Who takes care of all of us at home and cooks food? And looks after when we are sick? Do you do the vessels, clothes and rest of the cleaning of the house? Does your father take care of grandparents at home? Who has to take leave when the child is born and gives up on the job to take care of children and parents?
All these simple questions have a very simple answer. The Women of the household.
It might be the mother, the daughter, the sister, the daughter-in-law, the wife and all the other names that we have given and captured a woman within the four walls.
The question and the answer to it are simple because nobody understands the depth and the effect of the same. Most of us don’t care to even recognise the “care work” done by the women as "work". It is not considered as work but rather a moral and emotional obligation/duty that the women are entitled to perform selflessly.
When some of the revolutionary women questioned the question, the answer was women are natural caretakers and nurturers. Men are rough and tough, lacking all the qualities like gentleness, composure that makes women the gifted caretakers of the planet.
The reason why we don’t imagine the latter is because it is out of our mental framework. Women doing all of it is natural and nothing spectacular that it needs our precious attention.
Envision women empowerment! What most of us see is women as Lawyers, Doctors, Officers, Scientists, Engineers and CEOs. We do not see women mopping the floor, bathing children, giving food to the elderly and all the household chores done by her. The reason why we don’t imagine the latter is because it is out of our mental framework. Women doing all of it is natural and nothing spectacular that it needs our precious attention. All these tiring works are not recognised and even if recognised, it’s considered as a trait inherent in women.
The estimation of unpaid care work done by women in India if calculated approximately in comparison with minimum wages, it adds up to 16 lakh crores annually.
So, Care is work. All of us need to recognise and appreciate it. It should not be taken for granted. Another aspect of this is visible and invisible work. If our mothers cook, then it is invisible and non-paid work, while if the maid does it then it becomes visible and paid. But the catch is, in most of our households why do we have female helpers and not male? Why do we have female nannies to take care of the child? Why is the field of nursing populated by women? Care work and nurturing is gendered at all levels. That’s only because we are all of the mentality that nurturing is innate to women.
Many who question such progressive questions by women are of the opinion that biologically, women are sensitive and associate more with nature.
Being associated with nature and possessing qualities like empathy, sensitivity, gentleness, calmness makes them biologically suitable for the role. Let’s break some myth. There is no such thing as possessing these qualities biologically. All these qualities are forced down upon women by the patriots of patriarchy. Most of us are told to be gentle, behave, walk, talk and sit like a girl, don’t behave like a boy, don’t be rough and tough. We hear it from our parents, neighbours, relatives, our favourite actors in serials and movies, advertisements and literally everywhere.
Task time: Notice all the advertisements of all the household products, 99% of them have women in it. Why? “Time to ponder”
Considering women as natural nurtures not only have an effect on them but also have various side effects. According to Amrita Nandy, they are as follows:
This may overshadow girl’s education and employment.
They are told to be good wives, mothers and daughters-in-law. Taught how to do all the household chores rather than helping them study further.
Reinforcement of awkwardness and non-acceptance of caregiving men.
Since women are considered the absolute caretakers, there is usually a scepticism if men perform the job. How many of us accept housefathers? The silence is the answer.
Idolization of such women and imposing the same on others.
The perfect “Sanskari Bahu” (daughter-in-law) is quite famous in the Indian context. We all know the ill effects of it.
All of this helps us contemplate the fact that we do treat women under the darkest shade. We get work done by emotional and moral blackmail. It’s that dark and abject. Everything that women have been subjected to is easily categorized under biology. I think it’s time all of us revisit school and do some middle school biology to get our facts clear!
Picture Credit: Celina Photography
Reshma is an intern with SheThepeople.TV