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What does a professional Indian woman need? Other than the requisite skills, a supportive family. For married women, this should mean a supportive husband.
Finally, I submitted my PhD thesis recently. It was really a tough task, as I had to struggle really hard against the final deadline to submit it. Not that I was lazy, but I couldn’t prioritize my academic growth before other family commitments.
So, I had to use all my time, energy and dedication in the last phase like hitting a six in the last ball of the match. Actually, it is a moment of joy, satisfaction and a sense of achievement for me now. But, I am in a fix and the ‘feminist’ in me asks this question- why has my life partner not eased my work pressure, like I do it for him always, whenever he has professional tensions? To be more specific, he couldn’t comprehend my physical as well as emotional stress of working against the impending deadline of submitting my thesis, along with carrying out my routine family and professional duties. Moreover, this is the first important academic venture I took after my marriage and he failed miserably in my eyes.
What I understand from his attitude towards my profession is that, for him, my academic career is just a salary earning 10 to 5 job, without any extended work carried forward back home, beyond working hours.
I am not blaming him specifically for his apathy here, or that of men in general. But, it is a patriarchal mentality that most men in India grew up with. So, it makes them insensitive about understanding what a ‘professional’ woman partner needs from her life partner. They just take the woman’s support for granted and give back nothing in return. There may be a few exceptions of ‘feminist gentlemen’. Possibly, there is more support for each other, if both partners belong to the same field of work as they understand the work culture. But, I am damn sure they are very few.
So, in this context it is very important to set right our expectations from each other in a relationship. Maybe I am asking for too much.
From my understanding, a man accepts all the support he gets from his woman partner, without being thankful to how major her contribution is, to his success outside. As a result, we see around and hear only about successful men. Though, there are a few exceptional women achievers, if you take a close look at their support system, it includes either their parents or siblings, and the role of a ‘supportive (sacrificing?) husband’ is missing in most of these success stories of women. Further, the case studies of women achievers (in any field for that matter) reveal that, either they remained single or had to become divorcees to fulfil their career aspirations or to reveal their true talent.
Therefore, it becomes important to ask for herself; what does a woman aspire to be in life?
Given a choice, would she stay ‘happily’ within the enclosures of her house and remain a support system to her husband and children and taking care of her extended responsibilities? Or would she juggle between family duties and professional aspirations like the most professional women are doing now? By doing so, letting go of opportunities for professional growth to choose family commitments, in a way curbing her professional growth by drawing a boundary or to call it as a self-constructed ‘glass ceiling’ over her head? Through this juggling process, a woman puts herself into all physical and emotional ailments in her early 40s and invites premature aging.
The third option would be, to keep herself free from these socially accepted and expected attachments, without feeling guilty for not fitting into the ideal womanhood status and concentrate on her self growth. By doing so, she has to forego a number of common pleasures too. Moreover, many eyebrows would rise up and bring uneasiness in the well established and neatly designed gender roles and equations. Left alone, this new woman has to act, behave and talk tough. Many a times, this is a fake identity she has to create to avoid loose talk by people around her, with only a few selected friends knowing her true self. In most cases, such women are misunderstood and misinterpreted in the public view.
Hence, a woman has to decide what role she likes to fit in. Is it a goody goody woman who stresses herself every moment, to painfully create a ‘great’ image of herself before others, by swallowing all her wishes and dreams within? Or a woman who explores her life, no matter what color the world paints her?
Perhaps, a woman would want to have everything like most men have been enjoying since ages. If given a choice, she would like to balance her personal life as well as professional aspirations, with some help from her partner. But, the big question is, are we mature enough yet, as an inclusive society to give her own space to explore her full potential? Sadly, we speak of big terms like ‘gender sensitization’, but keep mum to inequality meted out on a daily basis still. For now, the change in this attitude and outlook is painfully slow and miles to go.
A version of this was first published here.
Image source: Twitter
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Dr. Jyothi, Assistant Professor of English, Tumkur University. Has been a teacher of English and also soft skills trainer, with special interest in writing poems, articles, short stories and translation both in Kannada and English. read more...
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, indivisual posts do not necessarily represent the platofrom's views and opinions at all times.
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My house-help asked excitedly, “I am going for wedding. Can you let me wear your red & black saree? To be honest I was stumped for a moment; I didn’t know what to say but I still said yes.
I lent a gorgeous saree to my house-help for a wedding in her family. Soon I stated getting questions if I would wear that saree again or if I was okay to be seen wearing the same saree my house-help was wearing?
We are all so conditioned to give our used clothes to our house-helps but are we okay to wear the clothes they were wearing?
A few days ago she came excitedly to me, “I am going for a family wedding. I want to wear your red & black saree, Ill wash and give it to you after the function. Please can you let me wear it?”
Beauty is a very clever, very evil capitalist tool. It traps those who have it into hanging on to it for dear life and those who don't into mutilating, torturing themselves to achieve the unachievable.
I recently wrote a piece about MP Shashi Tharoor’s tweet in which he had shared a pic with six women parliamentarians tagging them and saying “Who says the Lok Sabha isn’t an attractive place to work?”
There was a rash of comments on the post shared on Instagram, which ranged from “chill, it’s just a compliment” and “stop overthinking compliments”, to (worried) men lamenting about “these feminazi”.
Here’s my answer to all those comments.
I finally said yes to a proposal at the age of 29, as my patriarchal conditioning made me feel I was a failure if I didn't get married by the age of 30.
I finally said yes to a proposal at the age of 29, as my patriarchal conditioning made me feel I was a failure if I didn’t get married by the age of 30.
After a long time, I watched a show on Netflix – Indian Matchmaking. This post is not a review or critique of it (enough about that already) but the memories and thoughts that it triggered in me.
I had been through this arranged matchmaking circus in my 20s. The proposals started coming when I turned 21-22.
Each one of us on the Women's Web team has come to this team in such different ways, live very different lives - yet we have a kernel of similarity that fits us all together like a wonderful jigsaw puzzle.
Each one of us on the Women’s Web team has come to this team in such different ways, live very different lives – yet we have a kernel of similarity that fits us all together like a wonderful jigsaw puzzle.
Informal discussions over lunch at work, or impromptu chats often bring out personal facts, odds and ends of information that go on to make a more composite picture of each one of us who make up the inspiring team Women’s Web. Things that we wouldn’t discuss during day to day work.
But we’re all feminists.