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A Reality Check For Men Who Want A Nanny, Not A Wife

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Last week I came across a post gone viral where a man intentionally messed up his apartment and invited his girlfriend over to check whether she cleans up indicating she was good enough to marry. He called it the ‘girlfriending test’.

Twitter did not disappoint, obviously. The tweets that followed pointed out the misogyny, the filthiness and the overall stupidity of his idea which led to him to being single because she dumped him right away.

No surprises there, I mean who’d want to date a filthy pig.

But this whole episode reminded me of Indian marriages where the woman walking in the filthy apartment isn’t a girlfriend but a new bride and has almost zero chances of walking away. At least not without a huge reason because of the stigma of divorce haunts women and keeps them imprisoned in bad marriages.

I recall when my sister got married into a well-to-do household of engineers and doctors with government jobs and two domestic helpers, they fired one the next day and the other turned out to be a cousin from their extended family. She belonged to a low-income family so they told us in the beginning that she was a domestic worker.

And immediately after the wedding charade was over, they expected her to wash even denim jeans of the husband and father-in-law by hand, not by machine because ‘they liked hand washed clothes’. You married a dentist so you can have an unpaid maid to clean the floors and your dirty laundry? WTF.

Or my friend whose husband was an engineer with a high income, living in Delhi all by himself. He depended on the maid for all his cooking and cleaning before they got married. When my friend delivered a baby and wanted to stay at her parents’ house for a while in Lucknow to recover from the massive surgery, he was hell-bent upon taking her home to Delhi the very next day because he was having trouble with food. He wanted her to clean and cook for him in this condition… the man who had no problem eating food the maid cooked for years, would now suddenly die if he didn’t eat meals cooked by his wife.

No wonder 66% of women’s work in India is unpaid.

Although men do 34% more paid work than women, women still spend more of their time on unpaid work such as housework, childcare, and care for older people. According to a study, “Indian men just spend around 19 minutes a day on routine housework, which is, the lowest in the world. Indian women, on the other hand, spent a whopping 298 (around 5 hours) minutes on daily housework such as cooking, laundry, pets, home maintenance and the likes.”

And then they ask “what do you women do at home all day?” Without going into the economics of unpaid women’s labour and the impact it has on our GDP, I want to give Indian men a very brief but stark reality check:

Dear Indian Men,

Women are not your ‘other half’. Women are full, complete humans. When you marry one, you bring a partner in your life. And as a partner, your roles, responsibilities, and compromises are 50-50. You both may mutually decide to take care of one part (outside chores) and the other may take up the other half (inside the house chores).

Neither is less important or easy.

If you think so, try doing all the house chores for a day and you’ll know.

From fetching water across the village from a well to bringing firewood, women put in a lot of hard work while the men are ploughing the field. None of this can be discounted.

And in urban cities too, women whether educated, holding executive roles in offices or the ones staying home to look after the kids and the elderly, none have it easy. In fact, both rural and urban working women do double the duty, they work outdoors and when they come home, they do the cooking and cleaning too.

The survey of the OECD and the 19 minutes men spend on household chores usually in comparison to women’s 298 minutes is a big whopping truth you can’t deny.

We’ve seen this in “English Vinglish” too closely when Sridevi’s character is insulted constantly by the husband and kids and her work is discounted or seen ‘trivial’ while she is both domestically inclined and entrepreneurial. Despite being the central character who is responsible for running the entire household, she is trivialized. The film is not just about language but the physical and emotional labour women put in which is not recognized by the so-called educated men and children.

The point I am trying to make is that no matter what your rationale may be to marry a woman, remember that she is your partner, not your maid. Thus, keep your ‘girlfriending tests’ to yourself.

No woman deserves to be conned into becoming a nanny and full-time maid to clean up after you for the rest of your life.

If you bring them home only to clean your garbage and fix your broken home then you rather leave them alone because that indicates that you are not ready to get married. She may be marriage material, you aren’t.

If you can be responsible, share responsibilities and appreciate the woman’s unpaid labour, great! Otherwise, you’re meant to die single my friend. More importantly, you need to work on your perception of marriage and what it means to be a lifetime partner to someone before you plunge into this marriage business.

So the next time you are on the hunt for ‘wife material’, remember this before you approach any woman.

You’re welcome 🙂

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
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