I have grown up in a progressive household. But even then, my mother always did the cooking. And I grew up thinking that is how it was supposed to be. That the woman-in-charge of the house oversees the cooking. She may not necessarily cook the meals herself, but it was her chief role to play. The man-in-charge also takes interest in the culinary affairs of the house, but only sometimes and always as a sweet gesture. But it is the wife’s JOB to do the cooking.
It was weird because they were raising me to be an independent, strong woman and never tried imposing any specific roles on me or make me do anything against my will. In fact, I am 25, living independently in a city away from home, earning my own living and can barely cook beyond instant noodles. They never pressured me to learn cooking or house work, modelled completely contradictory behaviour.
I realise that a lot of it comes from conditioning. It comes from the way society has shaped gender roles and how they are perpetuated, even at very easy, everyday levels. We don’t question the mother or the wife’s responsibility in the kitchen. It comes easily to get home from wherever and ask them what’s for dinner. Even famished feminists may end up asking their mothers for food.
It made me quite uncomfortable as I grew up and the only way I think I can reverse it is by making choices that don’t endorse such regressive stereotypes. I start by saying no in the kitchen. I start by making my own life choices, and cooking is a choice, not my designated duty.
I celebrated this Valentine’s Day by making love more gender neutral, like it should be. What did you do?