Unwanted Chores: Why Do They Always End Up On Women's To-Do List?

We took the women of our houses as working machines, they never stopped and never got tired. In fact, we do not even acknowledge their ‘unpaid labour’.

Vanshika nirAkula
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When it comes to household chores, it is women who are expected to shoulder the burden singlehandedly, as if they have a certificate of excellence in the field. Yet, when men get into the “mood” to help they have the privilege of choice. For reasons never mentioned by the rule book of society; women are expected to perform all the chores that men find "trivial" or "pointless". Even while performing unpaid labour, men get to have a choice and women don't.

Women in Indian households are often treated as machines that never stop or wear out due to workload. In fact, we do not even acknowledge their ‘unpaid labour’. A mom always remembers to mend the broken button on your shirt's cuff. This one button might have saved you the pains of looking for a different shirt to wear, or repairing it yourself, but does she even get thanked or appreciated for doing that? The answer is- no. Because the chore is touted to be a trivial one. Anyone could do that. True, but then why is it always a woman who does it?

Many men take pride in the fact that they help out with chores at home, reducing a chunk of the burden off the shoulders of their spouse. But while we collectively pat men’s backs for doing the core work, we also need to look closely at who is doing the by-product work. Sure, you cooked lunch today but what about the mess you created in the kitchen? Who is going to clear that? Okay, so you mopped the floor, but did you dry out the mop later or just left it soaking in dirty water? How nice of you to wash the clothes, but who will fold the pile of clean and dry clothes and arrange it in the cupboard? Women are not automatic cache cleaners, who will pick up after their family members.

Is it possible that men only perform chores that have more of a visual impact and project them as supportive partners?

Unwanted Household Chores: Let’s look at the anatomy of it

Our society first puts women on a pedestal, just to push them into a quagmire of guilt and stereotypes, which traps women into performing unpaid labour for a lifetime. It is just as Evan Esar says, “Housework is what a woman does that nobody notices unless she hasn’t done it." Women are the ultimate fallback for chores that no one wants to do, that's how low they are in the hierarchy.


Suggested Reading: Why Can’t Daughters Have Any Privacy In Indian Households?

The right way to approach household chores is to circulate every duty between members of the household. This way, no one will feel trapped with a chore that is usually looked down upon. Besides, such a circulation will also make family members value the effort that goes into keeping their household running behind the scenes. Everyone knows utensils need to be washed every day, or that food has to be cooked. But drying the mop after wiping the floor, taking the smelly trash out, or unclogging the bathroom drain, these chores might seem trivial, but some has to perform them. That someone shouldn't always be a woman. No one should have the option to dump these unwanted chores on another household member, simply because of their gender.

Views expressed are the author’s own.

household chores