It’s A Man’s Life Too!
Although Bollywood’s recent “Ka and Ki” would have us believe that there is already a paradigm shift at work that challenges gender stereotypes, a general acceptance of changing trends in a rigid patriarchal system seems a bit too early. So when will brows stop being raised when we see a man chipping in with the domestic chores equally or may be all the way through? I guess, that will be only when we stop raising our children in ‘blues’ and ‘pinks’. But barriers are thawing already and hold your breath –men are handed over the reins only when they meet approval of the lady in charge.
Pritish, a professor in Dibrugarh University, is an avid cook and grows his vegetables in the backyard. It fills him with a sense of pride to conjure up dishes with his greens, for his guests and family. However, to reach this level of expertise, he had to undergo the scrutiny of post cooking clean up, utilizing commodities keeping in mind the monthly budget and healthy recipes. It was the first condition that stalled his entry into the kitchen for some time. Women are loathe to let men in for the mess they leave behind including the pile of soiled utensils.
Rakesh, the zonal head of a company in the insurance sector, stashes the soiled clothes of the day into the washing machine, once he is back from office having negotiated clients and the Delhi -Noida traffic for the day. Laundry is his chore. For him the mundane act of watching the clothes swirl around the drum and then transferring them to the spin tub to rinse and dry, is extremely de-stressing. According to him, it allows him the solitary moments to mull over the day’s happenings and strategize for the next day.
There is an increasing breed of men who are chipping in to help their wives in domestic chores. When Captain Siddhant, a commercial pilot, is in town and the maid decides to take the day off, he picks up the broom and also does the dishes while his wife mops the floor and cooks. Sharing the house work keeps the couple connected especially given his profession that keeps him away most of the times.
That times are changing is evident in the advertisements flashed on television. Particularly the series on laundering by a popular detergent. A father apologizes to his daughter who rushes around the house doing her chores once she is back from work while her husband is plonked in front of the TV. He apologizes for her accepting this as the norm since she had grown up watching him sit around while her mother did the chores. Or the mother -in -law taking pride in her daughter- in -law’s salary being more than her son’s , and the look of disapproval she throws at him when he demands why his shirt was not washed.
In a nuclear family dominated society and in the times when there is an increasing number of both the partners going out to work, the line around domestic chore is blurring and is poised between ‘his’ and ‘hers’. Some have accepted and made amends but more need to join the force to truly stop those eyebrows from going up.