Indian traditions – Gender based roles

In India men and women have their roles clearly defined by the society. The important role that which comes to my mind is the role of a man and women at our homes.

Indian traditions – Gender based roles

Men are not allowed to cook in the kitchen. Most middle class Indian families have a female help who comes every day to 2/3 homes in the locality, and cleans our houses, cooks lunch and dinner beforehand, and does the shopping for fish and meat for the family. They would stay at each house for about 3 hours daily. This might seem crazy for many Poles. The basic pay for many of these helpers is around 200-300 zlotychs per month/ per family. So it does not cost a fortune, as it would have cost in Poland or in many other western countries.

My grandfather for example have never in his life entered the kitchen to make even a cup of tea. You may wonder why are Indian men so chauvinistic? Why cant they go and cook a meal for their family? It is not as You might imagine. let me explain..

If i were to enter the kitchen at my home, my mother and other female members in the family would shoo me out of the kitchen. it is as if some one is taking their honour from them. I’am not allowed to put anything on the gas burner. When i was a kid i had to go and make a sandwich when my mother and father went to sleep. If I wash my own dish after eating, it is fine. But then again I have to convince the women in the household that I am doing something good for them. The logic? ‘’How can our son do shopping for the family, or clean the dishes? We have helpers for that here’’. I am allowed to go to the shop to buy certain products for my mother to cook(provided that they are not couple of kgs of supplies).

Most of the grocery shopping in our house is done by my father. He would bring all the supplies back to our house by car. I remember asking my parents permission for helping them with grocery shopping. They reasoned that I am not old enough to do the shopping. I don’t know what to buy etc.. I couldn’t do anything to change that. A man is not allowed to go to the shop for full on grocery shopping, unless it is the father.

I have a fond memory from my visit to India this past December. I was at my grandmother’s home. Since both my grandparents are old and sick, the females in our family do all house hold help., mainly my mother and the helper. Since i saw how much work my mother has to do, I politely asked them to let me go get the shopping using a taxi. All the females at the household reasoned that I am too young for that. I reasoned that I do all the shopping in Poland. Every week i carry 2-3 kg worth of plastic bags from the shop to my home. No chance. They just couldn’t accept the fact that a young man has to do all this work. That too from a middle class family? How dare I? When i took the broom to clean the floor off of dust, she almost didn’t hit me with that broom. Seriously1
My grandmother to this day cannot believe that I am surviving by myself in Poland. She thinks that I am too Young to do anything at the house.

Meanwhile in Poland and around the west, even though women are most often the cooks in the kitchen, it doesn’t men from doing some od the house work like cooking, and cleaning. When the man gets home earlier than the female, he often goes inside the kitchen and makes spaghetti and bolognese sauce(or something that is easier than making pierogis 🙂 ). Most often women are pleased that men do something to help them. The role is divided almost 50-50. Men can enter the kitchen and make dishes for the whole family. There is nothing wrong with it. Women don’t feel offended the men are taking charge of something that is meant only for them. It is the exact opposite. They feel happy that men are taking some of the responsibility at the household.
If some one says that a woman’s role in Europe is limited just to the kitchen and by taking care of the children, they will probably laugh You off as silly.

Children in Poland have their own duties. Work at the family garden, shopping for groceries etc..etc.. Young boys and girls of the family have to clean the dishes, take the garbage out, feed the pets etc.. Children are encouraged from a young age to do many household activities. It makes them feel responsible.

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