Culture, Gender & Identity, Life

I refuse to be your trophy doctor wife

Why is life so unfair for a woman? Before we get married, we’re told to study and get a degree, but what is the point of that degree when our future in-laws expect round rotis every night?

The feeling of my heart sinking was so distinct, I was surprised my internal organs didn’t go down with it. Was my future going to end up like hers? Sitting at home with a title and a degree, cleaning diapers and cooking? I knew that anyone could work hard and get a degree, but would they continue practicing and using that degree after marriage?

In a typical Brown family, girls are taught that education is necessary to live successful lives. Lives different from our immigrant parents, who struggled to earn enough to support us. Our parents pushed us to become doctors or engineers, but after marriage, our in-laws push us to stop working.

As someone working hard to become a doctor, I spend most of my time slaving over books and praying that I get into medical school to become a psychiatrist. It never occurred to me to think about my future and how marriage might affect my career, until my friend asked me a question no one had confronted me with yet.

“Will you keep practicing after you get married?”

For a moment, I was confused. Why would I spend years studying and stressing, just to sit at home and be a housewife? But she told me that marriage changes everything, that sometimes we are forced to make sacrifices. Her cousin was a cardiologist, one of the most competitive residencies to get into, and she dropped over twelve years of education to sit at home and take care of her kids because her husband asked her to. When I asked the former cardiologist why she would make that decision, she said that no one at home would teach her kids the important values that she wanted them to learn so she choose her kids over her career.

Why is life so unfair for a woman?  Before we get married, we’re told to study and get a degree, but what the hell is the point of that degree when our future in-laws expect round rotis every night?  The demand for a wife that’s a doctor is very high – top of the list for every rishta aunty. Everyone wants a doctor wife, yet they don’t actually want us to work as a doctor.

Is our degree just a pretty trophy that sits on a shelf and collects dust? Or is it an item on a checklist that potential proposals can check off? Yes, she’s a doctor! -but we also want her to cook, clean and stay at home. In the medical field, there is no such thing as a doctor housewife. Only one exists, so pick one and don’t ask us to change.

While this might be an issue that troubles girls more than guys, some men are also noticing this issue when they take their wives to the doctor and can’t find a female practitioner.

When my uncle brought up the issue about how woman stop practicing being a doctor after they get married, I was shocked. Here was a real life, red-blooded male that had uncovered an issue not even my own father had mentioned. Unfortunately, he also believed that women shouldn’t apply to medical school and leave the seats open to men, if they weren’t planning to continue after marriage.  It made me angry that people believe it’s the girls fault because she doesn’t continue her career.

She stopped practicing- her fault. She doesn’t take care of the kids because of her work – her fault.

I call bull.

I may not know what my future holds, but I know that I will try my best to keep my career and not let anyone’s opinion about my life stop me. In the end, it’s my life and my choice. If I choose my career, do not expect some round naans and traditional food.

Instead, be prepared for compromise and some Chinese takeout.