Women and the domestic life – Part 1

Despite the progress that has taken place in recent times, the topic of housework remains murky. Simply put, housework includes all the work that has to be done for the upkeep of the place we live in, be it slightly dignified work like washing clothes and vessels, to the downright dirty shit that no one wants to do (pun fully intended) like washing the toilets or getting rid of the kitchen waste. Since times immemorial it was the perception that it was the woman’s job to take care of these things, while the man earned a living outside the home. By and large, at least in more progressive cultures, this opinion has changed. But, like all other issues which require feminist intervention, this topic of domesticity and who takes up the load at home is stuck in a limbo of pseudo-feminism.

Case in point: A large number of men willingly take up the task of washing vessels or vacuum cleaning the house. But how many are okay with cleaning a latrine? How many are okay with clearing a fridge which may have a week’s worth of food to be thrown out? It is a tendency of men to throw up their hands when the disgusting tasks turn up. So much for being the ones to get their hands dirty, am I right? The point is, men do housework with a sort of detachment, like it’s not really their job, which they probably think on some level that it isn’t. They are mostly looking for pointers from a female of the house with regards to how to go about it and aren’t concerned with the outcome. Basically, they might dust the furniture in the living room, but if it’s not up to the mark, not their problem.

One would think that with all the tales regaled to us women about a man’s possessiveness and just how desirable the quality is, it is surprising that this territorial side doesn’t show when keeping their ‘den’ in top condition. One of the possible reasons may be that a man will never be pointed at for the failure of keeping a house neat, but it is a definitely a black mark in a woman’s report card. If a woman is not good at keeping house, what is she good at? If a man is not good at it, certainly he may have other redeeming qualities, but the same leeway is not extended to a woman.

Of course, without going into a lot of convoluted explanations it is fairly obvious that men consider housework to be beneath them. It was deemed a woman’s responsibility, and most of them are secretly incensed that they are asked to partake in it. Since this kind of ideology is now frowned upon, they have amended it to consider certain housework beneath them, which includes the aforementioned latrine project. This mentality will not change until men do not look at their abode with the same fierce belonging and pride as most women do, and thus start taking care of it in the right fashion.

I cannot say that women are without blame here. First blame goes to the parents, and in particular mothers, who raised the sons of the previous generations as bratty little shits who were not expected to lift a finger at home. Next is the wives who give up on their husbands, citing that he just doesn’t have a knack for housework after seeing their first attempt. This is a feeble lie and one should be shrewd enough to see right through it. Push comes to shove: a man will clean the house if his life depends on it. Stretch out on the bed with a migraine the next time your husband’s boss is coming over, and watch him lick the house clean from floor to ceiling. It just goes to show that when his reputation is at stake, a man will lift the broom and mop with no qualms at all.

The other notch of the idyllic domestic lifestyle is the charm of cooking. You will find most expatriates and hostel bred youngsters swearing up-and-down on home cooked food, as though the food was cooked by the walls of their native home, with no human intervention at all. On the contrary, home cooked food is the result of tireless effort by wives and mothers who have literally sacrificed their entire life and any ambitions and dreams they must have held in order to provide the members of their home freshly cooked and familiar meals three times a day. To see these women being treated with thanklessness and ingratitude is a shame and yet the truth of this world. Because no matter how much we may strive to, how many of us thank our mothers for our tiffins and lunches? We invariably forget. These women are condemned to a life of being unappreciated by the ones they love. Ask the men of the house to help out with the cooking once in a while, and hell is raised.

Now of course I’m not denying that some men do cook full meals in the house for their families. Before this, let me get the “Most cooks in restaurants are men” argument out of the way and into the trash where it belongs. It’s not the same when you’re getting paid for it. And cooking in a hotel, no matter whether it’s sophisticated or ramshackle, cannot possibly compare to a lifetime of cooking without pay, for the same people day after day, with open criticism to your face without the least regard for your feelings, and no ‘compliments to the chef’ nonsense. Anyway coming back, some men are adept at culinary skills. But that is just how they treat it: like an art. These men don’t realise that cooking family meals, three times a day, day after day, for an entire month, is a task that requires supreme combination of budgeting, variety, subsistence and nutrition. Many women I know complain that the cooking fever sometimes takes over their better halves and they whip up some fancy dish that finishes all the supplies they had and leaves the kitchen in a mess, which they then show no inclination to clean.

To these men I want to say: Hey pal, this ain’t the Masterchef. Domestic cooking isn’t the glamorous gig that television shows it to be. There are no puny assistants to yell at, or fancy six burner gas stoves or blast freezers or giant ovens to shove your culinary delights into. Food for the family needs to be made the way women have been making it for generations: humbly, with balance, foresight and devotion to your family’s health and happiness and no guaranteed promise of a reward. That’s how its done.






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