We, The Creators of Gender Bias..

Nidhi Tayal

This is a guest post by Nidhi Tayal who is a registered dietitian, a blogger and a school counselor. Nidhi is a post graduate from Lady Irwin College and has served in leading hospitals and fitness centers in the Delhi-Noida area. She was a freelance counselor associated with a NGO “Behind The Moon” dealing with pediatric nutrition. Recently, she has been working as an educationist at an NGO-run school teaching the underprivileged. Nidhi writes columns for various online magazines. Her columns featured in Prevention, an India Today Group Magazine has won her numerous accolades.

Are we responsible for gender bias?

Image Credit: Flickr User wwworks,via CC

It’s that time of the year again, summer vacations…. Phewww. As usual the hyper mom in me is enjoying less and worrying more to make optimal use of these 50 days off from the grind in school and concentrate more on the “overall ” growth of my children. Till yesterday the focus was to enroll them for activity classes, to feed them goodies, to raise their immunity levels for combating year long seasonal bugs, to make them learn team spirit, to make them competitive etc etc etc…..Easy huh!

And then something happened which changed my focus altogether …

Thanks to our school which gives us a group project on science (compulsorily to be exhibited soon after the school reopens) enabling the classmates ( girls, boys et al ) and their respective parents ( better read it as MOTHER ) to meet  more than once for planning , constructing , building, abolishing, re- building a 3D model, exchanging ideas and writing reports investing many “horribly”sunny afternoons in each other’s homes. This annual ritual is ironically loved & hated both at the same time, all for a different reason though.

So yesterday was the maiden meeting for this session’s  project work..

Now, that my son, a seventh grader is almost a teen ( 12 yrs precisely ), has crossed me longitudinally, has an opinion on almost everything under the sun including how much and what all should I talk about in front of his friends (read PEER PRESSURE) , is loud and clear about the rules to be followed around ” his” group ( ROLE REVERSAL  …. Sigh ). I am obviously feeling displaced and proud all in the same breath.
No sooner had we assembled at our group leader’s house on a sultry afternoon leaving the comforts of our air conditioned bedrooms in hope to help the future IITians (PUN  intended/ unintended, pick your choice) build a rock solid foundation for future inventions .
Being with giggly teenagers is another plus.

Like in all Indian homes, the lady of the house promptly offered us water and flagged off the discussion on what model to make, which topic to choose, which scientific principle to depict …. Ironically, the otherwise oozing with knowledge, always opining, know it all, persistently buzzing generation of our kids talk in whispers at such junctures ( so much for child-centric neo education system?? ) , fearing they might not utter something which is out of place or could be mocked at or hint at their actual bar of information…?Ummmm…. Let’s blame it on the system, safely.

Some half hour later, the mom of the group leader retired herself to the kitchen to emerge with goodies laid in trays, bowls, spoons, milkshakes on the rocks and no one helping her in hosting a group of 5 adults & 6 children. Clearly she needed help. I told my son to help aunty….obviously, the” look” shot back at me is something I need to correct NOW without losing another day. Halfheartedly he stood up and was milimetering ( inching would have been a lightyear faster)  towards aunty, when like a lightening streak, another aunty stopped him short instructing him to sit and not do the ” girl’s job”.

Really???

I thought it’s 2014 already.

Taking over the charge of the situation like a meticulous administrator, she shouted at girls in the group to get up and showcase their serving skills like “good girls”… My heart screeched with a jolt ( read HICCUPS) .

While, we are busy educating our girls to become astronauts, pilots, scientists, ministers & administrators, why are we failing to teach ( informally) our boys to share household responsibilities, to be self dependent for their daily chores, to entertain guests, to play meticulous hosts. Why feed a feeble “manhood” with stereotype data of what a man should or should not learn to do?
And, why engrave a young girl’s  psyche with how a “good” woman should or should not  behave ?

High time we do away with the territorial demarcation of ” Blue” & “Pink” …. Starting with the toys that we buy for our toddlers. In my opinion,  it’s not a crime to let boys play with doll house, learn to change diaper of baby doll’s or cook in barbie’s make believe kitchen. Similarly, to let girl’s sword fight, ape papa going to office, surfboard or even play with guns,  she might become an army officer someday…
On second thoughts, we can let go of the gun part totally, the society is already overflowing with aggression in today’s time and era.

Why chores need to be taught based on gender? Why can’t they be taught to empower every human being?

Self dependence should be seen as an enviable virtue. To help fold laundry, to dust their own study table, to keep toys , books and gadgets in place, to serve water to their friends, to make one’s own bed should form part of uni sexual informal education without fail.

And, like everything else, the change has to start with us….Parents.

To bring equality to both genders and bring society to an equilibrium, we must focus on both formal & informal education for our kids. They are learning every waking second of their’s and they are learning from us. Lets take ” Leading by example”  theory to yet another level.
Let’s start by learning for ourselves, let’s start learning from ourselves and practice before we preach.

Now, my focus is to teach my boys to be self dependent and help in age appropriate chores around the house….

Thank you ” Kilpatrick” for introducing the world to ” Project Method”or vice- versa. You enabled me to learn a lot from it. Thank you!

7 comments

  1. Nice article and quite thought provoking.

    However, my experience in recent years has been quite the opposite. I find the boys visiting my house, coming over to the kitchen, offering help. While most often girls sit around not even bothering to look in my direction. And I was wondering why have we stopped teaching our girls, when we began teaching our boys.

    My two boys, 7 and about to be 4, take pride in the fact that they helped mummy. I hope the streak will continue and they won’t be told (like in your son’s case in the article), not to do a girl’s job. :-)

  2. An eye opener account…. We need to review our parenting techniques & ur articles are a good reminder for doing so.

  3. Good one. And I agree whole-heartedly.
    But then, I would like to know if you gave that lady a piece of your mind…I hope the answer is a ‘yes’. :)

    • No…not directly srikala.
      Some people understand only when they get the taste of their own medicine, when the group was dividing the work amongst themselves , this ” lady’s” daughter was keen on making ” a relative humidity measuring instrument” , that’s when I asked the mom if she will allow her daughter to do the ” boy’s” job….?
      She was answerless…BUT to answer ur next question, ofcourse we gave the girl , the part she was so keen to take up.

  4. Very well said Nidhi, true, though the mind set is changing these days but some lot still needs to be taught.

    Nice article

  5. You said it for me, Nidhi. I agree with each word. Being a mother to an 8 yr old boy, one of the things I want my son to learn is to handle the kitchen. And by that I mean doing the dishes, and cooking to atleast a level that he doesn’t have to eat out everyday when his wife or I am not not around. I also feel that by the time our kids grow, women will be more career conscious than today. I dont think a woman would prefer a partner who is ‘zero’ at handling home, especially kitchen.

  6. Well said, Nidhi. As a mom of two boys I train my boys to do all chores. But seeing the way some girls behave I wonder what kind of wives my son’s will get!!!

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