Being a Woman in India

A few friends and family members have commented on the difficulties I must be facing as a woman in India. I thought my response and thoughts about the issue would make a good blog entry.

1. It's a true statement to say that it's difficult to be a woman in India. However, the statement is really only true for INDIAN women in India. A foreigner living in India or a traveler passing through India doesn't experience gender discrimination in the same way at all. I SEE gender inequality all the time and that comes out in the blog from time to time, but I usually don't FEEL the imbalance affecting me personally.

2. Here are the things that I have noticed that have made me mad:
-- men cook when they are bachelors, living on their own, but then stop cooking when they marry
-- even if a woman works outside the house, she's still expected to do all the housework and childcare
-- when a woman marries, she often moves in with her husband's parents (if he's the oldest male); from what I've heard, her mother-in-law can treat her as badly as she wants and often does
-- men can drink alcohol, but for women, it's socially unacceptable

3. Here are the only times when I personally have felt the inequality:
-- Once, our boss called Corey into his office to "discuss my poor performance" and asked Corey to write an action plan for me and email it (and also not to tell me about the conversation). Corey refused, told our boss to speak to me directly in the future, and told me about the conversation right away. I initiated a meeting with our boss and asked him to have more respect for me in the future. No incidents since.
-- A neighbor lady found out that Corey washes his own clothes and does most of the cooking. Since then, she's taken MANY opportunities to tell me (only half-joking) how lazy I am. Reasoning with her ("we both work outside the house, so we should both work inside the house") hasn't gotten anywhere.

4. One of the important, but subtle differences that I feel I'm making here is setting an example of an independent, confident female. The unmarried girls at work are just a few years younger than I am, but are still living with their parents, never worked a day in their life before graduating from college, and have never even thought about having boyfriends. So they're self-confidence and sense of empowerment is limited. But I encourage them to stand up for themselves at work and at home, and to be clear about what they want and not to settle for less.

5. As a couple, Corey and I have been trying to lead by example. Our friends and coworkers see a successful, modern couple that values equality and partnership. We both reiterate over and over again how it's only logical for us to share the work if we're both working outside the home, how cooking together is a great way to spend time together, how we split all work equally because we respect each other as equals. The reward is when our female friends end up telling us that they want to find a man like Corey. People have told us quite a few times that they like seeing us together and that we have a relationship like they've never seen.

So...don't worry friends and family. I'm fine. And Corey's not turning into a chauvinist...yet!