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  • Writer's pictureMuneer Peerzada

Reconsidering Homemaking: Beyond Gender and Sexuality


The debate on homemaking has generated different opinions and viewpoints, paradoxically with men dominating the discourse despite its historical association with women. Poulain De La Barre’s quote, “Everything that has been written by men about women should be viewed with suspicion, because they are both judge and party,” highlights the need for a critical analysis of the gendered nature of homemaking or domestic work. The origins of domestic duties can be traced back to the development of human societies. In prehistoric times, both men and women actively participated in hunting and survival. However, the need to procreate required the creation of families and the division of labour. Consequently, due to the demands of child rearing, women gradually took over the responsibility for housework. Thus, domestic work came to play a central role in social organisation.


Religious (mis)teachings and cultural customs have significantly influenced gender roles and expectations of housework. Many religious texts portray marriage as necessary for procreation and assign different roles to men and women. Men are responsible for external undertakings, while women are responsible for domestic duties. However, as society progresses and strives for equality, these rigid gender roles become obsolete. Life in the twenty-first century requires a more equitable distribution of responsibilities and greater participation by all, regardless of gender. Despite significant progress in gender equality, domestic work is still stigmatised by stereotypes and discriminatory attitudes. Often, the contribution of housewives is devalued and their role is limited to the domestic sphere. This marginalisation devalues domestic work and perpetuates harmful gender stereotypes. To combat these prejudices, we need to challenge traditional stereotypes, recognise the value of domestic work, and promote an equitable distribution of household tasks. True gender equality should be about providing equal opportunities for individuals while recognising the biological realities that may influence their choices.


In the pursuit of equality, we must respect individual preferences in housework. Housework should be seen as a multi-faceted art form that transcends gender differences and embraces the different talents and aspirations of individuals. Each individual should have the freedom to choose their own role in the household, be it traditional housework, employment, or a combination of both. By recognising and valuing individual choices, society can foster an inclusive environment that values and supports all forms of contribution to the household. Unfortunately, despite social progress, there are still men who make sexist remarks and belittle the role of housewives. Sexism has become commonplace and is often disguised as harmless banter. Women are objectified and reduced to domestic duties, with their value reduced to sexual gratification or housework. These attitudes diminish the importance of domestic work and reinforce harmful gender stereotypes. To promote respect, equality, and recognition for the important role of domestic work, it is essential to combat and eliminate these prejudices.


Domestic work must be redefined as a neutral activity in order to achieve true gender equality. Society can promote a balanced and harmonious environment by challenging prevailing gender stereotypes, examining historical and cultural influences, and advocating for an equitable distribution of household tasks. A gender-neutral view of domestic work will contribute to a society where all people can make choices that match their talents, aspirations and values, leading to a more equitable and inclusive future.

In the postmodern era, the traditional view of women as the primary caretakers of the home has changed drastically. These changes reflect broader social and cultural shifts, as well as changing roles and expectations of women. Men now actively participate in household tasks. Indeed, the postmodern era has seen a shift in traditional gender roles and expectations that has led to men actively taking on household chores. This change is influenced by several factors, including changes in social norms, a greater awareness of the importance of shared responsibility and the pursuit of gender equality.

The feminist movement, which advocates for gender equality and challenges traditional gender roles, is one of the most important forces behind this change. Feminism has been instrumental in drawing attention to the unequal burden of domestic work on women. It has highlighted the importance of shared responsibility and encouraged men to actively participate in housework. As a result, more and more men are acknowledging their role as caregivers and homemakers, leading to a more equitable distribution of household responsibilities.


In addition, societal attitudes towards masculinity and femininity have evolved, allowing men to break away from repressive gender norms. Gradually, the rigid expectations that confined men to the role of breadwinner have been dissolved. Men are now encouraged to acquire skills outside their professional lives and to actively participate in caring for and looking after their families. This redefinition of masculinity has enabled men to participate in domestic work and has challenged traditional notions of gender roles.

The increasing number of dual-earner households has also contributed to men’s participation in domestic work. When both partners work outside the home, household tasks must be shared. This change has led to men having to learn new skills such as cooking, cleaning and childcare so that they can actively contribute to the smooth functioning of the household. Sharing the tasks not only relieves the burden on women, but also promotes a more balanced and satisfying family life for both partners.


In addition, research has highlighted the benefits of men’s involvement in housework for the well-being of the family as a whole. When men actively participate in housework, relationship satisfaction, communication and parenting skills improve. It also allows families to spend more time together, leading to stronger bonds and healthier family dynamics. More and more men are recognising these positive effects and embracing their role as a stay-at-home dad, recognising that it contributes to their own well-being and that of their families. Although progress has been made, much remains to be done to achieve true gender equality in domestic work. Gender biases and stereotypes persist in many societies, and women still perform a disproportionate share of domestic work. Efforts must continue to combat these prejudices, promote an equitable distribution of household tasks, and provide support systems that enable men and women to actively participate in domestic work according to their abilities and preferences.


The question of transgender persons and domestic work is essential to understanding gender roles and expectations in modern society. Individuals who identify as transgender may undergo gender reassignment surgery, which may include medical interventions such as hormone therapy or gender reassignment surgery. During this process, their self-image and the image others have of them in relation to domestic work may change. Transgender people’s participation in domestic work can be influenced by several factors, including their personal journey of self-discovery, social acceptance, and the intersection of their gender identity with other aspects of their identity, such as race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.


After transition, transgender people sometimes adapt to the traditional gender roles associated with their gender identity. For example, a transgender woman who identifies as a woman may take on traditionally female domestic tasks such as cooking, cleaning and caring. Similarly, a transgender man who identifies as a man may take on male-typical tasks, such as housekeeping and financial management. However, it is important to recognise that not all transgender persons adhere to traditional gender roles and expectations. Similar to cisgender persons (persons whose gender identity matches their assigned sex at birth), transgender persons have a variety of interests, talents, and aspirations that may go beyond traditional notions of domestic work.


Transgender persons should have the freedom to engage in domestic work based on their abilities, interests, and personal circumstances, just like everyone else. It is important to create an environment where transgender people can authentically express themselves and contribute to household tasks according to their gender identity and individual preferences. As society evolves in its understanding and acceptance of transgender people, it is important to challenge rigid gender norms and stereotypes of domestic work. Recognising and valuing the unique experiences and perspectives that transgender people bring is essential to promoting diversity and inclusion. By promoting equal opportunities, respect, and support for transgender persons in all areas of life, including domestic work, we can foster a society that values the contributions and well-being of all its members, regardless of gender identity.


In summary, the debate on domestic work requires a gendered analysis that goes beyond traditional notions and embraces an equitable distribution of responsibilities. By challenging stereotypes, recognising the value of domestic work, and encouraging individual choices, society can create an environment that values and supports all forms of domestic contribution. To achieve true gender equality, it is essential to combat prejudice, eliminate sexism, and redefine domestic work as a neutral activity. Moreover, the changing roles and expectations of women reflect a broader social and cultural shift as men increasingly participate in domestic duties. Furthermore, the issue of transgender persons and domestic work highlights the need to create an environment that respects their gender identity and allows them to contribute according to their abilities and preferences. By promoting diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunities, we can move towards a more equitable and inclusive future where the contributions of all people to the household are valued.


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