Two thousand-odd years of patriarchy, some fifty years of feminism (the original one, not its 101 versions) and a decade or so of LGBTQA acceptance/rights. We as a society are still struggling to tell right from wrong, to identify the balance and above all the transformation of mind and heart to treat all humans with equal dignity and respect.
A few months ago, my husband and I watched an exceptionally good Malayalam movie – The Great Indian Kitchen. Both of us were in awe of the patriarchal subtleties the movie portrayed. Every scene, every dialogue was worth pondering over.
One scene that both of us still recall while cooking together in the kitchen is when the men offer to cook in order to give the women a ‘break’. Only to later leave the kitchen in chaos for the women to clean up.
“We have already cooked such a delicious meal. What is left for you women to do?” – says one of the men. A thought most of us have till the day we learn to live and cook by ourselves.
So the question at the end of the day is – Whose Kitchen is it?
Which loosely translates to – Who should be held responsible if something goes wrong in the kitchen? Who’s duty is it to clean up after the cooking is done (no matter who cooks)? Who should keep track of packing up leftovers and putting them in the fridge and remember to take them out the next day? Who is yelled at when something gets burnt, spoilt or forgotten in the fridge?
It is almost always the woman of the house who silently cleans up after us, should we ever show the greatness of our heart by offering to cook? This applies not only to the men of the house but also to the teenagers and young adults with random fits of exhibiting their culinary talent.
I am guilty of this too. I remember for some years my mother cleaned up after me whenever I decided to experiment with my cooking. It did not take long for me to realise that I was wrong. That cleaning and putting all the ingredient jars back in their place is part of the deed.
The sad part about all this is that many of us don’t do this deliberately but out of ignorance. Because the women in our house don’t bring it up, silently assume that they are responsible for the kitchen and anyone offering to cook one day is only doing a favour to them. Thus cleaning, putting the jars back and doing the dishes after becomes their task thus setting an unhealthy pattern in the family.
At our home, all of us try to identify such biases and try to break them at the earliest. As it is constantly reminded, patriarchy is a system that we as a society have to fight against. It is not a fight between the genders.
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That is all I had for this post.
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