Dipa Singapuri: What are your thoughts on house husbands?
Virginie Combet: I think that they’re awesome. There needs to be more policies in public and private sectors so that fathers who want to stay at home can do so. Parents – regardless of gender, career type or income should be able to stay at home if they choose.
Personally, I think I’d actually be interested in someone who wants to be a stay at home parent because I do want to put a really strong focus on my career. Empowering people is my life mission. It’s the reason why I live. My career is a big part of that.
I want to have 3 children. Ideally, I would like to foster and adopt them: give them a chance to be at a place where they feel at home and safe. I realise that as a single parent, that could be a significant challenge financially, logistically and even emotionally. A partner who would be willing and interested in staying at home would be extremely helpful.
I know that’s going to be hard to find. A majority of people still expect women to put their careers on the back burner for their male partners – even MBA students at Harvard, as this study showed.
Dipa: Why do you think that is?
Virginie: Centuries of gender inequality. The easiest way to maintain power over a group of people is to have control over their resources. For thousands of years, women have had to marry men because men and marriage equaled survival.
I think there’s going to be a backlash against women being the breadwinners because it changes the power dynamic at an individual, community and societal level. Anytime there’s a big change there’s a backlash, even if it is beneficial for people of all genders.
Dipa: Men make money, women take care of the house and kids. What is your view of traditional gender roles?
Virginie: Patriarchy forces you into a role that might not be a good fit. For men, it’s really stressful being the sole breadwinner. They may take jobs or promotions they don’t want because of that pressure and end up unhappier because of it.
For women, they may have passions or aspirations that they cannot fulfil because they are told their place is at home in the kitchen feeding the children. It’s even more difficult for people who are trans, queer, and others whose gender doesn’t align with their sex.
Dipa: What is your view of women who choose to stay at home?
Virginie: It’s great if they’re doing it out of choice. They’re the ones who know what makes them happy. If that makes them happy, fantastic!
My mum made a choice to stop working when we moved back to France so she could help us with the transition to a new country, educational system, to the new everything. If she hadn’t done that, I don’t know how we would have survived. She made that choice willingly and in partnership with my dad. They talked about how that would play it. I’ve talked about it with her. The consequences of that choice were sometimes difficult to live with, but she always said she never regretted it.
A big part of that is due to the fact that it was her choice.
Dear Reader, what’s your choice?