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Women are still considered solely responsible for household chores. How can we nudge the men in our lives to share the load of housework?
Women are still considered as ones who are solely responsible for household chores. How can we nudge the men in our lives towards a much-needed shift in mindset to share the load of housework?
Nobody wants to talk about the elephant in the room, but a recent video by Anu Menon, where she offers quite the riotous solution to make sure that men share the load with women as equal partners, is a great conversation-starter on gendered expectations around household responsibilities.
It is a formidable task to shift one’s perspectives and unlearn notions that have been wittingly or unwittingly fed to us over the years. But, moving away from archaic rules and misogyny is something we must strive to attain as we step into the new world.
Just the other day my ten-year-old daughter quipped, out of the blue, “Mom, what is stereotyping?” As I scratched my head as to how to drive home the point to a child as young as her in an interesting way, I came across Ariel’s recent #SharetheLoad campaign. The short and succinct video deftly reminds us of a grim reality that even though women are breaking barriers and shattering glass ceilings, at home they are still considered as ones who are solely responsible for household chores. The video is a classic example of how we have stereotyped women and made them slog hard doing household chores which ought to be a shared responsibility of both partners.
I have been fortunate enough to be raised in a home where housework was shared between my parents. So, for me, it was a given that men and women work in tandem to ensure the running of a smooth household. So, I was taken aback when my next-door neighbour in an upscale housing society confessed that her husband expected her to serve ‘hot food’ at all times while taking care of a toddler. I knew at the back of my mind that inequality persisted when it comes to men sharing the load. But, to see it first hand was a revelation of sorts for me. What made me ill at ease was the fact that my neighbour narrated it to me as if it was her duty to serve her husband. Her casual sense of acceptance was something that unnerved me. I wanted to tell her that it is not her sole responsibility to ensure the running of the house. I itched to somehow make her husband understand that doing chores around the house would not make him a henpecked husband or less of a man. In fact, I realised how many men out there need to break out of an archaic mindset that delegates all household chores to women by default.
It is easy to talk about putting a check on gender stereotyping and making our society a just one. But, how do we walk the talk? As these questions poked me hard, noted comedian and TV personality Anu Menon aka our very own Lola Kutty came to my rescue in her inimitable and fun, but hard-hitting style. Anu Menon was so moved by Ariel’s #SharetheLoad #SeeEqual film that she came up with a video that oozed with humour and just the right amount of sarcasm to put forth an important point. In this video, she came up with a rather witty solution to make sure that men share the load with women and pitch in to do household chores as equal partners: She announced that she is planning on changing her name to her husband’s best friend’s name.
Why so, one may ask. Well, don’t men go on claiming as to how when they were students they would share chores with their roommates and happily so?
So, if that is what it takes for men to share household chores, why not change your name to your husband’s best friend’s name? Probably once you are an ‘Anil’ and not an ‘Anu’ would a man consider you at par with him. I was amazed by Anu Menon’s perspective which is a witty and satirical take to bring to the surface the many problems that plague our society.
A research conducted by Ariel brought to light that nearly 73% of men did their share of household chores when they were staying with other men or roommates but stopped when they got married. So, it isn’t that our menfolk are oblivious of how to run that washing machine or make their beds but they just don’t want to do it.
This reflects a problematic thought process that has been ingrained in our minds owing to years of conditioning. Another research conducted by Ariel puts forward that about 83% of women felt that men don’t see them as equal when it comes to housework. I see around me households where men and women share the load (including my own house), there are still women like my neighbour who carry on the burden of household chores single-handedly. In short, a well-managed home is still a gendered expectation.
What can be done to change this? Personally, I believe that the right mindset changes everything because it changes how you look at things. For instance, imagine a scenario where a man’s favourite football shirt is dirty and he has to wear it to the match that evening. The average Indian man will instantly call for his mother or wife or the woman in the house and usher her unto washing his shirt for him. What if, for a change, the man decides to do it himself? To start with, men need not ‘help women’ by sharing household tasks; they can simply start helping themselves!
It is true that our men have grown up with inherent biases and internalised beliefs, but that doesn’t mean that we cannot revisit our beliefs. Sometimes, all it takes is a simple conversation to initiate big changes.
The impact that these conversations have is deep and I hope Anu Menon’s video goes viral, especially among the men in our homes – is it not one subtle way to nudge our ‘boys’ towards that much-needed shift in mindset?
In collaboration with Ariel
Over the last 7 years, Ariel India has continuously sparked conversations around the unequal division of domestic chores within households and has been urging more and more men to #ShareTheLoad.
So dear Fellas, stop searching the world for the best gift to give your loved one – it’s right in your home. Drop that TV remote and pick up the conversation on how you can share the load in the house. And most definitely don’t wait to be summoned – rather, do your bit and don’t consider it as a ‘help’ – after all, it is your own home and chores are your joint responsibility!
Image courtesy: Ariel
Meha has worked as a Business Analyst in an elite IT firm and as a full time professor in management colleges. Having earned an MBA degree in Human Resource Management and an MA degree in read more...
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