The fiction of work sharing
Are men sharing housework during the lockdown? Social media is flooded with memes and satire on men cooking and cleaning the house. This is intriguing, and it looks like the onslaught of the deadly virus and the steps taken to combat it have brought in changes in gender equations which collective action by women and sensitisation programmes over the years have not been able to achieve.
Gender studies have revealed that men do not share household chores even if the economic equations place women in a better position than them. In most Indian families, the ethos is that the household chores such as sweeping, swabbing and washing vessels are the work of women; men’s participation in such “mundane tasks” is taboo. If the virus has indeed brought in changes in the social structure and gender equations, it is an appreciable and positive outcome with long-term implications for the family, society and economy.
But are men, tied to the house with “nothing else to do” and no help for household chores, sharing work as claimed? This needs probing, and conversations with a few men and women across socio-economic strata revealed interesting insights.
To begin with, men are still not taking part in the entire gamut of housework, and those contributing have been doing some of the chores earlier too, though occasionally. There are no fresh entrants. Men doing a bit more housework than others are considered “exceptionally helpful” even in the face of a ravaging pandemic.
What is more interesting is the inclination to carry ...
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