Oh C’mon!

A conversation that I had with my housemate, ConfusedBabe (CB) somehow steered towards a discussion on feminism. She claimed she was a feminist and I was glad that I had found a house mate who believed in the ideology. And then we had the following conversation:

Me: So, what do you want to do after your MS?

CB: Hmm… I don’t think I’ll be doing a PhD an’ stuff. I’ll probably work for a while before I head back.

Me: Oh cool, so you have some definite plans of going back to India.

CB: Oh yes. Most definitely. In about 10 years maybe. After I’ve made enough money. I definitely cannot do my laundry all my life!

Me (Perplexed): Huh? Laundry all your life? What about clean clothes?!

CB: No..No.. What I meant is, I am not going to be doing mine, my husband’s and my children’s’ laundry all my life.

Me: Ofcourse! You have your husband help you out an’ stuff… so you won’t have to do it all the time!

CB: I’d rather hire a cook to do all my cooking, a maid for my cleaning etc. instead of me doing it. After all, it doesn’t look good that my husband is doing laundry an’ all na? What will people think? So, I am a girl na? And so I will only be doing all the cleaning and washing and not him.

WTF? So CB here, was worried that her macho husband will fall from whose favor? The scores of nosy relatives who are watching with an eagle eye and are wondering if you are making more money than their son-in-law? Or those relatives whose sole pastime is carrying gossip from one household to the next? And all this because he would help her out with chores? Chores necessary to keep a house that both would be living in and be responsible for? I was disturbed and disappointed to see that a grown woman of my generation would still consider herself to be the ‘lesser’ one and would continue to patronize a patriarchal family where the woman is “supposed” to “bear the burden” of household chores, nevermind the fact that she is financially an equal (if not more) contributor to the welfare of her family.

I certainly understand that one would like to lead a comfortable life as you grow older and I would too. But this painted a picture of the heavy-around-the-belly-husband coming home and squatting on the couch. His wife putting his ‘brief-case’ away and serving him tea even before she has had a chance to freshen up herself. And all this being expected of the woman. I couldn’t stomach it. I have always thought of my partner as my equal and would expect the same treatment from him as I would met out. I wondered what lessons would be passed on to CB’s children whose laundry she would so grudgingly be doing. That, it is still unfortunate to be born a girl?

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