Our narrative needs to change when it comes to our perception of women who choose to be homemakers post their marriage. This has been put forth time and again, and yet like a knee jerk reflex, many of us go on to show our lack of regard for homemakers by adding the word ‘just’ before the all-encompassing role they play. Take this tweet by a leading news agency, for example, on mountaineer Premlata Agrawal, the first #Indian woman to conquer all the seven highest peaks across the globe.
#IANSSpecial: #PremlataAgrawal, the first #Indian woman to conquer all the seven highest peaks across the globe, was just a housewife until the spirit of adventure overtook her.— IANS Tweets (@ians_india) March 13, 2019
Photo: IANS pic.twitter.com/uHSwvCvD3z
- Our narrative needs to change when it comes to our perception of women who choose to be homemakers after marriage.
- Most people still consider household jobs as mundane and do not see being a homemaker as an accomplishment.
- Call it dull, boring, uninteresting, but you certainly cannot call a housewife's job unchallenging.
People do not see being a homemaker as an accomplishment.
By saying that Premlata was “just a housewife until the spirit of adventure overtook her,” the news agency is telling millions of homemakers across the globe that their life is insignificant until they step out to work or scale mountains. It shows how most people still see household chores as mundane. Which is why they do not see being a homemaker as an accomplishment. Staying at home for them means that a woman does nothing. Or let me rephrase it, she does nothing worth mentioning. Who wants to talk about boring things like waking up at five to fix tiffin boxes and breakfasts for your family? Certainly, chores like sweeping, folding clothes, dusting and fulfilling the needs of your loved ones every day can’t be called exciting? Where’s the rush in caring for ageing in-laws or cleaning a clogged drain or changing a fused bulb?
Call these tasks dull, boring, uninteresting, but you certainly cannot call them unchallenging. It is difficult to take care of a house and people who live within. It is even more difficult to put your aspirations and needs on the back burner because you have to look after your kids and meals aren’t going to cook themselves. Besides, as an individual, a woman is free to choose how she wants to lead her life.
As an individual, a woman is free to choose how she wants to lead her life.
It is challenging to be a housewife, as much as it is to be a working woman. I’ve polished wooden floors with varnish to perfection. I’ve climbed up rickety ladders to untangle clothesline or change a bulb. I’ve spent days and nights running after my kids, going hungry till evenings on many days. I have lived that life and while I work now, I know being a housewife wasn’t easy. Which is why it irks me when people add ‘just’ as a prefix to being a homemaker.
Perhaps she never had a choice, or perhaps she had. But being a homemaker doesn’t mean that there is nothing more to her life. Look beyond your salary slips, your privilege and your freedom and only then will you realise how a woman can never be just a housewife. She is a caretaker, a mother, a wife, a housekeeper, a cook, all rolled into one. And mind you, she is doing it all for free. It costs her time, energy and even respect. But it is not she who is responsible for her lowly status. It is us, who refuse to see all her hard work and sacrifices.
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.