the working woman will always be a ‘housewife’ in disguise, even if the housewife is now a ‘home-maker’

Every afternoon between 1.30 and 2, a little drama is enacted in my office.

The working mothers (if not out on an assignment) grab a few minutes, however busy the schedule, and make a critical call.

A call to ensure the children have reached home safe from school, had finished their morning dabba, and are taking their lunch. In those few minutes minor admonishes, virtual hugs & kisses and instructions are also delivered.
Then it’s back to work, to meet deadlines and do the best one can.

You will rarely find the guys wasting time on making such inconsequential calls. Not for them the disturbance of routine to check on home or kids… they are dedicated career men you see. They’d rather use the ‘office’ time on other productive matters — there are axes to grind, politics to be played, cigarettes to be smoked.

Not for them the preoccupations of the ‘housewives’ parading as career women.

And as we women wind up for the day, having done all that is to be done, our disappearing backs are watched by disapproving pairs of eyes.

There goes the woman — home always a priority over warming the office chairs and ‘buddying’ at work!
We are not unaffected, we have merely learnt to take it in our stride — we, afterall, have lives to live outside (and despite) the work we do.
I know I’ve always been in a far more privileged position than most working women. I never cease to be thankful for that. My initiation into journalism was by a female boss, almost all of my workplaces, including the present, are women-friendly.

But the simple and sad truth remains that in the best of environments women will continue to be at the receiving end of sexist remarks. We will have to pick the battles we choose to fight. Some battles are best fought in silence. Some others with aggression. Every once in a while, we slip and fight it in anger — not the best approach, really.

I’ve always felt that men who are not married to working women should understand and appreciate our concerns better; the ones who grow up or live with working women may merely take it for granted.
Apparently, it doesn’t work that way and life IS simpler than that.

It is ironical that I even post this — as just days earlier my comment on madmomma was of a completely different tone.

As I said, the best of places sometimes house the worst of scenarios.

It riles you more than it should, because you know the sexist remarks don’t stem from even a remote truth; it is made all the same because it is an effective weapon to both make us feel insecure and to undermine who we are as a person and professional.


11 thoughts on “the working woman will always be a ‘housewife’ in disguise, even if the housewife is now a ‘home-maker’

  1. the mad momma says:

    SAME here… 😦 my noon call goes out to check on the kids. are they home? are they well? are they eating? put them down for their nap.

    When will this change? will it ever?

  2. imemyself says:

    Just yesterday, a lady friend of mine since college, commented on her Facebook page: “Conflict between career and parenting hardwired… only in the female brain?” and received varied responses, from social conditioning to men saying they want to be house husbands to outright questioning of female brain per se. there are changes taking place and this will take a long time. Meanwhile, it’s best to give such comments the gala ignore that they deserve… and most men who view working women as “housewives”, go home and compare their wives with their female colleagues…

  3. Sindhu says:

    Wonderful post. These insinuations will continue and will make us, the bunch of career woman, stronger in substance. All this because women have moved away from the age-old tradition of staying at home and started donning pants. God, aren’t men insecure!

  4. Sanand Ramakrishnan says:

    I understand your point. But I just want to say that not all men are like that. I make it a point to call home every day and check if my son has reached home safely and I talk to him and ask him how his day went. I call him at least twice from work and I call my wife at least once to make sure all’s well at her workplace.

    • UmmON says:

      this was a very specific issue. i am SURE it’s not all men. and i KNOW it’s not all men. but the attitude towards working women, from the best of men, is suspect at times.
      welcome to my blog btw.

  5. Anjali says:

    Hi Ummon,

    Really relevant post. I think it is a weapon they use (like you mentioned at the end of your post) to undermine us as persons and professionals. In this competitive world, this is yet another tool in some people’s hands to negate the contribution of a section of the workforce. It upsets me that not enough is talked about this in management circles and discussions, and that real productivity is not tied up with actual output.

    Best wishes,

  6. mummyjaan says:

    – I had to smile at the ‘little drama’ in your office. Are there any exceptions in your office – I mean, would there be any women who do *not* make that ‘critical call’? Would be interesting to know…..

    – Perhaps the men don’t call home because in most cases, the women do anyway? Just a thought.

    • UmmON says:

      no, all the working mums, and a working sister, make the calls mummyjan. and as for the men, none of them has a working wife, and no, i don’t think they place that call.
      but i do have friends (guys) who make the ‘kid-call’ several times a day.
      welcome to my blog.

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