Whenever we have talked about having children, we have visualised having a girl. A girl is so much fun to raise, to dress up and be around at home. Girls are gentle, polite, sensitive and made up of all sugar and spice. Boys? Well boys are just brash, unkempt, rowdy, rude and do their own thing !
You see, gender stereotyping starts even before the conception of a child. And this is the case with a couple like us who have always defied gender stereotyping not only in the way we think but also in terms of ‘who’ and ‘how’ we are. On our wedding website, I had called him my ‘wife’ because in fact he’s the one who’s more concerned about the chores at home and it would be extremely likely of me leaving wet towels on the bed.
You see, I was raised by broad-minded parents who did not make me feel like a ‘girl’. But that phase ended when I attained puberty. They still emphasised on studies and career and kept me away from all household chores but being a girl who was fast turning into a woman had become a glaring reality for them. They started showing concerns about the way I should dress, how I should come back home before dark and help out in the kitchen. I could not understand the sudden change in my parents’ behaviour and that led me to rebel against anything that was considered ‘girly’. I liked jeans more than skirts, I liked shoes more than sandals, I detested heels and anything to do with makeup or jewellery. I didn’t learn to do my hair and till date I can walk out of the house without combing my hair. Of course, having straight hair and the ‘out of bed’ look being fashionable, helps !
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My husband on the other hand, was raised by a mother who loves ‘food’ and a dad who likes to eat good food and adores the fact that his wife is an excellent cook ! He was an army officer and given the kind of socializing you need to do, he loved throwing parties knowing that the food would always be excellent because my mother-in-law was so passionate about it and didn’t think of it as a chore. He in turn, always helped her to get the ingredients she wanted and helped out with either laying the table or with stuff after the everyday meal / party was over. As is common with Army families, he was out for field postings most of his tenure and my mother in law would live alone with kids. The kids would then, take on the job of helping the mom with the household chores. My brother-in-law also loves food and cooks regularly. In fact, he’s the one making starters when the family sits down for a drink. And yes, my mother in law enjoys her drinks once in a while. So you see, my husband also grew up seeing his father and brother #sharetheload of household chores. He was the youngest and routinely helped out laying the table or doing shopping at the supermarket when his sister and brother were away from home, studying. In fact my father in law is the one who does the laundry in the washing machine at home after his retirement. And frankly, how much does it really take – just the will to #sharetheload.
So when my husband popped the question after years of being together, I told him that he should marry someone else who would fit into the ‘army wife’ mould because I was not the ‘teacher’ material or the ‘cooking’ types. These are again stereotypes that an ‘army wife’ has to face. More about that later.
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The response to that was, “Don’t worry baby, we’ll find help or I’ll cook.” Him, just saying that and being so willing to help out was enough for me to believe that our relationship had the right values of gender equality and I would not be forced to do things I have rebelled against my entire life.
It’s been almost five years since we have been married and although we have just stayed together for 5 months, he is the perfect husband who shares the load of household chores. If I’m responsible for lunch, he’s the one cooking dinner. If I’ve cooked food and served it, he clears the table. He regularly helps out with the laundry and loads the dishwasher. In fact, he’s always doing these things so effortlessly and without me even realising it. He is surprisingly good at everything he does, whether at home or in the office.
I on the other hand, thought that I would never cook as I have never entered the kitchen and had no idea about cooking at all. But after we got married and I saw him being so involved with setting up the home and the household chores, I wanted to give it a try too or well, you can say #sharetheload. It felt like there was no need to rebel anymore – this was our home and we must work as a team ! I tried my hand at cooking and as it turns out, I’m a natural ! Now, I love cooking and trying out new stuff. Now the idea of household chores is no more a load. Talking about defying gender bias, I am better than him at all things tech. So I pay the bills, make online bookings, plan travel etc. I used to be way better at driving than he was but now we are equally good 🙂 I love my single malts and he likes gin, how about that !
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So even though, he wants to raise a girl and there’s no question in my mind that he will be a great father, he is just the perfect man to father boys. I believe that raising children with a sense of gender equality is the only way this world can think of eliminating gender stereotypes and gender crimes. If you a parent, teach your child about gender equality through example, if you are a wife involve your husband and get him to #sharetheload and if you are a sister, get your brother to help out your mom. Eliminating gender bias takes a long time and it’s time to get the next generation to #sharetheload !