Who’s Emancipated?

For ages we have been fighting the cause of the emancipated woman. We raised slogans, shouted from rooftops, we promoted dharnas and we also got reservations done for women so they can be brought in the mainstream and encouraged to find their rightful place in the society. In spite of everything, the country struggles to get out of the stigma that is so deep rooted in the culture that no one seems to find a way. It hurts!

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One of the days while I was at work, during lunch, I met a woman (staff) who quietly entered the room and sat in the corner setting her plate and opening her humble lunch. Since I was already sitting there happily gobbling my meal, she probably sensed that I am a sucker for home made food and offered me some of hers. I politely declined because it seemed like there was not enough for her as well and had she shared it with me, she would’ve left with almost nothing for herself. She didn’t insist, either.

Nevertheless, I asked her who had cooked the food, to which she said, she did – beaming. My next questions was, ‘So you get up in the morning to cook and pack your lunch and come?’ ‘Yes’, she said, ‘I pack my lunch, my husband’s lunch and set the breakfast and lunch for my mother in law as well.’ Was I impressed?!!

So what time do you get up in the morning?’ I asked her, since I wake up at 6 a.m. and getting the child and myself ready for the day takes away an hour and a half of my time in the morning and that’s pretty much for me. ‘4 o’clock’ she replied.

4 o’clock!!’ yes, I was shocked. I could not contain my curiosity so I continued, ‘And your husband also gets up with you?

No ma’m’ she kind of smirked at me as if I had asked her an alien question. ‘He gets up at 7 o’clock. His office is a bit late so he leaves after I do.

And what time do you sleep?’ ‘11 p.m.’

What time does you husband sleep?’ ‘11 p.m.

And I am guessing you reach home almost the same time?

Yes!

Do you cook when you get back in the evening?

Yes

By now, I could gauge that she was quite perturbed by my questioning her and I also could not understand why I was banging my head at something which is simply inept. I suddenly went quiet, calculating in my mind the number of hours that she works vis-a-vis her husband and I bet they earn almost the same. So here was a woman who would sleep for almost 5 hours and work for a good 19 hours (including slogging in the office and listening to jerks like me pointing out at their incapabilities!) without any help!!

The incident simply got me thinking as to what makes women, educated and independent; subjugate themselves to such insensitivity and injustice? Or do they even see it as injustice in the first place? Are we really making an attempt to even start thinking liberty? Are we educating our girls to even discover their own identities? I guess not!

 

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No, her husband may not be beating her up. No, her mother in law may not be trying to burn her down for wont of dowry. No, she may not be a social recluse. But is she really independent? Is she really utilizing her capabilities in areas she possibly can? Is she really an equal? Is she really emancipated?

Now you may argue, that she may be rather happy doing what she is doing! But the fact is, I know it isn’t. Had it been the truth, she wouldn’t have been undernourished with the regular diet of two chapatis and vegetable sufficient for a 5 year old! Okay, I may be wrong! I may be making a mountain out of a molehill but the whole thing simply does not fit into my criteria of equality.

What are your ideas? Do let me know if I am just trying to make a case out of nothing!

Love~

Kajal signature

Linking this to Ultimate Blog Challenge– January 2014

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31 thoughts on “Who’s Emancipated?

  1. Sounds like marriage to me. LOL It doesn’t seem fair but in lots of cases and situations that is the way it is. Women are expected to handle it and if they want anything done, they do it themselves. She probably lets him sleep so she don’t have to wait on him too and she can actually get something done. It is her alone time…and I get that. Her husband is probably completely oblivious. My husband is. LOL ♥

  2. Oooh…this is a “touchy” topic for me to comment on Kajal. Since all Indian men (well most of us anyway) are under a lot of siege, so to speak. But to be honest, I can relate to the situation. I’ve seen it happen plenty of times. Not in mine, since we both cook and get stuff sorted. But yes, this mentality still exists. and it pains me as a man, as a human being. Great post 🙂

  3. Kajal , ask the lady in your office as what she does with her salary/income? Chances are that the menfolk of the house handle it (many a times) and the woman has no say when it comes to finances. An eye-opener post. Keep writing.

    1. That may be true, Kalpana. I am unsure as to why would someone let somebody take them for a ride like that!

      Also, another woman in the same office who won at a contest at work and was required to go for 2 days Kerala trip was refused by her husband because, she can’t be going alone! WTF!! I was appalled and astonished…we still have men in the country (not rural and uneducated!!) who feel the need to control their wives like that! Sad 😦

      1. But if a man is required to go out of station for work , will he ask the consent of his partner? NO. In our society men take the women for granted. sad but true.

