One of the biggest taboo topics in India is money. Whenever the topic of money comes up, people get uncomfortable and change the topic saying: “Money isn’t everything”.
I think it’s about time to get honest regarding how we feel about money. Yes, money isn’t everything, but no one can deny that the absence of money makes life more difficult. In fact, we value money so much that we even pursue the illegal activity of dowry. Indians still practice dowry in all indirect forms simply because parents feel insecure to send their daughter to another family without money. Parents believe that giving money in the form of dowry will give safety and self-respect for their daughter.
Despite the fact that we value money a lot, we still aren’t sure if a job is a necessity for a woman as much as it is for a man. In fact, a job is the easiest way to make money. We all universally agree that men must go to work but we always debate about whether women should go to work or not.
No one ever said: “Going to a job is the wish of the man. You can never say that men must go to work”.
But we do believe: “Going to a job is the wish of the woman. You can never say that women must go to work”.
If something is a choice for women, shouldn’t it be a choice for men too?
I am not here to say that everyone must go to work; I completely agree that there could be situations where a man/woman cannot go to a job. I just want to address the double standards in our thinking. We think of one exact same thing with exact same value and impact as a necessity for one gender but an option for the other gender.
We justify the need for men to go to work by saying: “At least one person has to make money to take care of the family”. If money isn’t important, why do we even stress that atleast one person should work? And if you do agree that money is important, why is there such a huge pressure only on men. We not only pressurize men to go to work, but we actively discourage women not to do so.
There are 2 problems with this:
- We don’t give a choice for men. Whether they like it or not, we place the burden of going to work on men. And we glorify this burden by saying “Men are ambitious”. In doing so, many men are not able to pursue what they really want to do, if it could negatively impact the financial health of the family.
- We don’t instill the thought of career or independence for women. We justify this in 2 ways:
- By glorifying that women are the abode of kindness and the family wouldn’t do so well if she didn’t care for them (If somebody really wants to glorify women, they would do so in action by sharing responsibilities and not verbally compliment them.)
- We push back independent women who want to go to work by saying: “In the name of trying to be independent, women are just trying to be like men and are losing their identity”. (This is just a backlash against the progress of the feminist movement).
Earning money comes with lots of advantages. To name some:
- Financial independence
- Ability to manage money – Unless you make money, there is absolutely no way to understand how to manage it. And this is the reason why men are forced to make major financial decisions alone like buying a car or house. Men are having to take the blade in such serious situations and they are not having a partner who could complement them and help them in making such serious decisions that have lasting impact on the family.
- Self-confidence – With money, comes a sense of power. We all hate to admit this, but that doesn’t change the truth.
The self-confidence gained by going to a job is grossly underestimated. Just look around in your own family and friends circle. You can find lots of examples of women who are not divorced but are victims of an abusive relationship. Have you ever thought why those women aren’t just ending the marriage? Social stigma, even though one of the leading causes, is actually not the root cause. If the woman is able to be independent, then social stigma wouldn’t be such a big hindrance. If the woman is dependent on her husband financially, it is natural for her to feel scary to come out of that relationship. And this is one of the main reasons why divorce rates in India are staggeringly low because women feel insecure to be on their own financially. Money plays a much bigger part than we realize it does. It is high time we start believing that: “Money isn’t everything but it is a lot of things”.
A woman needs to go to a job for her own safety. Nobody goes into a marriage knowing they are marrying the wrong guy. It is practically impossible to know more about your partner in an arranged marriage, which is still the norm in India. When such is the case, the need for women to go to a job and earn money becomes inevitable.
To attain equality, I completely agree that men must share household chores equally but that also means that women must share the financial responsibilities equally. Just one without the other will still result in an imbalance.