Monday, February 07, 2005

how the other half lives

Apropos of whatever issues we have about being the non-breadwinning half of a modern, urban, cosmopolitan couple, with careers on hold (by choice or circumstance), I thought that this article in the Journal was interesting.

This part especially: "Today, it sometimes seems as though, after a long and painful bout of feminism, women are returning to their traditional roles as protectors of families, morals and the status quo ... But to read "Mrs. Bridge," is to understand that there is no going back. Even women who make their families their life's work now understand they have choices unavailable to their mothers and grandmothers"

Yes, we do this by choice; no it isn't a step back into the Dark Ages. Maybe we've come full circle; but this time it's a partnership of equals.


Blogger shyguy said...

I have a confession to make, I used to be one of those people who looked down on "mere" housewives --now talk about karma! The problem with me was that I had always equated money (or being the breadwinner) with power; thanks in no small part to my upbringing. My mother used to (and still does) nag us about "earning our own money" and never to "depend on any man" so I always thought that I would be one of those dragon ladies who were CEO's of conglomerates that you see being interviewed and featured on CNN or read about in the papers (nevermind if I was still single at 40 at least I had millions in the bank!) Well, surprisingly all I can say is that I have absolutely no regrets about the choice that I have made to become a housewife. And coming from a corporate background, this has been a most humbling experience for me. When I first moved to HK, I immediately fell into a deep depression as my "self worth" and "reason for being" (e.g. my job - pathetic isn't it?) had just been taken away from me. Not one multinational company in HK wanted me or were impressed with my credentials since I had no local experience and couldn't speak Cantonese even if I had 5 and a half years of Marketing experience in the mainland! The only ones that accepted me were companies which I thought were beneath me. (Very conceited, indeed, but I was highly conscious of my self worth and my ability to truly be an asset to a company of my choice, given the chance). Admittedly, my job search had been ill-timed with the economic crisis and SARS still looming. And you know what -- because of my depression (and stupidity) I had almost taken for granted the only person who accepts me for me and not for the money nor the prestige nor the power I bring to the table -- my husband! I just had all these blinders on and just felt sorry for myself the entire time. Can I tell you that I am terribly lucky to have met and married such a wonderful and dependable person who never uses his status as breadwinner to "power trip" and use this as a license to become a senorito around the house or worse, to fool around with other women just because I don't dare leave him? No way, Jose! (that's Jay's real name by the way). (Sadly, I do have titas who turn a blind eye to their philandering husbands because he "puts food on the table anyway" or "I get him to buy me whatever I want all the time" or my favorite, "it's just sex"). And, I never thought that I'd say this, but being a "mere" housewife has given me so much more freedom than I have ever experienced in my entire life! Compared to the days when I was a worker drone (bo-ring!!!), I didn't have any free time to do my own thing like pursue my yoga practice; cultivate new friendships (hello thursday group!); be a part time employee of an African safari company (uber cool job! won't ever trade it for FMCG* companies again); and even learn how to cook! Bottomline is, I didn't have the time to become the more well-rounded person that I am today (which is quite contrary to the view I had about housewives doing nothing all day!) Sure, I was earning a good living before but in retrospect, I didn't really appreciate it or fully take advantage of it. I was surely psyched about financing my 2 week trip to Europe all on my own for the very first time in '99; or spent my own money on exotic vacations with Jay back when were both dating each other. But most of the time I was spending it on all sorts of useless things just to fill in the void that was within me. (When I was doing my spring cleaning last CNY, I was appalled to see how much junk I had accumulated thoughout the years!) Now that Jay and I have a joint account (and therefore a tighter budget because of his single salary), it has actually "freed" me to make the right (or better) purchasing choices that we BOTH enjoy, things like dining at good restaurants; art; real estate; furniture; wine; and our perennial favorite, African safaris. I must admit that the only thing that I miss about working full time is the salary, but if I had to give up my current life (and all its perks) just for the chance to earn a monthly wage, it ain't worth it. (now, if someone offered to pay me a hundred grand HKD a month, maybe I'll think about it!) :)

*FMCG - Fast Moving Consumer Goods

11:30 PM, February 18, 2005  

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