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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.
Nice post Shaifali..You mad me think that am I being regressive by thinking that hubby dearest must at all costs share his income with me while I have never done so..? Questioning myself aloud here..
This was an extremely valid point raised by Shaifali and made for a very welcome read. It is true that in India many so-called-feminists stop short of actually coming ahead to share responsibility. On the other hand, there are some who have gone ahead to support their men by being the breadwinner while the man of the family was allowed to pursue his dreams. Sadly, the number is almost negligible and in most double income households, the lady’s pay is kept in reserve wile the man ends up spending all he earns in household expenses. It is about time the women realised that with power comes resposibility
Very pertinent point, Shaifali. I had grown up seeing my mother treat her salary as her own. She did spend for gifts and weddings, but that was her choice and decision. Whereas our school fees and all necessary expenses came from dad. I have myself always earned more than my husband. All our accounts have been joint since we started to earn. I have been the sole bread winner at times, particularly when I was having my baby. Because my job had maternity benefits and his didn’t, he quit for a while to be with us. So I think some of us have taken the plunge. It is liberating to have a husband as a full person and not only as the earning member of the family.
Thought provoking article…i must say…!
Brilliant… 🙂 I think we need to get comfortable with the idea that we dont need to marry for economic reasons – which should extend to the men too… It will never be true independence, as long men dont have the choice to let go of their career to be a home maker.
“Settle down” – do we realise that we always use this phrase when a woman gets married and when a boy gets a job… 🙂
@Uma.. Yeah, and it is NEVER the other way round… Like calling a girl to have settled down when she gets a job..and boy, when he gets married!
Very good point and something that i never had to really think much about. It came naturally to me to share all responsibilities with my husband. There were no hard and fast rules but it was all our money and not mine or his. Of course, we had our own accounts and we were free to spend if and when we wanted but we never thought who should be the major or minor contributor to the household etc. We even shared the expenditure on buying homes. I was in fact surprised when someone suggested that it must be just him who should have done it.
@Priyasachan Kudos to you, for settling into the notion of gender equality so naturally, when peope still struggle to accept such notions as normal..:)
My case is also same as Priyasachan. We never had any rules on if money is his or mine, but it was ours. Still, there is no restriction if i have to spend my money for a gift without telling him or he spends his money for something. Since we both earn, we both should have freedom to spend as per our wish logically and we both are responsible for household expenses together.
Wow! Im a female chauvinist too then. if his money is our money and my money is my money then how can we harp about equality ? Aren’t we falling in our own trap then? Very progressive article!
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