| November 13th, 2006

* recognize the men for what they do

“Working woman” is no longer a new term in Bangladeshi Culture. In addition to those special feature pages in the mainstream newspapers these days we are seeing TV shows highlighting women’s careers, success stories, and issues concerning working women. The focus is really to encourage women to join the workforce and feel them welcome in this arena. In all these TV shows, newspaper columns women guests are asked how they manage the balance between their work and other household responsibilities like cooking, parenting etc – traditionally known as “women’s responsibilities”.

It sometimes makes me curious, are we really making the room for women to work outside home when we are keeping the same expectation that they will take care of their all other traditional responsibilities even though they work outside? Managing household duties and children alone is a 24/7 job, and it is literally impossible for a woman to fulfill those when she is also working fulltime outside home. Naturally other grown up people in the household has to take more responsibility to keep the house running and in most of the cases the other significant people in the household are the husband and sometimes the in-law family.

Many of my (working or not) female friends say, their husbands do a pretty decent job of cooking, taking care of the kids and some other household duties. This trend is very encouraging. Many of this new generation Bangladeshi men have started a silent revolution; they are continuously proving their expertise in the household works that has been under the control of women only. Even though the Mom’s of 70’s never imagined their adorable boys working inside home, some brave men are really out there breaking the tradition.

As the saying goes, “behind every successful man there is a woman”, it is also true that behind every successful woman there is a man. It is time to recognize those men for their hard work and support to keep the women pursue their career. It is time to write columns, create TV shows showcasing those heroes who are truly helping to empower the women. Men working in the kitchen should become a style for the new generation. Celebrity men should be interviewed about their cooking and parenting skills. When are we going to see a TV host asking this question to a male guest, “How do you manage your kids, home when your wife is working?”?

 

18 Responses to “* recognize the men for what they do”

  1. Shaila says:

    Excellent point!!! My husband and I work hand in hand in doing household work and bills and outside work. A lot of times my female friends asked, Oh, he knows how to cook? As if how can I let him cook, it must be because I don’t know how to cook or something along that line. The inspiring thing is that he not only knows how to cook, but really enjoys cooking! How that is percieved by the traditional women (even young generation) is unknown to us. Many of our male friends who are extremely successful in their career are as good in the kitchen! We need to encourage them and let them be a part of it, let them make breakfast in bed for you. Let them feed the kids. A lot of times women don’t allow their husbands to take part of day to day things thinking that they won’t be able to do it. But if they can handle a challanging job outside, I am sure they can also make daal-bhat!! We need to recognize the fact that a man can also enjoy cooking and taking care of the home/kids, its not only something women should do.

  2. Nabib says:

    Interesting post..

    I just find the whole conversation about work-life balance a bit contrived. The fact that a husband helps out at home, and the wife has a career is just an everyday reality, and shouldn’t be the cause for much fanfare. It’s like getting credit for brushing my teeth; in the 19th century, I should definitely get kudos.. but kind of like this topic, do I really need a gold star on my forehead?

  3. Shaila says:

    You are right, this should not be a point of discussion, this should be a natural thing at this time. But the problem is, we know so many couples where the women is still treated differently and don’t have the say in many decision making in the house. And I am talking about in US. There are still a lot of men who think taking care of the house/kids/cooking is a “Women’s Job”, even if she is working outside part-time or has a career. At the end of the day those are her duties and its expected that women will have super power and cook, clean, look pretty, take care of kids, do laundry, drive, work and also have to maintain traditional values, all at the same time. I have seen some of our friends, in front of our eyes go through those. Thats why this issue needs to be addressed that men and women can work together and share in home-making. I strongly support all those men out there who are so supportive towards their spouses.

  4. Shamim Begum says:

    Nice article! The fact is..
    A woman can have a balance between her career and family if she is lucky to have a supportive husband. If she is not, she must give up one of the two. There are very few exceptions to this rule…

  5. Samiha Esha says:

    Well….I think women has the power to balance with their professional and personal life….and to made this balance we ourself have to find the solution…because…..Every family doesn’t have same atmosphere…..so we have to find our combination of life….:) anyways….Women’s are extraoridinary….I trust they can solve this problems if they want…:)

    Sharmin apu excellent thoughts..:)

    wishes,

    Samiha Esha 🙂
    http://www.samiha-esha.com

  6. Suzana says:

    All the best cook in the world is male. That obviously proves the point that Men are way better cook that us ladies. I think balancing the home is a juggle for the men but they can do pretty good job if they want to. More and more women coming out from the household duties to the working world with the support of their husband.

