Dear men, your feminism must do better than grocery shopping or washing dishes

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The pandemic has come with its fair share of challenges and will not go away without demanding sweeping changes in a family’s life. In my nuclear setup – a family of three – it took me a long time to assess how much my husband was psychologically and truly taking over the day-to-day management of our home and the education of our son. The truth is: a lot. Not yet also. By his own admission. Changes are in progress. Highligths. More on that later.

He’s been furious with himself ever since he realized that his slack inside was the reason I had fallen into some sort of coma in my career as his was taking off.

About two months ago, we sat down for the first time to take stock, to examine through a telescope, how we have divided our household chores and parenting responsibilities during the pandemic. It turns out that I bit a lot more than I could chew. And looking back, it annoys me that he lets me do it. To elevate my husband’s day, I do what millennials do: I send him on WhatsApp a stunning photo of my eyesight, my desk, my journal. He’s been furious with himself since realizing that his slack on the inside is the reason I’ve been in some sort of coma in my career as his has taken off – a meaty role. in a start-up for which we moved from Bombay to Bangalore six months ago. Karnataka suffered a royal lockdown days later. #Kismat. Palm of the face.

Then history wrote itself. New city. No maid. No family. No friends. No daycare. Complete that with a toddler in his terrible twos who quickly deduced: My time with Ammi > his time on his laptop. Little Einstein.

He wanted Abbouattention too. But since the start of the pandemic, Abbou was the sachin of time management. Drop baby for a nap. Netflix while baby sleeps. Play when baby is up. But shorten the playing time for another call. YouTube endlessly on the pot and so on. Yet what puzzles me is how to use the same 24 hours, Abbou devoured Peaky Blinders in a month in a row. It took Ammi two cities and a whole damn year!

The point is, my husband, like most men, is not a regular. It’s just that, like most men, he’s never been made aware of how all the cogs of the household wheel have to line up seamlessly to affect a smooth home run.

“Gender equality in the workplace has regressed during the pandemic” is a piece I find neatly wrapped in blurb on the second page of a Deloitte report titled “Women @Work: A global output” . It only hits me when I scroll down: I’m one of the 26% of Indian women who, at some point during the pandemic, have considered quitting. Glad I didn’t. Even successful women collapsed, according to facts that kept popping up in my research. I had to rely on data to back up my story so it didn’t read like something I’m throwing into retrospective rage. Where am I? (That evil purple emoji. Yes, it’s me right now!)

All kidding aside, it turns out that almost 57% of Indian women feel their careers are not progressing fast enough; 69% regretted facing non-inclusive behavior at work, and at 31% Indian women received the least support from the employer. Most of the management of the home and childcare is their responsibility, 78% of Indian women said. Overall this figure was slightly better at 66%.

The point is, my husband, like most men, is not a regular. It’s just that, like most men, he’s never been made aware of how all the cogs of the household wheel have to line up seamlessly to affect a smooth home run. It’s just that, like most men, he was never held responsible or judged, openly or secretly, at home or away. And no, grocery shopping on an app doesn’t count. If anything, it’s just the modern equivalent of men going to the bazaar. In addition, the order is not serious. What is? Carry the guilt of wilting vegetables, rehashing leftovers, managing the cooking cycle from start to finish, including the contents of baby’s bento box.

Pre-pandemic too, the daily “Bhabhi, kya banau? “the call went only to her, even though she” was in a meeting with a chief minister. “

To be fair, it is reductive to assume that all men willfully give up all that is domestic. But this is also true minus the privilege of domestic staff, how the sexism and fault lines in the mental and physical division of labor played out in many modern nuclear homes, have been, in a way, the chronicler of an incalculable problem. “The first two months have been a double shift: companies are moving towards bay», Says a mom from Bombay who« has learned to manage her expectations ». If her husband does not let himself be impressed by a dusty shelf, she too has seen the merit of ignoring this dust. “I prefer to read or do a workout.”

S, an urban planner, gives her husband all the notes to run their son’s (online) school. “But all urgent tasks magically land on my lap. As if his office was enviously clean. But at home, he only did the dishes in the evening. Post-work. Post-Netflix. Pre-pandemic too, the daily “Bhabhi, kya banau? “the call went only to her, even though she” was in a meeting with a chief minister. “

Speaking of ministers… during the first lockdown, activist Subarna Ghosh asked Prime Minister Modi to ask the Indians to share the burden. Also. But it made the headlines, putting a deeply personal issue in the political halls. “Feminism, yes. But it really is a way of life, ”says Ghosh. “Making that occasional cup of chai and toast isn’t enough,” she says, mocking the big show that most Indian men’s kitchen entrees often turn into… “just like you brush your teeth, take it. a shower. You make the bed. Wash the dishes. Simple.”

For the fact is, being comparatively “more feminist” than the men of the previous generation is ludicrously deplorable. I prefer my son to play with ketchup rather than catch up.

In our Bangalore 3BHK, my husband’s path to redemption was rooted in a series of color-coded Google Sheets: weekly menu, daycare schedule (yes, it’s gone for now!), List grocery store. It is intensifying; more and more. I’m out; more and more. In fact, I’d like to lift a chef’s precision tuque with which he organized my ragi chips and hummus toppings. As if his KRAs were linked to it.

Now who would have thought that a pandemic could be a potential leveler, a red flag, a trigger of some sort to do some soul searching on how really feminists are our male feminist partners. For the fact is, being comparatively “more feminist” than the men of the previous generation is ludicrously deplorable. I prefer my son to play with ketchup rather than catch up. Underperformance at home will breed domestic dissonance. While I am happy that repairs are being done on the front line in my home, I am also aware that this will not be the case elsewhere. In most homes, things are back to normal.


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