Why I think Chetan Bhagat is right & also wrong.

Barely a day goes by without our dear CB getting into trouble on Twitter. Being on PST means that I get all the news at least 12 hours later. Some days, I piece together the story based on the many angry tweets floating on my timeline and I think - "Uh oh, what did he say now?". But most times, I just ignore the hullabaloo and carry on with my regular, daily routine of being a homemaker (we will come back to my usage of this word later!). 

Like always, I would've ignored his latest article "Home truths on career wives" published in The Times of India. But people won't let me. They post it on Facebook. They tweet it to me, they email it to me. Almost as if I was meant to read it. Ok, done. Let's take a look at it, shall we? It starts off with a "Recently, I saw the recently released movie, Cocktail." If the redundancy of the word recently didn't stop me from reading the article, maybe the fact that an article about "career women" starting with a comparison to a crappy, regressive, taking-hindi-cinema-back-by-a-couple-of-decades movie should have served as sufficient warning. But I let myself get sucked into the CBness of the whole thing and I must say that I have to agree to parts of what he has to say. I've noticed that he has been battered to no end by women, whether homemaker or not, for this article and I can't seem to figure out why. Dear Indian women, stop being in denial, what the guy is saying is kind of right. 

Things that I agree with

Many Indian men, even the educated ones, have two distinct profiles of women — the girlfriend material and the wife material. One you party with, the other you take home. The prejudice against non-traditional women who assert themselves is strong.

Yes. All you men out there. Don't deny it. This STILL happens. This mindset still exists. Our generation is still learning, our next generation will probably be better, but this mindset that was set in place in our society since time immemorial will always be a part of who we are as a culture. I am lucky to be married to a man who partied with me and had the guts to introduce me to his family (as I am, with all my craziness and ambition and what not!). Some other women I know were not so lucky. Or maybe they were, because in the end, the men in their lives now are much more suitable, kinder and FUN (& might I add, ballsier). But this is where my anger stems from. Why is our society conditioned in such a way that a woman who is assertive, who speaks her mind, who is ambitious, is always made to feel inadequate because she is not more conventional or more homely or maybe can't make phulkas? (apparently this is a hot topic these days!). I don't mean to disparage the traditional set of women (for the lack of a better word), because there is nothing wrong in who they are either. Both career women and traditional women are REAL women. They have real lives, they have made their own real choices to be where they are right now. Just let us be. 

Things that were grossly misrepresented

Having a traditional wife who cooks, cleans and is submissive might be nice. However, choosing a capable, independent and career-oriented woman can also bring enormous benefits.

Who said that a traditional, stay-at-home wife has to cook, clean and be SUBMISSIVE? Why use the word submissive? If Cocktail was regressive, this sentence is regressive to the power of 1000. CB, what were you thinking when you threw that word at us? What are you teaching the millions of women (wait, who am I kidding!) who are reading your article and thinking - "Wait, I'm a traditional wife. I cook and clean. But maybe it's time for me to be submissive too." Psshah. Not happening, but still, don't throw such strong words around. There is enough hate on Twitter even without such statements. 

And about the benefits, well, it really depends on the woman you are marrying. A stay-at-home wife and mom can be as well informed about the world (and so called office politics) as a career woman. Being at home, doesn't mean being cut off from the world and its nuances. 

What our dear CB should've actually written about = Choice.

The common denominator in the comments on this article, from men and women alike, has been "choice". Many feel that, homemakers are at home, taking care of family and children out of choice and their choice has to be respected. Similarly, with career women, they are where they are in their careers because they made the choice to give priority to work (they did not abandon their families, they were just resourceful enough to find a way to make both parts of their life work.). And this is one important topic that CB forgot to touch upon.

I think the article really wanted to point out the prejudices in modern India about women who work. (I hate the phrase "career women" btw. Do we call men who work "career men"?). I've seen on multiple occasions when highly successful and educated women have been married into families that don't want them to work after the wedding. Familial pressure, more than their own choice, plays a role in them accepting the role of a homemaker. Yes, some women choose to be homemakers, but there are also those who are forced to do so out of peer and societal pressure. And to me, that is what this article should have talked about. Nothing wrong in making phulkas at home. But don't be prejudiced against a woman who doesn't make phulkas at home. While Indian men of our generation are definitely changing, this notion of having a traditional wife is something that is still prevalent in many parts of India.

In summary, yes, leave it to the woman to make the choice, but also keep in mind where that choice is coming from - is it coming from our age old notion of what a woman should be like, from societal pressure or from a woman's own independent will.