Saturday, August 10, 2013

Housewives – for love or money?


All households will come to a grinding halt the world over, if feminists have their way. Years ago, there was a call for a global march of protest by housewives for pay. Housewives will tell their husbands and children to fend for them and march to wherever, demanding pay. Very commendable, but makes me wonder who will hand out the pay cheque to them and from what funds.
The dictionary defines pay as money given for service. The natural corollary of pay is an employer/employee relationship. It also presupposes a certain charter of duties, which have to be fulfilled to quality standards. A person, who is paid for her service, will also be liable to a cut if she does not fulfill her terms of the bargain.
From this, how does a housewife justify her demand for pay? Is there a yardstick by which one can measure the quantum of work she has put into deserving ‘pay’? Who is going to draw the guidelines? If she fails to work within this framework, which tribunal will pull her up for it and penalise her? If she does not receive her dues, whom can she complain to? If she is unpaid, who will fight for her? Have the women who came up with idea of demanding pay, thought of these attendant problems?
The strange part of it all is conceding on the part of the women, a ‘servant’ status in the home. By queuing up for money, they confer an ‘employer’ or ‘boss’ position on the husband. They are establishing the sad truth that their labour is not of love but mercenary.
As a housewife and a woman who is concerned about my rights as much as a libber, I think we should draw a line somewhere. Today everything has become an ‘Industry’ – temple, educational institutions, and hospitals. No one does anything anymore for love, but for money. People hop jobs for more pay and commitment and loyalty have become archaic words.
But one ‘worker’ stands out in the plethora of commercial-minded cogs in the wheel of industry. That is the housewife: She is one person to whom a smile, a nod, a word of appreciation is equal to a four-figure salary! She is one ‘manufacturer’ of food, who does not count the profits in terms of money but the empty dishes. She is one washerwoman who is thrilled by the sparkling clothes line; she is the seamstress who weaves love and care into the fabric of family life; she is the doctor who is dedicated to the mental and physical well being of her loved ones; she is the teacher to whom knowledge is a gift to be parted with; she is the friend philosopher and guide that every man and child looks up to.
Should she now step down from this pedestal to the base level of a union worker? So what if she cooks and cleans day in day out? Who is forcing her? She walked willingly enough into the four walls and keeping them intact is a tacit understanding. I think we should not lose our sense of balance. Let’s sing to ourselves.
“Stay, stay at home, my heart and rest; Home keeping hearts are happiest.”