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‘A Woman Is Expected To Take Care Of Husband’s Parents’ & 9 Other Ways We Experience Casual Sexism In Our Everyday Lives!

We have normalized casual sexism, so we don't even question why a MIL teaches recipe of son's favourite dish to her DIL & not to her son!

Why is a woman resting called selfish? Why does she have to change not only her name but also her diet to suit the husband’s family? It is astounding to see how we internalize casual sexism to such an extent that we are unable to see for ourselves the hypocrisy behind them. We have mastered the art of camouflage — even when it means not being able to stand up amidst casual sexism & glaring inequities.

Here are 10 ways we experience casual sexism in our daily lives!

A woman sitting idle or spending time on self-development is considered selfish, while it is considered ‘normal’ when a man does that!

Don’t we as women feel a little odd to just sit on the couch all weekend and read a book, watch TV, play a video game or just sleep while the dirty dishes and laundry pile up? This is especially true when parents, relatives, or in-laws are around.

Self-care is seen negatively by others if you happen to be a woman who is indulging in it. Why is this never questioned?

My friend’s husband goes out and has a lot of time for himself while he gets served by his mother or wife. He doesn’t have to take anyone’s permission. He never feels ashamed for taking care of himself. No one raises anything (not even an eyebrow) when he does what he wants to do.

Unfortunately, the world isn’t so convenient for his wife. She feels embarrassed and fearful of what her in-laws or neighbours would think if she indulges in self-care or embraces freedom like him— like a human, basically.

Women are only considered as ‘sensible’ or ‘nice’ if they are providing care service to their families, agreeing to everything with a smile, or in some way benefiting the men in it. And, we just continue to reinforce these biases by conforming.

No one feels uncomfortable when they see a woman overburdened with 90% of the household chores

Even today, it is taken for granted if a woman does the majority of household tasks but even with the ‘excuse of equality’, a man gets ‘overburdened’ with just his share of thinking or doing tasks.

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If the home isn’t kept spick and span, why do the ladies take it as their failure alone? In another scenario, why do the visitors complement just the lady of the house if the house is kept well?

Consider the situation: When in-laws visit, it is mostly the daughter-in-law who handles the household management-sometimes, even along with even driving them around for their shopping or city sightseeing. Yet, it is unacceptable if the daughter-in-law asks her husband to make tea or help in the kitchen.

In addition, all the planning effort that is put in by her for everyone’s comfort can also be easily trivialised by making jokes about her ‘over planning’ and ‘meticulous’ behaviour. I wonder why not even once does anyone feel (not even her own self) that she may be doing a lot and that she can be overburdened too?

No one feels uncomfortable when they see a woman being overburdened with 90% of the household (and even outside) chores. However, all satires and threats can come to force if the reverse ever is true. Somehow, a son seems to get very easily tired or overburdened, after marriage, if he chooses to contribute from little to the majority in the house chores — but if a woman does the donkey work — well, who cares!

After marriage, it suddenly becomes so unacceptable for a man to work in the kitchen. Maybe, because the idea of marriage for a man (and his family) is to free-ride on his wife’s efforts and work for all household chores and start getting served. Another big absurdity we only encourage by not questioning enough.

A mother-in-law teaches the recipe for her son’s favorite dish to her daughter-in-law and not to her son directly!

If this gesture was coming from a place of love alone, the opposite would have been equally common, right? Alas! I have never come across in-laws teaching their son-in-law dishes that their daughter likes. Why?

Stereotypes where only one gender is expected to be on its toes to serve the other gender’s interest and comfort are not an expression of love or bonhomie. It is just entitlement and it is oppressive.

If only the case was flipped, the absurdity of these stereotypes would have been more often questioned (long ago) itself and by now definitely erased.

A woman voicing her opinions is perceived as negative and uncultured whilst men doing so are considered to be in control

Why a woman talking back to her husband or raising her voice is unacceptable but the other way round is absolutely considered normal?

I have seen men shouting at their wives during dinner or in front of relatives so often — so often that it never registers as an aberration.

In joint families or even family get-togethers, it is normal to witness such incidences of a woman being shouted at by her husband in front of her mother-in-law. While fights may be a part of life; what strikes me is the mother not asking her son to use a sensible tone or language with his wife, ever.

If the woman had raised her voice (even in reaction), that would have raised many eyebrows — for sure. Why do we give in and surrender to these absurdities so comfortably? 

