Saturday, February 16, 2013

Rationalism vs Emotion.

There was this intriguing article by Chetan Bhagat some months ago, titled "Home truths on career wives". Here is the link for this article:

An irate response by a housewife has gone viral as well. Here is the link for the same:

Here is my reply to the responder, Richa Jha:

Dear Ms. Jha,

I read with great curiosity, your response to CB's article about Home Truths on Career Wives. While I admire your articulate writing skills, I am not so impressed with the content.

Besides the obvious point that you are over-reacting to the article, what is unconvincing is the 10 "rebuttals" that you have come up with. Closer examination of each of these 10 points reveal them to be mostly a mix of emotional rants and needless feminism.

(1) "I am a housewife by choice." - Irrelevant to the point, there was no mention by CB on whether women become housewives by choice or by circumstance.

(2) "Career Discussions…" - A woman who has an experience of working in the corporate world or pursuing a career, WILL ALWAYS be a better companion to have a career discussion with. Having a career discussion with a woman of no corporate/career experience, is akin to having a discussion with your parents - there may be pearls of worldly wisdom, but they may not always be grounded in the current realities of corporate life.

(3) "Petty office politics is not something we should waste our evenings and weekends on." - Typical statement from a housewife. It merely proves my point above, without adding any weight to your argument. A working woman understands the pressures of corporate life, and hence will be more empathetic of her husband's professional responsibilities. In the absence of such a partner, office politics is mostly discussed only at the office water-cooler, cafeteria or at the smoking zone, with colleagues whose advice is usually clouded by their own vested interests in the organization.

(4)  "Housewives with skills that help them earn while still being at home.." - The conventional usage of the term housewife refers to a woman who is not directly involved in any kind of income-generating activity. Going by your definition, Agatha Christie or JK Rowling should be called housewives who earn additional money by writing!

(5) Irrelevant remark. There is no debate on whether housewives are happy or unhappy with their lives. On the other hand, the extra satisfaction and confidence of being financially independent is true for anyone – male or female.

(6) "Knowledge and information..." - I would really exhort you to go take a survey of the average Indian housewife and test her knowledge of "Bach and Bahrain, Benin bronze work and bunions, Berettas and bhajis or Buchwald and Burke" and then compare it with a career woman and see who fares better. This is nothing more than a arrogant self-laudatory remark, which shows that you have no idea about the concept of a sample size. We all understand that  people (both men and women) fall at different points on the spectrum between utter ignorance and total awareness. Exceptional people like you may exist, but they account for less than a miniscule fraction of the entire population.

(7) You've merely rephrased point 4. Hence, refer my point 4 for the counter-argument. Again you seem to be unclear on the conventional usage of the term housewife.

(8) "I prefer travelling alone, whether backpacking abroad or exploring the lanes of non-touristy India. I plan most of them myself.." - Considering that you are a married woman with two kids, I sincerely hope that this is a lie, because if it is true, it merely raises concerns on the level of bonding and togtherness in your family more than anything else. I pity the woman (or man, for that matter) who makes most of her/his recreational trips without her/his spouse or kids.

(9) "Dependent mollycoddled kids..." : Nice to know that your kids have learnt to be self-reliant and disciplined - It's quite evident from your article that you are a hard taskmaster in real life. I will be neutral on this one - while on one hand, a child who gets less attention from his parents goes on to become mentally stronger and self-reliant (that's one of the reasons why parents put kids in a boarding school), he/she also runs the risk of falling into and getting influenced by bad company, if left unsupervised.

(10) Now you gotta admit, you wrote this one just to reach the figure of 10 :)

While I disagree with CB's idea of polarising women as either career women or phulka-making brides, it's absurd to draw unreasonable inferences from an article whose intent seems to be an entirely different one from what you construe it to be. I'm not particularly a fan of CB's writings, but I don't see that as a reason to get drawn into a futile debate which sidesteps the primary point put forward in the article and digresses to an unrelated train of thought.

By the way, the article by CB which went viral, was forwarded mainly by women.


Richa Jha said...

No Vivek,

I stopped at no 10 because Mr Bhagat's arguments didn't go beyond that!

I appreciate your having taken the time to draft a rebuttal to my piece. I am glad that it has generated some amount of introspection among at least a handful of people on either ends of the spectrum.

I'm not here to counter any of what you've written. If my piece helped you form/ create a certain opinion of me in your mind, it's your right and privilege as a reader to do so.

We react against things that we feel have been said or done in a manner in which they shouldn't have been. I didn't agree with certain things in Mr Bhagat's piece, I reacted. You don't like the points made in my piece, you have reacted through this letter. Point is, each of us felt STRONGLY enough about something to have left our comfort zones and raised our voices, in our own ways. I see that as a big thing. Mr Bhagat is a much loved writer, so my piece caught some attention. I am an ordinary person, so your piece may not get that kind of attention. Simply because, beyond a point, what I say holds little relevance to other people's lives. But Mr Bhagat's words, on the other hand, are eagerly looked forward to by thousands. And when a person of his stature speaks, there are bound to voices of both agreement and difference.

Thanks for sharing this link there, Vivek. And thanks for having read through my mine.

Warm regards,

Anonymous said...

Hi Vivek,
Loved your well crafted peice.
I am a working women by choice and let me say this to miss Jha, its no cake walk and its not easy AT ALL.... But I can face the heat in kitchen and in office, so I don't step out of both and mind you Richa, I actually make sure to give a good health drink to my daughter of 8 myself. And also go down with her to the park to watch her play. I read her a story and hear her account for the day before putting her to bed....
Offcourse, I think I am quite qualified!
I feel CB's article was targetted neither to me nor Richa...... It was for hordes of other women who want to work, but can't!

Thanks Vivek! I was begining to feel foolish for liking CB's article after reading these ladies, who though capable are still being judgemental.

I was also quite riled up by the rat race tag from Richa...

Anonymous said...

Much better points than what she wrote...i second with you completely Vivek except one...i am sure of her retrospecting the phantasm of lurking overboard with that piece.

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Anonymous said...

loved all your points vivek,if u had not written this article , i would have, but u have written it a thousand times better than i can put it up !!

Harsh Pareek said...

Hi Vivek,
I wanted to write something on similar lines, but I don't have a blog and I think I left a comment on Richa's blog. It just makes me sad that smart and educated people like Richa think they are helping something where in fact they are only hurting a positive change that could come. I also feel pity for the people who said "BRAVO" to her piece. They are foolish people but then they also feed people like Richa

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