Today morning I came across a tweet in which a person wrote that it is only normal that men handle the finances of the family while women take care of the house. Superficially, it looked like two people joining forces to run a house. But if you remove layers and see the real truth, it is patriarchy that gets to call the shots and control what roles a husband and wife play in a marriage, based on their gender. Women are expected to be a team member who is ready to work, standing on one foot, without any remuneration. Meanwhile, men get the added power to make decisions at home and privileges too, simply for being breadwinners.
Women aren’t born with the skills of handling a house and taking care of the family selflessly. They are gradually conditioned to see these duties as the motive of their life. On the other hand, men are taught that they must earn money and control their families, by holding the power to make decisions for each and every member of their tribe. The reason why this cannot be teamwork is pretty clear. If housework and job were equal responsibilities to run a house, then why aren’t both paid labour? Why are women expected to work in the house throughout the day without any remuneration? Why are men never encouraged to perform household chores, but working women are expected to do all of them, despite earning a paycheck?
Women perform housework all day long, why can’t men help after office?
Housework requires more effort and efficiency. A woman who handles the house is supposed to wake up before everyone does, prepare food, clothes and clean the house for the family members and sleep after the entire family snoozes. A woman needs to be efficient at her work too. Even an extra pinch of salt in the food could spark conflicts and spoil moods. Women are called lazy and unorganised if they slack off their household duties, even on weekends and holidays.
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Moreover, even though women handle the house, keep the budget in check and care for everyone without worrying about their own health, they are never seen as the ones in charge of the home. They are never given the freedom to make decisions for their family. This shows the lack of recognition and respect for women’s unpaid work. Earning men, on the other hand, are rewarded for bringing in a paycheck by getting to put their feet up and not even lift a glass of water for themselves.
How is 24-hours of work that women do without any pay and respect equivalent to the nine to five job of a man? How can we term this as teamwork when most of the duties are burdened on one member in a marriage? Why do we take a woman’s labour for granted? Why do we assume that a woman’s labour is important but not payable?
I am not trying to say that earning is an easy task. That too requires effort and efficiency. But if it was just about the paycheck, then working women would have it easy in marriages. But clearly that is not the case. Money earned by women, while an added income for a family, still doesn’t give her the decision powers and privileges that a man might get for an equal paycheck.
It is high time we stop believing that housework is equal to a desk job. It requires more effort, more time and more efficiency. The workplace is normalised as a space where one struggles but the house is assumed as a comfortable space where no hard work is required. And this is also why women’s work in the house is not seen as hard work. But stop and think, where does the idea of relating home with comfort come from? Can a house be livable, beautiful, neat and comfortable unless and until someone works day and night to make it so? If not, then performing household work deserves the respect that it never gets.
As a solution to this problem and to make running a family truly teamwork, we need to stop dividing work based on gender. Women too should be allowed to work in offices while men should be ready to share the labour of housework.
Views expressed are the author’s own.