HOUSE CHORES, WHOSE CALL?
Collins dictionary define house chores as tasks such as cleaning, washing and ironing that have to be done regularly at home. Simply put, house chores are routine work we do at home.
Over the years, a lot of argument for and against whose duty it is to handle house chores have been discussed among the millennials. In most developed nations, there seems to be a balance on who handles what. However, in Africa a lot of ladies born in the 70’s downward believes that house chores is not “Her Job” but “Our job” while those born in the 60’s upward tends to tilt toward the existing tradition of house chores being “her job”.
The primordial belief is that house chores is the responsibility of the woman and that wasn’t too much of a problem back then because the women were known to be housekeepers while the men were the breadwinners. It was easy for the woman to do all the chores albeit rather grudgingly. In those days, women were trained to be seen and not heard and if at all there was any dissatisfaction with the modalities of task sharing, it would amount to an act of arrogance and insubordination for a woman to vent out her dissatisfaction. That way, women bore all the burdens without showing any form of refusal.
As the years progressed, women became more aware and empowered. Women started competing with men academically, in Africa, it took a while for parents to allow their girl-child to embrace education. Education gave women almost the same opportunity it gave men. Women can now compete for jobs like men and that gave them opportunity to work away from home. Unfortunately, while men were a bit relaxed, believing that they stand a chance to secure majority of the available white-collar jobs, women worked harder and smarter.
The extra energy exerted by women on their jobs gave them the opportunity to outshine men. Slowly, employers started offering women leading roles and because women were shattering the glass ceilings, meeting and exceeding expectations, promotions was regular and employers were opening their doors to more women. Currently, we have over 45% of women working as against what was attainable in the 80’s.
The effect of this is glaring for all to see. Women are no longer the stay-at-home moms they used to be. The role of the breadwinner is no longer exclusive to men. Fortunately for the woman, the economic situation makes it burdensome for only the man to be the breadwinner. The outcome is what we are experiencing today. The man and his wife are both working to make ends meet and meet the financial conditions of the family while the house chores are there, waiting to be attended to.
Let’s take a place like Lagos, Nigeria as an example. Commuters spend almost 3-hours in traffic on a daily basis and this includes both the man and his wife. The woman wakes up early to take care of the kids and prepare them for school while cooking the morning meal for the family. The man wakes up to take his bath and await his wife’s breakfast. The couple dash out to work, face the same challenges at work, gets tired and worn-out and at home, the wife still drags her tired self to the kitchen to prepare dinner, feed the kids, bathe them and get them ready to go to bed.
The man on the other hand, faced with the same work challenges like the wife, got home tired too, took his evening bath and waits for his wife at the dining table. After the meal, he retires to bed and expect his wife to meet him for the conjugal obligation. He needs her touch to soothe him and caress him. The woman on the other hand, has no one to help out and ease her pain.
Research shows that people die from stress much more than they die from ailments. Stress is one of the principal killers of young people. That is why a lot of women are depressed and they are not even aware. A lot of women are moody, introverted, unkempt and sad because they are cracking under a heavy burden placed on them by culture and ancient male-chauvinism.
Sincerely, I do not think it worthy of my time to argue on if it’s okay for a man to help out with house chores. It’s more of asking if it’s proper for men to be in the labour room or if it’s proper for men to help in raising the kids. I believe that marriage, unlike the lies they sold to us, is not a prison yard for women. Marriage is not a place where you lose your identity. Marriage is not a place where you pretend to be a super woman. Marriage is your reality. Marriage should exude the real you. No pretense, no lies.
Marriage by all means should be with your friend, who understands what it means to help out with chores. The truth is, if by luck or chance, we get entangled with a man who still carries the garbage of male dominance around, we will have no choice than to bear the brunt of house chores alone.
Basically, for a learned man, who understands that women are as much human as he is and women have limit to which they can bear and tolerate burden, it shouldn’t come as a request from his woman to help out with the house chores. Naturally, he should help out.
Furthermore, we need to constantly remind ourselves as women that whatever we speak ill against emanate from us. We train the men and we have trained them to believe that the house chores are for women alone. That is why we can allow our male child to go and play football while the female child is at home cooking. We need to start unlearning those wrong beliefs we learnt.
Cooking, washing clothes, washing plates, ironing, sweeping and every other house chores were learnt. The female child went through training before mastering them. They are not virtues, they are not gifts. Just like knowledge, they are learnt, acquired over time. The female child is not born preconfigured with them. She learnt them at the feet of someone. The male-child can learn this too.
Chores are not exclusive to a particular gender. When we take a look at life through the eyes of humanity, setting aside all arrogance, we will see the need to help each other. Chores shouldn’t be Her Job, it’s Our Job.
About her: Olamide Ayeni-Babajide (CCNA, CCDA, CISA, CVE) has over seven years network engineering experience working with leading IT firms in Nigeria. She is the founder of PearlRecycling, a profit making social enterprise and environmental advocacy company. She is a Tony Elumelu Foundation Fellow, the winner of Wimbiz impact competition for 2016.
She is married with two beautiful kids