How we used WhatsApp to combat domestic patriarchy
There have been long drawn debates around patriarchy and feminism and their definition. Put the labels aside and let’s face it- we live in a man’s world. While millennials question and challenge these ideas of conventional divisiveness, the older generations have grown complacent of the biases that exist. They have learnt to operate within them.
I grew up in a nuclear, rather egalitarian household, where my father would be the first to get up and prepare tea for everyone. I never gave the idea a thought that there could be a deeper, slightly more indoctrinated part of me that is patriarchal. Well, until very recently.
But before we get to that, let’s talk technology. We all know WhatsApp, the internet messaging platform that the world has grown to love. Recently bought by social media giant Facebook, WhatsApp is no more just an app, it’s a noun, a way of life. The fact that the app added features to itself in slow progression, one at a time, helped everyone alike- the millennials, gen X and everybody else. Irrespective of one’s intellectual, receptive or economic capacity, anybody can be abreast, gain familiarity and ease of operation, which has been one of the key reasons of its immense, all-pervading growth.
Just like everyone else, I am also a part of a few ‘family’ groups on WhatsApp, both on my maternal and paternal side. There is also a group exclusively dedicated to the four in our immediate family, where we keep each other updated on our lives. The meaning of physical distance seems diminished with that constant nagging and questions still in place.
Funnily, our real time conversations haven’t changed much. Every time we are all in the house again, it’s my mom doing the cooking, father getting groceries, my brother sitting on the computer all day binge watching, and me- tending to the army of dogs that we have. One morning when my mom decides against prepping breakfast for us, I flip out, almost like it was the natural prerogative of a mother. Hunger in the morning could make you a monster, much without your own recognition.
On realizing that it was unfair of me to expect my working mom to prepare breakfast when she is also on her annual vacation, I wanted to drown in my own guilt. I realized we weren’t that egalitarian, after all.
I am not much of an apologizer, so I drop a WhatsApp on the group, explaining in detail how I feel. To my astonishment, this opened the gateways of unspoken feelings being conveyed in a much more free-flowing manner than ever. Things we avoided talking about, ways I never thought my mom felt, it was all out there- in my face. Those words stared at me. Everyone was articulating how they felt so well, without any conflict of our loud, stereotypically north Indian scenes.
My mom has discovered the holy elixir. Ever since that day, everyone takes turns to prepare breakfast. Not only that, my mother now uses the group to relegate responsibilities, depending on which part of the city or country we are in and how we can contribute. She saves a lot of time, and there is no escaping my responsibility by blaming it someone else. It’s all on record!
This might appear unwarranted or petty to a few, but it is little ways like these in which we can use technology to change our lives in a positive way. Equal access to all is the key, we have to judge individuals to make the best decision for themselves!
Feature image Credit: dnainida