Every day, women see their individuality being dismantled just to represent them in relation to a man. We want women to be superheroes and give their best performance in each of these roles while making sure not an ounce of respect falls into their lap. One such relationship is between a woman and a man of the same age group and with equal experience. While the man and the woman might be involved romantically, the latter is expected to act as the former’s mother. Sounds strange?
The frivolous and ridiculous expectation from young women that they will cater to the needs of a man just like his mother did, is another dicey chess game set up by society. The romanticisation of this equation can be seen in anywhere from reel to real life. Remember how, before getting slapped by her husband, Amrita mollycoddles him in the movie Thappad? Or how your bestie has checked on her boyfriend for the third time in the last 15 minutes, to ensure that he has had his lunch?
Let’s dissect the problem: A mother is a provider. She, along with your father, has given you life. You got your flesh, blood, and bones from her. She nurtured you in her womb, protected you from harm when you couldn’t do it for yourself, and cushioned you against the dangers of the world. She and your father will always feel duty-bound to care for and protect you as they brought you into this world. Pause and tell me how is it fair to expect this from your wife or girlfriend as well.
Treating wives and girlfriends as mothers and the romanticisation of “man-child”
Most men do not perform any chores in Indian household. They grow up knowing that a woman will always take care of them. If it is not their mother, then their partner will assume the same duty. Society expects women to put their own lives on hold to accommodate demands of men. These dynamics aren’t just prevalent in marriages, they are part of courtship as well. We all know of women who pick after their boyfriends and run household errands for them. Use nahi ata…they reason.
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But seriously tell me, is there any reason to validate the fact that a grown man can’t cook for himself, do his laundry or keep his house tidy? It is not as if these chores require a person to have exceptional skills. The problem is that the idea of man-child has been romanticised to such an extent that women feel it is a part of their relationship to care for their husbands or boyfriends like their moms would do.
Bring the change yourself
The worse part is, men think it is okay to compare caregiving performance of their wives and girlfriends with that of their moms. No. She will not act like your mother or cook like your mother. She is an individual and will behave like herself. To expect her to take up your mother’s place, or base her actions and values on the role of a mother is downright ridiculous. This is escapism on the part of men; from the responsibility of growing up while grinding women’s identity.
So here is the thing, diminishing our personhood for someone is never romantic. A woman is not obligated to put the man first and treat him like a child. It is nothing but blatant exploitation of women, coercing them to perform unpaid labour, which reduces them to being secondary human beings. Men need to get off that couch and lend a helping hand. Wash those dishes, clean up that kitchen, and above all, don’t expect to be applauded for doing the bare minimum.
Views expressed are the author’s own.