Judging a book by it’s covers?

‘I really admire your way of thinking,’ said X as we were chatting, adding, ‘not like housewives normally think’.

And then she went on to explain how ‘normally’  women do not think like men and all this while trying to compliment me.

To say that I was gobsmacked would be an understatement. Does the way you think or the thinking process itself have anything to do with the fact that I am a housewife/homemaker. How does that make any difference?

It made me wonder about perceptions and prejudices. Do we judge and perceive people differently based on what they do? I had blogged about how I have seen people treat people differently based on different factors.

Does the fact that I am a homemaker, mean that my analytical skills or my thinking would be sub-standard ? Just by virtue of the fact that somebody is gainfully employed, does it make his/her thinking process in any way, superior? Obviously, the assumption is that because somebody is working, they are automatically more exposed to the world outside than a traditional homemaker who stays at home – but how true is it in today’s world? I know homemakers who are far more aware and educated than people with several degrees but no real education. People(both men and women), who despite having worked across countries are still so close minded that they could just be living in the neighborhood they grew up in.

It also makes me wonder how easily people attach labels and ‘sort’ people with that.  Surely every individual is multifaceted. What we do for a living is just one aspect of us. Some chose the career that they are in, some are forced into what they do by circumstances, but is it really an measure their capabilities? I mean, obviously some career choices do indicate abilities but does it automatically mean that others in other professions do not have the same capabilities? And more importantly, why is there such a big prejudice against homemakers? Don’t they have a very important role in the society?

The inherent prejudice just makes me wild.  It makes me wilder when people who should know better make statements like this.

60 thoughts on “Judging a book by it’s covers?

  1. It makes me so angry when someone says somethng like that. What does that mean? Housewives dont read current news? Or all we talk about our kids. It just drives me mad…

    I agree! It is so funny how people so easily generalize. Housewives just sit at home and DO NOT use their brains at all 🙂


  2. Completely with you in this one Smitha. It is indeed very sad that genralisations, and categorisations are so prevalent in the human mind.

    I know. I find it even more irritating that people also feel very strongly about these generalizations..

  3. Ah, now I know you are tryly English because you use words like ‘gobsmacked’ :-)…

    LOL! I never thought of it – but yes, gobsmacked is such an English word 🙂 There are so many words like this – which I used to notice when I first came here 🙂 Now, I have started using them 😦 Time to go back to India I guess 🙂

    Although we wouldn’t like to, but most of us still judge people by what they do and this makes me angry…
    Yes, I agree..

  4. Smitha, I think our judgements are ‘now a days’ based on what we want to tell people about them. Like, we may feel people are good, bad or whatever but we don’t tell them that on their face. So, reserved we are!

    Yeah.. Guess you are right.

  5. Its a sign of the times. Everything must be on show. Like a book cover. And no one looks at what’s inside. Because they are incapable of judging. Because their life and bringing up has trained them that way. And they move with a herd mentality, jumping on bandwagons.

    I know! ‘ Everything must be on show. Like a book cover.’ – Yes! Smartness is judged on what one wears not what one thinks.. etc etc etc..Herd mentality is definitely there!

    I’ve heard this kind of talk. What makes it fun is that I am now a housewife after 25 years of working, and thoroughly enjoying it. The faces of the commenters are a sight to enjoy, when they find out their theory has gone for a toss.

    That must be fun 🙂 I would love to see their faces when their theory goes for a toss 🙂

    Strangely, most such folks who comment are women ….
    I know! I find that strange too..

  6. I too have faced these types of remarks, because I stayed at home after my first child was born…tried to manage for 4 months and when the baby was 8 months old, I quit. I never regretted till today.

    Same here, Sandhya – I am enjoying every bit of the time I spend with Poohi.

    I have noticed many people, even in big super markets and shops, have the habit of asking ‘are you working?’ If I say ‘no’, their attitude changes! Is it because if we don’t earn, they think that we don’t spend money (unnecessarily’)?

    Really? That is heights!

    ‘I know home makers who are far more aware and educated than people with several degrees but no real education. People(both men and women), who despite having worked across countries are still so close minded that they could just be living in the neighbourhood they grew up in.’ Very true, Smitha.

