The Breakthrough Voice 3rd September, 2019

The Household Stereotypes That Surround Women And Their Work.

64% of women in urban areas and 60% of women in rural areas are involved in domestic work due to lack of members to help them carry out domestic duties.

We were all made the same, but we all have created differences amongst ourselves. We have assigned roles to our existence. Gender roles are not letting us merge into one society. Men are expected to be strong, be the breadwinner of the family and never cry. They are supposed to be the ‘tough’ ones. This leads to a lot of unexpressed emotions and fears. Women are supposed to take care of the family, husband and pause their ambitions.

Many times, the woman in the house is the last one to eat the meal, after serving everyone else. According to the National Sample Survey Organization (as of 2014), 64% of women in urban areas and 60% of women in rural areas are involved in domestic work due to lack of members to help them carry out domestic duties. Most of the work that a woman does is essentially unpaid.

The massive amount of work done by women is not appreciated enough or worse, is taken for granted. It is interesting to see how gender roles are at work here. In developed countries, the lines between these perceived roles are getting blurred. However, in not so developed countries, men’s work is more visible and recognized. But women are engaged in invisible work (household work) more, which is not economically accounted for.

The onus of child-rearing has always been on women. It is the household where a human ‘resource’ is reproduced and nurtured. Due to gender roles, the maintenance of the resource lies with women. So, essentially, women have always worked. That work is also and unfortunately unaccounted for. 

Now is the time to question this bias. It is important to account for the visibility of women’s work. The invisibility, unproductivity and unpaid nature of a women’s work push them into a black hole. It lowers their status in society and places them in a marginalized position.

Many times, the woman in the house is the last one to eat the meal, after serving everyone else.

Another zone where women are stereotyped is that dreadful place called the kitchen. It is a place where, according to stereotypes, women belong. Dave Barry, a famous Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, wrote an interesting essay on women and men relations when it comes to the kitchen, titled ‘Turkeys in the kitchen’. He uses the idea of Thanksgiving in his essay about stereotyping. He highlights it in a comical way, how stereotypes play out in our daily lives. He addresses the uselessness of men in the kitchen while preparing Thanksgiving dinner. 

He compares working in the kitchen to parking a nuclear aircraft carrier. When he asked his wife’s opinion, she stated, “before women’s liberation, men took care of the cars and women took care of the kitchen, whereas now that we have women’s liberation, men no longer feel obligated to take care of the cars”, which seemed pretty accurate to him. If you want to understand stereotyping, I would suggest reading the essay, where he uses clever ways of drawing our attention towards the existence of stereotypes,

The stereotype regarding women in the house has been in existence for a very long time. It is difficult to point out when it exactly started, but it is important to notice that the idea of women belonging to the kitchen has been reinforced many times over the years through ads.

Take a look at the ads below that reinforce this toxic stereotype:

Image source: Telegraph
Image source: Odyssey

These two advertisements clearly suggest that a woman’s alleged paradise is the domestic space, especially the kitchen.

These ads depict that women exist for only household activities, so gifting her a vacuum cleaner would make her happy. They were made a long time ago, but the effect of the idea can still be seen today. The majority of kitchen-related products such as pots, pans and cleaning material have a woman’s face to the brand. 

It is no doubt that the media can influence perception with regards to anything. Such is the power of media. Advertisements affect us on a subconscious level. We need to come up with a stronger counter-narrative that will change the perception of women in a household. Change is a result of an effort made in various directions.

Also Read: The Family Unit – Where The Objectification Of Women Starts


Featured image used for representative purpose only. Image source: Business Insider

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