Panga Director Ashwiny Iyer Said Indian Women Feel Guilty When They Prioritise Work. The Men Need To Step Up
It’s not often that I feel privileged in life (even though I am grateful for a lot of things). And the fact that I am feeling rather privileged right now, makes me even sadder. I have to be thankful to my mom, who even though has been a stay-at-home mother, taught me to never compromise on my dreams. I never had to fight to follow my passion, have a career and not marry at an early age. That’s how I know life – men and women have equal rights. She has never expected me to focus on cooking, finding a groom, etc because our society expects that from women. In fact, she has never pressurised my sister, who is married, to make babies. My mother has been the most supportive person in my life and she is the one who celebrated every time my article got published in a magazine when I had just started out. You see, this is how it’s supposed to be and I feel terrible that I actually feel privileged to be free from any guilt while pursuing my dreams.
But I have known so many women who accept a life of compromise because if they don’t be the goodest nurturer, they tend to feel guilty. Even my bestie, who is as young as me, felt really guilty when her job required her to work shifts and she couldn’t give enough time to her husband and fam.
So today, when I read filmmaker Ashwiny Iyer’s interview around the same subject, I felt like the universe was showing me why it is this way. She pointed out how the quote “Behind every successful man, there is a woman” is terribly wrong because it simply reasserts the notion that a woman is supposed to be a supporting character in her man’s life. “It is very patriarchal and societal when it is said that ‘behind every man, there is a woman’ as she takes care of the house and does everything else, whereas a man can go out and work,”Ashwiny told PTI.
She further added how our patriarchal society makes it almost impossible for several women to have a career. “There are so many stories. Some women have house help or in-laws or parents or a supportive husband but most of them do not have any kind of help. It is a guilt that comes in place, you always feel you need to be there for your family,” Ashwiny explained. This is really sad because while some of us have supporting parents (thanks mum!), a great husband (else I’m not getting married!) and domestic help (else I’m not getting married), some of us have to make do with what we have and be thankful for it.
She is the woman behind Bareilly Ki Barfi and the upcoming Panga featuring Kangana Ranaut and Neena Gupta. While the former gave us a refreshing change from the stereotypical leading lady, the latter is inspired by Jaya Nigam, a national-level Kabaddi champion and a mother who wants to return to the sport. “It is a guilt thing. If they want, they could follow their dreams. I have been rotating since last few days as I am busy with my film but I am feeling guilty (of not being there for my kids). It is inherent, it is so ingrained in our system that it seems you are doing something wrong,” Ashwiny expressed.
She further added, “Maybe after Panga, I hope the new thing can be, ‘Behind every woman, there is a man’. The perception, the notion should change. We are not superwoman, they look good in movies. We need to have the whole idea of co-existence and co-parenting.”
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Women are not born to reproduce and nurture. We have ambitions, dreams and we are capable enough to achieve them. For ages, Indian dads have been simply making the moolah and Indian mothers have been leading the responsibility of raising the kids and taking care of domestic operations. And if she wants to work, that’s an add-on and she has to learn to manage both home and work. Thankfully, millennials are changing that and we believe in the concept of co-existence and co-parenting. But that’s largely limited and I hope someday, women will not know this guilt that’s always in the back of their mind doesn’t need to be there.