Are gold digger women a reality or a cunningly crafted myth? It’s a valid question in a country where families still hold adult women back from working towards financial independence. India notoriously ranks near the bottom on the world chart measuring women’s participation in the working economy. Less than one-third of our female population is working, as per the latest World Bank estimates.
That scenario presents a dismal picture of the gender balance making up the labour force in India. Can it ever be examined without factoring in the social circumstances of women?
The numbers show what society abets. Girls in India are still raised with the foundational mindset of preparing them for marriage – their ultimate goal and duty. Financial independence is shown to be inconsequential to them. It may or may not come. But it isn’t supposed to matter because, essentially, women are expected to rely on their future husbands’ incomes for sustenance.
A well-to-do groom is often a key requirement when searching for a match in marriage for women. Even if the woman is earning enough. It is always “proper” that the man she is to marry earns more than her. (Talk about mollycoddling the male ego and disregarding the female one.)
This is a life most women in India are living. Without encouragement, training or formal education to support careers, they are obliged to support themselves through another’s earnings. So is it fair then to label them gold diggers for seeking the basic means of survival? Can we really accuse women of being money-hunters when society has rendered them incapable of fending for themselves?
Gold Digger Women Or Men? What Pop Culture Is Not Telling Us
This is not to say that such people who chase thick wallets don’t exist. They do, but is it really a gender issue in that situation? Kartik Aaryan-led Luv Ranjan films like Sonu ke Titu ki Sweety and Pyaar ka Punchnama may tell their audiences that it is always a woman in a love equation scheming to leech off the dude’s cash. In Honey Singh’s songs, the woman is consistently a high-maintenance ghar-gaadi-paisa questing figure.
Is greed or opportunism a woman-only trait? Are men not on the lookout for rich partners? As per a study quoted by Forbes in 2015, the percentage of men and women “gold diggers” varies across generations. So, according to the study, where 40 percent women from the boomer generation (aged 50 and above) were willing to marry someone for money, 40 percent men from the millennial generation (aged 30 and above) show the same characteristics.
Are the negative connotations of “gold digging” associated only with women justified?
The stock argument of those who argue against equal rights for women is that women already do have equal rights. We have “allowed” our sisters and daughters to work. They are moving out to different cities to stand on their own feet. They are earning for themselves.
But does this privilege extend to all households in India? Are women speaking money as much as they should? Whom does one blame for the lack of resources that would enable women to stop being perceived as gold diggers? Financial independence should be a necessity for all who can afford it. Making it accessible to all, especially women, is key to upliftment.
Views expressed are the author’s own.
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