Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Indian women and the art of homemaking

Image Source : btvision.bt.com

To be a homemaker or not to be a homemaker that is the question. Well, personally I don't mind much being one, but there is this popular thought, rather an ignoble notion, going on in our market about this ancient profession being a member of that mephitic group of vocations which are known to project you in a sort of clich├ęd way. Don't take my word, just open your eyes and you will see homemakers presented in India as the over-dependent always-working-in-the-kitchen bunch, seldom having any life outside her culinary nook. These days women like us-- and by 'us' I mean girls having strong feministic views who find it difficult to interact with the fragments of the moribund society forever yearning to project woman in the subservient light-- are trying our best to make this job of homemaking look nitid and delectable. One can never learn to manage one's life unless one knows how to manage, or make, the home. The question that now arises is how do we change the notion of a whole country and make them see that women are much more than innate homemakers, and if given proper resources much fertile mentally than the male part of the population? I guess such a drastic change in popular opinion is due in the next century since a good chunk of India is still hidebound. Tradition teaches us to take our mothers as caring forces, and our male guardian figures as self-taught autocrats ruling the household with actual, meaty authority. And even though a large part of New-India vests equal rights to both men and women and condemns gender discrimination, as you step outside this ephemeral shadow of urbanization, you will catch the underbelly of the country as dark and fetid as it used to be a century ago. With the sudden (un) healthy growth of honor killings and sexual harassment of women in work places, it is more than clear that when female voice is concerned, India likes to see them spoken from the incarcerations of home. Shout as you may and repudiate this argument with well chosen words and expression, you, yourself, can hardly deny the fact that the whole country needs some brain washing machine to get it in their heads that women are the threads of the society that begot them, and in all cases deserve equal opportunity and respect. And homemaking is not the profession of the unintelligent.

When speaking about equal portrayal of women, a word or two need to be said about the ever growing movie industry. While Bollywood is showing much potential in developing somewhat strong female leads, the sas-bahu sloshes ruling the sitcom industry continually show women in the home, cooking and contemplating homely arguments. Unless the film and television industry of the country manage to emanate a good deal of patriarchal authority in the female thespians by presenting them in an equal footing with the male counterparts and giving them outside-home roles, merely calling actresses 'female actors' doesn't help.

Our aged relatives have undoubtedly drilled into our heads the idea that women are better off at home, and in the Mesozoic Era they might have been, but today they are not. Women need to reinvent themselves, and the roles traditionally entrusted on them need to be scrutinized. Nonconformism can never create positive results, it will fill us will gall, but tactfully living the problem can, ultimately, beget good results. Instead of avoiding over-pressuring girls to marry in the same caste why not give them the independence to start making their own decisions early in their lives using their own merit; a good level of independence will allow the growth of better judgmental powers in their cranium, thus when choosing life partners they will seldom make mistakes. The eye of authority needs to slacken now, and as India is getting ready to embrace the global Twitter generation, rural and urban India has got to make a treaty. I know teaching the second highest populous of the world the idea of something as paltry as female independence when then country is wrought by so many misgivings is not possible, but change, like charity, always begins at home. Remember home and homemaking is more important today than they were in the yesteryears. It is a challenging job as tricky and demanding as any other work-hard-get-paid-well jobs in the market. As women it behooves us to create better self-images of ourselves-- take on jobs you never thought women could take; get educated, it is never late to start anew; read books and articles and get into political discussions with the male members of your family; teach your kids to regard both their parents as equal parts of the home and always take pride in what you are doing. Such small changes will cumulatively add to the image of women, and may be someday we will see the real New-India where women, the spokesmen of country, are far more important than eighteenth century corny homemakers.

Article is copyrighted. Copyright  Barnali Saha.