Just imagine a day in your life when there is no meal, the house is in mess and you do not know how to do either of the work. How long will you be able to survive living in an unsanitised room without eating especially during this pandemic? Just the thought of it must strike in your mind the importance of housework in our lives as a living human. Food, cleanliness and well-maintained house is the basic necessity to sustain life. But still, our society doesn’t consider housework, which is mainly done by women, as a job that deserves respect and pay. It always undermines its value when compared to the high paying office jobs or business. What makes society think that housework is a lowly task and deserves no pay? If a nine to five job is important for the families’ survival, the housework too is equally essential. If the job deserves a paycheck, holidays and bonus, then why not housework?
Our male-dominated society reveres men and their duties as essential for survival while a woman’s work is to serve the man who feeds and protects her. And the misogyny that renders women as the subordinate and vulnerable sections of the society demeans anything that has been traditionally related to them. Be it make-up, art or housework, they are shamed as something very easy and insignificant as women are too weak to undertake any difficult enterprise.
But think twice before labelling housework as “easy” because it is everything but that. It is mentally and physically much more exhausting than the man sitting for the nine to five desk job. The office timings begin at 9 am and end by the evening or at night. But a woman doing housework gets started with her work even before the man of the house wakes up. And she switches off the light of her room when he is done with his dinner after a long tiring day. Moreover, it is harsher for women who manage housework along with a full-time job. They have to not only perform well in office but also devote equal time in the housework.
Housework is not only about cooking and cleaning but also about maintaining the house, managing the budget and saving money. If a homemaker isn’t good at handling money, will the paycheck from desk job ever be enough? Then doesn’t housework support the economy of the family too and hence of the nation too?
Furthermore, there are no holidays for homemakers. In fact, during official holidays housework is often much more than the rest of the week. On holidays or special occasions, when everyone in the house enjoys good food, wine and celebration, women are on their toes to make these days special for everyone. The best time to understand how housework increases during holidays is the lockdown. When the entire world was locked inside the homes since there was no office to go to and not all jobs could continue from home, housework never paused. It rather increased with the number of people, their appetite and their demands on idle days.
It is imperative for the society to recognise that housework is essential and each person depends on it to survive. But then, even if some people understand this, they revere women for their self-sacrificing power rather than pitching to pay for their work. This section of people who apparently understand the value of women includes famous personality like Kangana Ranaut. Recently, she tweeted a very problematic statement supporting the idea that housework shouldn’t be paid in the garb of respecting women for their sacrificial nature.
It will be worse to reduce a home owner to home employ, to give price tag to mothers sacrifices and life long unwavering commitment,It’s like you want to pay God for this creation, cause you suddenly pity him for his efforts. It’s partially painful and partially funny thought.
— Kangana Ranaut (@KanganaTeam) January 5, 2021
How can it be right that a woman breathlessly does all the housework from day to night and still remains sleep-deprived, eats the last roti and gets criticised by the in-laws? And in the case of housewives, they have to depend on their husbands for each penny and give the details of all the expenses. If she does all this for love, don’t men who work love their families too? If they get paid for it, why not women? And if doing housework embodies love, shouldn’t men too pitch in as much as women? Just why should men get paid for whatever they do while woman’s work is ignored as her hobby or responsibility?
It is high time we stop undermining housework. It isn’t easy and please stop seeing it as proof of a woman’s sacrifice and love for the family. Homemakers deserve paycheck and respect. Perhaps to realise this and to hasten the change, it is the best idea to involve everyone in the homemaking job, irrespective of gender.
The views expressed are the author’s own. Image is for creative representation only. Still from film Lunchbox
We request you to support our award-winning journalism by making a financial contribution towards our efforts. Your funds will ensure we can continue to bring you amazing stories of women, and the impact they are making and spotlight half the country's population because they deserve it.