home vs career has little bearing on female feoticide and changing names.

  • Deepak Patel wrote:

    Why don’t you have a facebook like or share button ? WordPress surely supports it.
    let me know if you need any help.

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