    I just get angry at generalizations.. I do feel that we can’t judge people from just appearances.. you know.

  7. It is ridiculous! U know what though, I feel people try to find faults with anything and everything 😛

    Someone once told me I am proud that I am a working woman!!!! Cn u believe that? Hw does that change what I am .. its just my profession and not me!!!! I am working 2day … but may quit 2mrw .. what then? Will I become humble 😛 😛

    People! I don’t understand why our identities need to be linked to what we do – to me, that is just one aspect of it – an important one, but not necessarily the only one..

    Such ppl really piss me off sooo much .. I wud hv given it rt there actually.
    🙂 I wish I had you there then 🙂

    • Well Smithu, someone even told me that I am a very very cool married woman as they see me attending lot of concerts, workshops etc .. 😉 They mean we should stop all that once we get married? Whatz the relation I ask? Just that they think we might be working @ home all the time?

      Oh yeah! As soon as we get married, we are supposed to do all that – just sit at home 🙂 Goodness, even after 9 years of marriage, I am still such a bad wife 😉

  8. Its really pity that ppl still feel the age old system that bread earner is supreme power and those who are managing home are nothing…

    ‘that bread earner is supreme power and those who are managing home are nothing…’ That is the key! And it is really a pity!

  9. I have a theory…Maybe, people think that stay at home mothers are cerebrally challenged because they stay at home i.e. they can’t get jobs because they are not good enough or they haven’t studied enough to work outside…

    that must be it – though the inherent prejudice irks me 😦

  10. You are right. Generally homemakers are slotted into a category that is viewed with a bit of condensation. But then that is because a fair percentage of them are those who do not have the qualification or skills to pick up a suitable job. So it is assumed that you have left your job for the home because you either do not have the fire or are happy to live off your husband’s earnings. “That is so regressive!”. Personally I think the exaltation of a woman who is a professional is often misplaced. Slotting is just not on.

    I agree! ‘Personally I think the exaltation of a woman who is a professional is often misplaced’ -Yes, just because somebody is gainfully employed does not make the person superior or inferior.

  11. It depends on ones perception.May be an individual reach in a conclusion based on the personality of peoples known to them…….

    Absolutely! – I am not denying that – I just feel that a lot of times people assume and generalize – which I don’t agree with.

  12. Such a relevant topic,Smits! You I’ve had so many people-‘the educated ones’- ask me if I am working. And when I tell them I’m a homemaker,it doesnt take them a second to say,’oh really,but you dont like one!’ 🙄 I’m invariably left wondering if there’s any specific dress code for housewives!

    Yeah right! Common dress-code for housewives,perhaps 🙂

    Its so wrong to draw assumptions on merely what you do or how you look.

    ‘Its so wrong to draw assumptions on merely what you do or how you look.’ – Absolutely!! I know of people who judge others based on what they wear and stuff -and I find that so shallow..

  13. This is faced by most Indian women. The decision not to enter the corporate rat race is viewed by people as a sign of weakness.

    Yes, I agree and feel bad about it.

    It is mainly women who will give you a look of pity…they are the ones who judge you. If you are noy working then you are a bottom feeder with miniscule brains.

    Yes, so true..What feels bad is that people decide to judge based on such superficial criteria..

    I too have faced this when I was not working. It just irks me to death. I understand how you feel.

    ‘It just irks me to death’ Me too..

  14. Sometimes or rather mostly we are prejudiced by our experience!! We relate Houswifes with gossip, timepass, easy work etc. but we miss the vital point that running a home is as difficult as working in an office. It is a human tendency to demean others…not that it is justfied!!!

    ‘It is a human tendency to demean others…not that it is justfied!!!’ -I agree!

    I have stopped bothering on such things…u know once I was getting ready in the office Gym after my aerobics class. I started applying sindoor and a girl commented, “you are married? I said yes, why? No, I thought you were single, I mean the way ypu were singing in the bathroom I thought u weren’t married”. Now tell me does she have a justified reason for thinking they way she was thinking?? 😀

    LOL! The kind of preconceptions people have!!!!

