THE LOOKING GLASS
Year : 2009 | Volume
: 7 | Issue : 1 | Page : 93--96
My Close Friends Lurk All Around The House, And He Knows Not!
Shakuntala A Singh
PhD. Deputy Editor, Mens Sana Monographs. Principal, and Head of Dept of Philosophy, Joshi-Bedekar College, Thane, Maharashtra, India
Shakuntala A Singh
14, Shiva Kripa, Trimurty Road, Nahur, Mulund [W], Mumbai 400 080
Technology is a woman«SQ»s best friend. Gadgets, appliances and contraception make life easy for the present day working woman. Men barely realize the importance of these even if they appear to agree to their use.
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Singh SA. My Close Friends Lurk All Around The House, And He Knows Not!.Mens Sana Monogr 2009;7:93-96
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Singh SA. My Close Friends Lurk All Around The House, And He Knows Not!. Mens Sana Monogr [serial online] 2009 [cited 2020 Mar 31 ];7:93-96
Available from: http://www.msmonographs.org/text.asp?2009/7/1/93/48837
As a working woman, I have to balance many activities, home, work and again home. Three shifts against a man's one. I have to do it all with a smile, with little, if any, help from the "gentlemen" at home, who prefers to lounge around, in "switched off work mode." And I balance all their demands with the guilt-ridden intensity of most Indian working women who want to prove their superhuman status as great workers and equally good home makers [Why do that at all is another story.].
While I move around the house, unknown to the others, I converse with, smile and wink at, and even caress, a number of my close friends lurking in certain areas. One is in the kitchen, another in the bathroom, a third in the dining area. Scandalised? The prim and proper professor with the proverbial skeletons in the cupboard?
Wait a moment.
Probably because of my academic position, some people thought it fit to call me to conduct mock interviews for prospective IAS candidates [IAS stands for Indian Administrative Service]. The well-read interviewers and the intense candidates were a treat to watch as the former posed intelligent questions and the latter fielded bright answers.
Finally, the men on the panel thought it fit to allow me to sneak in a question for a woman candidate. I asked a general question:
[Below is an excerpt of the interview as it went later. I quote from memory, so it may not be verbatim]:
Q. Do you think today's woman is free, liberated?
A. Yes [pause] she is [pause] free. [Perplexed voice]. She can do [pause] what she wants to. [Question mark on face, trying to figure out where is the catch.]
Q. Are you free?
A. Yes,[pause] I am free. [Still perplexed]
Q. What gave you this freedom?
A. [Pause] Father. Husband. They gave me the freedom to do what I wanted. [Pause] It was my father's wish I do something special. And after marriage, husband helped.
Q. But what exactly helped you to do what you did?
A. ???? [Question mark on face, trying to decipher what I meant.]
Q. Ok, let me put it this way: what helps women do what they are doing?
A. [Relief on face] IT. The computer, Internet. Great source of information, job opportunities.
Q. Anything else?
A. [Again talks of IT in different words].
Q. What else?
A. [Brightens up] Newspapers. Magazines. TV. With the help of all these I know about the whole world. The world is shrinking into a global village, liberalization and globalization and opening up of the economy are helping people come closer…. [And on and on and on].
Q. Yes, but how do you reach your work place? What allows you to reach there?
A. Ah yes. Train. Vehicles. Transport. That also helps.
Q. Indeed. But that helps not only women. Even men. What's special about it? …. What helps you to come out of the house? Who is helping you? Not your husband or parents, but something else helps you?
A. [Long pause]. ?????? [Quizzical look on face. Shakes head.]
[The other panelists are quizzically silent too.]
Q. What about your mixie, your cooker, your microwave? And your fridge, your vacuum cleaner, your washing machine? Don't they help you in coming out of your house? They help you manage household chores more than your parents or your husband, is it not?
A. Face lights up] Yes, indeed. [And then elaborates on all the technological devices that lighten a woman's burden].
Q. And? What else?
A. [Continues with some more devices, and repeats earlier answer in different words.]
A. [Pause. Again the quizzical look.].
Q. There is one more important thing. Try to remember. Which has helped us women a lot to get to where we are?
A. [Long pause.] Cannot think of it. What is it?
[Silence all around. Even the men panelists crane to hear an answer.]
Q. What about family planning, contraception? Has it not helped us?
A. [Sigh of relief. All the men panelists also echo the sigh.] O yes, indeed.
Q. When to have children, the number of children, the gap between children? Has it not helped a woman immensely -- to plan her family, decide about her career, job, structure of her family, and overall, the structure of her life?
I come home and ask this question to my husband: psychiatrist, thinker, editor. He replies almost identically what the interviewee said. The same pauses, the same searching of my face for the elusive answer, the same "ah" of realization when told the answers.
Men, after all are from Mars. How can he think like Venus when Venus herself doesn't?
Of course, I enjoyed the admiration that followed, a rarity, as all women should know. Men admiring women for beauty is common, but for brains, well…
Try asking these questions to any man, and you will probably get similar answers. And to most women, busy as they are, thinking and acting like men. As a reader, you must have also found it difficult to guess where all this was leading.
It is not that men do not understand the importance of science and technology. They very well do. It is only that they do not realize the importance of such technologies for women in their day-to-day lives.
The only other difference, as a good editor, he said, why don't you write about it for the women's issue of MSM .
So here it is.
Science and Technology
We can go on and on about the benefits of science and technology.
For me, it is enough that my mixer lightens my grinding, my fridge stores eatables ready to cook/eat when the hungry raise a ruckus, my microwave warms food in a jiffy to serve the not so "gentlemen" when hungry, the vacuum cleaner is of great help when the maid takes a leave, and the washing machine gets clothes ready when needed early morning, or in a hurry.
I pat them all, smile at them, wink at my favourite, the ever-reliable washing machine and gently caress the ever obliging microwave.
I also blush as I remember the Copper T and the pill, which helped me raise three sons, and manage one satisfied husband. And also I could complete my PhD and postdoctoral research, attend seminars/conferences, read and write articles, while managing to teach graduate and postgraduate students.
Husbands are needed. Maybe. Children are wonderful. Great. But technology and its gadgets are the greatest supports in women's emancipation.
If ever I have to make a thanksgiving speech - you know like the "lifetime achievement award" speeches--aside from parents and husband and teachers etc, I will not forget to thank these gadgets that made it all possible. And the great souls who worked to produce and refine them down the decades.
These gadgets are my great friends, lurking in every corner of the house. They are real friends in need, waiting to help, ever reliable, ever dependable. And the spouse is blissfully unaware. Alas, if only men could be as reliable, dependable.
Well, that also is the difference between men and machines.
Take Home Message
Science and technology are a working woman's best friends.
Take them home. That is the greatest take home message for this three-shift working species of humankind.