  7. Sharmin says:

    Hello Samiha,

    You wrote: “Women’s are extraoridinary….I trust they can solve this problems if they want”, would you give some spcific examples on how “this problem” can be “solved” by women?

    Since most of us who has got the first hand experience in this we kind of agree that work life balance can’t be achieved w/o a team work between husband and a wife. It would be great if you could share your tips of achieving this by women only:). I see that one can take the initiative to start though.

    Men and women are human beings only, none of them are to be labeled as extra ordinary and make them do all the work.

    -Sharmin

  8. Sharmin says:

    Note that she said:
    “My Hubby prepared our breakfast (his morning
    task) and then we all went out for our works…”.

    This is the whole point of our conversation, husbands giving hand in household responsibilites.

  9. Shahnaz says:

    I think I take it for granted that work around the house doesn’t have a ‘women’s’ or ‘men’s work attach to them. You just do it, and get it done! Be that cooking, cleaning, feeding/changing the baby or doing the laundry. I grew up watching my father, and my brothers also cooking, cleaning around the house along female members of the household, so when I got married – it didn’t seem unnatural to see my husband sharing responsiblities around the house.

    But when I mingle with my married friends I am often reminded of how lucky I must have been to have the men – father, brothers, and my husband in my life who never belittled the work that goes around the house to function properly.
    Cause, it amazes me to see my female friends who are expected and left alone to do the herculian task of managing everything from keeping picture perfect house, as well as maintain their professional life succesfully. These women constantly try to make it seem effortless.

    So, Sharmin – thank you, for saying it is time we acknowledge the men in our lives who make it possible for us to be succesful in life. Kudos to the husbands:)

    And, this is for the women who work 24/7 so everything works seemlessly, just take it slow, try not to be the super woman for a day or two! start asking your spouse to help around the house, it may not look as perfect when you do the job…but give the other person a chance to share.

    Shahnaz

  10. Sharmin says:

    Shahnaz,

    You raised a great point “but give the other person a chance to share.”.

    I have noticed that we do a very poor job of delegating. When we ask others to help we ususlly forget to be spcific about the expectation.

    Let me give an example: When I ask my husbad to clean the kitchen, he interpretes it like washing the pots and putting the dishes in the dishwasher. For me it is only part of the job. I want the countertops, range, floor, sink everything to be clean and dry. I have learnt his style of doing things, so now a days I can express myself much better, I specifically say I need help with these work items, and whether he will be able to do those and when (in a nice way of course). Life is much better:).

    Other important thing I learnt is appreciate whatever help you get. If he has done the groceries don’t forget to say thanks (or do it some other way, say offer a cup of tea:)). Everyone likes to be appreciated. If we just find the flaws (like why he forgot to buy some important thing), next time they will not be intersted to help us since it appears that they are not capable of helping which is not really true.

    Respect other people’s styles. No two women do the same thing same way, why do we expect the men to do it the way we want, keep your eye to the goal not how it was achieved. Very few intelligent people wants to follow direction without a question, they want to understand what needs to be done and then just do it the way they feel is right.

    Some people might just laugh, but deep in your heart you do know that these little things go a long way.

    -Sharmin

  11. Zahra says:

    I am newly married and am finding myself in these situations. My husband is into music and has always been a very dedicated one. We both have full-time day jobs. But since we got married, he took up extra music classes and shows and so on. Its really effecting our marriage life. First of all, he’s never home to do any of the household chores. Whenever I mention anything about helping me around the house, he starts a fight. So, to avoid any kind of commotion I pretty much started taking care of things myself. Its been really hard for me to cope and adjust. I have always believed in equal rights of man and woman and I think its unfair for him to selfish.

  12. Sharmin says:

    Zahra,

    Thanks for your comments. Believe me you are not alone out there:). Men are not ususally fond of household work and when it happens it is not an easy job to get things done by them.

    Being said that, I also realized that we, the bengali women, do a very poor job when it comes to get things done by others; may it be household assitants or husbands. “Management” is the skill we need to improve on, all it means to have things done by others as smoothly as possible.

    Let me give you an example. If I yell at my husband saying, hey I am working hard all day and after coming home and you are not helping me at all, then it never works for me. He just tries to avoid. So these days I don’t yell, instead I ask nicely (sometimes it means a cup of tea), hey I have these three things to be done, could you help me with such and such?

    You are a women and you are asking someone with all your love, its hard to say “NO”:). And don’t forget to say good things when he is done.[is it not the same way the modern management works?]

