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Married To A Feminist Man: Why Is That So Surprising?

Posted: May 3, 2014

Women are not alone in the fight for equality, as long as we have feminist men willing to be equal partners in housework. But, why is that so surprising?

Very recently, I had invited a couple of my friends (who had not met in a long time) home for a sleepover. After the initial squealing and catching up with our respective lives over smoothies and ice creams, the banter reduced to a lazy chat. One stretched on the sofa, the other lying on her tummy reading a book, another on the internet, while my husband and I prepared dinner in the kitchen. The ladies in my home that night differed in various ways; R – married into an Orthodox family but allowed to work, M – madly in love with a man living in a different country who expects her to relocate, and N – single.

That night, I was also introduced to another side of two women I thought I knew, who were shocked to see my husband in the kitchen. R watched him chop paneer for my palak paneer, arrange for drinking water when our purifier packed up the same night, go out twice to buy ingredients we had forgotten to write down, bring in the dry clothes that were hung outside and neatly fold them. She watched him play with our son, put him to sleep, and still make time to chat with my girlfriends through it all. At dinner, R told me that my husband did a ‘lot of work’. M asked him to marry her. N, who is in no hurry to get married, was willing to bear his child! All in jest, of course. But it got me thinking. Without trying to sound haughty, what kind of men were they married to or dating to be in awe of my husband going about housework as though second nature? Did it make him so attractive?

what kind of men were they married to or dating to be in awe of my husband going about housework as though second nature? Did it make him so attractive?

To put this to test ,while my husband was at his work desk the next morning, I cleaned and swept the whole house, prepared breakfast, fed my son, and sat down to talk to my friends in the portico expecting some sort of ‘marriage of equals’ or ‘good for you both’ praise, but heard none. It was as though housework was expected of a woman. Men handling infants with care and talking in baby language to engage a child is met with  disbelief.

Point in case, my mother. When my son was born, my husband looked at home cradling the new born in the hospital. My parents, on the other hand, stammered an excuse that it had been long since they held a baby. I understand that. But what I don’t – is the praise for a man handling his newborn, while it is expected of the new mother to bond immediately with the newborn. My parents accused me of making them feel left out simply because I opted out of the tradition of grandparents caring for a newborn  and asked my husband to contribute to childcare. It is for this reason that I share a tempestuous relationship with my mother-in-law who criticises me for ‘making’ her son ‘work’ in the kitchen! Similarly, I share an exasperated relationship with my mother for being in awe of my husband who lives like a wife! Yep, he’s my ‘wife’. For imbibing qualities that is expected of a woman – gentle, sensitive, modest, helpful…

Yep, he’s my ‘wife’. For imbibing qualities that is expected of a woman – gentle, sensitive, modest, helpful…

Now, I am of the understanding that feminism is the open conversation between a husband and wife. Feminism is lending an ear. Feminism is character. Feminism is awareness. And it has nothing to do with gender.

Pic credit: Quinn Dobrowski (Used under a CC license)

I find solace in quick-witted humour; yet solitude feels like home. I find beauty

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  1. Feminism is all about equality. And in these economically uncertain times, when both partners have to work for securing a future, it becomes even more imperative that both partners share the responsibilities of house equally.

    I have not been able to find any pattern in such men though. I have observed men who were raised in village homes (where traditionally a man is conditioned to make sure that his wife stays in kitchen). There is one section of these same men who consider it beneath their manhood to fetch a glass of water for themselves from kitchen. And there is another section which believes in sharing household tasks so as to give some peace and rest to their wives.

    And I have seen so called highly educated city men who are “progressive” enough to want a working wife but are also “traditional” enough to want a wife who would take care of kids and elders all by their own and do all the traditional household work after their day’s job at office is over. In short, a wife who would slog day and night without any rest or time for themselves.

  2. i really loved this article. Women who have helpful husbands have to be at the receiving end of catty barbs from other women. I too have seen these ‘other women’ gushing sweet sympathies when they see the man helping out but when it is the woman working herself to the bone, their reaction is a bored,’oh, so what?’ This article really hit the nail on the head.

  3. your article is insightful and thought-provoking. Syrupy gratitude for men who are merely doing their duty is as unacceptable as being blase` about a toiling woman.

  4. Glad to hear of a feminist male, which although is a rare species especially in a country like ours. Working hand in hand has become mandatory these days for a flourishing family. People, including women, need to understand why its important and stop passing these cheezy pitty comments towards a “working” man…thanku author for a great and not-so-talked about topic..kudos.. 🙂

  5. Hah, yeah, I get this all the time. My husband cooks more than I do and probably does more housework overall. Most people can’t seem to wrap their heads around that!

  6. Purnima it is a big deal 4 some yaar!I mean i agree its not grt dat men r applauded for such mundane, routine tasks.but in our patriarchal/male dominated society such ‘feminist men’ r rare.however modern d family maybe somewhere in d back of everybody’s mind taking care of household chores, baby etc is primarily d woman’s responsibility nd its a huge bonus if d man does it!!
    U r very lucky.nt everyone is.if we hav guests nd there are a lot of dishes to do.my hubby won’t do them, he doesnt expect me to do it either(whew, dats a relief in itself!) He ll say leave everything for d maid.But he wnt do it! Also if we r going out nd there is a hurry i m expected to manage myself nd dd.he wnt get her ready.also he will stay up at night when shes ill but not otherwise coz he has office.
    i m nt complaining bt these r things dat r taken granted for.plus elder generation is quick to point out ki i m at home.nt working so i m bound to take care of these things morally!For them equality could be expected when i m working nt otherwise!

  7. This article shows the change of our time. I found nothing new but yes the truth. I believe that you practice a life which is expected by many women. I would like to add a different notion with your story. My husband also cooks but that does not leave him to a feminist men. He does so out of his desire of taking food of his own choice. There are many examples which will land him in trouble. The point is we need to work on our attitude towards our partner and stop unnecessary pampering them.

  8. Its an interesting article. This article reminds me of my family and my parents. Am 30 years male unmarried yet and staying with my parents. Invariably daily I help my mother in various ways. I feel so proud of my dad who spends a quality time inside kitchen helping my mom. My dad is almost about to retire from his office. He has tons of office work, yet he still finds joy in helping mom and thanking her for wonderful dinner she serves every day.

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