I recently read this comic, and it completely resonated with me. I quite liked the term ‘mental load’ that was mentioned here. Based on my own experience and those of women around me, I would say that we are always carrying this mental load.
Here are a few scenarios that I would like you to consider:
Women are always responsible for household chores:
That’s true. From the moment you become a couple, the household chores are automatically considered a woman’s domain. Cleaning, housekeeping, laundry, ironing, dusting and cooking are all a woman’s headache. And if and when they have children, automatically her responsibilities expand. Often, I’ve heard that women are better suited for them. But, in my opinion, we are just conditioned to believe that. I have come across many women who dislike cooking, many others who hate cleaning or housekeeping and still others who absolutely abhor looking after kids. But do they have a choice?
Men help out:
Trust me, I am not being ungrateful. I do realise that I share this earth with countless other women who have no basic rights over food, choices like education, choosing their life partner, their domestic and reproductive rights and so on. Compared to that scenario, men being relatively hands-on with housework or raising kids are a huge boon. But trust me, it is still helping out unless you do it as much as an average woman does it and consider it your responsibility. Most men don’t. You can ask them to help and they will from time to time. But most of the chores are still your problem. I checked with a number of my women friends who had full-time jobs and not a single one had a husband who took more of a burden of household chores than her. So you see? We are still not really sharing the load equally.
Society has very different expectations from women:
The expectations from men and women are different both from the society and within the family. A newly wed bride will likely have a ritual where she cooks something for the entire family. This is her initiation into the kitchen. Does a man have something similar? No. I have seen working women take leaves from work when there is a festival to be celebrated because they are responsible for handling the cooking and other related activities. Men can come in the evening and no one bats an eye. I know of mils, some closely, who tell their working dils to manage her household chores before she heads out to work. Men have no such concerns to worry about except their own professional work. Every step of the way, a woman’s professional work is something to be managed after she has handled her household duties. This despite her contributing to her family’s income. With such mindset, is it any wonder that India ranks 120 out of 131 nations for dismal participation of women in workforce (World Bank Report released last week). This is just 27% while in China and Brazil, it is 65-70%. Imagine if highly qualified women held full-time jobs, the wonders it would do to the GDP and economy of India!
Feminism is a bad word:
Feminism which has been fighting for equal rights for women is often seen as something belligerent, aggressive and man hating. It is not! Most women are just asking for a life which has a better balance for both women and men. Asking for what is rightfully yours is an uphill battle. Conventional upbringing often makes men not receptive to taking on more load of housework. After all their fathers did not do it and neither do their friends. Trust me, working 24X7, 7 days a week, planning, organising and keeping a household running is a pretty taxing job. No wonder then, some men chicken out of added responsibilities. Ambition in women is also not considered a good trait. The more docile the woman, the more praises she earns.
Just like the comic says, if you are one of the few who has a partner who shares all duties at home then you sure can count yourself as blessed. But, it would be silly to assume that this is the situation in every home or even possible in each home. Often, the woman cannot be blamed. As I pointed out earlier, there are multiple factors like living with in-laws, her own conditioning, reluctance of the spouse and even censure/ridicule of society that may all make it difficult for the woman to lighten her ‘mental load’.
I would love to hear your views and personal experience on this topic.
Pics courtesy: Shutterstock
Linking to #FeministMondays on Naba’s blog.
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