Under the lockdown, nature has rejuvenated, animals are reclaiming their place on Earth, and men are realizing there is more to household chores than just carrying the groceries.
Yes, the men have ‘stepped up’ during the lockdown and helped with household chores like cooking, cleaning, washing dishes, and generally, looking after the house they call home. The question is, is this behavior restricted to just the lockdown? Hopefully not.
It took a nationwide, compulsory lockdown for entitled men to realize what housework actually entails – though they’ve been enjoying the benefits of a well-maintained house for decades.
Just like everyone needs to learn to coexist with nature without destroying it from this lockdown, the men need to learn that housework is neither easy nor just the woman’s responsibility.
Under our society’s patriarchal setup, it has simply been considered a woman’s responsibility to ‘look after the house’.
There is no logical reason why women have been shouldering household chores for years, and in most cases, earning no appreciation or financial compensation for it.
But, with the lockdown, men have a front-row seat to witness the amount of work it takes to maintain a house.
And call it guilty conscience, a genuine desire to contribute, or simply a way to pass time, but men are finally doing their share of work.
It is one thing to divide responsibilities in the house, basis family members’ interests or expertise. But that has rarely been the case in most Indian households.
Simply put, men return home from the office and head straight to the couch. Women return from the office and head straight to the kitchen.
If a male family member steps into the kitchen because he likes cooking, he is ‘celebrated’, and all the prep, cleaning after, and associated activities are a woman’s responsibility.
But, do men chip in when the women are cooking? No. Because what’s a hobby for a man is a duty for a woman in India.
Most men, especially in India, spend their entire life without learning even basic household chores because they are not ‘expected to’. But finally, the lockdown saw a change in regressive ideologies.
With the lockdown in place, men are finally realizing that clothes don’t magically wash and press themselves, and clean dishes require regular attention. The question though is, can years of patriarchy be replaced with weeks of lockdown?
It’s sad that it took a pandemic for men to realize that household chores need to be distributed. But, it would be worse if the second the pandemic ends, men go back to their entitled behavior and society again adopts illogical gender stereotypes.
Because men contributing to household work should be a basic expectation in a civilized society.
Men need to realize that household chores aren’t determined by gender and even women need to stop mollycoddling or celebrating men for doing the bare minimum. Ultimately, if there is something to celebrate, then it should be that Covid-19 may just end up claiming toxic gender norms as its victim.