I (and all the other women I know) am a literate Indian woman, which means I am in the top half segment of the female population of this country - 53.7% female literacy according to the 2001 census.
In fact, I (and all the other women I know) am more than literate. Over 50% of girl students drop out after the fifth or eighth standard. Only 28,028,205 girls make it to the secondary exam level. Which brings me to the top... (help, if somebody can do a more precise job of calculating), roughly, 5.6%? Have I got it right?
Now, according to a story in India Today, "In 1950, there were 14 women pursuing higher studies per 100 males in India. The ratio is now 68:100 (Report of Consultative Committee of Parliament, 2006)." So, the ratio is definitely getting better, although the actual number of women who go on to become graduates is only 12,136,839.
If you add to this the figures for technical and non-technical education which does not amount to a degree (the total sum of which is less than a million), it can be rounded off to about 13 million.
Since I do have a degree, that would place me roughly in the top 2.6% of the women.
And since I (and many of my friends) also have some sort of post-graduate education, whether or not it amounts to a degree, and since many of us have computers and net access and a job, you could safely assume that we must be in the top one percent bracket of the women in India; possibly even the top half-percent.
Of the girls I went to college with, we've recently heard that at least two marriages fell apart because of dowry demands. Harassment, physical abuse, the whole shebang.
One of my batch-mates (she has an MBA degree) has recently filed for divorce after her husband broke one of her bones. And it wasn't the first time he'd hit her.
One particularly nasty episode a batch-mate told me about: one of our batch-mates had been in the process of putting her clothes on when her mother-in-law yelled for tea to be served to some visitors. A little delay, and the girl was dragged out of the bedroom and forced to serve tea to a bunch of strangers in that state of undress.
This is us. The top one percent.
In all these cases, it was only after a few years of staying put and wondering what to do and where to go, that these women finally left the marital house. All of us are in our twenties.
Now, let us go back to this story, where it says:
"You grow up being told that you can be anything, do anything. You get a good degree and get yourself into your chosen career. By your mid-20s, you are on a six-figure salary, forging a path in a male-dominated world. You own your own flat, you look great, you feel great, you sleep with men—experimenting physically and emotionally—before finding the right one.
You hit 30. By 35— because you can't spare the time now— you'll decide that you want babies. You'll move to your downtown apartment, be a fabulous mother while running a couple of successful businesses. Oh, and you'll write a novel. An autobiography.Whether it happens to you or not, the truth— that you are free to live your life this way—is telling."
I couldn't help wondering - who is this 'you' that the story talks about. The Indian woman? The top one percent of women in India?
Like they say, nice story; tell me another.
Update: Have corrected some of the calculations in this post. And it does seem that piece was never written for Indian women in the first place. Look in the comments section for details.