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I Wish Sonakshi Sinha Had The Guts To Tell The World What It Takes To Be A Housewife

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By Lata Jha: 

I remember in our last year of school, we were casually discussing our future plans with our class teacher. In that warm, intimate, candid environment, girls admitted their desire to pursue everything from fashion to film-making to law. Suddenly, the shyest and most introvert of my classmates were opening up until one person piped in, ‘Sab yehi karenge to ghar ka dhyan kaun rakhega?’ She wasn’t being nasty or sarcastic or accusing us of unrealistic dreams, she was genuinely wondering aloud. We were all amused then, to say the least. But it only makes sense to me now.

I said something similar to myself in my head when Sonakshi Sinha was asked recently on a chat show about how she would respond to Kareena Kapoor who thought as an alternate career option, Sonakshi could be the perfect housewife. She said something about wanting to get married since she was sixteen and that she’d never imagined she would come such a long way in her career, but I wish she’d seized the day a little, been a little braver and a lot less politically correct. I wish she’d had the guts to say that it takes a lot to be a housewife and make a home, something that actors like them probably do not have the faintest clue about. That she’s seen her own mother hold a family together and would be proud to do the same at some point in her life.

sonakshi and kareena

I don’t know how many of us have had homemakers for mothers. I, for one, have. I’m not saying working women cannot run or make a home. Of course, they can. In fact, many of them do so beautifully. I have immense respect for women who balance their personal and professional lives, because it is definitely no cakewalk. What I do not understand is the pathetic obsession to see women who stay at home as having it easier in life, or that when we can’t ‘do’ or make anything else of life, we should stay at home, get married and look after the house. A female who gives up her career is no doormat. She’s either gone through the tumultuous ride of making a successful career and then choosing to settle down to domesticity and focusing on home and bringing up her children solely. Or she’s always felt that this deserves her attention more than anything else. Either way, she makes a decision for herself and sticks to it. On the other hand, if she’s been forced into it, it’s an even tougher battle. She constantly combats with the probability that she could be doing something else.

My point is that in both cases, it’s no bed of roses. We need to stop seeing homemakers as the lowest denomination of working people. Nowhere in the world do these women have it as easy as females in Indian soaps. They do not have the time to eavesdrop, complain against the world or take hours to wear what they do. It’s a herculean task and many of them exalt it without knowing what they’re getting into. What they make of it later is a different story altogether.

I don’t think too many of us realise that it’s more than a full-time job. There are no vacations, no perks, no salaries and very little appreciation or reward. You have to deal with not just limited budgets, hordes of paltry expenses, daily hassles but also crabby spouses and children who often don’t even acknowledge what you’re doing for them.

I think a lot of us girls are petrified of ending up as housewives. It would not just be an affront to the ego but the realisation of making the same compromises that many of us have seen our mothers make. Gender studies tell us of matrophobia, the fear of becoming one’s mother, of giving in to the same conflicts that we have with them. Of patriarchy, self respect, identity and so on. In these psychological tussles, we forget to appreciate these extraordinary women who make our homes. Who give us the impetus to walk out of home everyday into the world outside. Without the woman at home, there would be no home. So, we could be out working in offices, firms, schools, hospitals, modelling agencies or the mafia, but we would have nowhere to go and nothing to come back to, at the end of the day.

More power to the aam aurat.

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  1. Prashant Kaushik

    Just loved it. Its a wave of fresh air. Articles these days are full of cribbing and poison, esp blaming and dragging patriarch-ism in almost every discussion, as if men have their only purpose of life to subjugate women.

    But here you have, so gracefully established the rights of a big chunk of Women who rightfully deserve but painfully miss, their share of accolades.

