Tuesday, March 8, 2016

#ShareTheLoad- Spread equality

Most households are of the collective opinion that doing any household chore, especially laundry, is a woman’s job.



This was the state in every family a generation ago but the current generating is striving for a change and working towards equality in sharing household responsibilities between men and women in a family equally. We all learn from what we have been seeing our parents and other elders practice in our family. I am writing as a woman who is in her late twenties and here, I am talking about what was the situation 10-15 years back. If one observes closely, in those days it was expected only from a woman to manage a household whether she was a stay-at-home wife/mother or a working woman. The balance of work was never equal. It burden of household work bent more towards women. A woman was expected to work at home and complete all the household chores at a stipulated time and also was given an option to pursue her career at her own choice and risk without letting the daily household routine be affected. The situation was such because women were trained to be this way by their parents. The word 'expected' was always used while bringing up a daughter. It was all done to ensure that the family in which the daughter is married into does not get a chance to raise fingers at the parents' upbringing. 

I am glad that that this concept is slowly getting diluted with education and awareness among all sections of society. I will still be blinded if I do not acknowledge the fact that any change that happens in our society for good is initiated at the urban population level. Such messages do not reach the rural population easily, where discrimination is still prevalent.

Learning, for any growing child begins at home and if things are taught in the right way, they can go a long way in moulding the thoughts of a child. Children are very naive and they accept anything that is told to them during childhood. For example: If a girl child is taught at home from childhood that it is only her job to wash clothes, sweep the house, cook in the kitchen , welcome guests and do everything that her mother has been doing, she will follow the same until there are some major thought processes that changes in her. If she is exposed to a world full of open minded people she might be quick enough in adapting to the changes in modern society but if she still sticks to the old school of thoughts that have been ingrained in her, she might teach the same to her daughter when she grows up or expect her son not to participate in any household related activities. The cycle will continue and so will be the baseless old tradition. At this rate, even education cannot bring in equality. 

I used to consider all this as normal until I realized the actual difference. Any house I have been to I have never seen the men in the family welcoming guests with a glass of water. It is always a woman who is sent to the kitchen to bring in water or snacks. I have never seen a father ask his son to clean up the table after food but I have seen a father telling his daughter/daughter-in-law to clean the table after food. Simple things like these never irked me until one day I realized what was equality. The exposure that I got in this external world when I came out of my home like cocoon made me see things differently. 

After a hard day of work a husband and wife come home but it is expected only by the wife to make tea or coffee. In fact, even if a woman is not well she has to do the cooking although her husband is free at home. Thanks to my independent family which never forced me to learn any household chore just because I was a girl and I had to learn certain skills in order to earn a good name in another family after marriage. Although I had not seen any men in my family enter the kitchen but I was always amazed at their skills of sharing other household chores like washing clothes , drying them, ironing, giving them for dry cleaning, sweeping the house or participating in regular household cleaning. I was amazed seeing my grandfather do the same at the age of 90. He even used to help my grandmother by arranging a matters for her to sleep in daily and also to fold it and put it back neatly at night. I have also seen him stitching clothes at home and also voluntarily wash clothes and dry them, not only his but for the entire family. I always though it was his hobby and left it. Just when I saw this Ad and read about the  Ariel #ShareTheLoad campaign did I realize there was so much work shared between my grandparents and parents. The only exception to this rule was doing the kitchen work. For that matter, I have never seen my dad switch on the gas stove till date because he is never comfortable with it but I have seen him attempt that these days. I always thought washing utensils and cooking was a woman's job but when I see men coming forward to cook and wash the utensils I feel that equality is spreading. 

When I saw few things being shared equally in my house, like sweeping and cleaning , I also expected the same from my husband but I never realized that each person has a different school of thought and has been brought up in a way things have been happening in his family. Although my husband has been too adjusting and helpful, I had never seen him share the load equally. There are still few things which he feels I must do it and the it will take a long time to change those nitty -gritty things. In the initial days of marriage he did expect me to do everything for him, right from taking his clothes and putting in the washing machine or even washing his socks. I felt weird initially because I was not ready do them all by myself always. I expected him to #ShareTheLoad for the simplest things like, keeping his tea/coffee cup or used plate after a meal in the kitchen sink after he is done with it or helping me wash the clothes- even if it was as simple as putting in the washing machine, drying the clothes, cleaning the house, folding the dried clothes and arranging them or even washing utensils. I did voice my opinion which made him feel a bit weird in the initial days. I realized then that the problem was deeper that I had thought. It was the way he had seen things at home. The generation we were being brought up in was different. A son was never asked to do the household chores or help his mother until he was sent to live in a hostel where he had to be independent. While, only a daughter was asked to learn all the household skills, just to find herself in a better position in another family she would be wedded into. 

