Sharing with Love

By Gordon D’Almeida
Dr P G Aquinas is Professor and Chairman of the Post Graduate Department of Studies and Research in Social Work at Mangalore University, Mangalagangothri.
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July 22, 2020

The days of the pandemic are difficult. We appear to be stuck at home and rely on the work to be done from home. We ought to work from home or is it homework? Are men required to share in the household chores? Has the deadly virus taken steps to make men do what has eluded them all along? Are those who hold chores the only available work with “nothing else to do”. Will women trust men with ordinary cleaning work not to mention the high placed work of providing food for the family? The social media has been flooded with satire on men’s role in lockdown. When we look at some of the posts, we wonder if it is social media or social menace. Does social media strengthen the age-old gender stereotypes?

Gender division of work is deeply entrenched in all people irrespective of gender. The societal belief that men are breadwinners means that they have to provide for the upkeep of the family irrespective of the pandemic affecting jobs and earning capacity. Men in the days of the pandemic have therefore almost lost their capacity to be providers that have been in vogue for a long time. The pandemic has made an attempt to bring change in the social and family structure.

The emotional component has also seeped in. Men found “stuck” at home doing mundane tasks like sweeping and cleaning looked at as a taboo. Even if men do decide to do housework it is chores like swabbing and washing. The higher level work like providing food for the family stays in the women’s domain. Men may prefer to choose ego-boosting work like cooking rather than sweeping and swabbing.

Women would certainly like men to share in household work but are most certainly reluctant to cede their supremacy at home in the field of nurture. They may not also trust men with the responsibility of leaning as it is felt that a clean home is associated with a women’s worth of being a female and it is the caregiving and cleaning role that brings about the fundamental identity of their self-worth. It is very much true that society judges the conduct of people based on its ideology. If a family is found wanting in the economic sphere, it is the failure of the menfolk. While if there is respite in the caregiving function like the child not being groomed properly it is the failure of the womenfolk. This explains at large the gender stereotypes are perpetuated. The gender division of work is therefore deeply entrenched and any change
will leave all uncomfortable.

The lockdown has given plenty of time to ponder on gender roles and bridging the gender gap. In many families that are truly two income families, the term breadwinner is associated with men and at best women are considered contributors though it may be that in many households, the women earn much more than men and the family cannot meet its requirement without the income of the women. Both men and women are subconsciously tuned to the notion that men provide while women nurture and any change will affect the very fabric of the family as a social unit and family life itself.

The problem is what we believe because that crystallises in what we do and how we feel. Family issues and concerns may be flawed and skewed. They may be even absolutely false. Men may not “lack the ability” to do household chores. It is not that by nature of their gender that they “cannot do the work” or “cannot be trained properly”. It is the changing mindset that is necessary. The key to that change is LOVE. It is not redefining gender roles and values but what we can bring to the domestic table. The on slot of COVID – 19 virus has brought on the unspoken issues and concerns at home.

What is the difficulty to change? Where can the fundamental change be made?

The COVID–19 pandemic has given food for thought on holistic home building but it requires much more than bringing the realisation that what we give to our family is much more important than what we receive. The gender division of work that is deeply entrenched within the psyche of the society can change if LOVE for our family becomes an ego-boosting for what we give – sharing with LOVE.

 

 

 

Comment on this article

  • Stella Roche, Mangaluru, Karnataka

    Tue, Jul 28 2020

    Dr Paul,

    Enjoyed reading the article, truly food for thought. The social media satire on men's role was rightly mentioned. Though it often brought a laugh, it would leave behind, a bad taste. Especially liked the thoughts below:

    "The problem is what we believe because that crystallises in what we do and how we feel. "
    "The key to that change is LOVE."
    "what we can bring to the domestic table. "

    These seem to jump out to me. The article helped me see the situation from a different perspective.

    Agree

  • Leeda, Mangalore

    Sun, Jul 26 2020

    Wonderfully written .Well thought and good views

    Agree

  • Henry castelino, Pangla / Bahrain

    Fri, Jul 24 2020

    Dr. Paul
    Very nice. Well written . Thank you for sharing your thoughts/views during
    the current situation.
    Henry castelino & fly

    Agree [1]

  • Lancy Misquitta, Mangaluru/Mumbai/Dubai

    Thu, Jul 23 2020

    This Article is Very Scintillating ! The Women Ego is Boosted !
    Men like to Stay Outstanding !

    Agree [1]

  • John, Mangalore

    Thu, Jul 23 2020

    Well thought and written,
    Sharing with love is the best option also,

    Sometimes due one's to pride, ego, arrogance..., It is very hard to do trivial things which lead to frictions, quarrels, fights... So to loose peace of mind or peace in the family also health. Following is a very handy scripture verse to avoid all of these.

    Philippians 4:13

    13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

    Or with positive thoughts like any work I am doing for God would definitely help to overcome the self created blocks in the mind and with ease one can succeed in it, while maintaining peace within and around one's family. Above mentioned way forward holds equally good for men or women to do away any unnecessary domestic stress and tension to lead a happy life.

    Agree [1]

  • Jossey Saldanha, Mumbai

    Thu, Jul 23 2020

    Very True - Men hate to be ordered at Home ...

    Agree [3]


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