Sonali Kulkarni Issues Public Apology For Her Statement

Actor Sonali Kulkarni apologized after facing the ire of netizens for her insensitive remark; stating that a lot of women in India are ‘lazy’.

Actor Sonali Kulkarni recently faced the ire of netizens for her insensitive remark during an interview, stating that a lot of women in India are ‘lazy’. They just want a husband who has a good job, a house, and who gets regular increments. She went on to further say that women don’t have the courage to say what they will do once they get married to their respective spouses.

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Image Source: Sonali Kulakarni’s Twitter

Few of the people in the audience applauded her for her statement, after which she had to ask the audience to shower ‘taliyan’ (claps). The fact that she had to ask for applause speaks a lot already!

Following the interview, people expressed their disappointment, many even blamed her for being insensitive and for letting her own tribe of women down.

I support equality, but I am not a feminist!

Her statements were not only untrue, but also very problematic. But before that, let’s understand the word ‘feminism’ for the ones who say we support equality, but we are not feminists. If we are aiming for equality at the grass root level, it is important to get into facts and figures.

Feminism (noun): The belief that women should have the same rights and opportunities as men.

According to the available data of a survey conducted by the NSS (National Sample Survey) conducted in the year 2017-2018, the literacy rate of women from the age of 15 and above was 70.3% in comparison to the men who had a literacy rate of 84.7%.

Turns out that families are educating their daughters and making them self-sufficient so that they don’t depend on anyone!

23.7% is the number of women participating in the labour force!

Now looking at these numbers one would assume that at least 50% of these women would be in the workforce fending for themselves, making money and being independent, however, the numbers for women in the labour force say otherwise.

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Women’s participation in the labour force is just 23.7% in comparison to men whose participation is 78.8%. The 23.7% of women who are working, unfortunately, don’t get paid as much as their male counterparts.

As per the World Economic Forum, India ranks in the bottom ten countries when it comes to gender pay equality.

The report states that women earn significantly lesser than their male counterparts for the same amount of effort, the same qualification and the same job. What equality are we talking about in that case? Equality is a myth and can’t be determined by focusing on just a certain section of people.

Biases against women in general

A woman’s contribution to the labour force is dependent on a lot of factors including family obligations, societal pressure, lack of equal opportunities, and bias against women in general:

  • Can’t be pregnant: Won’t return to work/ won’t be able to work long hours
  • Not married: She will get married soon. Will the in-laws and husband allow her to work?
  • Married: How will she manage home and work? What about work-life balance?
  • Just graduated: No work experience. Rather get a man for the job. They are better at grasping things also she will get married someday. How will she sit late hours? Will her parents allow her?

I don’t know if Ms Kulkarni has ever worked a corporate job, but every woman who has, and is doing a job, has faced these questions at one point or the other in time!

Let us not kid ourselves, all these questions asked are extremely valid and employers have a point when they raise them!

Where is our right to choose?

As much as we deny it, most women DON’T have a choice! Not everyone comes from a place of privilege! Most women in this country do not have a right to education, leave alone the freedom to work.

I don’t think we need examples of how many parents would rather marry their daughter instead of giving her a higher education, how many in-laws would support their daughter-in-law working and coming late hours or how many women have child support/house help that they can leave their children and concentrate on work.

Let’s not forget that teaching a child, taking care of their needs, cooking meals, taking care of the house in general, buying groceries, laundry, and taking care of in-laws are all a woman’s jobs.

Why not talk about how many men contribute to these day-to-day activities? I don’t say that some men don’t, but an alarming number do not.

How many husbands are helping with household chores?

Now coming back to the women who still overcome all these obstacles and somehow make it to work. Sadly, they are not paid as much as men! When the majority of their husbands come home and watch television, the majority of the women come home to more work! (Please note that I have used ‘majority’. There will always be exceptions).

Women come home to cooking meals, take studies, clean, prepare for the next day and do many chores.

Let’s not get into the mental load that women carry! Keeping track of everyone’s schedules, remembering birthdays of in-laws and extended family members, planning and organizing meals for the family, running errands, and keeping track of school and extracurricular activities. We could go on and on!

And what about women in villages working without any pay or support?

Do we also want to speak about women in villages who work hand in hand with their male counterparts in fields all day long then come home and cook meals for the family, wash clothes and serve the men? That would require a separate discussion, I think!

Adding to the above majority of women, the ones who are pregnant also keep working. Pregnancy can be particularly stressful for women, as they may be treated as liabilities at the workplace. They feel discrimination from employers, difficulty in managing the workload at home, reduced job opportunities and little to no chances of promotion.

Calling housewives ‘lazy’ is simply an insult!

Women juggle work and home, even housewives do an insane amount of work that basically is unappreciated, unaccounted and unnoticed. Calling many of the women in India ‘lazy’ is not only outrageous, but hugely problematic.

Most of the wonderful women who do work also pay bills and contribute to the household expenses. Many of them buy their own homes and cars. They would gladly pay 100% of the money to buy a fridge!

The notion that most women are gold diggers is a dangerous stereotype and completely overlooks the fact that women work hard for their money!

Women will contribute 50% to expenses when men contribute 50% to chores!

If women are expected to contribute towards 50% of the household expenses. Men should be contributing to 50% of the household chores and family responsibilities.

Just getting a paycheque home and then lying on the sofa watching television while the wife slogs is not quite an equal contribution! Also, as mentioned before, women earn lesser than men, so a man’s 50% and a woman’s 50% are not equitable. The only exceptions are a privileged class of women who have high-salaried jobs.

Men tend to do less unpaid work in comparison to women and often ignore household duties. The belief that women should give away half of their income to men without equal participation in household duties is unfair.

Men work for a fixed amount of hours daily, some housewives work double the number of hours. Not everyone is privileged to have house help!

Women build a family with a man, her in-laws are not part of the deal, actually!

They say women marry into a family, however women DON’T marry into a family. They marry a man! The man and woman then start their own family. Expecting women to take care of their in-laws and stay with them is not acceptable if the same set of rules doesn’t apply to both sets of in-laws.

If a woman is expected to take care of her in-laws, a man should be ready and available to take care of his in-laws. Can’t have a different set of rules for both!

Meanwhile, many men lauded Ms Kulkarni for her statement, many women felt she let them down and threw them under a bus!

Aren’t women already judged for so many things already? A statement like this from a public figure does more harm than good! It has the potential to create a stereotype about women that many will believe.

If you can’t support it, then don’t, but demean us!

Women have come a long way fighting for equality for equal rights and opportunities. If one can’t be a supporter, at least let’s not disregard and disapprove of the entire tribe of women.

Women don’t hate men, in fact they have high regard for the ones who support them, love them and do so much for the family. Women and men in harmonious marriages often share responsibilities and contribute equally.

Contributions don’t always have to be financial. For every man who works late hours, there is a woman in the background handling the home and children so that the man is not burdened with additional responsibilities.

At the end of the day, it’s their personal equation, and they make it work.

Financial decisions in a relationship should be based on mutual agreement, shared responsibilities and realistic parameters, not on gender roles and unrealistic expectations.

Women and men need to work together to create a more equal world and uplift each other instead of pulling the other down.

Housework Gender Gap: When Men Buy Their Free Time With Women’s LabourWe need to celebrate the strength and hard work of women instead of using a derogatory term like ‘lazy’ for many of the women in India!

Image source: Sonali Kulkarni’s twitter edited on CanvaPro

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