As I put pen to paper today, I am ever so grateful to my parents and family for giving me this opportunity to make something of my life! If not for their kind support, I might never have studied until my post-graduation, might never have been able to work! Ever heard a man thank his family for ‘allowing’ him to pursue a career? Ever met a woman who hasn’t? And then we ask women – What more does she want??
This flavour of a permission for the simplest of daily activities and decisions is all-pervading. You know what else – it is deeply ingrained. When I got married, I instinctively packed off all my shorts and skirts. None of my friends questioned this. All of us are urban girls, most of us are post-graduates who have travelled and lived abroad. But the rules are different after marriage, right? And yet, we ask – What more does she want?
One of these friends, that I just mentioned, is a User Experience Designer. So is her husband; they met at NID – one of the premier Design Institutes in India. Both started with campus placements, and yet today, his career soars while she has accepted a part-time position. Speaking to me, she says in a matter-of-fact way – “Richa, men usually earn more for the same years of experience – it makes sense that he gets to focus on his career.” Again – so deeply ingrained. Women have jobs; Men have careers. Men can pursue their ambition as a matter of course, while for women it is a privilege. And the question is: What more does she want?
Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsico, tells us: women need to accept – you cannot have it all! I’m sure she knows what she’s talking about! But who explains this to our mothers-in-law? They seem to imagine young women can balance culinary skills on one side, while typing emails with another… all the while, keeping an eye on the kids’ homework and an extra pair of hands for the sacrosanct ‘husband’s dabba’. “She can do whatever she likes, as long as she can manage the home. – Aur kya chahiye?! What more does she want?”
Women I work with – independent, working women – can say without a blip that of course their husband won’t eat unless dinner is served on the table. This is irrespective of who is busier, who is more tired. These KRAs are purely based on gender. I find this shocking. Is one adult less than another? So many tangible / intangible inequalities; and yet, we dare to ask – what more does she want?!
Makes me think – this question. No, I do not wish to shame the asker of this question by throwing statistics of rapes and mistreatment of rural women or of those below poverty line. Even completely blanketing that bleak reality; do women really have it that great? Does this limited demographic of urban women in the middle layer of the socio-economic spectrum really enjoy the proverbial equality?
Or is it that we have a habit of complaining? Do I imagine I am surrounded by villains? Not really, on the contrary, I am quite convinced my family – including in-laws – are wonderfully nice. My MIL even brags about me to her friends – how her bahu is not like those ‘other’ working girls; she balances her home and work perfectly! And you know what, I take a secret pride in her boasts – but isn’t that there exactly the problem? Why do I associate my womanhood with being the go-to person for all household concerns?
Also Read: Female, Age 30 plus Years and Unmarried!
For ages, we have put women on pedestals. We have glorified them as multi-taskers, homemakers, divine mother… to be anything else, is always less! Here’s the harsh truth – that pedestal is a prison. It’s a gilt cage – pun much intended.
This is where I want to make it clear that I do not blame men, women, or even society at large for these unreasonable expectations. It is a mind-set we all have grown up with, and it will not change overnight. The point of these examples is to take the first step – to acknowledge that yes, something is not quite right.
What more does she want, you ask? I can answer that.
She want Choice. She wants the choice to be as ambitious or as laidback, as busy or as lazy, as pretty or as unattractive, as homely or as outgoing as she wants. She wants the choice to be a housewife without having to glorify it by the ‘homemaker’ tag. She wants the choice to be a career-woman, without having to justify it to her entire family and half the nation. She definitely wants the choice to wear what she likes, when she likes! She wants the choice to make plans with her friends without worrying how the family will take it.
And she wants to take all of this for granted. The way a man does – when he pursues education beyond the age of 25… when he prioritises his office meetings over a PTA… when he wears his shorts to the Grocery store. She wants to take her freedom for granted. Is that too much to ask?
About the Author –
Richa Sankpal is an everyday girl who chooses to live life her way. She manages IT Operations for a livelihood, paints to see Life – and is equally passionate about both. A trained classical dancer and amateur writer – Richa someday hopes to combine the two to grow as a Dance Journalist / Critic. You can follow her writing at – http://shouldvegottenheresooner.blogspot.in