Yesterday I started writing about gender roles and how they are also still present in the west, even if not as strongly as you can see them in India. While I yesterday concentrated on the pressure that men have on not becoming ‘unmanly’ by performing household chores for example, women also still have to fight outdated ideas of people regarding their gender.
Obviously, a lot of families in India expect women to be at home while there have already been generations of children in the west growing up while their mother was working – halftime or even fulltime! Women are not expected to be housewives after marriage. The infrastructure for working mothers has improved.
But it is not perfect. Women are not free of gender roles and expectations on how they should behave. We have not yet reached equality in so many aspects: the chances for women to get up into management are lower and their salary is lower than that of male employees in the same position! And in people’s minds, the inequality is even much worse which often causes the women themselves to have doubts on their autonomy and role in their family or society!
You can see that in the way a family is set up. It may be more normal that a mother also goes to work but at the same time, you will often see that she nevertheless is the one to do a majority of the chores at home. She can be the toughest person at work but at home, she believes it is right that she does the cooking and picks up the kids. Her husband, having worked equal hours, gets to relax on the couch. Often, both don’t see anything wrong until she suddenly suffers from extreme stress, depression and burnout. She has shouldered it all, thinking it is her task to be a modern working woman and a perfect housewife and mother at the same time!
I have met a lot of women who have taken all of these tasks on themselves. They embrace the idea that they can be independent, equal to men and work as hard and long as they can – but they still expect of themselves to complete all the tasks that their grandmothers were doing at home perfectly as well! They forget that their grandmothers did only that. Not that it shouldn’t be valued – but you just cannot be superwoman, managing work, household and children perfectly at all times!
Unfortunately men also play a role in strengthening this belief: it is so comfortable to just have their wives do it all, so why bother and help? Why to get up and wash the dishes yourself? Why to iron your own shirts if someone is doing it for you?
Because you love your wife and want your daughters to be strong women as well. Teach your sons that they can help at home by showing them how. Show your daughters that men and women help each other and master work and household together! Take responsibility at home – after all your wife is helping financially by her work as well!
We are still stuck in outdated gender roles and it will still be a long way to get out of them, reaching equality. As long as we take one step after the other, however, we can one day reach there!