“Striling, Puling – same thing” (translates into English as “Feminine, Masculine – same thing”). That is the tagline of an upcoming Bollywood movie that showcases the reversal of typical gender roles between a couple in an Indian setting- where the husband chooses to be a homemaker and the wife is the bread-winner of the family.
Even a decade or so ago, this plot would have caused people to snort with derision. But times are changing and people have started embracing their newfound gender roles.
Men are as happy staying at home, taking care of the kids, cleaning up and cooking for the family while their wives work hard for long hours and earn for the family. What gives, you ask? Changing social structures, value systems and economic factors have all consequently changed the ambit of the traditional gender roles. With steady increases in the cost of living and household finances, it seems almost imperative that both partners contribute to the family income.
The gradual and steady shift away from joint families to nuclear families has ensured that both partners share the responsibilities in a household to a large extent. Thanks to a highly educated and aware public, role swapping is becoming a fairly common concept in our constantly growing and developing society.
Really, if you think about it, the whole notion of women taking care of the house, bearing and raising the children and men being the bread-winner, is just a grown up version of “dolls are for girls and cars are for boys”.
Challenging these gender stereotypes has almost become a trend with men opting to go into fields that were initially thought to be associated only with women such as fashion designers, makeup artists, chefs etc. while women are actively going forth with establishing careers as pilots, astronauts, firefighters etc.
Even so, there are obstacles that come in the way of full and free role swapping and gender role neutralisation. While women are more accepting of stepping into roles typically fulfilled by men, men are not yet fully comfortable with stepping into roles fulfilled by women.
Having said that, the problem persists further and creeps its way into traditional homes where elders and in-laws still firmly believe that a woman’s place is at home and the man’s place is at work outside the house. Unfortunately, such prejudices can emasculate those men who genuinely find joy in running the household while allowing their partners to work. Challenging, as it may be to explain to them and help them understand that there is no shame in swapping roles, it is still looked upon with much hesitance and disdain.
But no worries! Tides are a-changing. Men are less hesitant about taking that first step into the kitchen and women are already working long hours like a boss! A domestic partnership is almost impossible to manage and run these days without the combined efforts of both partners. So men, pick up those ladles and change those diapers! Women, pick up that briefcase, tighten that tie and march off!
Or for those who are still testing the waters, menfolk, help your wife in the kitchen and take charge of the kids for a day or two in the week; and womenfolk, give your man a break and work the weekends and feel empowered. But at the end of the day, remember that there is dignity in all work and each person must be respected for their choice in career, be it a man or a woman, as a homemaker, doctor, chef, engineer or anything they wish to be! And remember, the only person stopping you from being anything is you, because – “Striling, Puling – same thing!”