Last week was Women’s Day. A friend of mine called early in the morning and said excitedly “Hey, Happy Women’s Day. Let’s catch up for lunch and then go for a hair spa. Everywhere they have given a discount for Women’s day.”
I have done my M.Phil in Women’s Studies and I was dying to tell her the actual history of Women’s Day. I wanted to scream that Women’s Day is not about Spa Discounts and Buffet Lunches. It is about women’s struggle against the pathetic working conditions in garment factories. It is about women’s right to vote and to hold public office. It is about ‘Bread and Peace’ where women took out rallies in Socialist Russia to express solidarity against the menace of World War I. Men were dying in the war and women and children were dying of hunger because women were not allowed to work and earn. Therefore, women took out rallies to fight for their right to earn bread and world peace.
However, nowadays there is no difference between Women’s day and Valentine’s Day. The Socialist revolution of women has been usurped by the mechanism of consumerism to promote products. Today, Women’s Day stands for the very things that women protested against. I am sure after knowing the history of Women’s day one would feel ashamed to take a spa discount. However, in this age of social media, we just love to do stupid stuff.
That reminds me of an old friend of mine, whom I met a few days back. Both of us felt super excited meeting each other after almost 10 years. She looked gorgeous; she still looked like she was in her twenties. We sat down and started talking and reminiscing college days, soon the discussion turned towards our present life. She said she was extremely happy. Her husband loved her a lot and tolerates all her tantrums and buys her lots of clothes and make-up. Her husband travels a lot, the kids go to school, she has a cook, one live-in maid and two other part-time maids, therefore she doesn’t really have much work at home throughout the day as everything is taken care by her staff. She spends her time either by watching television or shopping. She is part of a couple of kitty groups where she spends some time chatting.
Even though in college we both had humble lives, I understood that her life was far too comfortable now. She then added with a glint of sadness in her eyes that she felt bored having not much to do. I suggested that maybe she can take up a job to utilise her time. To this, her prompt reply was ‘I don’t need money, my husband earns a lot.’ I then suggested that maybe she can do some charity work. To this, her reply was ‘my husband wouldn’t allow me.’ I suggested that she can join a library and start reading books. She said she was not fond of reading. I then said that maybe she can pursue some hobby. To this, she burst out laughing that her only hobby was shopping and she does that whenever she gets time. Honestly, I ran out of suggestion.
Couple of week’s back we lost India’s first superstar actress Sridevi. When Sridevi was at the helm of her career, I was quite small to watch her movies. By the time I grew up and started watching movies, she had gone on a sabbatical. Therefore the first movie that I watched of Sridevi in the theatre was “English Vinglish”. I became her fan the moment I saw the movie. In the movie, Sridevi’s character Sashi Godbole was a simple housewife who was weak in English. But she took everything in her stride to learn the language overcoming all hurdles. She was such a self-dependent woman that she even paid the fees of her English classes with her own money that she had saved by selling home-made laddoos. Sashi was not merely a housewife wasting time watching soap operas but she was an Entrepreneur in her own rights who had a vision and dream in life.
There is no harm in being a house-wife. I was also a house-wife at one point. There are numerous women who choose to become a house-wife. But being a ‘bored housewife’ shouldn’t be a choice. My post is perhaps sounding judgemental. I shouldn’t be judging my friend without stepping in her shoes. Maybe, she is genuinely happy doing whatever she is doing. Maybe she is in an abusive relationship and her controlling husband doesn’t allow her to do anything. Or maybe her only dream in life was to get married to a rich man and live a life of luxury eating, shopping to heart’s content and having fun. And, worse maybe I am jealous that while my friend is living a life of luxury I have to work hard throughout the day. The options are multiple. However, I feel that irrespective of being a woman or man one should try to do some work or pursue some hobby. I really want my friend to do something meaningful like Sashi Godbole instead of getting bored watching Hindi serials.
Linking this post to #MondayMusings hosted by dear Corinne
and #mglinkup hosted by Mac.