Note To Society: Career-Oriented Women Don't Make For "Bad Wives"

Can't a woman strive to be financially independent, just because she is married?

Devanshi Batra
Jul 04, 2022 05:24 IST
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The good wife-bad wife game has been going on for centuries. Every man and every Indian household wants a good wife while we women still find it difficult to understand what exactly does it mean? I don't understand how our personal decisions make us unfit for marriage or put us on the path of becoming bad wives? Who sets these parameters and why are women expected to play by the rules that do not respect their priorities at all?

A "gharelu bahu" who knows all the household chores, is single-mindedly focused on taking care of the family and children, isn't ambitious, but is adjusting and is ready to make sacrifices for the sake of her family’s happiness is stamped and approved as a good wife by our society.

On the other hand, society believes that career-oriented women make up for bad wives. No one wants a ‘Zyada padhi-likhi bahu'. Why? Because a career-oriented woman would not adhere to the oppressive patriarchal expectations. Families looking for bahus often predict that such a woman will fail at taking good care of her family and children as she will be too focused on cultivating her career prospects. But what about career-oriented dads? Does thinking about their careers make them bad husbands? No? Why? Because that is what is expected out of husbands, just as expertise in household work is what is expected out of wives.

Society has always been uncomfortable with a woman who wants a career, shattering its long-held stereotypes. Any woman who doesn't agree with the set standards is a bad daughter-in-law, bad wife, and a bad mother.


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A lot of modern-day &list=PL7q0plMPm0wvyd-gLBLB56QvkvSCphFhT&index=4&t=585s">marriages are not forged on the orthodox terms that in-laws used to have decades ago- preferring a stay-at-home bahu over a working one. But a lot of families still have this preference. Women fear that after marriage their in-laws will put a full stop to their careers and stifle their ambitions, especially if they pay check is not essential to a family's financial requirement. "Beta kama to raha he, tum kama ke kya karogi," they are told.

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Another argument on similar lines that many women complain about hearing is "Izzatdar gharo ki ladkiyan kaam nai karti." When did work have any links with izzat? The notion here is that a woman stepping out of her home to work speaks poorly of her matrimonial home and its failure to take care of her needs. But can't a woman strive to be financially independent, just because she is married?

Maybe the world will end one day but moral policing of women knows no end. Telling women what to do, what not to do, how to sit, eat, live, and breathe, what makes them good women or bad women, and what makes them 'bad wives' apparently is all decided and imposed. Women are always seen as dependents and the thought of them being independent is too hard to digest for society.

Having ambitions for themselves, their life doesn't make women 'bad wives'. Infact, a financially independent woman will contribute towards improving her family's financial standing. She will also ensure that her children grow up to be independent individuals who can manage their own. A career-oriented woman also breaks regressive stereotypes in eyes of children and helps them see beyond the gender norms.

Instead of arguing whether career-oriented women make for bad wives, society needs to ask itself, why does it want women to shoulder all the household duties by themselves? Why can the labour of work at home be divided equally between men and women, thus giving both of them the opportunity to explore what they like to do, what they want from life, rather than what is expected of them?

Views expressed are the author's own.

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