On gender, being domestic et al! 

I am at the airport again, now on my way back. I have five hours to kill ..

So I am just back from an all-girls weekend with a group of friends from grad-school. This was the first time I am away after moving together with R. It felt a little weird (in a good way) to say home during conversations all through the weekend. Because this time ‘home’ meant ‘my own’ – with a kitchen and a man n all!!

img_20170110_201608.jpgThis post ties to a few things that happened before and during the past weekend.

Conversation 1-  Before the trip 

Me: I am not available during these dates.
X : Oh, why?
Me: I am away for the weekend with some friends. 
X: Oh, you are going with friends? And your husband is fine with it?
Me: —

Conversation 2 – During the trip

This involved many conversations around my married life and my friends used words like “different”, “weird” , “matured” etc. The reasons will follow after Conversation 3.

Conversation 3 – After the trip

Few mins ago with my beloved mother

Me: “Ma, I am just on my way back”

” Aama, did you cook for R to last through the weekend?” {Note that this was the first question even before asking how I was}

Me: Did you know your son-in-law is a fully grown man? 

She: I know, but he can save money by not eating out right?

Me: MAAA!! He can take care of himself.

She: Fine. What did he eat? You don’t have to get irritated. I asked only a normal question. ! 

Me(fuming): Bye! 

So did R starve or blow money on “outside food” this weekend? No, he is an adult who can make his own food. As simple as that.

Incase of the first conversation, unfortunately  the male is still perceived to be the decision maker and that he has to be “okay” with his partner going on a vacation with people she has known longer than him.  I couldn’t  get myself to even jokingly mention this conversation to anyone because I realized these distasteful jokes are what make up the general opinion of this society. I felt so disappointed that someone can even ask me such a question. { The real fact was that it did not even occur to me to mention this trip until after the plans were made.}

In case of the second conversations, it was interesting to see my own peers feel we were different when I feel this is normal.The conversation with my friends also involved around similar lines where the fact that a male can cook, go grocery shopping, do his own laundry (and mine! :P) and can run a home all my himself for a weekend sounded alien to them. Not because it is uncommon because they hear it among their own peers so rarely. They even doubted if I coerce him into doing these things. Unfortunately, it is relationship 101 that you let people be who they are. So I have got nothing to do with an adult being self-sufficient. 

For clarity, in the case of R and myself (like many many couples), we both were hardcore bachelors, meaning both have had overflowing laundry , stinky sinks and Netflix filled weekends. So when we decided to live together it was a learning and a choice for both of us. We could choose to be bachelors living together or we could choose to be decent human beings and put in effort for a decent home.  The third option being – the female would grow up overnight and  maintain the house while the male takes his own sweet time to evolve and in the end get glorified for the laundry he does once in 5 years.

In our case we chose option 2. We both learnt how to use basic home tools, how to organize a kitchen, how to cook better, how to drill a hole. We found great joy to looking at videos or reading about the same {It is a great couple bonding activity btw}.

And I sincerely hope I am wrong in believing option 3 still happens quite often. I don’t think any female has to feel that she has to improve her housekeeping skills and be homely just because she is married. Shouldn’t we as females who have had similar life experience as your male counterpart, take it forward in a similar manner? Should we feel compelled to challenge ourselves more than we have to when we have our own household?

So without delving into topics such as gender bias or equality, I want to reiterate that taking care of oneself is a very very basic quality. If any grown adult (male or female or anyone in the spectrum) can’t take care of themselves , they can’t be called or treated as one. So neither glorifying such a male nor putting down a female who isn’t upto it is going to help us.

It was very disappointing to me that a parent who raised her daughter to be independent doesn’t believe that her spouse can be the same. I don’t blame her, I feel the society still makes her doubt her parenting. She finds the need to make sure nobody calls her daughter a bad wife or comment on her as a parent.

 The heartening thing was that R’s mom has never found the need to ask if I cooked for him. She is a mother who had raised her son to be independent and self sufficient (like mine) and who considered it matter-of-fact. She isn’t proud that her son cooks or cleans , she finds it a necessity that is much needed for our generation.  I might be biased here but more power to such women. I wish we have more mothers (and fathers) in our generation raising sons (and daughters) with such values and also more parents who evolve and inculcate such ideas to their adult children!! {And in general more males and females who accept this to be normal}

What do you think of my thoughts above? Please comment if you stop by 🙂

 

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13 thoughts on “On gender, being domestic et al! 

  1. So true. It is so ingrained in our heads and that it comes naturally at times. Cooking, house keeping, cleaning and doing certain things that you get better at when you do it as part of your basic needs. Because, I work, we both end up sharing the house hold work without going by societal standards and compliment each other for doing the work and treat ourselves out.
    You are right that, in general most house holds and females or males in general assume and expect certain things as women only roles, be it east/west anywhere in the world for that matter. I have seen and met more of such people than as being equals.
    But,I agree that it is our responsibility to follow and inspire other’s to be an responsible adult and self-dependent. Good post and points. Explored any new place?

    Like

  2. It seemed so much like an echo to my thoughts. Loved it! 🙂

    Like

  3. How relevant! I remember I was asked that the first time I traveled as a married woman with out my husband. Sometimes, I’ll talk to my sister and hear her saw how she prepares all her husband’s meal and I used to think that I had to as well. But husband was very clear in reminding me that he was living on his own for almost a decade. So I stopped making his breakfast. And then just last week he asked to start making it again lol. But I don’t prepare his lunch and no longer feel guilty. Would he make minr if I were to start working in an office job? No and I would not expect him too. My marriage is forcing me to renogotiate some of the gender roles I observed growing up. Every day is a learning experience! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I actually make lunches everyday because I can and at this point I am a stay-at-home wife. So I take up more responsibility on the home front. But I think it is all about what works as a couple and individuals. What isn’t right is people outside setting expectations or we ourselves setting expectations just because we are male or female.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Janani,
    Happy for ur trip and loved ur write up. Am recently married and that last para exactly matches with mine.. It feels good and I hope soon people will consider such things from ”Different ” to ‘Normal’.
    Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I had many years of bachelor habits before J moved in with me and eventually got married. I have a noted obstinate side about changes, and though we still have occasional co-habitation issues, the choice you and R made is what we decided on as well. Far better to discuss things and find ways to resolve together. It genuinely feels better having a space we can be proud of together. Though sometimes the dishes may stack up, or the laundry basket is overflowing, eventually we both say ‘enough’ and take care of it together.

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  6. Divya Potabathula

    Great piece on gender bias with great humor! Have you ever thought of stand up comedy!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very well said. It is equally sad to see our moms think the way they do,despite all the equality stuff going on around. :/

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Cooking and cleaning are basic skills needed for any adult as you rightly pointed out. I fail to understand what gender has got to do with it! :-/

    Liked by 1 person

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