The world has been making huge progress towards gender equality. More women are taking up college degrees, working in top corporations and even taking up originally presumed as male appropriate jobs. Even in parliament, women have started taking up major cabinet posts that give them both authority and power. However, there is one realm where they still lack equality – their own homes.
Even in the 21st century, it’s a widespread belief that women should take on the majority of domestic responsibilities. Irrespective of whether a woman is working or not, if she is married then she takes on 5 times more responsibility of childcare and house-work than their partner. Although mothers in today’s time are more likely to be earning even with young kids left at home, their position in the house doesn’t change.
Why is it tough to acknowledge women as breadwinners?
The trend of working women especially in high paying positions is increasing and yet couples who have wives professionally more successful than their husbands are still not acknowledged as breadwinners of the house. A successful man is a mark of pride but a successful woman is a mark of man’s inability. Most of the time when I sit with a bunch of working women, they are extremely proud of their husband’s earnings but rarely brag about their own achievements. It’s not that men are ashamed of their wives success, I personally feel that women are programmed mentally to not consider them worthy enough of being titled as breadwinners.
When do women feel proud?
Often in social gatherings, I have witnessed women feel extremely happy when someone comes and appreciates how well raised their child is or how rich and successful their husband is. But when the couple is standing together and someone comes and congratulates the wife for her success or promotion, she will mostly feel guilty of even accepting the appreciation if her husband is working at the same or lower level.
Why do women think it’s a crime to be more successful than men? I would primarily blame the society we live in, even in today’s age, continues to idealize and prefer a family structure with a male earner and a female homemaker. In most of the cases when wives earn more, wives elevate the husband’s role in the marriage to try and cover up the fact that he earns less. I have heard statements like, “he is an amazing cook so he prefers to come early and cook dinner for all of us, hence I overtime”, “my kid prefers to spend time with father more and so he is compromising on his career for the child”. It’s as if earning more is a crime and women have to continually keep justifying it.
Do breadwinning wives get a breather at home?
One would think so, right? However, even if you are the sole earning member of the house, most of the house work falls on your shoulders. In fact, if men start getting dependent on their women partners for money, the lazier they get and more responsible the women need to be. As a breadwinner you would expect to come home, sit on a lounge chair, get a hot cup of tea served while the dinner is being made. But in reality, as a woman, even if you are earning, you need to come home to a messy couch, dirty kitchen and raw food waiting to be cooked. It’s as if you are being penalized for being a successful working woman.
On a personal note, I feel that it’s not entirely the fault of men, women often prefer to abide by the old-school norms of the society and take charge of managing the household, partly because they find men incapable to do so or are just afraid of what the next door neighbour will say when they find the husband vacuuming the rugs. Women aggressively fight for their spot at the workplace but willingly accept their overburdened role at home. Maybe things are different in some parallel universe but for now the world inside a house for a woman seems to be pretty stagnant.