Sure we don’t have the likes of the 70 year old Donald Trump showing off his much younger wife, in Pakistan but does that mean the concept of a trophy wife simply doesn’t exist in our culture. The most unfortunate thing is that the concept of a trophy wife in Pakistan has encompassed a new term, doctor!
Shockingly over 75 per cent of the female students who graduate from Fatima Jinnah Medical College don’t end up as practicing doctors in practical life.
The thing is in Pakistan being a doctor is just a status symbol? And the reason girls put in all this money, work, time and resources into their studies is simply that female medical students get very good rishtas.
Though lady doctors make great bahu candidates but the irony is she doesn’t practice in real life. At the end of the day her real job is to stay home, produce children and be a homemaker; a role which even a BA pass bahu could easy fulfill.
Now, why would a mother in law look for a girl who is highly qualified and then not allow her to work? Why would a man marry a doctor and then ask her to stay at home? And most importantly, why would a woman sit at home after investing so much in a career?
Mothers-in-law like to be able to say that their daughter-in-law is highly educated and lady doctors certainly qualify on that ground. But, mothers-in-law also want their sons and, ultimately, grandchildren, to be taken care of by the bahu. Stay home, cook food, clean the house, oversee the staff, teach the children and have no opinions — these are still the traditional demands which daughters-in-law have to face.
Every man in this society wants a trophy. Obviously, she must be good- looking and from a good family, but education is crucial. An educated woman makes a good wife and a good mother. But dinner must still be ready when he comes home and his wife must be at his beck and call. Obviously, this is not possible if the wife is working long hours at a hospital or in a clinic. So the wife ‘chooses’ not to work. I looked up the definition of ‘trophy wife’. One dictionary said it was: “a young, attractive wife regarded as a status symbol for a man.” Interesting.
For me, the last question is the most important. Becoming a doctor is a difficult and stressful educational experience for any one, male or female. You have to get good grades and put in long hours of study. Why give all that up?
When a girl finally finishes medical school and her residency, she is normally about 25 or 26 years old. This is past the marriageable age for most families in Pakistan. But for a lady doctor it is the perfect time to marry. Many girls get very good proposals and they are conflicted about whether to work or to settle down. For some strange reason both don’t seem like a real possibility. They initially resist and then finally give in to marriage, quite often out of the fear of dying an old maid, in the process killing all their dreams and aspirations.
There is so much wasted talent in this country. Over 51 per cent of the population of this country is women and most of them are either forced or convinced to stay home and raise families.
In Western societies, careers and family happen simultaneously. In some households, if the wife’s income is more than the husbands, then the husband stays at home with the kids while the wife works. In Pakistan, many times a man will slog away at a job he hates and that barely covers the costs of running the home, while a qualified doctor or engineer sits at home twiddling her thumbs. What a tragedy!
Pakistan has a shortage of qualified people. We need more doctors, more engineers, more teachers, more scientists – more of everything. What we don’t need are more stay-at-home mothers. And, it’s high time we learnt this.