Updated: Nov 17, 2019
One of my favourite philosophers of all time is Plato. The student of Socarets and teacher of Aristotle, spent his whole adult life writing and discussing beautiful ideas about politics, justice, equality and feminism.
Yes, you read that correctly, feminism was on the mind of the Earth’s greatest philosopher 428 years B.C.E (by the way, we are no longer authorised to use the abbreviation B.C. for political reasons, look it up!).
Plato advocated that women have equal intelligence to men which makes them excellent candidates for governing and preserving ancient Greece. Plato was exactly right, feminism is not a cult of women who are out to seek revenge from men, feminism in this day and age consists of women as well as men, seeking equality, feasible equality. Of course, the movement had to go through extreme difficulties to reach where we are today. People, at the time mostly women as they were the victims, sought after equal legal rights in terms inclusive but not limited to autonomy, abortion and reproductive rights, contracts, property rights and inheritance.
Overall the historic (and current) movement of feminism is described in four waves, the first came in the late 19th century when women fought for their right to vote. The second wave which occurred in the 1960s was mainly concerned with liberating women from various social and legal inequalities. The third wave began in the 1990s and it was a backlash against the second wave, primarily for the fact that the second wave was concerned with middle class white women – great, but not nearly enough. The fourth wave that we are currently living in is focused on bringing justice against assault, harassment and calling out men who abuse their position of power – an obvious example of which is The Me Too Movement.
Although I am quite passionate about the topics highlighted by the fourth wave, there are other daily topics that are not receiving enough attention but crippling millions of women in all societies. Hence, I believe that women and men who are concerned with having equal rights, should never stop these discussions, and here I am putting them in the spotlight.
The Daily Struggles
Primarily in this post, what I want to bring to the surface is what happens at home between partners of opposite genders. When women in the 19th century and to a certain extent in the 1960s were out in demonstrations, out in the workforce, out there making a difference, they seemed to have forgotten to make a difference at home – I believe they were exhausted, they must have been! As a result, inequality in households is still lingering as no one is addressing it, no one is trying to fix it. Women either accept it or eventually get divorced.
‘What exactly is the problem?’ – you may be wondering.
The problem: it is understood amongst women, and sadly often thought of as funny banter, that any household work by default falls on female partners to deal with. The current expectation from society is that women are equal to men in the workforce, they work the same hours (sometimes longer depending on their occupations), bring the same finances back into the household, contribute in an equal amount to rent/mortgage and any other expenses needed.
Is it fair? Yes absolutely.
However, ‘by default’ they have to clean, do the laundry, buy groceries and cook.
Is it fair? Absolutely not, and herein lies the problem.
As boys are raised (of course this is a gross over-generalisation), they are taught that all they need to focus on is studying, playing whatever sport they enjoy and come home to a nice warm meal followed by bed time. As they approach their teenage years, this living pattern doesn’t change apart from possibly being encouraged to get a part time summer job to gain professional skills.
Girls are raised in an equal way until they approach teenager years. There are wide variations as to what happens during these years depending on which culture a girl is raised in, but what the majority of cultures have in common is advising girls to learn a few skills 'in the kitchen' because they get told that one day they might need them, which is very true. However, this advice becomes sexist when boys are not encouraged to do the same.
When was the last time you saw a teenage boy being taught how to cook at home?
You will find that girls are even taught that girly bonding time is over baking cute pink cupcakes whereas boys are told that they are masculine and therefore are doing the right thing if they are playing in a field or virtually on a video game. This pattern continues generation after generation, and unless you are a reflective, inquisitive person, you will be a living definition of Monkey See, Monkey Do.
I for one was kicked out of the kitchen while my mom was cooking because she was a hardcore feminist who did not want me to gain any ‘oppressive skills’ as she phrased it. She was right in a way, wrong in another. I definitely needed to gain those skills because they are vital, but more importantly, not having those skills will not prevent me from being oppressed by a sexist mind. What would prevent me from being oppressed is if boys my age were taught that cooking (and other tasks) is part of what they need to learn too and grow up knowing that it is a skill expected from them, and not a favour they do for their female partners.
What would prevent me from being oppressed is if boys my age were taught that cooking is part of what they need to learn too and grow up knowing that it is a skill expected from them, and not a favour they do for their female partners.
Currently as it stands, there is an enormous imbalance between what is expected from men and women. Women are expected to have full time jobs and earn a large sum of money, which is an amazing step forward. However, in addition to being a financial provider, women are expected to be exceptional housewives and be expected to balance the two lives perfectly. To prevent female burnout and crashing, men should be able to carry 50% of the household tasks, in the same way that women are 50% financially responsible for the household.
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. It is going to be extremely difficult to get your partner to learn how to cook, regularly clean or do the laundry, if they had not been raised to perform these duties. But the solution is within reach, it is our responsibility.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you believe in equality, if you want your children to live in a better world in the future, one of the simplest things you can do, is teach your sons that household chores are equally their responsibilities as much as it is their sisters’, teach them the humble practice of equality. After-all, we are not here to fight one another, we are here to build beautiful lives together.
We are here to build Generation Equality.
Feel free to comment your thoughts below or on my Instagram page, if you want any other issues to be discussed, don’t hesitate to suggest them!