My mother is a working woman and due to certain reasons, we cannot keep a full-time helper at our house and so, the responsibility to make dinners falls on her. My father is not very supportive when it comes to household work, so my mother single-handedly makes dinner for the four of us, after a long day at work. Only recently, I started volunteered to help her out by making dinners at least three times a week. This experience helped me pose a bunch of questions.
Why do we generally associate household chores with the women of the house? If food has to be cooked or clothes to be washed, we tend to ask our mothers and sisters to do the job, right? Why don’t men take responsibility in running the house and completing household chores? Why are daughters encouraged to learn cooking and not sons?
These questions prompted me to reach out to families where boys do help with household chores. I observed that for some, it became a source of enjoyment and relaxation, while for others it turned into a habit. I strongly feel that with such stories becoming more common, it may be possible to view household work without gender prejudices.
Manan Jain, a 19-year-old law student, loves to cook. Watching Masterchef Australia piqued his interest in cooking since then there was no turning back. “Since then, it’s been tough to keep me out of the kitchen. Cooking is something that I enjoy doing and it’s also a great stress buster.”, says Manan, who can be found cooking in the kitchen at least four days a week.
He also adds, “For all those who don’t help out in household chores, I would advise them to try it out for a week. It can be anything they like. Even if it’s something as little as cleaning your room. The personal satisfaction you get is unparalleled. Chores such as gardening, cooking, etc. also act as great stress busters”. Manan’s mother feels that boys need to be self-sufficient more for themselves than anybody else and values Manan’s help in the house.
For Harsh Singh, a 19-year-old college student, lending a hand in household chores has helped him grow. “It has helped me become independent at a young age,’’ says Harsh. He takes the onus of cleaning his room himself and also occasionally lends a hand in the kitchen. 14-year-old Aman Sabhlok says “I don’t mind it, now that I am used to it, though I do get lazy now and then. I put out clothes for drying, get groceries, and water the plants. Getting groceries is basically my job unlike the clothes and plants which I do occasionally”.
These boys show that there is no shame in lending a hand at their house, it is important to do so. I feel they will set a great example for others and this way, it is possible for our society to free itself from these stereotypes. We need to actively spread the message that household chores know no gender. There are many amongst us who consider these duties beneath them.
I strongly feel that highlighting stories of boys who think otherwise is perhaps a good way to break these gender barriers that we and our society have created for ourselves. Work of any sort has no connection to the gender of the doer. We need to understand this in order to create a more equal society.
Boys, roll up your sleeves and go make your family a nice meal!
The author is a student of the High School Achievers Program conducted by Young Leaders for Active Citizenship (YLAC). The High School Achievers Program identifies promising high schoolers and builds their capacity to lead change. This study was undertaken as part of the 2019 Delhi edition of the program.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this study are solely those of the authors and do not represent the views of YLAC as an organisation.