Sharanya Misra

Sonali Kulkarni, a very popular Marathi actress who I have always admired, in a recent interview took upon herself to sympathise with the men in our society for the immense pressure they are under to ‘be a man’ and earn at a very young age. I could relate to and agreed with her point of view on this aspect. Sadly though, that’s where the sensibilities ended. In a forum where Sonal Kulkarni could have spoken about equality for both genders, she chose to raise one by bringing down another. Thousands of women even today are out there in this very country fighting for their basic rights. And yet in one simple statement she chose to call them all ‘lazy’ and made them responsible for all the pain the men in her life had to suffer. There has been obviously severe backlash on this statement, and rightly so. Here are my two cents on the incident.

  1. Women who don’t pay the bills can’t be termed ‘LAZY’.

There are thousands of women ALL over our country who are homemakers. Some choose to be (like the ones Sonali Kulkarni only seems to be aware of). Others are forced to be. Very conveniently she chooses to not focus on the latter group in her pretty long speech. But whichever group a woman may belong to, is it fair to call them lazy?! Is taking care of a home, cooking, cleaning, looking after the kids, supervising the househelp easy? Is it easy slogging day in and day out with absolutely no pay, no holidays and no gratitude in return? Who does she think sacrifices careers even in today’s world when the children are growing up? Who does she think caters to the elders in a household looking after them in their old age as their moral duty? Here is a country where many women even today have no say in who they marry, leave alone what they ‘can’ or ‘can’t’ do after marriage. Even today, so-called ‘working’ women go back home and must still cook. In a world where there are talks about quantifying the unpaid labour that women do, it is indeed ignorance to call them LAZY.

  1. Women who have criteria for choosing their husbands – Where is this thought stemming from? Hello Patriarchy!

It is extremely easy sitting back on a throne of entitlement, having a say in every decision of one’s life and imagining everyone has the same rights. When Sonali declared her friend’s method of looking for an alliance ‘humiliating’ for the men, did she bother to think of the ‘WHY’? Why are women till this date taking ‘years of their lives till 27-28’ dreaming of a marriage to a financially stable man? Dear Sonali, it’s the same reason men continue to look for ‘beautiful, cultured, non-working women’ – the answer is PATRIARCHY. Even today, little girls are being brought up in a patriarchal system, being taught to make rotis and take care of homes before being given an opportunity to study! Even today young girls’ education is being curbed because ‘what’s the point of studying when they must marry and take care of their husbands’ homes?’. These girls grow up believing THAT is their job…to be secondary to the man in their lives, to build a home for him and live by his terms. What else do you expect these girls to do but wait for the man who can give them the most financial security. You say they choose men where they don’t have to live with in-laws. So what? So what if they want to stay in a separate home with their husband? Do men have to live with their In-laws? Patriarchy has affected all. To see the pain of the men and ignore the message girls are being brought up with is not only naïve but also offensive to the entire feminist movement!

  1. The answer is changing the system, not calling women names!

Very briefly in her interview she talks about the need for all of us to raise women who can stand up for themselves. I wish she had focussed more on that and asked WHY it wasn’t so in this modern world. Why didn’t she ask the audience who was applauding her, why had they not enabled the women in their life so far? How many parents sitting there had told their daughters to not marry immediately after their education? How many husbands out there had not told their wives to stay home and look after their parents? In one breath she calls upon society to empower them, clearly an indication that this still isn’t the case, and at the same time squarely places blame on the shoulders of the very women who had never been empowered. Realities cannot be undone. We all want equality. But how fair is to blame the victims of an unequal society instead of making the society itself aware of its prejudices?

  1. You meant “Financially Dependent”, not “LAZY”, Sonali Kulkarni!

This forum could have been such a fantastic place for one accomplished woman to raise lakhs of others. This could have been the place where she could have motivated many many girls who aren’t yet financially independent to stand up for themselves and put their educations to use outside of their homes. This could have been where Sonali Kulkarni could have shown many many women how to create their own identities and be equal partners in their marriage. It could have been, but what it turned out to be was an opportunity lost to uninformed and misguided thoughts.

There are ALWAYS exceptions. There will always be men and women who exploit goodwill. But presence of these exceptions cannot be used to take away from the very real problems at hand. Feminism is not about choosing between the men and the women. It is about equality and about using equity to get to that vision of an equal world. The battle isn’t against the men or the women. The battle is against the mindset, the thought process that encourages patriarchy! What is sad that when a privileged woman sits in a national forum and makes statements that stem clearly from a place of lack of knowledge, she can unknowingly set back the work of years and years of men and women, and unfortunately, judging from the ‘taalis’ she demanded, that is exactly what has happened here.

Image Source – Internet

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