It’s taken for granted and it’s mighty unfair, denying women the same freedom that men enjoy. To 54-year-old Keerthi Lakshmi, it’s a lot of workload. Dealing with an unemployed husband, a full-time job, and lots of bills to pay, Keerthi finds it tougher by the day. Here’s her story:
“I work from 10 to 6 every day, but my actual day starts by 6 am. I make breakfast and lunch for my husband and then get ready and take the bus to the office. And when I get home by 7, my husband expects me to make dinner and something that he would like. I don’t mind cooking for him but I wish he could help a bit, at least cut the vegetables and make the rice. He claims he isn’t a good cook and hence won’t try but I know it doesn’t take a lot of effort. If I hadn’t spoilt him in the initial years of our marriage, I’m sure he would’ve been different now,” she rues.
Lots of times, women take up the duties upon themselves without any questions. It’s assumed so and continues, till one fine day she breaks and questions this. Like 23-year-old Simran. Her story is all about how she realised that it’s okay to rebel and that you’re not disrespecting anybody if you question the bias.
“My brother doesn’t help with the kitchen work, but I’m expected to do it. One day, I told him to help and he simply refused. When I refuse, my parents hound me to stop showing attitude. How is it attitude if we live in the same house but the rules are different for the both of us? It took my parents some time to understand this, so they are making an effort to change the bias. At least in the house,” she narrates.
Times are changing. While we owe thanks to all the women rights activists in the past for making the world a lot more equal for women, we still have miles to go. There are some, like 32-year-old Charumathi’s husband, who ensure that everything is done equally.
“My husband is a great cook and prepares dinner every night. I’m in charge of the cleaning. Since we live in Singapore, it’s not easy for us to get a house help so the onus is on us. He gets paid a little more than me but we pay the rent equally. One month I’ll pay, one month he’ll pay. And as for the other bills, we split it up and keep a budget. It wasn’t like this before but a discussion and understanding go a long way. He put himself in my shoes and understood, and I understand his concerns as well. You need that to function and promote gender equality,” she avers.
When it’s not conforming to societal norms, sometimes women are subjected to a lot of shame. If she smokes or drinks, she is shamed for ruining the culture. If she takes her own decisions, she is considered to be full of herself. Single mothers, too, face bias in terms of doing everything without the presence of a man. Like media professional Sahana, having two kids and a good job isn’t enough for people around her.
“I divorced four years ago and I feel more independent and free. But it’s never enough for my relatives or even my neighbours! I have a good job and I’m able to hire help, yet I am often shamed for not devoting enough time to my children or choosing to leave the man I married. No matter what I do, my identity is always reduced to a single mom who is always questioned!”
JFW’s recent Father’s Day video explored this bias. The comments section had many understanding the essence of the video – treat your wife the way you would want to be treated. And teaching sons about equality starts from a young age and is necessary.