A couple of days ago, Marathi actor Sonali Kulkarni riled up feminists by saying something controversial at a live interview.
The clip went viral on social media, garnering a lot of support from especially men.
In this, she says that “many Indian women are lazy, they don’t want to work, and want a boyfriend/husband who sponsor them and International holidays.” That Indian women are “unnecessarily aggressive and complain to the HR at work when someone compliments them”, speaking of how she has wonderful relationships of trust with men, and shares equal responsibility.
On twitter, the comment section was filled with appreciation about how “she spoke the truth”, about “how alimony by law needs to stop” and so on. It was a field day for men who could display their misogyny and anger against women.
I tweeted about this as soon as I saw the clip, calling Ms Kulkarni out.
Who can give such statements that women are lazy, if not a privileged upper caste woman.
Look at women in this country. The amount of unpaid labor women do almost feels criminal.
She needs to read the Govt data on what women go through in this country.
Sit down, Miss Kulkarni. https://t.co/P8dHOuAERC
— Paromita Bardoloi (@Paromitabardolo) March 16, 2023
Very quickly, there were many more joining the conversation, the men mostly applauding her “courageous stand” as they called it, but there were also a lot of people who agreed with me. Women mostly, but also some men.
I don’t know whom she’s talking about . We all started earning at age of 20, most of us contribute towards house expenses .today’s women are more career oriented. People taunt us by saying “ tujhe kya jarrorat paise kamane ki pati kama raha hai na”
— Arpita Panda (@appy_87) March 16, 2023
We don’t need the likes of her tearing other women down.
I would see the song ‘woh ladki hai kahan’ and think why she didn’t get more opportunities. I’m glad now she didn’t. We need more women supporting women and not the ones like her tearing them down.
— anothercupoftea (@lilGoody2shoes) March 16, 2023
She was only speaking for the tiny number of upper middle class women.
evidently, society is only upper middle class for her. the rest of us literally don’t exist.
— Jaslein (@jasleinsays) March 16, 2023
She was clearly looking for applause for her anecdotal experiences.
Well, as she said, she wanted taaliya on this. So, she believes in using standalone examples from her life and generalizing it over authentic government data and percentages of the society, which apparently she doesn’t believe in. (1/2)
— Besan Laddooh (@JyotsnaPandeyy) March 16, 2023
She has no clue about what ordinary women suffer every day.
The fact that a woman choosing to be “lazy” was also a privilege until a few years back says a lot.
Sonali has a microscopic view of what women suffered and suffer every day. Being independent is a priority but if a woman does not wish for it, so be it.
— Rosa (@Rosalinedreams) March 16, 2023
Women are doing hard labour of all kinds and this woman is saying women are lazy?!
As if women in India do not work or contribute.Right from construction labourer women who leave new born babies and work in heat and dust to top corporates to homemakers who work without any monetory benefits.Her message is wrong on every level.Not to forget most men
— Darshana (@ravishingrani) March 16, 2023
Men have been having unreasonable expectations from women forever. Now if the tide has turned, they are whining?
Men want”beautiful,fair skinned,good cook,house manager,take care of parents”etc women.
Now that they too have started to have expectations it’s scandalous?
If her beauty &culinary skills are a basis for your selection be ready to be selected on economic criteria
Deal with it
— Sheen (@Sheenn102) March 16, 2023
Men agreeing with me.
Actually true. India has one of the highest representation of women in labour population, be it in agriculture, or any construction site around you, even sanitation workers, house maid and cook etc.
What she said is totally from upper class perspective.
— Apurv Samaiyar (@apurv_samaiyar) March 16, 2023
And the best take of all from fellow feminist Ekta Viiveck Verma who said this with well placed irony –
In essence she is saying that men will take up all unpaid labour from women and women shd be given the opportunity to become equals. I’m more excited at how she is challenging men to become better at domestic chores
— Ekta Viiveck Verma (She/Her/Hers) (@EktaVVerma) March 16, 2023
This is nothing new, so let me quote some numbers ahead
Privileged women are known to support the misogyny of men, and throw other women under the bus.
She put all of us under the bus. But she got what she wanted. The men applauded.
— Paromita Bardoloi (@Paromitabardolo) March 16, 2023
If you are an Indian women online or offline misogyny is a part of our lives. We see it, hear it and live through it. But what truly hurts is when it comes from a woman who has the privilege and the fan following.
There is something about Patriarchy, it knows how to create enablers. It knows how to make men look like a victim of its system, which only job is to amplify and lift men. Just today, NDTV reports that a woman named Kajal from Delhi was hit multiple times on her head with a brick by her father in law. Her fault- She wanted to work to support her husband.
And this is not just one such case. If we do a simple Google search, the recent National Family Health Survey, India says “Overall, one-third of women age 15-49 have experienced physical violence and about 1 in 10 has experienced sexual violence. In total, 35 percent have experienced physical or sexual violence. This figure translates into millions of women who have suffered, and continue to suffer, at the hands of husbands and other family members. NFHS-3 collected information from married and unmarried women age 15-49 about their experience of physical and sexual violence. Married women were also asked about their experience of emotional violence. NFHS-3 findings underscore the extent and severity of violence against women in India, especially married women. Married women are more likely to experience physical or sexual violence by husbands than by anyone else.”
It’s never a great day to be an Indian woman. We are also ranked 122 out of 190 countries by UNDP when it comes to gender equality.
As India celebrates 75 years of Independence, Indian women have a long way to go.
If you are a woman and you want male appreciation. Say something deeply misogynist. Say how women misuse law. Get opportunities easy and how they oppress men
You will have more love from men as well as some women
That’s how Patriarchy is. It cuts across religion,caste and class.
