A couple of weeks ago, I had a chat with a fellow freelance worker, a male, and he was worried with a very specific problem.
This friend of mine was having trouble convincing his future father-in-law that he had an actual career. The father, a Government employee all his life, was refusing to consider the boy for his daughter’s hand in marriage because he thought that it was not work, at least, not proper work. Even although the boy was completely happy with his life working as in Admin Support for a reputed organization in Australia, he couldn’t marry the girl he loved, because of this one reason only.
My friend did not have the one thing that parents look for in a suitable groom – a regular job where you have to go to an office every morning, wear a tie, and collect a salary at the end of the month.
I sympathized with him. Freelancing as a career – as a full career and not something to pursue to pay your tuition fees and internet bills – hasn’t yet become acceptable in society. Although we see hundreds of success stories around us, it is still not comparable to having a 9-5 job in a private organization or, better, a government office. That’s how most men freelance workers feel these days – accusations from the family, ridicule from relatives, scorn from peers.
The men, however, would bounce back from it – that I am sure of. It’s the women I am more concerned about.
So, what about the women? Are they also receiving ridicule, contempt and ungratefulness when they are becoming freelance workers?
On the contrary!
Just as freelancing is still not an ‘acceptable’ profession for men, it is being welcomed with open arms for the female population of the country.
I am strongly in support of women working, especially to the best of their abilities. It is their basic right after food, clothing, shelter, health, and education. Women who are educated – whatever their level of education is – should go out and look for work, and not stop until they have reached their final destination.
However, that scenario meets a break somewhere in the middle.
We are a different gender from men, there is no denying it. The responsibility of the family, the household, and our children has to, and will, fall on us. We are the ones who need to worry about how much sugar in left in the house, what’s to be cooked for dinner, when the next doctor’s appointment for our in-laws and parents are, when the next parent-teacher meeting for our children is. These thoughts – and many more – are always occupying a large section of our minds, along with other bigger pictures.
However, at the same time, these women are educated, open-minded and intelligent. They do not want to waste their engineering degrees in rearranging the furniture of the house, or their accounting degrees to make a monthly budget. They want more! They want to win the world, work side by side with the men – as well as above them – and to show their institutions what their true potential is.
Reality, however, has to be dealt with.
Once they become wives and mothers, many women are forced to leave the marketplace. It is not society, or their partners or their in-laws that are forcing them, but the situation. They have to stay home to look after their child, and most of them gladly do so. They compromise. They use all their energy to teach their children the ABCs and the 123s, and cook for them their favorite snacks, and take them out for art class.
Working from home, working as a freelancer is actually a boon for these women. They can balance the two sides of their lives. They can show the international marketplace their talent as an awesome developer, a designer, a transcriber, a writer. They make their virtual presence known, while at the same time, staying at home to keep an eye on their children. The children do not miss Mom because she is always there, albeit at the computer. They are happy; they do not feel neglected.
The women are happy because they did not have to leave their children with the maid so that they could work. They are working from home, earning a respectable amount that is helping the family, and at the same time, earning the appreciation of their families.
I know, because I am one of these women.
This is indeed the perfect scenario for mothers, and for women, and that is what the society is starting to think.
What I am actually concerned about is that whether this would slowly fit the glove and turn into the perfect scenario for ‘women’ altogether. Not just for the mothers or wives who have responsibilities at home, not women who are skilled and intelligent, and have potential but for some reason, not institutionally educated, but for ‘women’ in general.
In higher studies, some subjects are referred to as ‘good for women’, as I recall. Not because they were easy or unimportant, no.], but because studying English or Botany would guarantee a job in a school or a college, which is usually a safe environment for women. You will have a job, get paid, get respect and the whole works; as a bonus feature, you will get to come home by lunchtime. That sounded a little lucrative to me, not because I was a woman – rather a girl, at that time – but because I was incredibly lazy. Coming home in time for a little afternoon nap sounded like heaven to me.
I am afraid the same concept is slowly working its way to freelancing. Become a freelance worker, not because it is proper work, but because you are a woman and this is the best job for you!
I get emails from men and women – but mostly from women – who are interested in starting their own careers as freelancers, and these women come from a variety of backgrounds. Some of them have a Masters degree but are unemployed at the moment; others are barely SSC students who are very far from starting their careers. They all have one thing in common – they want to work from home!
I understand how important it is for the unproductive female population of our country – the mothers, the wives and the homemakers – to work from home, without having to leave their families. But why is this other part of the female population so interested in freelancing? Why is it that students of A-Levels or HSC candidates are looking for employment at home before they have had a chance to look outside?
Is it because we are slowly molding this profession so that it fit all women, not just some?
For those women out there, this is what I want to say: A freelance career is an ‘option’, not the best and the only choice there is.
I want to see women in the corporate field, in universities and offices, in entrepreneurship and in business; I want to see women try their best to be equal to men everywhere. I want to see women become freelance workers and ‘work from home’ because they want to, and not because society or anyone tells them that it is perfect, safe and desirable!
It should be your choice whether you want to pursue a demanding and full-time career, or whether you want to quit your job after having children and become a stay-at-home mother. The choice is entirely yours to choose a career that you are comfortable with – and no one else’s.
So don’t let society or media goad you into a safe career as a freelance worker because it is convenient; do that only if you want to!
With 10+ years of experience, I am a freelance content writer who has worked with 150+ clients and written 300+ eBooks, as well as thousands of articles and blogs. For the first time ever, I am launching my own mentorship and training program.