Do you know how to make Aloo Gobi?
For as long as I can remember I was told,” You need to learn how to cook, otherwise how will you feed your husband and children.” To which I would always reply, ” There’s always takeout.”
I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one who was asked this question and had the similar response. Also did you realize that it was always those aunties that had no business and or involvement in your life that would question you about it? Honestly, I understand that everyone should learn at least basic skills in the kitchen just so they would be able to survive by themselves should they ever feel the need to.
But why should the primary reason be to “cook for your husband?” Why can’t it be just because you need basic survival skills; such as being able to bold a perfectly hard-boiled egg. Why does the ability to cook inadvertently equal into you becoming the perfect “wifey material?”
This really bothered me. Why is it that we always must stress that girls must learn how to cook in order to have happy fulfilled lives with respective partners? Why is it that our sole purpose as “desi women” is to be the ideal wife or possess qualities that are the quintessential for us to have a happy life? Women have achieved such victories throughout the years; such as right to vote, right to an education, right to have complete power on their bodies etc. But we always seem to revert to the traditional views on how and what we should be doing. The traditional traits attached to women’s role and place in the society has yet to change. And the worst and possibly the most heartbreaking thing is that it is our fellow sisters who cultivate such backwards ideologies on the role of a women.
It is really hard to be a women in our society now a days. There is a rule for everything. There has been significant changes, such as being able to wear anything and everything we want. But they all come with consequences. There are still these unwritten set of rules that we must follow. Saying what’s on your mind can result to people thinking you’re being rude and or people telling you to not “act like a boy.” Let’s take the film Bend it like Beckham as an example. Jazz was constantly told that she needs to dress like a girl, speak like a girl, be a girl period! But there was nothing out of the ordinary about her.
What is it even to be “girly?” Why are some traits considered categorized and feminine and or masculine? Who determined these? I don’t think anyone has the answer to them. I mean we can definitely go back and look at scriptures and make our interpretations of the gender roles. But that is it. They are interpretations and not facts. We need to come out of the realm of this is feminine and this is masculine because we as a society will never evolve if we continue to stay in that mindset.
The other day, my brother sent me a video of my nephew trying to copy my sister-in-law when she cooks, the full-on pots, pans and mannerisms of checking salt and what not. Everyone enjoyed that video, and the first thing that came out of their mouths were “he’s going to be a chef!”
Which is great because i’m glad we are normalizing this behavior. But it got me thinking, what if I had a niece and not a nephew, would we say “she’s going to be a chef?” Unfortunately, I don’t think we would. We would definitely encourage this behavior and buy her the toys that enforce such gender roles. But what surprised me was my mother’s response to my brother after she saw the video. She said, without a doubt or hesitation “go buy him the kitchen toys.” She was born into the generation that enforced such gender roles and she is breaking them and ensuring that it will not limit my nephew’s choices in the future whether it be unknowingly.
It is really hard to rewire your thinking when it comes to broaden your perspective on gender roles. It cannot be done instantaneously. It will be a slow progression. We need to go through the socialization process. Completely renew the idea of gender roles and blur the lines. We are already doing that day by day. Such as being gender neutral. Obviously it is not easy but just not associating colors in the wardrobes of your newborn is a start. If we start with little things like that then we will see a change in the people around us too. Because we literally live in a “monkey see, monkey do” society. And maybe just maybe we won’t get the questions such as “can you cook?” But at least for now the question at the end of the day still remains the same… do you know how to make Aloo Gobi?