    I have grown up watching my mother who has been a housewife since we siblings were born. I have always believed that the benchmarks of hardwork established by her are simply unsurpassable for me.
    I remember whenever we used to return home, whether after a long journey, wedding function, or market, we were often very exhausted and tired. While all of us could go, change dress, and relax, I always found her back to completing her remaining work. Even if I would cajole her to push those activities to next day and go for rest at that time, she would easily deny that.
    Even today when I feel my soul drenched out in job and studies, I think about her to and what she would have done in such tiring circumstances.
    And I believe that I must not be the only child in our country to have lived in such an environment. It is very much necessary that we must appreciate and not undermine the contributions made by a homemaker in a family.

    1. Lata Jha

      I’ve lived the same life, Prashant. Glad you liked it. Thank you. 🙂

    2. Nidhi

      Its not important weather you are house wife or working ,its a matter of choice ,sometimes personal choice sometimes circumstantial choice,but the most important thing is who you are.I have seen many working women so much dependent in their life and many housewives chose to get in background of their family,saying they don’t get opportunity ,but my question ,have you tried really hard .Here issue is not which is more important working or housewife,but the life of a woman.Do a women make an effort to lead a meaningful life, being a housewife or working is just a part of life.For an Indian women the most important thing is to make an effort to lead a meaningful life and this effort a woman can only make whose life is at the stake and all other things are secondary.I have worked for 12 years and for the past 4 years i am at home and both were my choice and i am happy to make this choice.I wont say here I made this decision for my kids or family but I made this decision for myself and i take all the responsibility of my choice and I am enjoying my life.

    3. Lata Jha

      Not just Indians, but every woman should strive to live the way she wants to and make it a meaningful experience. The means to do so should be accorded respect is what I’m saying.

  2. Monika

    My mum was a house maker, and trust me its the most rigorous work which involves management, labor, accounts, operations… Its everything in one. All of that without any pay, expectations or recognition. Great article Lata. This needed to be talked about.

    1. Lata Jha

      Totally. Thank you so much. 🙂

  3. shveta

    Such a beautifully written article. .. kudos 🙂 🙂

    1. Lata Jha

      Thank you so much. 🙂

  4. Shivani

    Also we forget, that its one job that has no promise of a retirement… I have seen my father, his colleagues and several others, face the tough times at work planning and dreaming about a time when they would not have to be at work anymore… fortunately for many, that time has come… when they don’t get up early, read newspaper till its almost time for lunch (of course the morning tea and breakfast is served while they are struggling with the rigorous task of engaging with the news paper… then there is the afternoon nap, evening chai served in the balcony, an evening walk and night time in front of the TV with sole custody of the remote, since kids are now on their own and wife …well she slogs in the kitchen… still gets up early, still worries about cleaning, carefully plans and prepares all the meals, performs all the several other chores, which because they are done and thus pose no threat to the smoothness of our lives, we seldom care to notice… for her there is no retirement … no dreamy discussions with friends of the time when she’ll not have to get up early, not worry about work getting done, no deadlines… her struggle continues ….

    1. Lata Jha

      Yes, absolutely. It’s a life-long commitment.

    2. Anukriti

      Well said Shivani!

  5. Nida

    At first I was appalled because I assumed It’s going to a be an article discussing how women as housewives are perfectly suitable. But, as I went on it was a beautiful argument stating the travail of housewives who have existed and stayed hidden for ages. I do completely by all means agree with you that these women are strong and must be respected. However, ideally I do not believe in the state of one being a homemaker. Be it a man or a woman. To deny either of them rights that the life offers outside the four walls is something I do not condone. As individuals, we cannot afford to dedicate our lives to somebody so much that we cease to exist. And the balance is only possible when the tasks of daily life are shared.

    1. Lata Jha

      Thanks for reading, Nida. 🙂
      I personally don’t have a problem with one being a homemaker. The world inside the four walls needs to be nurtured for one to go outside and beyond.What is sad is that these tasks are not shared but always left to the woman.

