A friend of mine had a heart attack last year and had to go through a bypass, this is a man who is a sole breadwinner for the family of 5 – wife, two kids and mother. Being a self-proclaimed feminist, it is imperative for me to bring to light the core objective of feminism – Equality. This is more often than lost on people. Within the fight of feminism, we most definitely don’t believe that one gender is superior to the other. We very strongly believe that both genders are equal. Please note that as I write this piece, I am focused on a section of society that is under the duress of patriarchy, I am addressing a society that educates their daughters and encourages (or expects) them to work.
The argument that I am trying to make here is for those women who want to break the shackles of patriarchy and have the opportunity to step out of the house and be a part of the work force, shoulder to shoulder with men. And for those women who are already part of the work-force and want to be perceived as equals with equal respect and pay parity. Now coming back to the where I started writing this piece from. Having established that both genders are equal, and then in an ideal world both partners should divide their work equally. This reasoning arises from the fundamental ideology of this movement (of equality) that both genders are equal. Why is it then, more often than not the ‘breadwinning’ rides on the shoulders of the man alone, despite having an ably educated wife, who can, if she chooses to, earn? The men are assumed to be the primary bread winners at home and do not have the privilege of ‘choosing’ not be working at any point in time in life.
I have seen very few and far between men who have taken a sabbatical from work, stayed at home, been a father or a husband to their working wives. I can count such examples on the fingertips. However, sadly so, there are so many men from one member-earning household, where the wife, despite a slew of educational qualifications has chosen to not work after marriage. My question here is, if a man is assumed to work, slog, life-long, without the luxury of a ‘choice’ then how are we as feminists fighting for equality.
One more example, a friend who married a woman (who had a PG degree in management), he is a proponent of equality, having married an educated and already working woman he believed he made the right choice. Sadly for him, the woman quit her job immediately after they married, since she didn’t want to work anymore, and he was left to solely fend for them and the family they would eventually create. She argued that, he could not force her to work, and it’s her choice whether she works or not.
In many urban households, it so happens that the women would always have a ‘choice’ whether or not to work, to top it they would also have a choice to be a ‘home maker’. What I mean by that is that, being in India, where house help is cheap and in abundance, it is not like the women have to cook and clean by themselves the whole day. My point of view here is to give you all some fodder for analyzing, if we really are being fair to our men, by putting off all the stress of money-making and sustenance on them. So if we fight for equality, let’s not forget this one aspect, and let’s have women who have education and the means to earn their keep, to actually pool in and stand equally with their partners. And if we think we should have a choice then let’s be fair and honest and let’s give the men a choice to work or not as well.
NOTE: Our EIC Srushti Rao is talking about true equality between men and women. She is talking specifically about the section of women who have the ability and the opportunity to work after marriage but choose not to for their comfort.
- Srushti Rao
- November 20, 2017
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