Gender Disparity Household Chores: It's the story of most homes in India where the man is at 'work' and woman is working at home. But during COVID many men had to pitch in for domestic work and that doesn't seem to have gone down well with some.
At the women redressal cell of Navi Mumbai police, the department received complaints against their wives. This was no small number as 30 per cent of the total complaints from men in 2020 were about domestic work and challenges. Meera Bansode, the senior police inspector of the women's cell said, "Of the 633 applications, around 180 complaints were from men who had issues against wives and were facing problems." Most of these men fought with their spouses over something as simple (but not so simple) as household chores.
The COVID-19 lockdown in India skyrocketed these differences which made many men complain about their wives. I wouldn't be surprised if each and every police department's women cells in the country received similar complaints. This only proves that the stigma regarding housework still thrives.
Why can't we do away with this mindset once and for all? Why do most men still feel that they are "too privileged" to give a hand at housework?
With the lockdown, all the maids who took care of all the household chores went back to their hometowns. Everyone was left to their own devices, so many men had to start contributing by washing clothes, cooking, cleaning, etc.
Ashwini Deshpande, the professor of economics at Ashoka University notes that the gender gap between both men and women regarding household chores reduced during the first month of the lockdown. On an average, men devoted an extra hour towards housework in April 2020 compared to December 2019.
However, the burden of this work for women increased slightly during the lockdown. Also, another interesting thing to note here is that many men started helping around in the house after they were unemployed. Do you think it took unemployment alone to make men work at their homes? Is it possible that this reduction in gender gap will continue? Why is it that women still had to bear the brunt of doing more work than men?
Ingrained Patriarchy Regarding household chores
It is worth noting that there was a section of men who shared their lockdown takes on social media. Many of them shared videos of themselves cooking, cleaning, washing utensils, etc. Some of them are genuinely help their wives whether there us a lockdown or not. Yet, there are also men who feel that they are somehow above their partner when it comes to household chores. The lockdown didn't do much to smash this patriarchal mindset. Many of them expected things to remain what they were before the lockdown. The only difference was that they started working from their homes instead of going to their offices.
An official from Navi Mumbai's women redressal cell reported that a Nerul-based businessman complained of not getting his meals on time. His wife apparently cooked meals at odd times. He and his children aged 12 and 15 often ordered meals from outside. However, after a few counselling sessions, both the husband and wife were able to settle their differences.
But wouldn't it have been better if the man, woman and children tried to distribute the work amongst themselves?
It would have been better if the man made a simple meal for himself instead of relying on his wife, isn't it? It might have been possible that the wife was being overburdened with all the work since everyone was at home. There is indeed a need for us to be considerate towards the unpaid workload that falls on a woman.
The trend regarding a woman being a multitasker still exists because society doesn't expect men to take on the burden of household chores. Ghar Ka Kaam Ghar Ki Aurat Sambhal Legi. Why? What's wrong with the so-called 'educated', 'intelligent' men? Why do they feel that it is unnecessary for them to do housework? Besides that, there is no need to glorify men who help around the house once in a blue moon. It is ridiculous when society goes all gaga over such men.
A Housewife's 'Me Time' Is Never Acknowledged
People always have a problem with a housewife devoting sitting idly. They feel that since the woman at home and engaged with household chores, she is free and doesn't work as hard as office-going people. With the lockdown, most housewives lost their privacy, and most of their leisure time was spent on social media. According to the Navi Mumbai police, most men had a problem with their wives spending time on social media. They felt that their wives weren't doing 'enough' in terms of housework, and failed to realise that they were entitled to their free time. What wrong with that? I am pretty sure that these men spent as much time on social media as their wives. Who are they to judge their wives for this? Are they any better? If you yourself are guilty of the same thing, how can you judge others? Why do these men feel that they are entitled to school their wives for spending too much time on their phones?
It would be foolhardy to blatantly ignore such happenings in our society. Such distasteful happenings amplified during the lockdown which kept all of us locked within the four walls of our homes. While there were couples who managed themselves during the lockdown, it is hard to ignore that there were many who let societal pressure run over them. Something like household chores should not be treated as only a woman's thing. After all, men are capable of anything, aren't they?