This exchange between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and a woman reporter took place at Chicago’s Krsna center during the summer of 1975.
Reporter: What advice do you have for women who do not want to be subordinate to men?
Srila Prabhupada: It is not my advice but the advice of the Vedic literatures that a woman should be chaste and faithful to her husband.
Reporter: What should we do in the United States? We’re trying to make women equal with men.
Srila Prabhupada: You will never be equal with men, because in so many respects your functions are different. Why do you say artificially they’re equal with man’s? The wife has to become pregnant, not the husband. How can you change this? Both the husband and wife will become pregnant—is it possible?
Reporter: [No reply.]
Srila Prabhupada: Is it possible?
Reporter: No. It is not.
Srila Prabhupada: Then by nature, one has to function differently from the other.
Reporter: Why does this mean that women have to be subordinate—just because they bear children and men can’t?
Srila Prabhupada: By nature, as soon as you get children you require support from your husband. Otherwise, you are in difficulty.
Reporter: Many women with children have no support from their husband. They have no—
Srila Prabhupada: Then they have to take support from others. You cannot deny that. The government is giving them support. Today the government is embarrassed. If the husband supported the wife and children, the government would be relieved of so much welfare expenditure. So that is a problem.
Reporter: What happens when women support men?
Srila Prabhupada: First of all, try to understand that you are dependent. After a man and woman unite, there are children. And if the man goes away, you are embarrassed—the woman is embarrassed. Why? The poor woman is embarrassed with the child—she has to beg from the government. So do you think it is a very nice thing? The Vedic idea is that a woman should be married to a man, and the man should take care of that woman and the children—independently—so that they do not become a burden to the government or to the public.
Reporter: Do you think that the social unrest—
Srila Prabhupada: I am thinking like this. You give me the answer! Simply you go on questioning. I will question you—Do you think this burden to the government and the public is good?
Reporter: I don’t understand what you’re saying.
Srila Prabhupada: Every year the government has to pay out millions of dollars in aid to dependent children. Do you think that this burden caused when the husband goes away from the wife this burden to the government and the people is good?
Srila Prabhupada: That has happened—because the woman does not agree to be subordinate. She wants “equal freedom.”
Reporter: And if women were subordinate to men, I suppose that would solve all of our problems?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. The husband wants that his wife should be subordinate—faithful to him. Then he’s ready to take charge. Man’s mentality and woman’s mentality are different. So, if the woman agrees to remain faithful and subordinate to the man, then family life will be peaceful. Otherwise the husband goes away, and the woman is embarrassed with the children, and it becomes a burden to the government and the people in general.
Reporter: Is there anything wrong when the woman works?
Srila Prabhupada: There are so many things wrong, but the first thing is, Why should some man’s wife and child become a burden to the government or the public? First of all answer this. Why should she become a burden?
Reporter: [No reply.]
Srila Prabhupada: What is your answer?
Reporter: Well, men are burdens to the government, too.
Srila Prabhupada: Do you think, from the social point of view, that this situation of women and fatherless children is a very nice thing?
Reporter: What I’m trying to say is that … this may happen to some women … I’m talking about women who are not
Srila Prabhupada: This is the general pattern. You cannot say “some.” In America I see they are mostly women…. The woman should be subordinate to the man, so that the man can take charge of the woman. Then the woman is not a problem for the public.
Reporter: Is this true for all women and all men?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. That is the law of nature. You take even the dogs—they also take care of their children. The tigers—they take care of their children. So in the human society, if the woman is made pregnant and the man goes away, then she is embarrassed—she has to beg from the government. That is not a very good situation.
Reporter: What about women who do not have children?
Srila Prabhupada: Well, that is another unnatural thing. Sometimes they use contraceptives, or they kill their children—abortion. That is also not very good. These are all sinful activities.
Reporter: Excuse me?
Srila Prabhupada: These are sinful activities—killing the child in the womb and taking shelter of abortion. These are all sinful activities. One has to suffer for them.
Reporter: Is the social unrest in this country caused because—
Srila Prabhupada: Because of these things. They do not know that.