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Being nurtured in a liberal family where my father and mother were equally responsible for all the household chores, I never realized that few household activities are gender-dependent. I believe those of you who have been in such an environment would never have thought of it either. But my family has not been entirely bereft of the influences of gender-based roles. During a discussion, I realized that even in my family, my sister and I picked up cooking without being taught and but my brother did not. I was wondering why that is so? We have grown up in the same environment!
After pondering a lot over the subject, I realized how strong is the influence of patriarchy. The idea that women must cook after having a family and not males influenced us somehow. It keeps making rounds in the social discussion as it still colors the perspectives of many people in society. And even though our parents made no such discrimination, it is inevitable to be not exposed and influenced by the idea. My brother never thought it was a compulsion. And therefore, he never learned.
I feel this quarantine is the right time to realize why our daily activities are gender defined. Why only females have to cook, do cleaning and cloth washing, and why only men have to go outside to buy groceries? Why is it considered okay for men not to know cooking but not okay when you are a woman?
At this time of lockdown amid coronavirus, none of us are having access to domestic servants. In a family, there are plenty of activities that women are doing, from house-cleaning to dishwashing to cloth-washing and cooking. In contrast, men are enjoying their quarantine time by pursuing their hobbies though the fact is we women never complain about it because our minds have been conditioned in such a way that these we consider works associated with looking after family as our job, but that does not mean that we do not find it unfair!
This division of labor is maintained by the logic of practicality as well. It is argued that this maintains balance in the family. It is expected to be your chief task when you are a housewife. And despite being feminist in my views, I also agree that if men are going out to earn for the family, then women can take responsibility for the rest of the things. But the scenario becomes weird when women are also working, and still, they have to maintain a balance between household chores and work. Why are women supposed to learn and do such things after coming from work and not men? Is it okay for men to go out for parties with their colleagues but not women? It is okay for females to compromise on their career growth to nurture a kid but not men? Despite women doing all the things from nurturing kids to taking care of their career, when it comes to blaming kid’s behavior, women are considered to be at fault. Well, we women don’t complain, and men never ponder about it. It’s okay, my dear men of the society, you can not be blamed for its origin but continuance maybe. It is thousands of years of patriarchy which define our gender role.
I am not complaining about a new problem, so you all must be thinking about what made me think about it now. So here is the story. I have been getting calls from many of my male friends who are stuck in their flat with their friends. And I do not know whether to laugh about it or should I feel bad? None of them know cooking. They are alive and surviving, thanks to Zomato and Swiggy for proving themselves to be their best friends at this difficult time. It’s not only me but even they think that why they never picked up the skill of cooking or why it was never taught to them. And the good news is they are finally struggling with it.
The idea to be focussed here is to understand that these daily activities are not gender-dependent. These are crucial activities of life to survive. It is equally important for men to know cooking and do household chores. It is similarly vital for women not to sacrifice their careers and goals for family life. As I mentioned earlier, I am not blaming men; I am just expecting women to raise their voices even louder. Some might say that it is very sexist to put men always in this beam balance of feminism, but you know what, it is just like that other thought of giving reservations to socially backward class to uplift them.
At times I feel that women are not allowed to shine. They go through so much and still pretend to be okay. I wonder why men though being incapable, sometimes are considered to be family spines? Are women less capable than them? Is our work less important than them that despite being in the office from 9 to 5 we are one cooking and taking care of family life and yet men are considered family spines? What is the reason for being so quine? Society claims to be liberal for girls, then why are only girls told to be home before the clock hits nine?
So, in this quarantine time, I applaud all the men out there who know cooking because congratulations, you have learned one of the primary activities of life. And maybe even after the end of this lockdown, you might consider helping your wife or mother after coming back from office because they also go to work just like you. And those who cannot cook yet might consider learning it. Let us all take a small step forward to re-define the gender role that we have been preaching so far. Do not wait for women to complain. They might not. Extend your helping hand.
Featured Image Credits: Wikimedia