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The growing percentage of literate girls and increasing working women have led to most of the married couples now having two sources of income. But does a woman’s shopping have two accounts at her disposal, with a man’s entry fee for sports clubs being paid only by his own account? Would a working woman marry a man if he sits at home and does all the household chores and she is the sole bread-winner of the family? Is a woman ready for the results of the changing scenario due to the growing awareness of women’s rights and freedom?
One of the female lecturers at my college said on some issue, “I say to my husband, ‘Rohan, your money is our money; my money is my money!” and the whole class, majority of which are girls, bursts out laughing. I missed to see the expressions and reactions of the boys of my class though.
Gossips in a group of five twenty-year old girls turn to a discussion of marriage, and the kind of boy one would like to “settle down” (such a negative word in more than one way) with. One of the questions asked is how much should the boy earn. (Note – all of the girls are educated and are pursuing studies to get into a career of their choice.) The answers differed – rich, stinking rich, average if he has the body of a swimmer, and ones that weren’t heard quite frequently – doesn’t matter, or as much as I. And when asked if one would share one’s income with him, it was invariably a ‘no’, and whether one would use his, an invariable, resounding ‘yes’. (Sharing as in, for personal expenses; not for stuff bought for the household or the rearing of children). When I asked, ‘and what if the guy doesn’t want to share his (since you too are working and can earn for yourself)?’, the question was dismissed as a stupid thought, as ‘why won’t he’.
And why won’t he? ‘Money’ being a masculine symbol, and ‘making money’ one of the most influential and traditional ways for a man to show off his masculinity, something that gives him power, he would not try to argue with a woman over the issue of him not being fine with his sharing of money with her too.
What struck me as weird was that the lecturer calls herself a feminist. In what way is she one? Obviously, it is fine whether a husband/wife wants to share/not share his/her income with each another. The man is also educated enough to rationalise with his wife if he wants to; he isn’t being dragged into it without his choice. But aren’t such views putting ‘women’s freedom to work’ in a negative light? What change has a woman being independent brought about, seen in monetary terms in a marriage as an institution? It has definitely made her strong, reasonable, and given her avenues to explore, and ways out of marriage if ever she wants one. But has it changed the condition or position of man in it?
Other things are also to be considered like how a woman still makes much less than a man at a same position because of unjust and unequal laws, or a woman has to take leaves for domestic reasons, whereas a man might work for longer hours and more days. But it is more the about mentality and attitude than the technicalities.
I am not generalising. When asked the question to a couple more girls, few did talk about keeping a joint account. And when I answered about neither sharing mine, nor taking on from his, I was called a ‘female chauvinist’.
Real feminists are definitely out there who wouldn’t mind being married to an artist while she is a corporate woman. Women have to learn to take the responsibilities together with the freedom.
The question asked to girls among the college gossip sessions – How much should future husband earn?
The question asked to boys – Should your wife be a working woman, or a housewife?
Re-emphasises our existence in the traditional mode of thinking.
We have a long way to go.
Pic credit: Pedro (Used under a Creative Commons license)
A student of English Literature, Shaifali loves to write, likes to read and enjoys sketching.
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