Sunday, July 29, 2012

Letter from the 'Hot-Phulka Making Woman'

Dear Author,

I just finished reading your article, pretentiously titled " Home truths on Career Wives". The reference point of your mind bogglingly ridiculous article, the film 'Cocktail', is one I am yet to watch but thanks to many reviews I have an idea of the stereotypical underlying theme of the film.
I am intrigued by your motives to writing such an article. Were you trying to earn brownie points from your wife, the COO of some Bank as portraying yourself as the Champion of Women's Rights?
I hate to be the one to break the news that you did not score well with women other than maybe those related to you or those who read this article in a hurry and missed the finer details and the horrifying conclusions you draw.

You stand by in your words with " capable, independent, career-oriented woman". You are obviously surprised and clearly clueless about the life choices made by 'hot-phulka' making women who take care of home and hearth. I need to know what you mean and understand by 'capable' women?
Those women who are employed are 'capable' in earning a livelihood but the flip side you choose to conveniently overlook is that they may be 'incapable' (as confessed by many working women friends) of staying at home and being a full time Mother, a Carer for the elderly... invaluable to her family and community.
You define 'capability' strangely and seem to think that everything from making rotis, to raising children, being at home to take care of elderly parents can be 'outsourced'. You fail to see the strength of character of the women who play these roles. Outsourcing the task of earning money to the husband suddenly makes a woman weak, dependent and incapable is a conclusion pretty skewed.

You refuse to entertain the idea that many strong, intelligent and capable women..professionals... see it simply as Division of Labour partner working outside the home and the other in the home, within the family and community. This work structure is not hierarchical in nature and both partners deem each other as equals. In my part of the world I have friends with degrees in Dentistry and Medicine and Engineering who have chosen to make their children their priority and are extremely capable of switching roles between full-time Mommies and career professionals.

You are as you claim disturbed by women portrayed as finding salvation in making daal and roti for their husbands. I am standing right beside you if making roti and daal for husband or anyone is seen as a path to 'salvation' for any woman or man for that matter. The Director of the Film needs a lesson in Faith and Spirituality. But then again, so do you.
I see you have a soft spot for Marissa from 'the other part of the World'. You do not fail to mention that she is a CEO of a Fortune 500 Company and will be back at work  soon after delivering her baby. Impressive indeed as she just generated employment by 'outsourcing' the care of her baby to someone else. An inspiration to men and women alike you said. To some possibly...but road to salvation ...this is certainly not.

I would have have given you some credit if you had championed the cause of my super-women, awe-inspiring Mommy and Career Women friends. But you failed yet again and how so. You talk of 'benefits' of choosing a ' capable, independent and career-oriented woman'. I was just wondering if you were referring to monetary 'benefits'... double income salaries, bigger home and grander holidays.  And yes, not surprisingly you were. She is some sort of a meal ticket and to quote you helps you afford a 'decent apartment'. You advise your fellow men and promote this particular kind of woman, as someone 'enormously beneficial' in a world of 'expensive apartments and frequent layoffs'. You see her career not as her choice, something she wants to do for herself but as a golden pass to a grander home, and financial security and that makes you less of a man in my opinion. For you come out as a person who has little or no faith in oneself. The faith that you would be able to earn a living by yourself. Where is your sense of independence I wonder?

I started having difficulty in following you train of thought when you said a career woman can better relate to Organizational issues. Running a home and even attempting to ensure a happy,wholesome and safe childhood for my children is one of the most herculean organizational tasks I have undertaken. The one that is most fraught with a heightened sense of responsibility. The biggest investment of all with very little room for mistakes and generously peppered with moments of unadulterated joy too. As I have been employed elsewhere I speak from experience. Nothing comes close to it.

You cracked me up when you said a working woman is better exposed to the World. What does that even mean? You say 'she brings back knowledge and information that can be useful to the family'. What can that be about, I wondered and scratched my head. By now attuned to your reach and scope of thoughts I tried guessing...the latest HR initiative, the thrilling delivery status, the excitement of a Product Launch, the list of the top 10 Fortune 500 companies, the new pay structure, promotions, office politics ...? Are we from the same planet? Is that what you call Knowledge? I was wondering if I had stepped the line by writing something so rude and unlike my character when I read that you define knowledge and information as " latest deals, best mutual funds to invest in' and the most hilarious of all 'new holiday destinations'. What you need is a travel agent or a financial advisor not a wife if that is the information you are seeking from her.

You talk of Quality of Life being better for working women with such confidence I feel you have not seen overly stressed, constantly exhausted, guilt-ridden women trying to juggle home and career. I just started working part-time and have been worried about the mental and physical state of women who try to do it all. As if being a Mother was not the toughest job ever, add to it the pressures of the work environment and a husband like you who at the end of the day hopes to piggy-back his way to a better home and a fun holiday destination...bless her!
A gentle reminder.. fulfillment and satisfaction are a mental state not a position, holiday, or address.

I was about to resign myself to the fact that at least you attempted to stand with my working women friends but alas, you fall from grace when you mention that there are 'drawbacks' too in being with a career woman.

You proudly said that you have outsourced 'phulka-making' to someone else. I have a sneaking suspicion that it must be another woman doing your most looked down upon task. You hurt another working woman yet again. Sigh.

I share your pride in your working Mother and wife but ask you to share my pride in my Mother who stayed at home to raise me. And unlike what you said I was not mollycoddled and am a very independent, and free-spirited woman. I grew up emotionally secure and trusting of the most important relationship in my life. My Mother raised me well.
My children already appreciate the fact that I give them priority over my own career aspirations. My decision that my career could wait but my children could not is something I am proud of and personal. I knew they would grow up too fast and there are no re-winds in life. I chose to enjoy each moment and give due justice to each stage and role in my life. I need not justify my position to anyone and my choice also does not stop me from respecting the decision of my working women friends and celebrating their success with a huge sense of pride. Will you believe me when I say that I have got back the respect and love from all my intelligent, working women friends in good measure.

I hope that however much your article seems to pit one group of women against the other, you will be seen as you are...  shallow, fake and unconvincing. Some of the terms you have used for the women you are supporting stresses my point..  ' she brings enormous benefits and is an asset'.

You have reduced women to being a product. You argue which 'product' is better. You list their benefits and drawbacks.
You ask others to bear in mind not to judge women on the way they dress, interest in the kitchen and the confidence in their voice. And I say exactly the same thing to you.

You regale and infuriate me with your stereotyping and presumptions. I am at home but have little interest in cooking but love to read. I can think and write and have opinions. I also know whats happening around me and in the world. I do public speaking with 'confidence in my voice'. I am learning new skills, am productively engaged, and feel important, alive and happy. Does that shock you?

You are the one who is regressive, and intolerant of different choices and lifestyles or are living in a strange part of the world where you have not met intelligent, confident and proud women who have chosen to stay at home for a reason. You have a lot of un-learning to do. And you could start with respecting all women and their choices.

Any intelligent woman..working or not will see through you. I wanted to say more but I need to get back to (gasp!) some 'hot-phulka making'.

Your truly,
Not at all an incapable, dependent or oppressed Woman.

P.S : I refer to your article