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"If someone compliments you, should you go and complain to the HR? Arrey, at least listen to what they are saying, girls! Why are you so uptight about all this all the time?!"
Marathi and Hindi film actor Sonali Kulkarni put her foot in mouth recently about how “Bharat mein bahut sari ladkiyan hai jo aalsi hai‘’ (In India there are many young women who are lazy). Her speech which drew claps (as she demanded) from the MRAs, makes a sheer mockery of women.
Here are some reasons why she makes no sense.
Sonali says women want a boyfriend and husband who holds a good job with assured perks and owns a home. But women don’t have the guts to ask what they would do in the union.
Traditionally, women have always been seen only as ‘helpers’ to the men. What this means is their identity is stripped from them at birth, and attached to a man. Someone’s daughter, sister, or husband.
I know many men who prefer to marry homemakers because they believe in the stark traditional roles of a man and woman. These men leave the entire household and parenting responsibility on the woman. We also have ‘progressive’ men who marry only working women who can bring in the money and also work like a machine at home.
The truth is most, if not all, women are working hard at home or the workplace, either for free or at salaries way below their work input.
Kulkarni makes an appeal to remind ‘able’ women in our household to contribute to the household expenses such as the purchase of a fridge.
I’m reminded of one of my friends who bore the entire household’s responsibility for months after her husband was laid off. With her meagre monthly income of around 30k, she supported her husband, child, and in-laws. Not just that, she’s the one who takes her in-laws for their hospital visits every time. Yet, she receives differential treatment from her father-in-law to date.
Definitely no smiles coming from them for all the selfless support she’s been giving them.
Kulkarni makes another typical padosi gharwali Aunty comment how one of her friends won’t look at guys who earn less than 50k rupees per month and doesn’t own a four-wheeler. She is also baffled by her friend for not wanting to stay with her in-laws. To which, Kulkarni asked if her friend was finding a partner or shopping at a mall. She finds it “so humiliating.”
I’d like to remind Sonali Kulkarni about the zillions of Indian matrimonial ads that are ‘choosy’ in their selection of a bride. Most want a young, tall, fair, and slim bride. These ads stoop to unbelievable levels that can put the mall shopping style of finding a groom to shame. Also, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to have your own space and living separately from your in-laws.
Sonali Kulkarni feels like “crying for her brothers and husband who got a campus placement when he was all of 20.” Till now, I had no clue that getting a campus placement was a thing of great sorrow.
She says that when women reach 25 or 27 years of age; they force their boyfriends to sponsor an international honeymoon and destination weddings. She urges women, “Aap pado, naukri dhoondo, aap jao chaar offices aur pucho ki mujhe kaam milega kya?”
I don’t know what Sonali has been sipping on. In Kulkarni’s ke haseen sapne, women don’t go to schools and colleges, get campus placement and work. I don’t even know if we belong to the same planet anymore.
Nothing could infuriate me more than the implication that women are freeloaders and desperate gold-diggers. How many women in our country even have the privilege of going on an international honeymoon when they don’t even own land in their own homelands? The actual gold diggers are the men who usurp all property and maintain control over them, and the women in their lives.
You silly modern women! Sexual harassment is a compliment!
Sonali Kulkarni dismisses sexual harassment as a thing of women’s imagination.
“Ladkiya bolti hain ki tumne meri taraf aise kyun dekha. Ye todhe na haq hota hain. Aapko appreciation bhi nahi chahiye. Aapko kise ne acha bola, toh aap HR ko report karoge. Pata hain unhone aisa kahan hain ke aise kapde kyun pehne hain. Arrey, baat toh sun lo. Itni kyun edge pe rehti ho.”
(“Modern young women say why did you look like that at me? What right do they have to ask this? They don’t even want appreciation from men! If someone compliments you, should you go and complain to the HR? Then HR people will ask why did you wear such clothes? Arrey, at least listen to what they are saying, girls! Why are you so uptight about all this all the time?!”)
Ms Kulkarni, women are not against appreciation. They just don’t appreciate lecherous vibes coming from men.
Sonali thinks modern women are too aggressive and demanding. Instead, she says, they should start looking at situations with a certain amount of humbleness and equality.
“You also owe something to the family. Bills bharna sirf apke husband ka kaam nahi hain. Aap bolo na kabhi, Chodo yaar. Agle che mahine chutti hain. Dekho kya smile milti hain. (Paying bills is not just your husband’s responsibility. Say once in a while, next month I will pay. See how your husband will smile at you.) I feel really proud to say I care for all the men in my life.”
Women have every reason to be selfish and angry in this unfair world, and demand for a better life. Dear women, don’t let anyone gaslight you (like Sonali Kulkarni does) into thinking otherwise. Slap them with statistics to get their facts verified before ranting off speeches that read like the padosi gharwali Aunty gossip tales.
So Ms. Kulkarni, not all women are desperate for a smile (or needing ‘applause’) from men like you.
She waxes eloquently about her cooking as a love language. But reminds women to do more than just cook. Start earning and supporting the poor men. She praises the government for doing its bit for supporting women’s work. She appeals to women to understand their responsibility and ‘bear’ them.
Sorry but not sorry, women have borne ENOUGH.
If this is Kulkarni’s idea of motivating more women to enter the workforce, it’s a pathetic one. You don’t encourage women by shaming them. What is this? Some weird toxic love?
Sonali Kulkarni must be living under a rock if she’s oblivious of the sexist conditions at most workplaces. Most companies don’t have inclusive workplaces that support women at all stages of their lives. Women are forced to opt out of the corporate world because of the lack of a support system at home and workplace. Not because they’re lazy. For the women who persist, they have to break the glass ceiling to reach top leadership.
Men’s work is considered ‘serious’. A woman’s work is viewed as her ‘time-pass’ and her salary as ‘pocket money’. The man is treated like a warrior who’s just returned home from the battleground after a day’s work. The woman is treated as the sneaky entity who goes to the workplace to escape her household duties. Her main work lies at home and in the kitchen, which are alien workplaces for most men in the typical Indian home.
Instead of branding women as lazy, did Sonali Kulkarni investigate why they are so? Indian women are among the most depressed groups in the world. I’m not surprised. When you have to battle so much bias inside and outside the home, it’s bound to take a mental toll on you and affect your health and functionality.
The biggest fail of Sonali Kulkarni’s argument is the motivation for women entering the workforce. Not for themselves, but to support the poor men. Excuse me, Ms. Kulkarni, your world might start and end with men, but not all women. Thank you for your concern.
To platforms that invite myopic, tone-deaf, privileged, upper-caste women like Sonali Kulkarni as speakers, STOP. Invite women from unprivileged backgrounds and give them the mike so the world can listen to the voice of the voiceless.
Author, poet, and marketer, know more about Tina Sequeira here: www.thetinaedit.com
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