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Oh you thought the kitchen counter was cleaned by a fairy last night! You’re wrong. And here are NINE other things we do but no one really notices.
I woke up in a petty mood. It is Monday, what do you expect me to do?
I have made many lists in my life. And I have followed quite a few of them. So, you know, generally, I am OK with lists. In the midst of a lockdown, those of us privileged enough to have a roof on our heads and multiple meals have been-a-complaining and generally reflecting on things. A big revelation apparently is that maintaining a home takes ‘work.’ Often back-breaking work.
Many people who have been forced to hold a broom or a ladle for the first time have gone on rants both whiny and philosophical.
Wow yeah! Domestic work is tough, ya’ll! Moms are superwomen. Let’s bow down to all the women in our houses. I should have helped out more. Sh*t, this is hard! Housework is no joke! I miss my baiii!
Really? Now? Now is when you realised that domestic chores are no joke? That women weren’t born with a homemaking chromosome in their bodies?
All the people lamely and entirely inadequately elevating the women in their families need to realise what they are doing changes nothing! It changes nothing unless they are also planning a gender revolution on the side.
Domestic work remains the toughest feminist battlefront the world over. Here women are expected to do the most whether they are salaried professionals or not. At the same time, they often earn less than men and are expected to make do with much less authority and agency than men.
The work inside a home is relentless, repetitive, multi-departmental, requires great physical and emotional labour. And let’s just be clear, is frigging boring and thankless! People, mostly women (statistics prove it), who work only at home are invisible, exploited. They are expected to wake up day after day with an appetite for serving others with little to no returns, and I don’t just mean money.
So, yeah, if you just realised that housework is tough. Or that your partner, wife, Mom, domestic help, cook, and cleaner hold up a major part of your life. If you have had either of these realisations, you are definitely the person who has said these words at least once, “What do you do sitting home all day?”
On a scale of things that make me flames-out-my-nose mad, this sentence is represented by five fire emojis! You have been sitting home all day, haven’t you? What does your home look like?
Also because I am not going to let this opportunity pass, here is a non-exhaustive, class-nonspecific list of all the ‘little’ things that get done at home. These things are quite often ignored or minimised or worse made invisible by the family because the woman is doing it without getting paid.
So get ready to be surprised!
Refilling the hand-wash- Comes as a shocker that it doesn’t fill itself on its own, doesn’t it?
Segregation of garbage- Now this one is a multi-layered one. Trash just doesn’t walk out of the home on its own. Neither does it segregate itself in to dry waste, and wet waste. And waste cans definitely do not wash themselves after months of being stinky. A human needs to dress the bins with liners too. So there’s all this to the ‘mere’ garbage cans.
Wiping the kitchen platform- So you cooked today? Great! Tell me two things- one, how long are you planning to brag about it? And two- did you clean the kitchen surfaces you used and messed up?
Sheets– The ones on the beds, on the diwans, the covers on furniture pieces, the cushion covers, the curtains. These don’t wash themselves but they just love gathering dust and grime. Sucks.
Towels– You wipe, wipe, wipe every day. And you are so clean, you love washing your hands, kudos! Did you, however, notice that the hand towels change every week (at least) and that they remain sanitised and possibly perfumed? Magic, isn’t it!
The Fridge– Day after day after day, food gets stored, spilled, left to rot, left open, and forgotten for months to solidify. It gets overrun with frost (you know, all of us don’t have super fancy fridges!) When did you last wipe the fridge from the inside and throw away food that you brought, half-eaten, or forgot? Never? Why?
Dining table– You noticed it clean and neatly arranged? That didn’t happen automatically.
Bathrooms– You wake up, walk groggily to the bathroom, pick up the toothbrush, squeeze the tube of toothpaste but nothing comes out. There is definitely a whiff of stank around the toilet. Your hair is still stuck to the mesh near the water exit. The mirror has water spots on it. What? Where is the night-time fairy who cleans all this up?
Remembering to remind– You didn’t do something? Forgot a shopping item? Missed a deadline? Don’t know the exact age of your child? Please pass the blame on to your female partner. Because she is the supposed to keep a note of everything and remind you on time or according to the situation.
Lists and ‘miscellaneous’– Oh, hehe, the mention of lists in a list! Inception? No. Do you bother to pay that bill without fail, get the juice, plan a special meal because someone is ill? And do you weigh the nutrition levels of a meal in your head, wash the rice in good water, clean the water purifier filter?
Do you fix that loose handle on the pan, water the plants, wipe the dust off the TV, wipe the flap that covers the toilet, make sure the broom isn’t wet? And lift a long broom up to the ceiling to clean the cobwebs, keep aside your craving because there is only a limited amount of a delicacy at home?
Do you just know off the cuff how every vegetable is to be cleaned, cut or preserved? And call the relatives, buy them gifts, make sure everyone is going to be dressed well for a family function or event?
Most importantly, do you take on the exclusive blame if the house is being judged for being unkempt or ill-organised?! No? No!
So, please shut up. Please save us the philosophy of ‘finally realising’ that housework is essential and god-awful and just inescapable. The fact is that this minimisation and condescension of domestic work that is still largely done by women is not even slightly funny.
Go seek better jokes and go get cleaning.
Never been to Rome, but I know for sure that your home was not made in a day! It needs to be made and spruced up and nourished and cherished every single day!
So, keep your platitudes on women’s power aside and do an honest study of gender roles and the burdens women carry all their lives. Challenge these roles and create new norms.
No one will miss your social media update. Make real change, offline.
Picture credits: YouTube
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Shruti Sharada (She/Her/Hers) is an award-winning Queer Feminist Writer and GBV Activist.
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