Letter to Editor: No longer able to justify roles based on gender

Working women can no longer be expected to be both a domestic goddess and corporate queen.

The changing role of women in society is one of the most contentious social changes of our time. 

They no longer have time to be all things to all people.

If we are expected to contribute to half of all the bills, than men are expected to contribute to half of all domestic duties. 

Sadly, in Ireland, this is not the case.

An EU survey recently estimated that, in Ireland, 90% of household chores are completed by women.

That model is not sustainable, and I suspect it will be a major contributor to divorce rates down the line. 

Doing a full day’s work and coming home again to start the ‘night’ shift is not a sustainable solution. 

That’s before you even begin to consider childcare, bathing, feeding, homework... the list goes on. 

If these roles are not divided evenly in the absence of a live-in grandparent or employed nanny, how is it remotely possible to co-exist without high levels of resentment?

It is no longer a man’s job to ‘provide’ or a woman’s job to implement with his provisions, but that redistribution of gender roles in a predominantly patriarchal society comes with a whole host of risks and considerations. 

Women are naturally, for the most part, biologically programmed to care for their children.

To comfort, feed, and protect them is genetically hardwired into their DNA. 

Likewise, men for the most part, are driven by duty to protection and to provide.

When you remove the natural inclinations, biologically programmed and environmentally sustained for generations, the need for a union in a family is utterly eradicated in its entirety. 

While people will toy with the idea of a fairytale wedding, the realities of a marriage defined by constraints that are no longer relevant are on shaky foundations from the outset.

Think of how the scenario might play out in a homosexual relationship.

How are household chores assigned when the roles are not gender-based; when it’s not the man who does the garden and a woman who cooks the dinner?

When dealing with couples of the same gender, surely those divisions are divided equally in partnership based on conversations and adopting of assigned responsibilities.

There is a lot to be learned from this model.

We are no longer able to justify roles according to gender. This concept needs to be introduced to heterosexual couples, and quickly.

The basis of a union is around partnership and division of roles and responsibilities, hopefully in a loving environment that allows for growth and expression of individual goals and achievements.

The natural inclination of women towards “I’ll just do it myself, it’s easier”, has got to stop.

Badly-trained men who have watched women toil over a stove, clean relentlessly, and look after many children is an image of a world that no longer exists.

A new image needs to be created in the mind of young boys that ‘real men’ are happy to get stuck in at home, clean up, and help out with all the chores. 

There is no perfect system — my husband 90% of the time washes our clothes or takes out the bins, while 90% of time I clean the bathroom or make dinner.

While he’s not great for cooking, he’s brilliant for ordering in or bringing me out for dinner.

It’s a work in progress, but we both have to acknowledge that we’re brought up in societies where gender roles were assimilated without our consent at birth.

We now have to work towards redefining what that looks like for the next generation.

Steffi Singh

Dublin 6

This reader's opinion was originally published in the letters page of the Irish Examiner print edition on 27 May 2019.

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