— Paromita Bardoloi (@Paromitabardolo) March 17, 2023
India’s economy is standing up due to women’s unpaid labour
Coming to the lazy Indian women who aspires to live off her husband, Ms Kulkarni conveniently forgets that India’s economy runs on women’s unpaid labor. In her 2022 research Mitali Nikore writes at ORF that “Women, on average, spend 46 percent of their waking hours on unpaid care work—8X the number of hours spent by men. In both rural and urban areas, women of working age (15 – 59 years) spend a majority of their waking hours on unpaid work, whereas men spend a majority of their day in paid employment. While rural women spend 8.2X of their time on unpaid work, the difference is far more pronounced in urban areas, where women spend 9.6X more time on unpaid care work.”
If women are spending 8 times more time in unpaid labor then why are they supposedly lazy? if so many men as they say are going out there and adding to India’s GDP, it is on the back on Indian women’s unpaid, invisible labor, like cooking, cleaning, raising children and looking after elderly.
Rahul Menon, Deputy Director of, CEDA writes in his research paper for Ashoka University that, “At the all-India level, nearly 92 percent of women aged 15 to 59 report having undertaken domestic chores at some time during the day. In comparison, only 27 percent of men at the national level report doing so, indicating a profound male-female gap when it comes to participating in domestic work.”
The mint reports that SBI research says that, “the total contribution of unpaid women to the economy is around ₹22.7 lakh crore (rural: ₹14.7 lakh crore and urban: ₹8.0 lakh crore) which is almost 7.5 per cent of India’s GDP.”
If Indian women unpaid labour is almost 7.5 percent of India’s GDP, how are women lazy and in which world can one be lazy.
India is a deeply patriarchal feudal society, where women belong to men. We are an extremely pro marriage country with one of the lowest divorce rates. Though more women are going to college, yet fewer women join or stay in the workforce. The reasons can be the pressure to marry early and have children. To support this The Mint Reports, “27% of women in the Indian workforce join work, about 48% drop out within four months of returning from maternity leave, 50% drop out mid-career before the age of 30 for childcare. Only 16% of senior leadership roles are held by women.” Also women who come back post pregnancy face sharp discrimination as reported in this article.
Women work all the time, even women with a paid job come back to unpaid labor everyday. Pleasure and leisure is still seen as a man’s domain. If not at a job, childbearing, cooking, cleaning and social activities take over women. Men relax post work, women keeps the home together. There are statistics that shows how married women do more household activities than unmarried women.
The social lens for a woman is cruel, she is often judged by the home she keeps, the relationships she manages, and the children she rears. In today’s time she has to be smart and be able to do everything. That’s when Patriarchy came with the toxic term, super women. This word means nothing but a woman with a paid job and unpaid labor without a complain.
Sexual harassment at the workplace and in public happens beyond the understanding of your secure life, Ms Kulkarni!
Ms Kulkarni also says that Indian women are aggressive and when someone compliments them they report to the HR, without understanding the context. Forbes India writes, “The Annual Review of the State of Sexual Harassment in India, a report by the Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Council of Ethics, said that most women who faced sexual harassment decided against reporting the incident to appropriate authorities. The report released in May said that over 50 percent of respondents experienced sexual harassment at least once at the workplace. Of the people who faced such incidents, 55.2 percent decided not to file a complaint. The informal sector, which includes street vendors, rag pickers, domestic workers, those working from home, contractual workers and self-employed people, complained of various sexual harassment incidents such as receiving sexually suggestive remarks about appearance, clothing or body parts; sexual questions; demands or request for sexual favours; lewd jokes or sexual anecdotes, offensive comments about sexual orientation or gender identity.”
This data shows how rampant sexual harassment is at the workplace and if women are angry about men being inappropriate and not just laughing at it, this should be the norm. Is Ms Kulkarni angry that women are speaking out and not taking everything with a smile?
Can we ask ourselves these questions? Think deeper into the issue of Patriarchy?
The Govt of India reports that 20 women die of dowry deaths every day. These are reported deaths, wonder what the unreported numbers are. How many families save to invest on their daughter’s business venture? How much is invested on a girl child’s education versus a male child? How safe has been the environment been so that the girl child can pursue her dreams? How much do we facilitate a woman’s life as we do a man’s?
There can be thousand such questions and thousands of data points that show how the whole equation is lopsided and how men are always at the winning end. Isn’t Patriarchy built for men to win and women to serve? Coming back to pressures on men to earn more, isn’t that too Patriarchy? How many men are comfortable with a spouse earning more? Also paid labor gives a man power, that’s’ why men don’t give that up for a woman. It does not matter how women are called Goddesses. No one wants to give up the power money gives that is why women have been kept out of public spaces for a real long time, a paid job is one such place.
Also yes, there can be women who would want a better life by marrying a wealthier partner, just like men who would want to be richer with dowry his wife brings? Though dowry has killed women, women’s wanting to be with a richer partner hasn’t killed men.
Betty Friedan says “No woman gets an orgasm from shining the kitchen floor.” Are all housewives happy? Don’t the world and its power beckon them? Doesn’t the freedom money bring allure women too? Do women enjoy reporting sexual harassment knowing the backlash it gets? These are the questions Miss Kulkarni needs to answer herself. With her clout and followers somewhere a young man is listening believing in it and hating a woman, that is how misogyny grows and thrives.
I hope Miss Kulkarni is having a good sleep after putting more that 80 percent of the women in this country on a witch hunt, because their labor is not paid.
Somewhere a man in some corner of India is telling a girl how lazy she is as she is not paying for the fridge.
— Paromita Bardoloi (@Paromitabardolo) March 17, 2023
What hurts is not that these views are common. What hurts is that it comes from a woman of privilege. When women put other women under the bus there is always a sense of betrayal women feels. As they say women can be the biggest enablers of patriarchy, Ms Kulkarni showed the way.