  15. I might be odd woman out here. I don’t blame your friend much. Out of the Indian crowd here; I am the only one who was working. Ask me how the ladies meeting goes. All the time the topic always revolve around marriages;in laws ; kids and pregnancy. It scares hell out of me sometimes that if I continue to be in such company; one day I will become like that. Nobody has idea what is happening in outside world except bollywood.

    I am sure there are women like this – but I just feel that it is wrong to generalize. I’m a homemaker too – but I hardly watch any TV or movies. And I know of plenty of women like me who are homemaker but have a lot of other interests as well..

    I am not saying this discussions are bad but every single time ? It too much to take.
    I agree – I avoid company like this – where the conversation becomes so one-track..

    • Having said this ; it does not mean each and every homemaker is like this. I just feel each woman need to groom herself beyond the boundaries of home and explore that something unique she has in her. For betterment of herself and her family. There is no big loss than losing the individuality; it does not matter if one is homemaker or working professional.

      I agree totally with this. And we could easily lose our individuality whether we choose to be a homemaker or a professional.

    • Misty, tell me about it. I am a mother but I get so bored listening to some women go on and on about their children and from their to inlaws and visa/Green Card and aah! you get the drift.

      These same women set also blame women who go out to work because they pretend to be some kind of sacrificial goat (or is it lamb) to sit at home and take care of children. The truth is that most women who go out also does same amout of work after coming back.

      You know, Sols – it happens both ways – both sets of people could look down on the other. The point I am making is, that none of us have the right to generalize and be judgemental based on appearances or images. I mean, not everybody is from the same mould..

      We are a judgmental lot in general.

    • I trust there a lot of such good homemakers. Unfortunately the ratio is very less. Sometimes a lot of women give in. what I mean is; when you have certain norm around; people change accordingly. Besides we can not forget that those ladies who never got to see the world outside ( a lot of girls who get married just after college and stay at home after marriage) it is obvious that their world gets limited and confined to things they come across daily. Until there is effort, will and encouragement for them; they never come out of shell.

      While there might be a lot of people like that – would we automatically assume as soon as we meet somebody that they will be an airhead just because they happen to be a homemaker?

  16. oh we are so stuck in our beliefs and perceptions that we dont look beyond… another one I usually get it is u are drive really well for a woman…

    Oh yeah! I have heard that one!!! Once I was in a cab and there was this car ahead of us driving rather slow. The cabbie immediately starts abusing the person and says, that the driver has to be a woman to drive like this! I was so delighted to find out when we overtook him that it was a man 🙂 It shut up the cabbie for good 🙂

    good post smitha

    Thanks Mon!

  17. Great post and I can totally relate with how much I wonder about these perceptions and prejudices society attaches to people, so called labels. I have fallen prey to some expectations in the past, but am happy that I am out of it for good.

    I know! It is funny how people do seem blind to the fact that there are loads of people around who do not conform to these labels..

  18. I agree with you smitha… One’s knowledge doesn’t depend on what he/she is doing… But Its more because of the mindset we are in smitha, i guess…
    And also the TV mega soaps didn’t helps this much…

    Yes.. You are right. The TV mega soaps adds to it, if anything.

  19. Definitely not ! Homemakers have more exposure to the outside world !! — More time on net, more time for TV, more time for phone !!! 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

    LOL! That logic is difficult to beat 🙂

  20. Nice topic smitha.Even i heard people telling that their mom’s and wives have only 2-3 hours of work at home and the rest of the day they chat and watch serials.And i am sure no one can take place of homemaker and do her job at home.I feel all homemakers are unpaid maids without any timings and top of that they are told that they have choosen this profession.

    I know – I have heard this too.. and is so so irritating.. I think people have a tendency of looking down everything else apart from what they are doing.

    The above comment got published before i wrote anything.

    I will delete it off 🙂

  21. Smitha, I must say a very apt title for this post. We are surely judgmental and society has prepared their set of rules/behavioral patterns for each set of women whether working or a homemaker. And then they try to map those patterns with anybody who comes their way and then boast about their acumen. I just really don’t understand this, why can’t they treat me, just being me and not putting in any of the categories.
    Nice post and a great topic put forward.

