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In Albert Einstein's words, 'You could't judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree'. This means that we need to accept that different people have different skill sets and you can't expect everyone to do the same thing. It's high time that we need to discuss whether one must share the responsibilities on the basis of gender or skills.
For too far, but if you look around yourself, you will find women doing most of the household chores. Simply because of their gender, or what society calls "weaker sex than men" we knowingly or unknowingly expect them to do all the household chores- be itcooking, doing the dishes, washing clothes or cleaning the house, etc.
Recently in an interaction with the IANS, Bollywood actress-turned-author and interior designer Twinkle Khanna asked the audience, 'Why should women be expected to do all household chores?' This is a question that everyone should ask themselves, including women. Looks like she is lucky in this case! Popularly known as Mrs. Funnybones, she appreciated her husband and Bollywood Superstar Akshay Kumar for looking after most of the kitchen work, especially during the lockdown.
Khanna believes that the responsibilities shouldn't be restricted to any gender and it should be based on one's skill set. "Men and women should share responsibilities. I feel responsibilities should not be shared according to gender. They should be shared according to skill sets," she said.
She further explained her statement by saying, "If you put someone like me in the kitchen, I would be miserable. I find cooking stressful, and it is a genuine problem. But my husband and son cook. They enjoy cooking. They put on some music and come up with fabulous dishes. I am the one who is awful at cooking."
"I like to organise things, I order groceries, wash utensils. Cooking is not my cup of tea. Every household should divide up chores according to people's skill sets. Gender has nothing to do with it," she further mentioned.
What we need to understand that household chores are never a matter of gender-specific roles. Just because a woman knows how to cook, doesn't mean that she is bound to do it as a duty. Of course, there can be times when she may not feel like cooking or is busy in some other extremely important work. In that case, expecting the woman to come and cook for you and clean the utensils is not the right kind of thought.
"It's a blessing. My son cooks, but I did not know he could cook so many things. Only during the lockdown, I have discovered that he knows how to make rajma and pizza from scratch. He can also make a Tiramisu dessert. We have not ordered in food even for a day because we have our own two chefs in the kitchen! So I think that has been the silver lining," told Twinkle Khanna to ANI. She appreciates the cooking skills of her husband and son that has helped her to see a silver lining during the lockdown.
An important thing to learn and understand is that a woman may not be able to cook but she can have a different skill set which she can handle in an efficient manner. Therefore, we need to bid goodbye to gender specific roles.
While speaking to Boldsky, Arya, a 24-year-old student from Bihar shares her views on this same issue."Today we are living in the 21st century with all sorts of technological advancements around us and we have a never-ending series of discussions on women's empowerment. Every now and then, several programmes and campaigns are being launched across the world to promote gender equality and women empowerment. But in reality, people expect women to handle the kitchen and look after the entire house, even if they had a hectic day at work or are ill," she said.
"Every morning I wake up to find my mother sweeping the floor and then taking up the kitchen work. She prepares breakfast, lunch and does the dishes till 8:00 am. After this, she hurries to do the remaining household chores and serves breakfast to everyone. She then cleans the dirty plates and bowls. She leaves for her work at 9:30 am in a hurry. There are days when she isn't able to have her breakfast due to the increased workload. Whenever I am at home, I do my best to share some of her work so that she doesn't have to leave without her breakfast and is able to do things without any hurry," adds Arya.
Upon being asked whether the men in her family extend a helping hand, she says, "I am not condemning my father and brother but their morning begins in a different way. They wake up an hour later than me and my mom and then they lazily freshen up. My father reads the newspaper and walks around the house or sits on the sofa and watches TV. While my brother plays games on his phone or would scroll through his Facebook or Insta feed."
"It is not that my mother doesn't ask them to help. She often calls out my brother to either fill the water bottles or for other work. She also asks my father to help her. But they never take the responsibilities on their own. They will either sit idle or go back to sleep. This upsets me. My father can at times do some of the cleaning work, without being asked. Similarly, my brother can share some responsibilities."
"I tried explaining this to my father and the neighbours as well. I wanted them to understand that it is not the sole duty of women to handle household chores, even when they are going to the office and doing other work. Men too can prepare breakfast or dinner, especially if they are good at it."
Today we live in a world where men and women both are working to support their families. In such a situation it is not fair to expect only from women to do all the household work and take care of their families. It is a responsibility that men should share as well. It is okay if a woman doesn't feel like cooking or doing the household chores that doesn't make her any less as a human. When a woman is unable to cook, the society asks her to learn at any cost or it labels the woman as someone who is incompetent to handle the family. We fail to understand that the woman can be better at dancing or at teaching. Just because she is a woman, it is not her duty to take ownership of the household chores. Talking about women empowerment and gender equality is pointless if we aren't sharing the responsibilities according to our skill sets. Unless men don't understand this and incorporate this theory in their daily lives, things won't change.