  4. I completely empathize with your post Kajal! Have often thought about it and wondered if they are expected to be ‘men’ and hence forced into that dominating role, if they feel less of ‘man’ and hence re-affirm their manlihood through this.. what is it exactly..

    1. So true…I often feel what goes in their minds when they see the woman of their house slogging like a donkey while they comfortably lounge on the couch watching repeat telecasts of cricket and announcing from there ‘ek garam chai ka cup ho jaaye?’

  5. It is in our culture that middle class girls are taught that pati toh permeishwar hota hai.untill this mind set is changed nothing can b changed,but in some cases girls are also week to protest,they say chalta hai,which is also responsible for the apathy

  6. It’s a very pertinent question raised and I shall put it like that, are we reached independent and proud of our identities as human beings rather than the conservative labels of men and women. Society exploit us in a very subdued manner and I wonder whether class consciousness-realization of the false stereotypes-by both men and women will ever happen!

    1. Agreed Vishal. I think the pertinent question indeed is can we simply be human beings and not get boxed in. BUt isn’t that just a long shot…can we begin by just trying to accept that indeed some people are humans 🙂

  7. It is a reality for many! Sad though it is!! Work hard outside and do everything at home too without any support and/or may be without any appreciation or a kind word too!! 😐

  8. Without you killing me can I say I get up at six and sleep by 12 too? Husband does help but I have made a conscious choice to not have a cook. I do understand the message and yes what you are saying is true. But I believe the solution lies in motivating the other half to share work. I think that is where this equality will provide respite to women. For example between hubby and me we have divided work and even assigned times we wish to be free to perhaps catch a movie a book or sleep.

    Say will this work?

    Richa

    1. I get what you’re saying Richa…I did not mean ‘women should not cook’. What I meant was there must be some kind of acknowledgement somewhere that the woman needs as much time for herself as the man of the house. They must share their life not just in words but deeds too.

      My husband stopped cooking when we got married (grrr) and I hate cooking! But I took up that role, because he started helping me with other stuff.

      And its not only about just the work at home its about how do you treat each other as humans…as people…as someone who cannot just be designed to have a clockwork routine so you can ride happily through life. That’s unfair!

      That’s the only thing I am getting at!

  9. great post..first time at your blog, loved reading the responses from ppl. this is a very practical situation and we all have to deal with it. though the women are working at par with men, they are still expected to shoulder the responsibility of the kitchen solely in most cases. In my case hubby dear helps with other stuff at home and gives me the liberty to not cook if I don’t want to..or order it from outside..but he cannot cook! 🙂

  10. That’s the sort of abuse we Indian women take for granted no? It’s sad..
    Its not very visible or vocal, but its there and it hurts.

    It doesn’t matter if the wife is working or not.. chores need to be shouldered by the couple in a marriage. But, most Indian men are sadly brought up without a sense of responsibility and they don’t bother to learn as well.
    I also feel that we women need to be a bit more vocal about our displeasure and really stop trying to fit into the stereotypical role of “good Indian bahu”

    A topic close to my heart.. I can go on and on..

    I’m glad I don’t have to face such a scenario everyday and that K pitches in equally at home. But, I do feel sad when most women don’t realize that this isn’t extraordinary. It should ideally be the norm!

  11. Am I glad I stumbled on this post. God knows I feel so strongly about this. There are so many women earning well yet doing the cooking each day before office and then again after they get back along with the kids’ homework and other household chores. Sometimes the inlaws don’t like a cook coming in, sometimes they themselves are not comfortable with that idea. And mind you no way would they fit in the doormat category. They are smart and independent. Of course as you say, they might not mind.. But why should there be this disparity between the amount of work they and their husbands put in??

    1. Completely agree with you…I am not saying that they are being harassed and coerced into putting that much work but why take them for granted and believe that this is all their responsibility…why not share the responsibility!

      1. Tulika,

        I know who was running on U’r mind while U wrote this n Doormat/harassed 😉 No way but I guess it’s the default expectations and the “who else will do ” that continue to be the reason . Its simply more practical n peaceful to do all your self than get upset n let it get chaotic.

  12. I must confess we men will never think of having the same definition of equality as yours. Who wants to give away all the pleasure for the sake of feminism? I am afraid to acknowledge the push needs to come from women, or the Indian society will never change.

  13. This is one thing I have noticed too… when in my circle of friends, I find guys who have immense respect and love of women, expect their wife to do everything and anything for them, and yet they want her to be independent. Wonder what they mean!

    1. Ugly …no? I see this all around me..even today I read somewhere how someone’s niece is being treated very badly by her husband and her in laws and there’s nothing anyone around her is doing about it…harassment! Makes me sad and hurt! 😦

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