  6. Sayendri Panchadhyayi

    Lata Jha: A very relevant and everyday issue you have addressed. All of us should read this article:)

    1. Lata Jha

      Thank you so much. 🙂

  7. sadaf nirza

    I am glad you are the one who has written this with utmost sincerity and above all, you have got into the lives of the aam aurat 🙂 well written lata 🙂

    1. Lata Jha

      Thanks, Sadaf. 🙂

  8. somya

    I STILL REMEMBER ME TELLING MY PARENTS WHAT I WISHED TO BECOME AND AS AN ASPIRANT IT WAS SOME THING THAT WOULD GIVE ME RESPECT AND MONEY !! BUT SOON I CAME TO KNOW THAT THE LADY ALWAYS STANDING IN THE KITCHEN EARLY MORNING DID NO LESS THAN A CHARTED ACCOUNTANT , THE LADY MANAGING MY DAD’S FILES WAS NO BEHIND A COMPANY SECRETARY , OR THE ONE ARGUING FOR SOME ONE’S WELFARE WAS MUCH CAPABLE TO A LAWYER !!
    YET WHAT SHE RECEIVED WAS VERY LESS THAN WHAT SHE DESERVED !! UNDERESTIMATING THESE WOMEN AND THEIR POWER HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST MISTAKE OF THIS PATRIARCHAL SOCIETY !!
    I HAVE NOTHING NEGATIVE AGAINST THE OTHERS BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT EVEN I WILL END UP TO ” WORKING WOMAN” ! BUT A LITTLE CONCERN AND RESPECT WOULD THOUGH NOT BE ENOUGH FOR THESE HOMEMAKERS BUT STILL A GREAT ACT APPRECIATION !!

    I AM GLAD ABOUT THIS ARTICLE NOT ONLY FOR THE ISSUE BUT ALSO FOR THE FACT THAT IT COMES FROM THE PERSON I PERSONALLY HAVE BEEN ADMIRING !! ^_^ AND STILL CONTINUE TO .

    1. Lata Jha

      Thank you very much. Means a lot. 🙂

  9. Veda

    The challenges, battles and victories become more meaningful when they get associated with a woman. The woman builds, creates and nurtures the home and hence the society and the world; but still she doesn’t get any respect, her life long dedicated wholehearted work still goes un-noticed and society still says, a woman is good at home! Of course she is very very good at home, but also she is good at everything. In our society we worship the Goddesses, but forget to respect a woman who is the reflection of our most worshiped Goddesses. We always talk about woman protection, not the woman freedom. Can a woman choose to live her life by her own wish and interest in our patriarchal society? I believe when woman is free to think of her very own self, can feel her own existence and identity beyond her paternal and marital status and surroundings, then definitely being a home maker will no longer be a much degraded job!!!

    1. Lata Jha

      Absolutely. Very well said. Thanks for reading. 🙂

  10. nayal16

    we dont see koffee for their idealistic views but for sexual innuendos, rapid fire and bitching. On a serious platform she will indeed defend your opinion.

    Also being a house wife is the easiest job in world. But whats scaring is the amount of sacrifices that this job demands. You cease to exist as self and start living for the dreams of your loved ones.

    1. nayal16

      sorry made a comment without reading the article. yours is more striking. Reminds me of a very beautiful scene from Kramer vs Kramer – ” Why Mommy left”. Couldn’t find the video, but it sums up nicely the plight of a housewife going through mid life crisis.

    2. Lata Jha

      Thank you. 🙂
      Why do you expect so little from entertainment that you pay for, though?

  11. Rashmi Satapathy

    why don’t we just screw pop culture, media, and the icons therein and each human being does whatever the hell he or she wants without taking cues from other people? just have noooooooo idea why we even give two shits about sonakshi’s, kareena’s, or any other celebrity’s opinion as if it really matters. many women are happy and fulfilled being homemakers, so be it. seriously, discourses end up being soooo nitpicky and hypersensitive why not just chill out and live a little? the human race is so controlling and conformist it’s laughable. honestly, once you’ve ditched patriarchy and every person has his or her individual rights secured, i think we can all lay off as to what others are doing. live your own life however you want!

