Life Skills and the Gender Bias Around It

The other day, I was hanging out with couple of friends and a discussion on cooking skills popped up, which moved from how good cooks are husbands these days and then how women still score better in cooking. Suddenly, a friend said that she won’t teach cooking to her daughter since daughters aren’t just meant to do that, these days. She would instead ensure that her son-in-law knows cooking – for a change, that should happen too. Her point is, in a way, partially correct when she says she’ll ensure that her son-in-law knows cooking. But the other half is like taking it to the other extreme. A bias cannot be resolved by replacing it with another one.

Historically, Indian society has been biased towards men and women, with women expected to know cooking, housekeeping etc. while men expected to be the principal bread earner and feed the entire family. Nobody bothered if men didn’t know housework or if women didn’t work in offices. As time changed, women started to work outside homes, into the offices, once monopolized by males. However, the switch was one sided as parents taught their daughters to work outside but never taught their sons to learn household chores as well.

Cooking, doing laundry, washing utensils, vacuuming the floor, cleaning a toilet/bathroom/shower and ironing clothes don’t make you a lesser person. It is a part of, as I would call it, “life skills” which everyone should know irrespective of gender. This also means that if your son doesn’t know it, it’s a shame but not teaching that to your daughter doesn’t make a balance. In today’s world, when people move places it is important that a person knows to take care of himself/herself and the place where he/she lives. Especially in western countries, where domestic help is a luxury, knowing these basic things is absolutely necessary.

It also solves another problem. Often people, who don’t know these life skills, undermine the efforts of people who are doing it. Sometimes women themselves consider household chores as low grade work and disrespect the people who are doing it. Often we hear people asking, “So, your wife doesn’t work?” and the reply is mostly “No”, when sometimes, managing a house demands more efforts than office work. The moment we start answering “Yes” to that question, the entire outlook will change. When you get hands-on with any work, you realize the effort that goes into it and the importance of it. It is then that you start appreciating the efforts of the people who are doing it.

P.S.: As Michael Pollan rightly said in the URL of the source image – Cooking for yourself is the real independence 🙂

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