As our society struggles with nationwide lockdown, there is a silver lining in the midst of dark clouds. Our patriarchal society is witnessing some men awakening to the immense efforts of their mothers and wives in keeping a well-maintained home.
Men are just realizing that there is much more to household chores than ordering groceries. Cooking, cleaning, washing dishes, laundry – the list is endless. As humans are learning new ways of living life this lockdown, Indian men need to learn that housework is neither easy nor just the woman’s responsibility.
Living in a society where domestic work has always been seen as s woman’s domain, many women are held guilty if they don’t give 100% to the domestic responsibilities. But, who decided that it is women’s job to do the household chores – from cooking to cleaning to laundry to many more?
Lockdown gives many the opportunity to fight the sexist idea that our mothers or daughters or sisters or wives must take care of the domestic chores and keep the household in top shape.
Even though we live in the 21st century, we still find that Indian households where the man is in the kitchen and the woman is a rare concept. It shouldn’t be rare, but it is.
Cooking has nothing to do with gender. But when it comes to the kitchen in our houses – why we expect women of the house to take care of cooking everyday meals. Some men may be found in the kitchen but only to cook fancy food items. Because making regular dal-chaawal-sabji is still seen as a women’s job.
As Sridevi’s character Shashi put it so beautifully in English Vinglish,
“When a man cooks, it’s art. When a woman cooks, it’s her duty.”
Perhaps our society ought to take a cue from Sushmita Sen and her partner, Rohman Shawl on how to divide household chores. Instead of dumping all the brunt of domestic work on Sushmita, they have divided it equally.
Giving up the gender-based division of work, here’s what Sushmita had to say about the way Rohman and she distribute labor at home. In an interview with Rajeev Masand, Sushmita shared how she has limited culinary skills but that doesn’t bother the couple. Shutting down the archaic “women belong in the kitchen” argument, Sushmita shared:
“It’s never been my thing. Never ever, though I know how to make anda bread and have made it for my daughter… But I think Rohman is better in the kitchen. He is amazing with cooking. I don’t know how he does it but his eggs are better than what I cook and he makes the world’s most incredible coffee.”
Shutting down the gender-based household division, Sushmita, concluded the statement with,
“I have other gifts.”
One of the most important aspects of any relationship is respecting the other person, which can’t happen if women are subjected to sexism and expected to perform certain tasks just because we are women.
It’not only Rohman and Sushmita seem to have overcome this problem beautifully. Even Kareena and Saif have also created the foundation of their marriage by shutting down the “gender-defined roles”.
In an interview with Kareena Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan shared how “gender-defined roles” doesn’t apply to their marriage. Revealing the piece of advice that Rani Mukherjee gave it to him when he first started dating Kareena, Saif shared:
“She said: ‘Just behave like you are in a relationship with a man.’ I know what she meant. She meant, ‘Don’t get into the gender of it. Treat it like you got two heroes in the house. And then you’ll have no problems’. And I think she’s right.”
Further adding on how rather than gender-based roles, it is better for a couple to work as a team, Saif mentioned:
“In our case, there are certain things that you know you’re so much better organised at doing. And there are certain things that maybe I could add some value to. So, it works out like that.”
At IFORHER, we admire every couple who is working as a team of equals and shattering away the age-old sexism that our society promotes. We hope many more men would inculcate the sense of equality to their modern-day relationship that every woman deserves.