Thursday, 22 May 2014

Housewives & Working Women - My Response To Chetan Bhagat

Chetan Bhagat

My mother worked for 40 years. My wife is the COO at an international bank. It makes me proud. She doesn't make phulkas for me. We outsource that work to our help, and it doesn't really bother me. If my wife had spent her life in the kitchen, it would have bothered me more. 

a man who marries a career woman gets a partner to discuss his own career with. A working woman may be able to relate better to organizational issues than a housewife. A spouse who understands office politics and can give you good advice can be an asset.

a working woman diversifies the family income streams. In the era of expensive apartments and frequent lay-offs, a working spouse can help you afford a decent house and feel more secure about finances.

a working woman is better exposed to the world. She brings back knowledge and information that can be useful to the family. Whether it's the latest deals or the best mutual fund to invest in, or even new holiday destinations, a working woman can add to the quality of life.

the children of a working woman learn to be more independent and will do better than mollycoddled children.

working women often find some fulfillment in their jobs, apart from home. Hence, they may have better life satisfaction, and feel less dependent on the man. This in turn can lead to more harmony.

We must accept and even celebrate our successful women. They take our homes ahead and our country forward. We may have less hot phulkas, but we will have a better nation. — Chetan Bhagat

What you have just read is Chetan Bhagat's opinion about women's role. I respect his opinion and the choice made. For those of you (esp Malaysians) who have never heard of him, kindly Google about him and his writings.

Our living cost has shoot up and yes I do agree that under the present condition, it will be financially practical for both husband and wife to work. However, I disagree with his portrayal of housewives in the article above.

In his article, Chetan made it sound like housewives are naive people who are born to make phulkas for their family. He has underestimated the role of housewives to a mere cleaner and cook who does not know anything about the world outside her house.


Let me tell you why housewives are among the most awesome people to ever walk the earth.

Both my mother and wife are housewives but that does not mean they never had a fair share of life in the office. 

My mother quit her job when I was young. She was 34 when she quit. She used to win the annual best staff award in the company for more than a decade. She also represented her company in volleyball.

My wife who is the same age as me was a 1st class honors graduate. She is smarter than me. She worked in the bank and also as a teacher for many years before quitting her job. She still teaches part time and her students love her. The schools she worked for has on several occasions, requested her to consider working for them again.

My wife and mother

Like them, there are many women out there who became housewives.

Why do I think they are great?

Because despite having a bright future in their respective careers, women like these willingly make sacrifices for the sake of their family. They let go career life because they feel that family matters more to them. My wife prefers to raise our daughter by herself than to depend on a nanny.

A man who is married to such women is probably the luckiest in the planet. Because he is married to someone who loves her family more than her own career aspiration.

How many men are willing to let go a prospective career to be at home?

It is not easy being a housewife. I have seen how hard life can be for them. Not only do they need to manage the entire house, they also need to manage the people who live in that house. 

If you think you are great because you are some Senior Manager with a Phd in office politics, think again because the housewife manages both you and your money.

A housewife is the de factor Home Minister. She is the pillar of the family. 

She is also the Premise Manager who takes care of the house. A Psychologist and Counselor  for her husband and children. Your 5 digit salary earned from the corporate world is actually managed by this Finance Manager who knows better on how to save and how to spend. She also knows what to buy and what not to buy, where to get the best deals, when it should be bought and for how often.

Whenever there is an event at home, be it a simple family gathering or a grand wedding, it is she who plans, organizes, and executes the tasks with military precision. If it was not for her, everything will be chaos or as what we Malaysians say, it will be kelam-kabut.

Chetan's claim that children raised by working women are more independent is actually a myth because it is a matter of how the child is raised. 

Most working women hire maids to do almost everything for their children. These children actually have a higher tendency to become more dependent than independent. 

But a good housewife mother will teach the children how to get things done in the house than to just do everything for them. She leads by example and that actually makes the children not only capable of taking care of themselves but also more appreciative of their mothers.

A housewife is not a naive person who does not know the world. In fact, she may know the world better than you do. If you want to know about the economy of a country, ask the housewives. They can give you more information on things like inflation, available goods, ration and living cost because they deal with it daily. 

Having said all these, I am not claiming that those career women are inferior or superior. But I wish to strongly make a point here that the housewives are not inferior to anyone. 

Many people are under the impression that women who work are much more capable. Let me tell you this, be it a woman or man, having a high position in a large multinational company does not make you better than others. 

I have met Senior Managers who are not able to even fix a simple problem at home. There was this guy who I know. He earns a 5 digit salary in a large company. He does not know how to bargain in a shop. He often gets cheated by paying more than he have to at the market. 

There was once a problem with the piping in his house after some renovation. I checked it out for him and asked him how were the pipes connected. He does not know because he just paid money and asked the contractor to deal with it. He did not even bother to take the ladder and check the piping for himself. He is too dependent on  others to work for him. Get what I mean?

There are also many corporate people out there who don't even know how to deal with people on the street. 

Although they may sound firm and authoritative in their offices, some become weak when confronted on the road. Many also do not know how to handle an emotional situation in life.

I am not saying that corporate people in general or corporate women are useless. I am only saying that success in corporate world does not guarantee you success in life outside the office.

Therefore, it is not right to stereotype housewives as less intelligent or less capable than those women who work. 

They are not phulka machines and they can manage life better than most of us. That makes corporate knowledge or office politics expertise sound really useless for a happy life at home.