    I am not saying I have solved all the issues, but I have learnt that you have to be very srategic, don’t just use your emotions (tears, raised voices or silence) use the brain instead:).

    –Sharmin

  13. Atiq says:

    Zahra,

    I am a musician, not sure if this will be of any ‘help’. It is impossible for anyone to determine where the real problem lies not knowing the couple (and their personality and priorities). I’ll just discuss the possibilities.

    Issues that you might need to consider are exactly how important the music is to your husband, if it is really a part of his soul…you probably should enhance your interest in his music and support and give him COMPLIMENTS (nurturing ones ego is one very effective way of making him cooperative)……is there anything else about you or in the relationship that’s bothering him, is he taking refuge in music, make a list of things he is potentially not satisfied about and address those tactfully. Are the chores you have mentioned doing yourself equally important to him, if not what is (other than music), are you doing the things he likes and not doing the things he doesn’t (a little dissatisfaction goes a long way)…making him happy only ensures to make him want to make you happy…do it the smart way rather than begging for it…..your husband has a gift, appreciate it – at the same time help him grow and mature, NEVER DISTURB HIM WHILE HE IS PRACTICING..(that is after he does it according to a routine)…as a musicians spouse….you HAVE TO BE a bit different than others……music will stay with him for sure, just strengthen your position alongside…

    Things your husband needs to understand, LEARN TIME MANAGEMENT….he is committed in a relationship that needs to be nurtured constantly, set aside time for the music and use it efficiently…..making you unhappy eventually will bring him everything but happiness…..if he is bothered by something he should TALK OPENLY TO YOU ABOUT IT……avoiding it will only make the GAP larger….find top 3 chores that will make you happy…..do those and go back to his music….try to make you his biggest fan, listener and critiq…..since music is his LIFE…the only way for both being happy is to make you his biggest encouragement and patron…..make you FEEL his LOVE AND CARINGNESS……if nothing works……ejuty and shadi.com might be able to solve your problem as the last resort 🙂

    I’ll stop here I guess…:)…..I know it is not realistic to do everything by the book…I rarely do any myself…my wife is more understanding than many others……most importantly….have the mutual willingness to work together resolving problems never hold anything of dislike inside you about each other…talk it out!

    regards…Atiq

  14. Sujan says:

    Zahra,

    I thought about the issue, and can’t say enough about the support of my wife in my music. With a full-time job, and my passion for music, it should become clear that 24 hours just isn’t enough for everything, and so we have to rely on one another for balanced sharing.

    I agree with Atiq’s comments, though I have to emphasize that even before embarking on those guidelines, there needs to be an understanding between the two people about things of importance. As Atiq suggested, “talk it out” first. With understanding comes willingness to do.

    I never thought I’d be dispensing marriage advice, but here goes: “On the road of married life”, the two partners must share and bear things together (I wouldn’t say EQUALLY, because its hard to quantify many things, but divided so that no single person is bearing overwhelmingly more). One person can’t keep doing more for too long, and in the case at hand, the husband should realize that its not fair. Afterall, there are 2 separate engines here that must be run – household and music. If both husband and wife get involved in running both engines and help each other, life becomes efficient.

    My wife is very understanding. She encourages me, she critiques my work, and she helps me with my musical enterprise/escapades, by being involved in the major arrangements for shows – contacting people, setting up venue/menu, marketing, etc. So, on the music front, she helps me with things that I could not do, and lets me concentrate on the music, and I try my best to do other things about the household – we share cooking, cleaning, grocery chores, etc. (though I should probably do more to help us. I’ll see if I can find some dirty clothes to launder!)

    Regards,

    Sujan
    Producer
    _________________________
    Abol-Tabol Music Company
    http://www.aboltabolmusic.com

  15. Zahra says:

    Atiq and Sujan, I am really happy for you guys. I hope your mariage is full of love ,care and understanding amongst each other. Good for ya… :0)

    I guess for me there is no turning back so i will have to find a way of fixing my problems. I really appreciate your taking some time to write to me.

    In the meantime I will have to get some sleep . I have been working for 15 hours straight and this is getiing a little heavy for me.

    You guys rock and does this site.

    peace

  16. Adelene says:

    Too often, men are ‘expecting’ domestic chores to be carried out by women. There’s no excuse here-housework can no longer be seen as the sloe preserve of one gender, but an equal role to be divided. It is indeed a shame that even up to this 21st century, we are grappling over this matter that should have been solved long time back.

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