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


Bodhimanish said...

Its not a matter of career woman or home maker ... Its about writing a unique book of your own ( which is your own life ) I have seen woman getting back to work after two days of delivery and woman leaving a glamorous career for home making .. Its about our own values which defines our choices .. And off course our value system comes from context history and contemporary times..
Our idea of modern woman comes from sense of equality with man.. That is simply not fair because these days men are also homemaker and woman are
Office maker
.. I was reading article the next day about separate aisle for grocery shoping for man only in NYC.. We must not judge with this case with outdated value system... We (atleast some of us) live in a post industrial world which must be free from these biased and hierarchical idea of career woman or home maker ..
Manu ! I like your piece in defense of home making ...

Lakshmi Rani Iyer said...

Excellent rejoinder to an extremely male chauvinistic article by chetan Bhagat pretending to champion the cause of women. He had to be reminded of the fact that there are extremely intelligent women out there who have made hard choices to stay home to be care givers to their families , have gone back to work when their children have flown the nest have soared themselves along with their children. My stay at home hot phulka making mother went back to school once we kids were independent and started working in a field she loved " teaching" and made us so proud of her. She made her daughters grow into strong independent women who were not afraid to take unconventional paths and her sons to be men sensitive of their wives views and choices.
And like there are well to do career oriented males who will never leave their beloved cars to be handles by a driver ( outsourcing) there are fiercely career oriented women out there too who love to cook and will not outsource that work. loving to cook is nothing to be ashamed of!!!

usha sampathkumar said...

Come on, Chrysalis! ….ridiculous article, shallow, fake, regressive, intolerant?…….Give CB a break!
When I read CB’s views I agreed with him and when I read your blog, I agree with that too.
I am in my 50’s and I have been a believer of, as you put it, ‘division of labour – one partner working outside the home and the other in the home, both partners as equal’.
There were 2 instances when I felt a slight twinge of regret for not having a second income. One, after 30 years of marriage, my husband wanted to quit his job and start a business. He would have been a lot more relieved if I was bringing home a steady income. Now, don’t say, with proper financial planning and strategy, he should have built up a nest. Your saving can never bail you out unless you have only been saving and not living at all! Two, when he suddenly passed away after a critical illness, which meant, seeing lot of our saving going for the treatment. Once again, don’t even think of insuring yourself against critical illness. These companies simply try to scare you out of your wits and get your whole family insured when you are young. After you reach 60, when you really need one, they just slink away. This is not meant to be a sob story. I supported my husband in his decision to quit his job as General manager, marketing and go into business; and after his demise, picked up the pieces and moved on. And, I am able to sustain the same life style with the help of my daughter who is a project manager in a IT firm.
There were other “benefits” too that my daughter’s job brought. Her colleagues rallied around her (and also me) all thro the trying period, donated 26 units of blood, kept visiting us for a month after, in addition to taking care of my daughter’s deadlines in her project and cheering her up whenever she missed her father, while all our relatives left after the rituals were done. Not only that, they were not of much use to my daughter in providing emotional support, on the contrary, there was the same refrain that her father had not even got her married when he was alive!
Chetan Bhagat is talking about the male double standards and stereotyping of women in the movies! To me, his write-up sounds more like a man to man talk -
I’d like Indian men to have an open mind about choosing their life partners and revise their ‘ideal woman’ criteria. …all these benefits accrue if men are able to keep their massive, fragile egos aside and see women as equals.
Obviously, he did not have women like you in mind!
In Bhagavat Gita, Sri Krishna says do your duty(karm). He also says, give up all your duty and surrender to me. Elsewhere, he says, follow the jnan marg. And then, he says Bhakti marg is the most superior path. Ever wondered why? There are all types of people here, existing on different levels of consciousness and one size and one advice doesn’t suit all. Leave Bhagat to his counseling and enjoy your blogging and reading and of course making hot phulkas!

Chrysalis said...

@Usha Sampathkumar: I do not condone any lifestyle either of a working woman or that of a career woman. But CB on the other hand seems to trample upon the value and importance of what a homemaker does in order to put the career woman on pedestal.

And even here he fials in my humble opinion and my working women friends agree. He fails because he is talking in monetary terms. Not how the financial security help her but how is makes life easy for the man!
By trying to break stereotypes he builds some more. He stereotypes the career woman and even makes her out to be some sort of an ATM machine. As a working friend of mine said "I do not work to earn male approval" and CB seemingly 'sells' her kind of woman as more lucrative!

I cut him some slack that he is famously a bad writer and maybe he could not put his thoughts as he wanted to.I wrote the blog after he had succeeded to infuriate both my homemaker and working women friends.

I understand your case but bad relatives could happen to a home maker or a working woman. And just beacuse one is a homemaker does not means she is sans friends...friends who stand up for you and support you is a blessing irrespective of whether one works or not. You cannot mean that only a working woman has supportive friends.

As far as Shri Krishna's gyaan, karma and bhakti maarg is foolish to even think we control our future. A job does provide financial security but it too has its limitations.
If we work or not, save or not we only do action...we cannot be controlling our destinies or cementing our future "if only I had done this" a useless thought. Karm karo aur phal ki chinta mat karo...because karm humaare haath mein hai phal nahin. Whether I will be able to take the next breath is also something I cannot be sure of. So Karm is undoubtedly imp but yes I know what the future would have been if I had done this paricular karm goes against the same philosophy.

So let each one do the karm they think is their calling at that stage of life. Let us not undermine any one particular lifestyle choice...each one to his own. That was my point which I felt CB seemed to miss. And also that women should do what they want to do because of a personal choice not because it is more practical, popular and lucrative for others. Follow your own it pursuing a career or being a homemmaker.

@Manish You are right. Our value system and choices too depend on history, culture and circumstances. I was definitely defending home-making but I was also speaking against CB's attempts to judge and position different life choices of women. Noweher did he seem to speak 'for' women ...he was speaking 'about' them and that too not very sensitively.

LakshmiRani Iyer:Agree with you totally. And you said it there are career oriented women who love to cook and will not outsource that work. As if cooking for your family is something to be ashamed of. What was he thinking. Makes me wonder what he thinks of the woman (most likely)/man whom he has outsourced his phulka making to :)

sanJ said...

Thank you so much for perfectly articulating my angst(and yours as well) against that horrendous article.........

Gautam Kumar said...

Really nice Article..Loved the article..!!

I am proud of my mother who stayed at home..and loved me all the way since childhood..She has put a simplicity..a sense of responsibility..honesty and sensibility towards people in my character..and i am a strong and independent man because of my mother's love and the time she spent raising me.!!

More over Its not only Indian men chose a traditional type of girl in Cocktail.
But if we talk of Indian Girls they also like to see features of a simple,honest man in their husband. Like CB quoted Cocktail for to say that there is a problem with modern Indian men mentality, I would like to quote "Hum dil de chuke sanam" and "Rab ne bana di jodi" where even a girl choses an honest simple boy character when she has an option to go to a MACHO and glamorous hero.!!

Apsu said...

This is the best article in response to CB's immature one-pointed comments. You said everything I ever wanted to say. Thank you for writing.

Monirupa Shete said...

I surely share the pride of being a career woman .
However, I would’ve still preferred if the author respected the independence of woman to make their life’s choices – ‘hot pulkas’ or board room?