Monday 18 August 2014

(Un)Changing gender roles and general perceptions

Since the time I have started working, my husband and I have made some adjustments to our roles and responsibilities. One of them is cooking - while I prepare the breakfasts and dinners, my husband takes care of the lunches. These changes are made to suit our timings and availabilities. Since he remains at home during mid-morning and early afternoon, it is easier for him to prepare lunches.

But alas, these changes are almost attributed to the man being considerate and extra loving towards the wife, which I won't deny but the vital point is being narrowly missed. The point that cooking and cleaning is the sole domain of the woman and anything that is beyond those parameters is seen as a stroke of luck. WHY? Generations of cooking and cleaning has rendered the act of cooking and cleaning as the woman's work. And if the man assists in the kitchen or doing the laundry, the message sent is that he is being thoughtful and considerate.

Everyday at my workplace, my husband gets admiring phrases and loving vibes when I mention that he prepares the lunch. Women who are fiercely independent with their own salaries and strong opinions also tend to believe that cooking and cleaning is a woman's work and if she gets any help from her husband, then the wife is a lucky person.

Nothing has changed. It will take atleast a 100 years to change the mindset. The actions, roles and responsibilities might have changed but the fact that certain jobs are for certain genders has not changed. And, this is not something in India alone. When I read some posts/articles/essays, the author who is a woman credits her husband for being a darling, sweetheart and understanding husband/boyfriend simply because he takes care of the laundry and does the dishes.

I know that I am writing about something that has been done and dusted atleast a few million times and inspite of that I am confounded by the fact that nothing has changed. Feminism exists and most urban women are aware of it - either through first-hand or second-hand experience AND all these theories of women empowerment has not stopped women from thanking and praising the men to the skies when it comes to doing household work. Women still think that cooking and cleaning is their job and if anyone offers to relieve them from that, then it is an act which deserves praise and glorification.

And only men (some, atleast) can say that cleaning vessels is therapeutic. Ask that to a woman and she would show how actions speak (and cause immense pain) louder than words.

A long way to go . . .


  1. What a relevant and well written post.... yes, women ACCEPT stereotypes... we howl and cry against gender bias and then we go home and cook dinner for our husbands, fathers, and brothers, and then wash the dishes, while they, exalted men, sit with their feet up and watch TV.

    It is on US to change that. No one will stop taking us for granted unless we stop taking ourselves for granted first!

    Do visit my blog, I have written my 100th post !!!! Would love it you were to read and let me know what you think!

    1. Ah, Ash, tell me about it. Whom are we fighting for and against. I thought it was the system of patriarchy which operates quite subtly yet powerfully. One has to balance and iron out the various stuff and by god, it isn't easy. Let's hope and in small ways make our presence felt and heard.

      I stopped by your place. Thanks for directing me there. Many congratulations and here's to many more posts and comments.

  2. Hi, I read a lot of women oriented blogs , I use to visit a few and comment too.. but the questions is its fine saying one thing in public , men are this men are that etc etc but do the same ladies actually practise what they preach when it comes to the men in their own house ..

    This post actually reminded me of something very sad , a crime took place in india some time back .. men were convicted etc but the Women of their household when interviewed said that their SON, brother did nothing wrong, they would not do this ..

    I have come here after a long time :) how are you doing


    1. Dear Bikram, it is indeed wonderful to see you and your comment. You are right when you say that many preach but don't practice. To preach, it is after all quite easy unlike practice and it an entire system that women are fighting against and it is not as easy. One has to find a balance somewhere because overnight nothing can change. And, the onus is not on the women alone but men as well and women who are programmed to think like men.

      Slowly we are getting there.

      I cannot find your email address. Do give it to me. I would like to drop a line sometime.

      Joy always,

  3. Sharing work willingly makes a lot of difference.
    For some cooking is therapeutic.

  4. We just settled in to sharing the housework 20-some years ago. Nobody ever suggested that my doing the laundry was special. (I rather enjoy that job, b/c washer and dryer do all the fact the washer is swishing clothes around while I type this. HA!



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