Yesterday, I was going through Ms. Bansal’s blog, and I came across this post on Chak De India. I know it’s a bit late to write on this movie, especially as I have already written on it once. But, the temptation was irresistible. What caught my attention was not so much the post itself but a comment to the post. This comment, made by someone called Madan, presumably a man, sums up the overall attitude towards women. He says,
“In addition most men are pretty balanced in their outlook towards life,career and family and seem to have no problem juggling them irrespective of their maritial status. But all we hear from the female is constant crib about how society is somehow denying them their rightful place? Strange considering the fact most women marry UP and not DOWN. Men unfortunately don’t have the luxury of moving up the social ladder thru marriage.” (click here for full post)
He goes on to claim that men and women are given equal opportunities but the equality of result cannot be guaranteed. Equal opportunities? Really? What about the woman who is forced to drop out of school because the education of her brother is more important and the family cannot afford to educate them both? What about the woman who is married off at 18 and has 3 children by the time she is 23? And what about the millions of Indian women who work as house-maids because they face harassment and humiliation if they choose to do anything else? Does Madan and others like him have answer to why women are paid only half as much as men in the construction industry when they work just as hard? India may be on the path to economic development, but the hard truth is that women have to be twice as good as men in their careers to be considered as equals. A woman taking a few months off as maternity leave is seen as a liability to a company rather than as an investment.
Secondly, Madan claims that most women marry up in an attempt to move up the social ladder. Ever stopped to think why women prefer a man who earns better than she does? The reason is simple. Very few men can take it if their wives are more successful in their careers than they are. A woman chooses a man who earns better than her to avoid the ego clashes that will inevitably occur. There are other, more practical reasons for this. It is inevitably the woman who quits her job, or downsizes her career as Bansal puts it, to take care of the kids. In this scenario, it would only make more sense if the husband earned better so that the family remains financially stable even after the loss of the woman’s income. Of course, if men are willing to be stay-at-home dads, there would be no reason for women to marry up.
As for the claim that men don’t have the luxury of moving up the social ladder through marriage, nothing could be farther from the truth. Why do men ask for dowry? Because they think it’s culturally correct? No. It is because they know they are simply incapable of acquiring the money through their own hard work. It it obviously easier to ask your father-in-law for a car or a flat than to work towards buying one yourself. If this is not moving up the social ladder through marriage, then what is? As if this is not enough, another reader says,
“In fact , the woman survives on the money brought by the husband if she is not working. Everything comes for a price. If the woman is not working , she has to repay by serving her husband in lieu of the food and material comforts he provides her.”
What the hell? A woman repays her husband by serving him food and cleaning up after him? If it is business, then what about the free sex the husband gets on demand? Is that business too? A price to pay for staying at home and eating out of the husband’s earnings? If all this is true, then I don’t think we are talking about a family at all. We are talking about a profit-making corporation where there is no free lunch. And the job of a wife is simply that: a job. And, like all jobs, the employer can be changed. This is an extremely cynical world view and has no place in our lives. I do not say this citing Indian culture or society. I say this because as human beings, we all need a place to call home. A place where every action, or lack of it, will not be measured in monetary terms. I can only hope that this viewpoint is the exception rather than the rule. Otherwise, we will have to rethink our existence as human beings.