We complain about skewed paychecks and opportunities at workplaces but ignore the inequities at home.The practice of gender discrimination starts at home and spreads its ugly tentacles to work.To me, it’s important to stymie the evil at its origin: the home and family.
We blindly follow age-old doctrines without questioning their relevance in modern times. The tethering of woman to home and hearth in archaic times was based on the division of work. The man of the house worked outside to earn money for grain, which the woman transformed into edible bread. As times changed, girls started becoming teachers, doctors, and lawyers and later ventured into brawnier jobs like police and pilots. They soared higher in the sprawling firmament of unprecedented opportunities but could not fade the ink that labeled them.
In a typical household, while the husband lays his feet up on the coffee table to watch TV, the wife hurriedly fetches a cup of tea for him after loading the washing machine with kids’ evening sports clothes. Next, she kneads the dough and chops vegetables for curry. She submits onions and tomatoes from blender to the pan right when the washing machine beeps and beckons her. So, she simmers the stove and rushes out to hang the clothes on the balcony. Alas, to her consternation, the curry starts to smell burnt and she has to quickly think of an alternative with sweat and exhaustion running down her hair and spine.Since men get with this privileged gender status at home, it becomes a habit they conveniently pack with them in their laptop bags.
The onus of eradicating gender oppression rests on each one of us.These are simple steps in our daily lives that can bring a sea change in:
-Teach every child, boy or girl, to do their own laundry soon as they reach the reach the age of ten. Encourage them to leave dirty clothes in the laundry basket when they turn five. It’s a known fact that daughters of the US president do their own laundry albeit they have the White House full of attendants.
-Hang two cooking aprons ‘His’ and ‘Her’ in the kitchen always. The husband and wife should alternately slip on their aprons when cooking/serving dinner to the family. In this era of internet, all recipes are available on YouTube, so the excuse of not-knowing-how-to-cook is not valid anymore.
-Hang a chart for the weekly chores in the kitchen dividing all the tasks equally between husband and wife. The tasks should rotate each week to break the monotony and boredom. If the wife is cooking dinner, then husband must finish laundry that week.
-Do not discriminate between toys for girls and boys. Do not buy toys like ‘kirtchen sets and play ovens for daughters. This silently imprints on their nascent minds the duties they are supposed to fulfill in their lives and also prepares the boys of what to expect from sisters and wives.
-Prepare daughters for life, and not marriage. Encourage girls to dream big and facilitate their path towards realization of their dreams. Confront and avoid relatives who always pester your daughter to be domestic and docile to serve her husband’s family.
-Watch news snippets and movies with the family where a woman plays a central role as a professional doctor, pilot, scientist or police officer. Interestingly, in an experiment conducted by a research group, some 6-8-year-olds were asked to draw a pilot and a police officer and all of them drew a strong, muscular man in a uniform.
-Stop the tradition of the girl-to-be-married bringing trays loaded with tea and snacks for the boy’s family when they come to meet the girl’s family.Let the girl’s father and brothers partake in this display of hospitality.
Linking to #FeministMondays at Nabanita’s blog.Kudos to her for championing this!