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!