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Working women are a most misunderstood lot. Yes, we earn and have a career, but so much of it is just perception. Let me bust some myths about working women!.
Even after millions of people working and contributing towards women empowerment and equality, I am shocked, hurt and saddened by the way the working women are perceived. It was an eye opener for me when recently one well-educated and so called ’empowered’ stay at home mom told me on my face that “we – the working women” are so fortunate to be enjoying our lives to the fullest. We have the money, we get all the respect from the men, we are also desirable to them, we get to dress up every day, we can escape the monotony of the household because of the office, we get the perks (shopping, vacations, movie dates with family) of a well-paying job, and most important – we don’t have to face the in-laws 24 hours a day.
I was so tempted to fight it out then and there. But better sense prevailed. The fact of the matter is, this is the most ridiculous and shallow assessment of the situation of working women.
For most working women, it’s an every day, every minute tussle with time, energy and resources. Our every moment is spent multi-tasking and multi thinking about numerous issues – it’s so exhausting.
While in the office, we think about the maid, the kids’ meal times, the in-laws’ health, what to cook in the evening, the laundry and the countless mundane tasks. And while at home, we are made to attend office calls and meetings, send emails, visit the sites, finish the coding, in short, extend the office time which eats up our already limited family time.
Where others see our ratings, promotions, and positions, we often know that we are merely surviving at the job. One mistake and there are countless other people (especially men) who are ready to take up our position. One mistake and the men get their long due opportunity to reinforce the already existing prejudice that women are not at par with men at work. It’s constant pressure, constant headache and constant stress.
And how much of the money we get is truly spent on ourselves? Almost none. There are EMIs, household expenses, children’s education, medical emergencies. We are working not just because we love the work, but because we want to be the second wheel with our spouses to support the household.
Most of our conversations with in-laws are on the phone. Much of it is transactional. And very few can imagine how guilty we feel about it. Rather, how guilty we are made to feel about it. We are called long distance mothers and controlling daughters-in-law. We are accused of ignoring our homes and children. And we are given all sorts of labels by the mothers-in-law who were working mothers themselves.
And we allow ourselves to go through it. Why? Because we believe it ourselves.
We believe that the time we give to our families and children is not enough. And we try to make it up with occasional holidays, shopping, and movie dates. We try and convince ourselves that the vacation will give us some peace. But the expenditure and the emotional labor of planning it gives us a new guilt. We are accused of depriving our children of our time. But in fact it is we who are hugely deprived of our children’s company.
We keep obsessing about our children in the office – Did he eat his tiffin, did he do his homework, did he go to the class?
Worst is when our kid is sick, or the daughter is having the typical teenage emotions – we are the cruel monsters who have to be at work leaving them to their own fate.
We feel guilty that we are unavailable for the children’s emotional needs. And nothing can compensate the lost time, the lost opportunities to bond with the children. When our child cries and can be consoled only by her grandmother – we feel jealous, heartbroken, angry. But we have to pretend to be fine. Its only in the night when we can’t sleep that the intensity of the storm hits us. “Am I a good mother, am I a selfish, insensitive mother, am I doing alright, will my child love me or leave me?” The questions are endless and they don’t leave us for months.
This is one of the biggest misconceptions. We get respect only in public. Most of the men pretend to respect us. They show respect because they have no choice; they have to be the new-age liberal men who admire ambitious women. But if we scratch the surface a little, we realize it’s all a façade.
Men in the office are selfish, jealous and looking out one chance to demean, disgrace us. They share vulgar jokes about their female colleagues. Some are sexual predators checking out our every outfit, every move.
Neighbouring women in our society, apartment think we are arrogant, aloof and antisocial. We don’t go to kitty parties, birthday parties, society meetings or Ganesh festivals. We are considered ‘proud’ and that we “don’t want to mix with normal women”.
But with all due respect – where is the time? After spending almost 10-11 grinding hours at work, we get hardly 5-6 hours at home in which we have to squeeze in cooking, cleaning, children’s’ studies and what not. We would, in fact, give everything it takes to be in that housewife’s position who gets hours to gossip about topics like the new sale, the new parlour, the neighbour’s daughter, the sister’s husband.
We feel like a culprit when we buy that expensive dress.
We feel embarrassed when we take a nap on our desk due to sheer exhaustion.
We constantly judge ourselves when we go out with our husbands on a Saturday leaving the kids at home.
We cry buckets in our heart, but we have to pretend the strong exterior. We can’t be vulnerable in office and we can’t be weak in front of the children.
We also have to be the beautiful, desirable wife the husband expects. Many of us are lucky to have understanding, patient and supportive husbands, but we also have the bad days and moments in the relationship when we feel all lonely, lost and scared.
But we can’t linger with all that drama. The next morning, we have to rise and start the never-ending battle all over again. Be it a severe backache, a sore throat, a bloated stomach, sleep deprivation – we take it all in our stride and stand. Stand Tall.
I know all of this probably sounds as if I’m just ranting, venting out pent up frustration, anger. It is for sure. But it’s also fact. It is both. It is us!
I just wish at least my own gender, my sisterhood be a little considerate before passing judgment on their own friends and sisters. One day your own daughter might go through all this, and you might be made to eat your words.
Image source: YouTube
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