When I understood the root cause of this disagreement I voiced my opinion and discussed with him about my expectation. He was too patient with me and heard everything that I had to say. I wondered at times, that a man who was used to doing things independently could be so dependent on a woman for simple household chores after marriage? Men generally start comparing their wife to their mother after marriage and the case was same with us. It took time for me to explain to him that I could never be like his mother or for that matter even my mother who would do everything on her own in house and never expect help from her husband in doing the household chores . I decided to ask for help in sharing the load. Things became easier for me . 

My husband seemed so different after I discussed with him about this. In fact, he is the one who strives to make me feel comfortable by sharing the work with me these days. It took time for us to come to one single page when it came to sharing household work but we slowly are managing to pull through an inculcate equality by sharing the load at home so that our child does not have any such pre-set notions. Irrespective of the fact if we have a son or a daughter, we have decided to teach them all the skills required to manage a household. It is completely upon a husband and wife to start practicing equality in the house so that the children can learn from them. If a child is taught from the beginning to do every work independently and the division of household work is never gender biased the child will grow up to become an individual who will never be able to discriminated the household work between a man and a woman.

As responsible parents we must not stress only upon our daughters' to learn household work and at the same time we should also not keep away our sons' from doing the regular household chores. If a daughter is asked to learn to wash clothes and cook, a son must also be asked to do the same and should be taught by parents to help out his wife in the household work after marriage.

When a girl is going to another family after marriage as parents it is our responsibility to teach a daughter to adjust with the new family and consider the other family as her own and take up all the responsibilities. For a change, as new age parents who have a son, we must teach our son to respect his wife and share the load with her so that life becomes easy for her. Relationships work only when each partner puts in equal effort, in the same way a good household can exist only when both partners contribute in maintaining it equally. 

This Ad! is just a brilliant one from Ariel. I happen to relate to this so much because I have seen many small changes in my dad post his retirement and post my marriage, when he has come to stay with me. Even my mother is surprised seeing changes in my dad. It is a highly emotional one but conveys the message in the most beautiful way. It is so important for us as parents to teach the right things to our children so that they can become a responsible individual who knows how to treat the opposite sex equally. 




Sharing a small instance that happened at one of my relative's place recently. An educated and a new age mother-in-law tells her daughter-in-law on the very first day after marriage, ' You listen to everything what my son tells you, obey him and do everything that he likes. This is what my mother-in-law taught me, I am passing on the same to you.' 

The daughter-in-law stood still. She would certainly have felt irritated when she heard this but she couldn't reply back considering it would be disrespectful.

Was this right? Has any mother ever considered telling her son instead of her daughter-in-law to listen to his wife ? Has any mother ever thought of advising her son to respect his wife and treat her as equal? Has it ever happened that a mother has advised her son to go and help his wife in kitchen and offer her a cup of tea when she is back from a tiring day of work? What values are we passing on to the future generation? Is carrying such values from the olden days really required? As parents the complete responsibility is on us to analyze if we are teaching and preaching the right values at home. A child's learning begins only at home. 

I am joining the Ariel #ShareTheLoad campaign at BlogAdda and blogging about the prejudice related to household chores being passed on to the next generation.

4 comments:

Oracle Equipments said...

I really like your blog. I really appreciate the good quality content you are posting here for free. May I ask which blog platform you are using?

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Power of Words said...

I am using blogger.com as the platform

sindhura bommasamudram said...

VERY NICE AND CLEAN ARTICLE . BUT NOW A DAYS MEN SHARE LOAD ARCHNA.

Power of Words said...

I agree Sindhura but there are many families where these things are not happening . So I have kept a lot of scenarios in mind while penning down my thoughts.