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Family, society, advertisements, popular media, all underline that household chores are ‘women’s work’. Someone needs to break this vicious cycle!
Housekeeping and cleaning chores are never portrayed to be a man’s job, the reason why we never see men at safedi ki chamkar, bartan mein chamak, toilets ki mehak advertisements.
In my growing up years in the last century, good women were ones whose samajhdari lay in choice of the right detergent, shining pots and pans, keeping bathrooms squeaky clean where you could be shamed if they smelled, but strangely, guys never bothered to learn any of this.
Two decades into the 21st century, not much has changed. A flamboyant king Khan coaches kids, Ranveer jumps in the forest and high seas for cola, dapper boy Hrithik does cart wheels and clothes get washed magically, and nothing less than a helicopter will do for tiger Salman to fetch a bottle of coke.
So, nobody picked up the lowly detergents, sabun, and toilet cleaners that fell to the lot of women. Gender stereotyping of household chores in Indian society has a huge barrier for women to break free yesterday, and still is today.
Narayan Murthy of Infosys once commented that he washed his toilet himself, pointing towards our dislike for menial jobs, but we pretend not to hear them. Mahatma Gandhi too publicly cleaned toilets himself to help us overcome the stigma attached, but sadly, nothing’s changed much for the desi girl.
Woman often complain that no one wants to do the dirty work of cleaning toilet or household chores. I remember when we decided to meet up on a Saturday, the men in the group agreed quickly, but women were reluctant to meet up on a Saturday which happens to be our cleaning day for laundry and washrooms, and picking up of groceries. But we never find men skip a night out with buddies because of housework, though there could be other reasons for it.
Girls are taught and trained from an young age with an aim of getting married, raising families, and running homes. Women are conditioned to believe that home is their domain and responsibility, despite careers and even end up feeling guilty if we didn’t do it well enough. This is reinforced by their mothers and other women in the families, that it’s a woman’s job regardless of everything, and it’s considered ‘demeaning’ for boys or men in the family to do it. If the men helped with chores, we’re all gratitude, but nobody remembers to thank the women for doing it selflessly.
When a home is for everyone, why is running a home meant to be a ‘woman’s job’? If she neglects it she is blamed for doing a poor job as a homemaker, which in turn makes her feel guilty.
Partly, the blame rests on women themselves, who shame other women if they ask the men to share responsibilities. Men are often make fun of and ridiculed by name calling like hen pecked, joru ka ghulam, appu etc. So, women who assert equality are shamed in families and outside. This is the reason why you find many women won’t acknowledge publicly ever, if they manage to get their husbands to share chores.
“Hamare yahan mard yeh sab kaam nahi karte, yeh aurat ka kaam hai”, (men don’t do this work in our family, this is women’s work) say the women with a twinge of self righteousness or wistfulness if their husbands don’t do housework, or see it being done by other men. So, where does one begin, if gender equations are to be corrected? One wonders in exasperation.
Again, if the woman is not a working woman, she’ll forgo maids or domestic helps because she feels guilty of spending, when she isn’t getting money to the table.
Women need to discuss seriously the responsibilities of running a home with families, distribute the tasks so that the burden is shared equally in all fairness.
It is necessary to put the right patterns in place before the children arrive, because, not only are the husbands or partners better equipped at dealing with changed scenarios, but, also, children have right role models in their fathers at hand. It’s easier to teach responsibility at an early age as it is difficult to overcome laziness in later life and children find it hateful and refuse to do them, because, they haven’t been prepared for it and gotten away with it, for too long.
Family must learn there is a method and process that goes into making beautiful homes. Make a list of housework and distribute the tasks age appropriate, so that everyone is made to contribute according to their ability and availability. Fix a particular date or a holiday, shared responsibilities translates into building happy families and healthy relationships while developing empathy towards women who balance careers and homes.
Raise your sons and daughters to be caring who respect and value the responsibility of running a home. If we don’t want it played out into the next generation, break the pattern and start with our sons, so that women of tomorrow may thank us for them.
Image source: YouTube
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