Men who ‘can’t’ cook rice

This piece of research had me all set to write a series of sarcasm dripping comments on women’s lives. The research findings are, that women mostly gain weight after getting married while men lose it after a divorce. The reason put forward being that women have less time for fitness once they’re married because so much of their spare time goes in doing the housework. While, men lose weight after divorce – because they have to do their own cooking?

The whole idea that housework is to be done by women is probably the reason why divorce happens. Marriage and setting up a nest together is a dream for a man, who suddenly gets ‘looked after’ while the woman now has two people to cook and clean for and usually a larger home in keeping with their marital ‘status’. If she is lucky.

If she’s unlucky, she will be part of the ‘joint family’ the ultimate in exploiting women and suppressing their personalities. In the name of making home-made papadams and other such ‘necessities’, she’ll be completely unable to pursue a career and certainly not to go to the gym, do yoga, walk or anything that’s fitness oriented.

I wonder why Indian mothers don’t teach their sons the life skills of cooking, cleaning and sewing buttons on their shirts? Because they presume their son’s wives will do such things. Or some employed help? Because all the divorced Indian men I know have proudly proclaimed things like –

“I’ve never boiled rice in my life and I don’t know how.” What an excellent thing to stake claim to. The inability to boil rice. Somehow they think it shows how royal is the blood that flows in their veins. I don’t know about you, but when I hear that statement (and I’ve heard it thrice, from three different men), I run a mile. Because to me it says, “ I’m an old-school type of man whose mother, sister, wife, mother in law, maid will boil the rice. I can’t be bothered with those things as I have more important things to do than ‘women’s’ work. I have to go to office, or watch the news.”
Makes you wonder why eating is men’s work and cooking women’s? Makes you wonder why even women who watch news and go to work have cooking rice allotted as their duty?

Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking rice. I simply wonder why I have to be the one to do it? Why is it mine and every other woman’s responsibility once she is married, or, as sometimes happens, even in India, living together with a man?

Does anyone have any answers?


About Kalpana

Trying to change the world one blog post at a time. I write. It's the best thing I can do. I am the Hanged Man, the Fool, the sometime Magician. Whether I travel in my imagination or in real life I write about it and show you pictures either through my photography or through the pictures I paint with my words. I read books and write fiction. During working hours I teach English as an Additional Language. I edit.

Posted on August 25, 2011, in Divorce and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. Whats up these days?no posts at all 🙂

  2. Hmm well, I guess I’m one of those men who can’t cook rice. It’s on my to-do list, though.

    While I agree with what you said, I think there are far too many people like me (and my girlfriend) who would rather just survive on Chinese takeout and Pizza because cooking is far too much trouble. It’s not too healthy, of course. But when you’re in the middle of one of those never-ending “blips” at work, cooking is the last thing you want to do.

    Still, everyone SHOULD know how to cook, there’s no denying that. I wish I could cook well myself, but the best I can do is a mac-and-cheese and that’s about it. :/

    • ha ha – not cooking rice because of a work blip is quite a different thing from guys who expect to be waited on hand and foot and rice bowl, or women who feel that it just isn’t a manly thing to do and will reflect poorly on their housekeeping skills. At least you make a mac and cheese 🙂
      But seriously, cooking is a life skill. You learn to bathe yourself, eat so why not learn to cook and iron ?

      • Yep, that kind of chauvinistic attitude is all too common in a lot of cultures. And a lot of women not only put up with the crap, but even enthusiastically uphold it as some kind of model. I’m actually back in India right now for the first time in something like twenty years out of the thirty one of my existence. Been staying with my folks for a couple of weeks now and although it’s pretty good to see all the assorted grand-somethings after all this while, I’m certainly NOT going to miss the public discussions over the future of my romantic life, hosted over a sumptuous thali of Punjabi goodies. The ones which go like this:

        Grandmother: So when are you planning to get married?

        Me: Huh? Married?

        Grandfather: When do we get to meet the girl, anyway?

        Me: Huh? Why do you want to meet her?

        Random Family Member #1: We have to see the bride, of course.

        Random Family Member #2: *giggle* *giggle*

        Me: Bride?

        Grandmother: I hope she can cook and keep house. These angrez girls are so lazy and all that…

        Me: She’s not angrez. Besides, we’re not —

        Grandfather: See, I told you, na? Our boy wouldn’t choose anything but a traditional Indian bahu. Who’s grandson is he, anyway?