    I agree. ‘I just really don’t understand this, why can’t they treat me, just being me and not putting in any of the categories. ‘ – That is how I feel.

  22. I can so understand where that’s coming from, Smitha. In the beginning, after I gave up work to stay at home, I used to be so annoyed at these sort of backhanded, even slightly condescending compliments. As if being a housewife meant you locked away your brain someplace! But soon enough I could see that the housewives too are quick to judge working women. They think that they are such martyrs for staying at home and that working women have taken the easy way out by “dumping” ( a word bandied about much too much) their kids on someone else. If only both groups would accept that what the other is doing is commendable!

    I totally agree! Both groups are equally judgemental! and both equally inappropriate. As for homemakers behaving as if they are martyrs are jsut as bad. I really feel that the person one is , is what matters – irrespective of what one does( or does not do) for a living.

  23. I think its got to do with our generation, where women are a more educated lot, and don’t necessarily enjoy talking about the grocery bills and in-laws’s saga. General perception is that housewives live in a tiny world of their own with no exposure to gross realities.

    I agree it is the general perception – but surely the more aware we are, the less judgemental we should be- but that does not always happen 😦

  24. Agreed.. one’s profession, lifestyle choice, clothes choice, talking style, and all the other environmental factors makes people judge and start the conversation in a different tone. We never do start a simple conversation for the sake of ti. It is always with a “mindset”
    Example: A friend of mine always has funny stories. She is exceptionaaly fair for an Indian. She always get mistaken for American or a “foreginer” > SHe has had peopl aronud her talk about her in Hindi.. thinking she cant understand it!
    Right here.. we did judge a book by its covers.

    Yes, that so does happen, doesn’t it?

    Its annoying, and yes.. the homemaker comment is definitely not acceptable.
    But the things, is we all do it at some level without even realising it!

    I agree totally – ‘is we all do it at some level without even realising it!’ We are all guilty of it some time or the other..

  25. a post after my heart..everyone who meets me first time aske me the same quetion..do you work? and work means do I hold a job? why because you lokk and dress and talk different..I feel so irritated with this attitude thta those who stay at home are dim witted and those who work outsaide are smart and intelligent.

    I agree. The prejudice of this sort is so irritating.. But the sad truth is that most of us have prejudices of some sort or the other..

  26. Forgive them for they know not the importance of a homemaker, the joy of watching your kid blossom…
    It’s prejudice, ignorance, small-mindedness, envy and maybe a combination of all above-and there’s so much of it around, and it’s just not worth getting rattled about.

  27. very very late in my comment here! But, I agree with what you have written!
    The stereotyping is very irritating!

    I remember back in college, a classmate of mine had come home with me during the lunch break. Usually, me and mom used to eat lunch watching CSI on AXN… But, since that girl was there that day, we both ate at the dining table nad mom was watching the serial.
    The girl then asks – “Your mom understands English? Or does she just watch simply for the action??” 😡
    As you can guess, that day was the last She came home and she got an earful from me for talking shit-nonsense!!! the excuse she came up with is – “I asked since your mom is a housewife” for which she got another earful from me!!

  28. wow! I know there is a discrimination or maybe discrimination is too harsh a word for the bias the people show towards ppl of different professions and education.

    Yes, I agree.

    Same with arts = dumb and science = intelligence subjects.

    Oh yes! People assume! It is such an unfair assumption. Some of my very accomplished classmates opted for Arts and I have a lot of respect for them because they did so, against the wishes of their parents -it was far more difficult for them to convince their parents that they are doing the right thing – and yet people assume that people who have done(or doing) arts are dumb!

    wierd na… narrow mindedness of people who think they are exposed to the world because they work in an office and are away from the regular duties of home for that period of time during the day! And even most homemakers themselves categorise and judge with the same criteria sort of dimeaning themselves and unaware abt it.

    Absolutely! It certainly happens!

    Me thinks there is a problem in the orientation programme which proposed women to take up employment, only the work factor was emphasised not the quality of it! u see… and no body seems to find fault in the theory

    Yes! I agree!

    Anyhow bad practice! ahaa can’t stand such kind!
    Same here.

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