A woman’s time and effort are considered less valuable than a man’s time

His pain and pride are worthy of attending to whilst a woman is perceived to be just throwing tantrums or being ‘emotional’.

Reminders, lists, planning, remembering birth dates, and more fall into the additional unpaid, unseen labour category. Why is this effort not accounted for? Why is diligence (or being careful/responsible) something that is proudly shunned by men (as is backed by their mothers too) and why then it isn’t shamed by society?

“Demanding time equality and time choice is a message the women’s movement missed, and it’s about time, pardon the pun, we have a cultural recognition that all time is created equal,” Eve Rodsky.

It is considered okay in a marriage for the man’s parents to be taken care of much more than the woman’s parents

Why is the man’s family considered to be at some glorified pedestal? Why do parents give into thinking that they have ‘given away’ their daughters in marriage and their son is ‘all they have’. They reinforce that dependence on just their sons in many creative (and even hilarious) ways.

The question that should be more often asked, especially in the Indian diaspora is— why isn’t it considered normal for a daughter and her husband to take care of her parents and co-reside while it is considered so normal and even awesome if we flip the logic?

While I believe we all have a responsibility towards our elderly parents and parents-in-law — it should be not just be gender-based and it should come from a place of mutual respect and love; not a sense of superiority or inferiority. It is strange we tolerate such biases all the time.

Sexist jokes seem so funny until we flip the roles

Why does flipping the roles in such jokes extinguish the fun? Why are they not equally hilarious then?

Image source: The Newsminute

Those who share these jokes include men and women.

“They just go with the flow and share these without thinking. Had they given it a thought, many, especially women, wouldn’t be forwarding these. And if someone really feels that it is funny, I’d say there’s something wrong with them.”  

The irony is even the ‘reasonable’ people forward such jokes on groups and also enjoy them. It is highly regressive and even dangerous in ways they obviously do not think about.

Women are asked to not just change their names but also their diet to comply with the in-laws. No questions asked!

If you ate non-vegetarian and happened to get married to a family who eats vegetarian only, chances are high, you will have to give up non-vegetarian too if you are a woman. Of course, no such change can be expected if you are a man. And somehow, none of their family members or they themselves find it worth raising an eyebrow on. I wonder, why?

Why don’t many men feel comfortable with a taller woman beside them?

Why don’t many men feel comfortable with a taller woman beside them? Why then isn’t that discomfort felt by women when they choose to marry a taller man?

“It’s not just because women are, on average, shorter than men” — Philip Cohen

Data shows, it is more of a rigid adherence that exaggerates the difference by seeking out taller-man-shorter-woman pairings for marriage. This adherence by men and women reinforces the bigger-stronger or the smaller-weaker gender dichotomy.

This is why the Princess Diana was apparently was asked to kneel uncomfortably before her future ex-husband so as to look shorter than him in a British stamp.

Image source: Pinterest

Humans could couple up differently if they wanted to. Isn’t it? What is this fixation to display the “normal” pattern? Who defined this “normal” anyway?

If only we were to question our deep-seated assumptions, it could be equally desirable to have a taller-woman-shorter-man relationship and be much more common and deemed “normal”.

Talking about feminism & casual sexism gets “too much” and women are labelled a killjoy…

Why do we think it is not ‘too much’ or extremely annoying and bothersome when everything has been and is being seen and done via a patriarchal lens? Why does calling out its issues make some people feel so angry and suffocated? Imagine how many centuries of suffocation have been inflicted upon many 27X7 and which continues even today.

High time we find the patriarchal norms annoying, suffocating, and worth shaming, instead. Isn’t it?

While we are quick to complain and crib about a hundred things like the government not doing enough, people not following traffic rules, the kid upstairs disturbing our siesta, and more; we never look twice at the chaos we surrender to in auto-mode. And the casual sexism and regressive messaging we propagate on a daily basis. Why isn’t that bothersome?

Such is the grip of patriarchy — instead of dismantling it and freeing ourselves and our own, we ensure they are fortified and they are propagated. Why do we conform to such notions so easily? Why don’t we realize that we can question it and we can change the course, at least in our homes?

Unfortunately, we are way too deep into this toxic patriarchal conditioning to even see the biases, perhaps.

Image source:

(A version of this article has been previously published here.)

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About the Author

GK

I love to observe and pen down my learnings in the form of poetry and prose. A thinker who upholds the spirit of equalism. read more...

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