Thursday, April 17, 2014

My eldest sister quit her job recently. Everyone made a huge fuss about it. The primary reason is that she made the decision back in February, and we only got to know about it late March.

It was my brother-in-law who dropped the surprising news on us during a dinner with my aunt and her family. The way it was revealed was casual, almost like it didn't even matter.

"She is going to be a housewife and look after me!" my brother-in-law teased. My sister just smiled stiffly - her usual smile, one that I am used to seeing and still don't know how to interpret.

This past month has been a bit confusing for us. Why did she quit her job? When? Why wouldn't she tell us? Aren't they going to be tight on money? 

Everyone has so many questions and not quite as many answers. My parents were taken aback and a bit upset. And I wondered why. Was it because they think that her being a housewife is a waste of talent and education? As I reflect on this, I realise that our society has come a full circle on the idea of women and education.

It is now virtually unheard of for daughters to not receive a higher education. More than 60% of the varsity student population are female. Asian societies, particularly ours, are already becoming more accustomed to the idea of a woman being educated at a higher level and eventually get a high-paying job. And when daughters give up their careers to take care of their husbands or children, people start to question. Why can't you do both? You are already earning so much, why stop now? Your education is wasted. 

While I am not comfortable with the idea of staying at home and not working (although this is very, very tempting), I support my sister wholeheartedly. One, she is my sister. Secondly, we are modern women and that we should be allowed to make our own choices, without being judged by other people. Our choices are valid and should be seen as valid by other people.. Being a high-flying corporate businesswoman is correct. Being a housewife is also correct. There is no right or wrong. And third, education we gained throughout the years will never be wasted. What we learn cannot be taken away from us. Learning comes in different ways too. And who is to say that your education is wasted? Because having a mother who received tertiary education would definitely benefit the children, even more so when she can spend more time with them.