Since time immemorial, women who were good at doing housework were lauded as being superior to those who don’t. Being good at it, or at least doing it, especially once they were married and had a “family of their own” – seemed to be the very meagre price they paid. This price was to exist in society, be respected by it and wanted by it.
This matter is way more complex than being superficially worshipped in a way so that society (err…patriarchy) could get themselves looked after free of cost. The image of a “good wife” and/or a “good mother” often comes loaded with the unrewarded burden of housework that they have had to carry. The same burden that was never theirs to carry, to begin with.
Living in modern, urban India – we have all seen numerous instances where a straight couple comes home, both tired and yet, it is magically the woman who needs to, and is often happy to, make tea or even draw the curtains.
The most common, patriarchally-conditioned, and tone-deaf retort to paying women for their household labour, is “to pay is to disrespect” and that one should never demean the selfless sacrifices and hours of unnoticed housework by a woman by wanting to compensate them for it in some way. My question is, did she say it would disrespect her labour? Did you ask her? Or were you too busy being the breadwinner whose labour getting compensated was respectful enough, as it was happening outside your house?
On a much-needed positive note after that rightful rant, things are getting better. Household work is beginning to get compensated, especially in socialist set-ups. China has taken the lead in making a momentous judgement about paying women for carrying out housework. We need to make efforts to cut back on, reallocate, be sensitive towards, and compensate for their labour. Until it is legally sanctioned, let’s make it a point to socially sanction something respectable for once, shall we?