No one imagined living in a world of fear, dictated by a fascist virus. Yet here we are. 2020 marked a new age of human civilization: the start of a global pandemic and also a period when men espoused progressive values but behaved as if they lived in the 1800s. Women are bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. Women are raising children, doing chores, cooking meals, working full-time, and becoming homeschool teachers due to remote learning; they never imagined the temporary roles they volunteered for would continue for an entire year. There are some men who genuinely assist with household duties, but they haven’t impacted the mainstream culture of traditional gender roles.
My female friends with kids miss the peaceful escape of the office environment. They miss restful sleep. They miss bonding with friends outside of their homes. They complain how difficult it is to get three young kids to sit down and concentrate on assignments and Zoom calls for school. I see working moms on Teams calls, struggling to stay engaged in work meetings while teaching their children, with smiles covering the inner stress.
After leaving the White House, Michelle Obama spoke out about her previous experience raising young children when Barack worked long hours. She was horrified to find out that Barack prioritized going to the gym without guilt. He was able to fully concentrate on his work and carve out leisure time, while she struggled to prioritize her basic needs. What is it about our culture that prevents women from clearly verbalizing their needs and setting aside time and effort for those precious goals?
My sister and I are Indian-American women in our late thirties, unmarried and childless. My sister is successful in her career, owns her own home, and generously loves those around her; yet my parents’ Indian friends are shocked that she has chosen to be single. I think it’s a blessing. Tulsi and I love our lives. We love supporting our friends and family. We love our careers and creative pursuits. And we actually have the capacity to do those things fully without having to deal with micro- or macro-aggressions from male partners. Not every woman can live this type of lifestyle.
For women who want to be married and/or have children, how can our society support their needs, hobbies, and beautiful endeavors – raising loving, woke children while still thriving in the workplace? Women need to remind men this world was set up by men, for men. In its current state, the world does not embrace female success and happiness.
Action Items: Let’s start by voicing we can’t handle everything on our plates and we need help. Or better yet, let half the world’s population boycott their jobs, chores, purchases, smiles, childcare, cooking, and teaching for a single day! How will the world’s men react after a single day of women quitting their responsibilities? We can only find out if we try!