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Many Indian men have never been taught to be at home for an entire day or make themselves useful at home. It’s time for that to change completely!
The 2019-2020 coronavirus pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 that resulted in COVID-19, an infectious disease first identified in Wuhan, the capital city of China’s Hubei province has not only crippled the economy of many countries but also led to a complete lockdown in India and other significant parts of the world.
In India, the central government had announced a complete lockdown for 21 days right from the midnight of March 24, 2020, to April 14, 2020, to break the chain of COVID-19 infection.
This has caused some serious consequences for migrant labourers, daily wage earners, vegetable vendors, farmers and people engaged in providing daily essential services, and it has brought a totally different type of problem for the big fat middle-class section of Indian society, particularly the Men.
Yes, you got that right, middle-class Indian men, who are apparently left with no work to do, in general, because of the limited access to public life under the state-imposed lockdown. Many tik-tok videos are floating around the Internet and social media which feature men at home, being bored as they have “nothing to do” and futilely lying at random corners of the home and passing the time as they cannot step out of the house due to the lockdown.
The pertinent question that arises here is, why are women from the same section of the society not apparently “affected” by the lockdown, which after all has restricted their mobility too? The answer is simple, they are being busy in doing their duties, which ostensibly is the household chores and domestic work that they perform daily even during the lockdown!
Obviously, there is a clear-cut distinction between the roles that men and women perform in their daily lives, the ‘gendered roles‘ that they are forced to accomplish due to the hierarchical and patriarchal nature of our society.
If, I, at all mention that the root cause of this problem is patriarchy, I feel many will be offended. “What on earth, this has to do with patriarchy and women subordination?” will be the cry of many people around. The underlying structure of male domination which is regarded as patriarchy clearly distinguishes the public and private sphere. ‘Private’ comprises of the activities which take place within the sphere of domestic life involving home and hearth and belong to women, on the contrary ‘Public’ denotes the activities related to business, politics, law and governance.
There is a hierarchical relation between Private and Public in the same way as between men and women. The public sphere is regarded superior as compared to the private sphere, by and large, dominated by men. It is quite important to point out here that there exists a gendered notion and implication in the understanding of work.
The work women do at home is invisible and considered of little value whereas the work done by men outside private life, in the public domain which involves monetary and financial benefit is regarded as more significant.
Our society has been gendered and it has ascribed certain gender role to both the sexes of society, (patriarchy rejects the trans person or the third gender). Even when the men are inside the home due to lockdown, they are not willing to share the domestic responsibilities because of the low value attached to domestic work and the fact that it is regarded as typically the women’s work.
In the time of this corona crisis and lockdown when men are especially inside the home, a majority would rather lie around the nooks and corners of the house than share share the domestic responsibility.
The so-called panic on the part of men in this lockdown is unnecessary, as there can be plenty of work to do at home even in this lockdown. Men obviously have never been taught to be at home for an entire day or make themselves useful or pass their time doing household chores and other domestic help.
What about our mothers and their mothers, the homemaker who had been doing hours of work and labour just to keep the rest of the world going? I am seeing so many men around myself who do not know what to do other than flipping channels, scrolling through the news feed, watching Netflix or reading newspapers, it is but obvious they will get bored easily compared to the women of the house because they never considered being a part of those things that they consider redundant yet, are essential for everyone to survive.
Many women are not bothered by the lockdown, (the fact that they also cannot step out of the house). What they are bothered about is the excess housework which is an additional burden on the part of women by having kids around all the time, (the schools too being closed) and filling the plates and palates of each member of the house. To cook and clean, and to take care of the elderly and children is still considered the duty of women.
Dear men, only if you had learnt the ways to share your responsibility inside the home too, you would not have been bored in this lockdown.
Top image is a scene from the Hindi movie Ki&Ka
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