March 8th, was celebrated like an international event this year with unmatched fanfare. Every newspaper, television channel, social media platform, website, actor, brand no matter how local or prestigious, contributed their two cents making women feel special on women’s day. I felt a sense of pride for my tribe as I read stories of inspiring women and heard them speak on the television set in my living room.
Most speeches I heard or powerful thought I read highlighted – “Women empowerment, gender equality, women’s rights, freedom, feminism” some strong yet hopeful words, aren’t they?
Among the several women who were bought in the limelight to celebrate ‘womanhood’, Mira Rajput’s interview continues to be the focus of discussion.
At a gathering on Wednesday, Mira Rajput told Mid-Day, “I am a housewife and wear that label with pride, Why can’t you be an accomplished homemaker? Accomplishing could mean anything one has their heart set on. I had a tough pregnancy, bringing Misha (seven-month-old daughter) into this world. Now, I love being at home and spending time with my child. I don’t want to spend an hour with her and then rush to work. She is not a puppy. It’s not that I am not a woman of today. You don’t have to compromise on traditions and ideals to be modern.”
These are the few offensive remarks that succeeded in irking every woman who read or watched this interview – whether a woman who work outside her home, or at home.
Endorsing Stay at home moms?
Firstly let me clarify I am a what you call “a stay-at-home-mom” and I don’t think Mira Rajput was endorsing our status in anyway. A woman makes a choice of working outside her home because she is career oriented or because she has help back home she can rely on, or because it is the demand of her circumstances AND because she thinks it’s a perfect choice for herself and her family.
Similarly, a homemaker (that is the term I like to use instead of housewife) makes a choice of being at home either because she is privileged (like Mira Rajput is) or because she does not have the capacity to overcome the social stigma associated with working women, or because she can not afford a servant, chauffeur, nanny, cook and decides to be all of this by herself, or because she is comfortable that way AND because she thinks it’s a perfect choice for herself and her family.
Mira Rajput’s comments did nothing to make me feel good about my stay at home status, it only allowed the aggressive lot to accuse me of taking undue advantage of my privileges, to make me feel worse about allowing my shining degree to lie decorated in the drawer, to make me feel like I lack the ability to multitask, to make me feel like my brain might just rust because I am not putting it to any good use.
Am I hurt ? Yes, but are these comments and articles and social media trolls on stay at home moms the reason? No
A tribe divided
A little girl in me became a woman the day she learnt she was a mom. Every little girl does and more than anyone else, she has other little girls who have experienced the same transition and have similar stories, by her side. No one apart from a mother can comprehend the joy, happiness, experiences, strength, depth and even the guilt of motherhood. But what saddens me is that it took a few remarks by a self proclaimed celebrity to dived us into two halves.
Do we really need to get out there and try to put forth a perspective, and why our choices are better than the other’s? Sadly, a woman is judged so often and so critically for the choices she makes that she lashes out at the slightest of the opportunity.
While a few passed harsh remarks about the celebrity herself, a few others demeaned the stay at home mom’s community as a whole. The stay at home moms have gone out there and condemned stating their choices are way better.
So great, one day we speak of unifying as a tribe, glorifying womanhood, and the very next day we are out there, being judgmental, lashing out, criticising and being a part of virtual fights.
The next time I meet a woman with a child I’d probably ask her if she is working or not to find out if she is on my side??
The fundamental point here is no matter what choices we make, we as mothers (as mothers and not as working mom or SAHM) want to do the best for our kids without compromising on our true selves. We do not need validation, we do not have to be defensive, or even give an explanation for our choices.
Femisnism is distructive?
So what is feminism all about? Is it distructive or is it empowering? It’s what you make it to be. To me it’s being yourself, being able to voice an opinion, being able to choose your own path, and being empathetic, being non judgemental, being able to understand there exists an opinion diverse and different from yours and being at peace with that.
What Mira Rajput said about working women treating their babies like puppies is downright offensive but what happened next is deeply heart rending.