A female friend invited me to her house for lunch last week. She had already prepared the meal by the time I arrived and as she served it, I told her that had she waited for me, I could have helped her cook.
My comment was met with dry laughter.
“I can’t stand the sight of you helping me cook!” she said.
“Why?” I wanted to know.
“It’s a woman’s job,” she firmly responded.
As we had our lunch, it turned out that she had a lot more to say about the topic.
A WOMAN’S JOB
She insisted that all the household chores are a woman’s job.
“It does not matter whether the woman has a demanding job and arrives home late; she has to do the dishes and the cooking,” she said.
She went ahead to tell me that a woman had to be submissive to avoid wrangles in a marriage. She added that if a woman was not ready to be submissive, she had better quit the marriage.
She did not want to hear what I said about the society’s transition from the conservative traditionalism to liberal modernism.
I told her a ‘nice’ husband is one who sometimes tells the wife, “honey, allow me to make you a dish tonight,” or “let me help you dry the dishes as you wash or the vice versa.” Marriage is not about the submission to everything said by the man without question but about mutual understanding and compromise.
I asked her, “If I married you and one day you came from school (she is a trainee teacher) and you found dinner ready, courtesy of your husband, would you not eat it?” She sat upright, but did not budge in her argument.
She dragged an anecdote into our debate. She told me the story of a mother-in-law went to visit her daughter. The son-in-law had just lost his job and was in the process of looking for another. This way, he was always at home.
One morning, the man decided to wash his wife’s clothes and guess what? You are right, the mother in law gave him hers. He went head to wash them. I can’t tell you how the story ends.
Her point is that if you let yourself help the woman, she will think you are her first-born son. You will become the houseboy and do the dishes, the laundry, the washing of the house and the cooking. She even added that the woman might even tell you to make coffee and serve her girl-friends while she just sat there.
I did not let my friend know that I am a feminist. May be she guessed. May be she didn’t. From the debate and a few couple others on the same I had had before , I realised something. While some women are busy pacing space for women in the awfully patriarchal society, some are comfortable to remain ‘oppressed’.
When you try preaching the need for equality for their own good, you become the bad guy.
The society has greatly changed: if women in this age are engaged in jobs that were only defined as men’s; if women in this age are no longer housewives, what problem is there when a man willingly asks to help his wife with the chores?
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