It’s often stereotyped that a woman who advocates feminist ideologies cannot be a “good home-maker”. I prefer to pay deaf ears to this banter. I would rather reprimand, why is it so particularly deeply rooted by patriarchy in our minds that a woman is the sole “home-maker”? Our new age, millennial women have achieved so much, and are achieving much more, why is their traditional role taking much more time to evolve? This so called traditional role I am referring to are the labels like “good mother”, “good housewife”, “good cook”, “good wife”, etc which women are unapologetically taught to vouch for. The traditional role women are expected to play basically involve taking care of the household chores, nurturing children, pleasing the husband, cooking, cleaning, and an exhaustive list of other odd household jobs.
No, this argument is not targeted at men in the society or is some anti-male approach on the plight of women. This is a positive argument, about redefining the role a woman plays at the ground level. Today, a man and a woman both have a challenging work life, great careers and are financially independent. Surprisingly, why it is so in most of the cases that the man heads for the couch once home from work and the woman heads to the kitchen to cook. This is a simple example of the traditional role of a woman. It’s my general observation, even if a man at home wants to result a change in the role a woman plays; or even have an equal role like hers, at times the deeply rooted patriarchal mindset somewhere becomes a stumbling block.
The society wants its women to be independent, career driven and strong; but with its own patriarchal terms and conditions.
What we need to redefine? – A woman needs to grasp for herself that she is not responsible for everything at home and she has a life beyond the walls of a kitchen. It is a home; it has other members too. The male counterpart is also equally responsible. If the women gradually realize that they are not bound by the so called traditional roles, they will initiate a change by themselves. It is effortless for a regressive society or people of a narrow mindset to easily label a woman a “bad mother”; in instances if the woman is divorced, is a single mother, or if her child is not doing well in studies or other plethora of reasons. As a matter of fact the identity of that woman culminates to only being a “mother”, specifically a “bad mother”. No matter how efficiently she has carried out her traditional role of being an “ideal mother”, she will be judged. The society wants its women to be independent, career driven and strong; but with its own patriarchal terms and conditions.
Women get influenced at a young age to take up vocations which they aren’t even passionate about, there is no after-thought about alternate careers or vocations
Some communities/families/parents prefer guiding their daughters to take up teaching as a vocation, so that their daughters are not caught up in the daily hustle of a complex work atmosphere, so that they return home early once the school closes for the day, so that they get better marriage prospects from a point of view that the woman will come home from school earlier unlike other working women and then she can take care of the family and nurture her home. This reference is merely an example; I respect all vocations, neither am I demeaning teaching as a vocation nor disrespectful of teachers. I have had wonderful teachers in my academic life.
It is my introspection that in such circumstances, women get influenced at a young age to take up vocations which they aren’t even passionate about, there is no after-thought about alternate careers or vocations they actually want to pursue, or courses they want to take up. It is not that these women are forced to take up certain vocations, but on the same hand they aren’t given that extra-ordinary freedom to pursue challenging vocations unlike their son’s or even give a thought to an ideology that they can do something of their own choice. On the other hand it is easier for the son’s of the society to choose vocations because they are not burdened with the extra baggage of traditional roles like the daughters. I am not alleging that women do not take up vocations of their choice, they do, but the number of these women is not that significant than the women who take up vocations not out of individual choices.
I have elaborated about vocation since I have observed this in the very community I belong to. Not that my community lags behind in something, or lacks strong influential women. Talking about personal life observations, in my academic years I had been often told by people and advised even though if I didn’t require their precious advice that I should not be taking up a vocation in law and instead choose teaching. And yes, it was indeed manipulative; it could have even changed my mind. I am grateful to certain liberal people around me and my inner conscience that I paid no heed to that unnecessary advice. I suppose it will not be a piece of cake for all the women out there. It is extremely necessary to realize self worth, have certain goals, and pursue vocation of individual choice that go beyond achieving an “A grade” in the mark sheet of traditional roles.
If I have observed this vocational complexity for women around me, then there is food for thought that there must be something we can do about it. This vocational complexity is simply a personal observation made merely on a community level, to gauge certain predefined roles interlinked to traditional roles of women and to illustrate a common woman’s constant juggling of roles and responsibilities. It is of no comparison to other complexities that occur on a nationwide intensity. Sadly, many women end up sacrificing personal goals for carrying out their traditional role of being the ideal, homely, docile “woman” – a woman who nurtures the family and forgets to nurture herself in the process. Nurturing a family is not a punishment for women, but wouldn’t it be delightful to also assign this nurturing task to the male counterpart too. These traditional roles should become shared roles- Utopia indeed!
If the woman herself chooses to be inundated in the traditional roles the society made for her; there can be no redefinition of her traditional role. We need to be more vocal, learn to choose wisely for ourselves and redefine our roles as women and not keep juggling between traditional roles and personal goals.
Nurturing a family is not a punishment for women, but wouldn’t it be delightful to also assign this nurturing task to the male counterpart too.
Start with your own male counterparts, your fathers, your brothers, etc- voice your opinion, begin to share responsibilities and roles, let the men in your life understand that is time to redefine those patriarchal notions now. It’s a woman to woman plea to choose freedom and empowerment-
“Oh! Woman, you’re worth much more,
You’re not fragile as glass,
Unleash your inner warrior like in folklore,
Let your liberated spirit lay on the lush grass,
Where the world knows, “You’re worth much more…”