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This husband has manipulated his wife into being a stay-at-home mom who also ‘must take care of his parents’ and ‘can’t have a career’. And we thought this was 2019.
A “confessions” post on a public Facebook page has a TCS employee detailing the many ways in which he has manipulated his wife into being a stay at home mom, making many wonder if we are in 2019 or in the 1800s. Irrespective of whether the post itself is real or fake, it speaks to the reality of many women.
Browsing through Facebook yesterday, I came across a post on the popular feminist group, Humans of Patriarchy that both chilled me to the core, and set my blood boiling at the same time.
This anonymous post, originally from the page TCS Confessions, is by a man who describes how he has systematically manipulated his wife’s life, from making her pregnant to taking her abroad on a dependent visa, just so she is not able to work. He says that he has finally run out of ideas to make sure she stays at home, and asks, “how to stop her from having aspirations to work again.”
While most people in the comments gave the man a reality check about what a terrible husband he is, others pointed out that the post may be a fake one made by a troll for attention.
The thing is—it just doesn’t matter if the post itself is true or false, because the story that it tells is true for many women. In any case, such misogynistic and regressive posts are not uncommon on such “confessions” pages, so there is a good chance that it is genuine.
For Anushree Kulkarni, who is one of the administrators of Humans of Patriarchy and also a Women’s Web author, the post brought up some painful memories and associations. On a Facebook post of her own, she wrote, “Trust me. This is not made up. I have seen so many women in my own circle who were made to give up their jobs by feeding into them this bullshit of nurturing children and taking care of house, guilting them into submitting their entire careers and financial independence for men and their families, I have lost count. I see these women struggling now, with no sense of identity, regretting their decisions, resentment inside their very being because eventually many of these “husbands” also could not stand up to their promise of “protecting” because let’s accept it – it is too much pressure. It is fucking too much pressure.”
And these are educated employees of multinational companies. He checks her browsing history. Because he wants her to take care of HIS house.”
For another fellow blogger who is now remarried, the post was a reminder of her own harrowing experience with being forced to stay at home. She wrote in response to my post about the same, “I hope the wife divorces him. Such men should be single all their lives and live with their mothers. My ex was like this. I am a chartered accountant and he and his family were upset that I had a good earning potential in India. So they thought of a plan of making us move to US so I would be reduced to a maid with no friends and family and no financial independence. He was not smart enough to get a job/ scholarship so his brother had to sponsor his master’s degree for him to get a job in the US!! Such losers they were, so much of strategy to make sure the wife /DIL is helpless. Garbage men and their garbage family. What they don’t realize is that a piece of shit is a piece of shit. In India or US!”
I, personally, am all too familiar with the struggles of being on an H4 dependent visa. One could say that I “chose” to not work by coming to the US, and it certainly was no planned “strategy” to keep me from working, but I can remember all too well the feelings of being suffocated, of inadequacy and of isolation that plagued me before I found my footing as a writer. There are many such stories, documented in books like Visa Wives, or short films like Hearts Suspended.
To know that a man knowingly has put his wife through this mental and emotional struggle, just so she could fit into his regressive image of a “good wife” broke my heart.
It also reminded me of one of my friends, a talented, warm woman who loved working and who brought joy to our workplace. She too was pressured into leaving work by her in laws after she became a mother.
As this article that explores the “conspicuous absence of women in India’s labour force”, points out, while there are some economic factors that keep women out of the workforce, there are cultural factors as well. Pointing out that India’s female labour force participation fell from 35% in 1990 to 27% in 2018, it reminds us that, “across India, there are cultural expectations that married women should not work and that they should prioritise housework and care work. A survey on social attitudes in 2016 found that around 40-60% of men and women believe married women should not work if the husband earns reasonably well.”
Working not only gives women a personal sense of satisfaction, a feeling of achievement and financial independence, but it also benefits the economy as a whole. Were India to increase its female labour force participation and thereby “rebalance its workforce, the world’s biggest democracy would be 27% richer.”
It is not a crime that a woman should have dreams and aspirations that take her beyond her home and hearth. It should be a crime to clip her wings and keep her caged.
Editor’s note: This article has been co-authored by Vijayalakshmi Harish and Anushree Kulkarni.
Image source: a still from The Namesake
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