Why can’t women just sit without having to worry about the world on their shoulders? Why must we justify every moment of our time?
When I took voluntary retirement from active service, people asked me a number of questions.
Why now? Why the hurry?
What will you do sitting at home?
Why do you want to waste yourself ?
You must make yourself useful…do something worthwhile, don’t stay idle.
I don’t really get it…why must women be useful like recycled paper? To be utilised in some form or the other?
Can’t they just sit without having to worry about the world on their shoulders?
Why shouldn’t women take time out to look after themselves, pursue their dreams while engaging in meaningful activities, have fun, travel, meet people or sit to enjoy the solitude they missed in the chaos?
Why should women find something worthwhile to do to validate their existence in families and society?
Can she not simply exist? Why do we expect women to die with their boots on?
Indian girls learn to take care of their siblings, chip in with their share of housework while growing up, and are in a way being taught to “shoulder their responsibility” when the time comes.
Girls are taught from a young age that “running the home” is their responsibility no matter what and men are not expected to share their load. So, at workplaces it’s always the women who queue for leave taking for kid’s school activities, PTAs, sickness, house guests, rituals, festivals, functions and rarely do we hear of men taking a day off for a PTA meet or the unexpected arrival of guests.
It’s not that women aren’t hard working, love their jobs less or are not ambitious enough, it’s just that they are required to adjust their career goals to suit the demands of their families. Women are made to feel guilty if they fail owing to gender conditioning and stereotyping of roles in society. Many women despite education or calibre quit/change jobs for less demanding ones even if it means less job satisfaction or pay – simply due to family constraints. Some even refuse promotions risking stagnation in careers due to avoid neglecting their families.
Marriages, babies, education, later helping kids settle with their careers/marriages, kids – all of this takes a toll on their own health owing to lack of medical attention, neglect and lack of family support as nobody bears their load …and then we place the blame that women age faster than men!
Women are automatically caregivers to ageing parents/family members which is a stressful and exhausting duty owing their own menopausal and health issues. But, rarely do women get appreciated for doing all that they do, unlike the men who are applauded by their families and society for being ideal sons and doing their roles. The woman behind is hardly appreciated for her selflessness and steadfast support without which it wouldn’t really be possible for the men.
It’s creative indulgence – unlike with women for whom it’s a chore with no choice, because housework is considered a woman’s domain after all…what’s the big deal when every woman does it? So, damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
As women grow older they are expected to take over their children’s family responsibilities – babysit their grandchildren, pick up/drop at schools, coaching/hobby classes, chaperone them to parks or games, supervise maids/household helps (all these ‘keep yourselves occupied’ activities) that leave them completely exhausted with age catching up. A lucky few who chalk an alternate life for themselves, risk being labelled mean and selfish by children, unlike the men who have a life of their own after retirement – clubs, hobbies, social activities, outings with friends etc.
Social conditioning and gender stereotyped roles for women gives men the luxury of freedom to make choices and decisions independent of families. Men aren’t expected to be stay at home and are free to take up alternate occupations, hobbies, activities, social work etc, unlike women who are the first to drop their maids/domestic helps because they feel it’s a waste of money, since they are at home and free to do it.
So, here’s what we need to remember:
Top image is a still from the Hindi movie, Kapoor & Sons
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