    1. Lata Jha

      My point was not that their or any celebrity’s opinion makes a difference to the world, but the fact that when they say something, it undoubtedly makes a statement. In a patriarchal society like ours, that is much needed.

    2. Prashant Kaushik

      I think the ‘Sonakshi Sinha’s name’ was mentioned in the Title just to gather reader’s attention. While going through the article it just didn’t matter at all which actress it was. Even if there was no such celebrity saying any thing like that, I guess the writer would have still went ahead with the same content. So just enjoy the main theme 🙂

    3. Just Somebody

      I know! cheap sensationalism!

  12. Sakhi

    I really liked this article. I consider it almost a fear to end up “at home” but its interesting to explore the kind of biases I must have underlying that. Thank you.

    1. Lata Jha

      Thank you. 🙂

  13. Shilpika

    There are some inherent issues with this argument. One is that only women make a home a home. This absolves men completely from any responsibility or involvement in household responsibilities and child-rearing. Qualities like nurturance and sensitivity, while more natural to women, are very much contained in men as well, albeit latently. By pitching working women against stay-at-home women we continue a vicious cycle that keeps us stuck. I think the questions we need to ask are: what does each women really want to do? how can we support each woman in pursuing her goals and dreams without attaching them with resentment or judgements (that might include being a homemaker for one and a filmmaker for another). And finally when will we stop assuming that home making is a woman’s role to carry out alone? Today’s men are more than open and interested in supporting their other halves on both their personal and professional pursuits. We need to allow themselves in, with love and enthusiasm, through open dialog and honest self-expression. It’s time to stop this notion that women are natural enemies and begin a new way of thinking where women support each others as sisters.

    1. Lata Jha

      Fair enough. But I think the very premise of the article is that women need to be respected for the choices they make.

    2. memats

      This is a great article about Fatherhood and the role men could play if we let them – http://www.theguardian.com/money/2012/nov/18/swedish-latte-pappa-shared-childcare

    3. Lakshmi

      Beautifully written! I felt the same resentment when I was reading the article, however I just couldnt put my thoughts to words. You have brilliantly done that!

  14. Sruthi Jayakumar Supriya

    This article is simply an apologia for patriarchy and making women glorified servants!!!

  15. Just Somebody

    Dear Writer, Did you bring in Kareena and Sonakshi to accelerate readership to your article? What are you doing on a platform like YKA, you should be working with the mainstream media! You played a very clever journalist here, as you haven’t said anything new. I happened to open this article because I admire Sonakshi, and could not hold back my curiosity. YKA needs to weed sensationalism out of here, if they believe the article has a substance! I have been an ardent YKA fan, please don’t disappoint readers.

  16. Madhur Khanna

    This is one topic that I could talk on endlessly. But all i can say is that, It’s true ! Very true! I personally think that domestic work in our country is indeed considered degradation. but today’s women, in spite of making it worthy, have succumbed to the societal pressure and have come to accept that actually domestic work is of a lower cadre. Men are earning, women are earning, but at the end of the day, they practically don’t have the right mind how to spend it on their quality of life. By quality, i do not merely mean luxurious cars and mansions, Quality of life is Mom cooking pasta for sunday brunch, Dad chatting with children on the table and and family taking off for a movie and lunch. And if homemakers are rewarded in that way in our country.. Even men would love to be homemakers i suppose.

  17. Swati Arun

    A lot of people would think what’s new in the article, but few of us have to keep reminding the others. There is nothing wrong in being repetitive. However, my disagreement lies with misreading into the lines of an individual. When this certain actor commented on Miss Sonakshi’s alternative career as a housewife/maker it should not be assumed that she was looking down at the job. Its no cakewalk right, then why react so bad on someone having having said it out loud. Should’nt it be a compliment? When we understand being a housemaker is tough and demands a lot from one, it is quite surprising to end up defending the job that it is full of hardships. How else can an individual react to such an honour, by making it sound toughest and an added burden?

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