Breaking the gender stereotypes – one household at a time

A friend sent me a post on a social media group (see complete post below). The post was written from a husband’s perspective and addressed division of household responsibilities. It made me realize that I do not praise my husband in the way I would like to be praised.

My husband and I share responsibility of our household – he helps with chores around the house and with raising our daughter. Quick backstory for you all, he grew up in a typical Indian household where he was pampered, his 80+ year old grandma would probably still not let him make tea for himself. Don’t get me wrong, she is extremely progressive and is all about women empowerment, but then she also loves to pamper her grandchildren. So he really turned over a new leaf when he stepped up with contributing to household chores.

Charu_Himamshu

When we partner so well in all aspects – everyday is like a day at the beach 🙂 (Hope he is reading this blog!)

A lot of my friends are not as lucky. It often makes me wonder, what causes the disparity, the expectation that “house and kids are a woman’s responsibility” – is it the social norms, the upbringing, the environment, financial condition? I think the list of reasons are probably endless but what the more important question is – how can we change the thinking? I have penned down a few things we are doing in our household to break the gender stereotypes one small step at a time.

We don’t talk about roles in our house: Mom does the cooking and daddy does the dishes.” We talk about how who is good at what. “Mommy is great at cooking, and daddy is great at cleaning. So you should learn cooking from mommy and cleaning from daddy.”

Mommy does not stay at home: “Mommy and daddy both work, daddy works in the office outside of the house, mommy works in the office inside the house. So we cannot disturb mommy during the day unless she is taking a break. But mommy and daddy both come back in the evening.

We don’t buy gender specific toys and clothes: We buy all types of toys and clothes. The fact that purple and pink are my daughter’s favorite colors is as coincidental as construction toys being her favorite. We also encourage all types of activities – my daughter loves soccer as much as she loves music.

We celebrate festivals in a gender neutral way: My daughter tied Rakhi (It is the sacred thread traditionally tied by a sister on her brother’s wrist and is symbolic of brother’s agreement to protect his sister) to me, her dad, her favorite god (Ganesha), her older cousin brother and sister. Because they all symbolize those who would help and care for her, if she needed.

This is only the beginning though. We are trying to dust off the patriarchal dirt on our rich traditions; traditions, which likely had a different meaning when they started but over the years have tampered with and resulted in a certain gender bias. Although there is a long way to go but we all need to do our bit in addressing gender biases and it starts at home, instilling the right values with both our girls and boys.

Lastly, dear husband, thank you for all you do. 🙂

Have you experienced biases growing up or have a great story to share on how you address these in your family? We would love to hear your thoughts! Leave us a comment below to tell us YOUR perspective.

As promised at the beginning of my blog – below is the post that was shared with me this morning that set this blog in motion.

Charu

*************************************************************************************

I do not help my wife.
A friend came to my house for coffee, we sat and talked, talking about life.
At some point in the conversation, I said, “I’m going to wash the dishes and I’ll be right back.”
He looked at me as if I had told him I was going to build a space rocket. Then he said to me with admiration but a little perplexed: “I’m glad u help your wife, I do not help because when I do my wife does not praise. Last week I washed the floor and no thanks.”
I went back to sit with him and explained that I did not “help” my wife. Actually, my wife does not need help, she needs a partner. I am a partner at home and through that society are divided functions, but it is not a “help” as household chores.
I do not help my wife clean the house because I live here too and I need to clean it too.
I do not help my wife to cook because I also want to eat and I need to cook too.
I do not help my wife wash the dishes after eating because I also use those dishes.
I do not help my wife with her children because they are also my children and my job is to be a father.
I do not help my wife to wash, spread or fold clothes, because the clothes are also mine and my children.
I am not a help at home, I am part of the house. And as for praising, I asked my friend when it was the last time after his wife finished cleaning the house, washing clothes, changing bed sheets, bathing in her children, cooking, organizing, etc. I said thank you
But a thank you of the type: Wow, sweetheart !!! You are fantastic!!!
Does that seem absurd to you? Are you looking strange? When you, once in a lifetime, cleaned the floor, you expected in the least a prize of excellence with great glory … why? You never thought about that, my friend?
Maybe because for you, the macho culture has shown that everything is her job.
Perhaps you have been taught that all this must be done without having to move a finger? Then praise her as you wanted to be praised, in the same way, with the same intensity. Give her a hand, behave like a true companion, not as a guest who only comes to eat, sleep, bathe and satisfy needs … Feel at home. In her house.
The real change of our society begins in our homes, let us teach our sons and daughters the real sense of fellowship! “

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