Housework Gender Gap: When Men Buy Their Free Time With Women’s Labour

Women work 24/7 - if not at a paid job, then at household chores. What percentage of men share this unending work? Time this housework gender gap was bridged.

I never expected Hollywood to bring a social evil like the housework gender gap on the big screen in the way it has done in the movie ‘Tully’. It is one of those movies that will stay with me forever.

The Great Indian Kitchen showed the problems faced by a daughter in law in a joint family. There were a lot of discussions surrounding this scenario and many were of the opinion that the nuclear family was the best solution. But is it? A boy who grows up thinking that it is his privilege to be served by the woman in the house, either his mom, sister or wife – will he change to take responsibilities of the chores in the home?

A homemaker as well as a ‘working woman’ works 24/7

Home-makers/housewives, no matter what you call them, many assume that they are having a good time at home when children are in school and husband is at work.

Being a woman and taking off a few years to dedicate myself to care for the family, I never realised the struggle many women go through in the name of marriage and after that taking care of the family. It is like being in the river and not feeling the rain. It just feels natural to suffer and do everything for others, like cooking, cleaning and taking care of their needs. I didn’t even realise that I was losing a part of myself to the unending chores.

The movie Tully that I mentioned at the beginning shows the struggle of Marlo, who is pregnant with her 3rd child. Her second child has a developmental disorder which is not diagnosed precisely by the doctors. Her husband doesn’t help her when she is struggling to manage everyday chores. Does our society even think of this as a problem, leave alone paying attention to it as a social evil?

If a husband is not doing his share of work, it is abuse

There is no violence, abuse or any sort of crime involved in her life, yet her struggle hits you hard when you watch her deteriorating with each passing day. I was left wondering how come we never pay any attention to such an issue which is taking away a part of a woman’s life.

We see this in many homes. The man refuses to take care of the child, wash dishes, cook or take up any chores even if he has free time. Even if the wife is sick, she pushes herself to get up and complete the tasks, which she believes is her duty. The so-called housewives or homemakers never get a day off. At times Sundays bring extra work since everyone is at home and wants the lady at their service.

When we start a project, we feel satisfied after finishing it. This satisfaction is elusive to the caretaker of the home since one task leads to another creating an unending cycle throughout the day. Weeks, months and years are no different. You finish the laundry, there is cooking waiting in line. You finish the cooking for the day, the cleaning is staring at you. Once you are done with all the chores, children approach for help with one or other thing since mom is free.

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Many tell me that they do it for the love of the family and because they care. Some are frustrated and ask me during our chit chat, “Who else will do the chores if I don’t?”. Some believe “It is my duty. I cannot run away from it”.

This housework gender gap has been normalised for far too long

When will we break this housework gender gap which would bring in more peaceful and happy families? The least we can do is respect the work that a person does to keep the home running smoothly and not mock her. Also, the person sacrificing career and taking care of the family should be given financial freedom.

Making one woman work the 24/7 for the family and attending to their every need has become a norm in our society. It is not even considered a topic that needs a change. But, it sure does.

For this Women’s History Month, I wish every man would see the problem and change like Marlo’s husband did in the end. Let’s begin destroying this housework gender gap.

Image source: a still from The Great Indian Kitchen

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About the Author

Farida Rizwan

I am Farida Rizwan, 57, Counselor and Psychotherapist working as Senior Curriculum Developer with Chimple Learning. I am the founder of My Giggle Garden, Preschool, and Daycare. I am an ardent blogger @www.chaptersfrommylife.com read more...

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