“About a decade ago, my brother and I were invited for dinner by an expat friend, Nate, residing in Vizag. His wife, Trisha, was in town. Nate introduced us to his wife and went off into the kitchen. I asked if he needed any help, to which he replied that the dinner was ready. Nate prepared our entire meal, over the conversation, I got to know Trisha, didn’t know how to cook. Living in a society where one automatically assumes cooking to be the job of women, I was pleasantly surprised. And that’s when I realised how we’ve been conditioned to think that only women do the household chores.
Times, they say, are changing. However, unfortunately, even in this time and age, such role reversals still come as a surprise to us. Not every woman enjoys the kitchen and not every man is a bad cook. But societal perceptions, even after all these years, continue to brand us in such boxes. Women are supposed to cook. Men are supposed to work. She can work, but her home comes first. Anything that seems to deviate from this norm is treated as odd and is scorned upon.
The root to all these stereotypes in our society dates perhaps back to the times when men would go to work while women were home-makers, managing the household and looking after the family’s needs. Today, women also work in offices and earn just as much as men, if not more. But while they have forayed into the work-domain, how many men have reciprocated similarly? How many men willingly share the burden of taking care of the home front just as women have begun sharing the burden of earning? How many men are willing to help, or take charge of, cooking and cleaning?
Women are born multi-taskers. At work, we can manage deadlines, talk to clients and guide teams. At home, we can track household chores, get repair work done, run the kitchen, entertain guests and family. We are like the Hindu goddesses portrayed with many hands. But then, just because we do all these with a happy smile, does it mean that the men do not pitch in at all? Should only men have the privilege of being proactive at work and completely lazy at home? They say times are changing, but there are stereotypical “traditional” traits that just refuse to go.
But now, it is time for real change. As we bring up our children, we need to teach both boys and girls gender equality. The lessons needn’t be about the workplace or the big world problems. The lessons should start at home with small household chores. They must learn that neither is born more privileged than the other. And when each of them knows that there is no task that’s gender specific, I feel that every task, whether it be cooking a hot meal or creating a computer programme, would not be associated to the gender of the person who’s doing it.”
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