        Me: Bahu?

        Grandmother: Good, we’ll talk to the astrologer tomorrow. To name the kids.

        Me: Kids?!!

        Grandfather: I hope her company gives her a nice severance package when she quits her job.

        Me: Why would she —

        Grandmother: Arre, you’ve not taken any butter. You’re as thin as a leaf, she’s not taking good care of you.. *asks random family member #3 to pour a couple of pounds of butter on my plate*

        By this time, I’m usually ready to run. 😀

        It’s going to take a while for things to change here.

        As for learning to cook, it’s not so much that I don’t KNOW how to. I mean, I do know how to cook (at least in theory). It’s just that eating regular, home-cooked meals is a sort of vague objective that I don’t usually have the time and energy to pursue. Like I said, it’s on my to-do list, right next to “must call over our mutual friends” and “must learn to snorkel”. I’m totally intending to get round to it sometime. Dunno when that time will come, though 😀

  3. Good post! I wrote a similar post, sometime back about housework being relegated (unfairly) to the women :

  4. Sometimes I feel the woman starts taking all the responsibilities and in a way pampers the husband in the initial days of marriage. When she gets obsessed with the routine work, she then realizes the husband had been lazy all the days.

  5. Totally agree.
    My parents insisted I learn to cook. A man should possess culinary skills, too…they’re essential for survival. Not just culinary skills, but also small things like sewing a button back on to my shirt by myself.
    Will share this post with every male I know. 😀

  6. hey i had the same ideas like you-that we should divide the housework, divide responsibilities of the maid etc until i discovered that anything under ‘his’ work simply just didnt get done. and he didnt mind-he loves living in a pigsty. and after the kids, i dug my own grave and decided to sit at home as they ‘needed’ me. have seen many overeducated working women also quietly assume house and kids responsibility albeit with a maid. as for me, we still fight over housework and it doesnt help that i love cooking and playing with kids

  7. I think it is the family’s responsibility to give all children the necessary skill they need to survive in life. In most families, I am talking from the Kerala perspective, boys are not allowed to do anything in the kitchen. It was/is considered sin on the side of the females. So what happens the boys grow up good for nothing and finally he is dumped on a lady whom he marries. even when it comes to marry he does not know how to choose his wife. it is the responsibility of the elders in the family to choose a girl for him. What he knows is only to make children. What a pity. Whether he is educated, employed, not employed the story is the same.:)

    And the story continues, the very same wife do the same thing to his son.

  8. Very good observation and its a pity that men don’t take interest in something that is basic requirement. Cooking and generally sharing the burden of the house is an important component of a healthy relationship read marriage.

  9. Our society, in this regard, is one of the worst. A woman is required to do all the household work, even if she is working full-time. This really appalls me. Earlier women used to do it coz they din work. But now most of them are working- what is the excuse? That a woman’s job is not that important? Not that is not true, even men cannot argue against that. Some women build better careers than men these days.

    One of my uncles used to mop the floor, cook and wash clothes regularly. His wife was a house-wife. This lady was viewed like some cruel witch by our whole family, including me [as a kid, of course]. Now I wonder why any of us did not have the sense to see that it was fine for my uncle to do all that, even if his wife was a stay-at-home mom. In our society, a man needs to be brave to oppose all these conventional set-ups. And kudos to men who do that. Hope the rest of the lot would follow them soon!

    • Wow, your uncle sounds like a model man. But see how difficult it is to paddle against the stream – everybody ‘blamed’ the wife and saw her as a witch. Had there been any feminists around they would have applauded her and him. Housework is really boring and no one person should be condemned to do it, unpaid all their lives.

  10. Good one.
    But if women are doing household work, then why do they gain weight after marriage? Whereas men loose weight doing that work after divorce.

    • Men lose weight from not eating! Because there’s noone to cook their rice for them. Women gain weight because fitness can no longer be a priority. According to that survey. But I do believe there’s some truth in it.

  11. sigh!!! the patriachal society most of us live in, will not have it any other way…its indeed a sorry state of affairs—what we need is equal distribution of labour starting from our very homes 😀


    • My point exactly. Housework wouldn’t be such a burden if it were shared allowing both people to develop as human beings in other ways. Do you know of anyone who looks at a homemaker and longs for her life? Or feels she is fulfilling her soul’s mission?

  12. I guess most men are spoiled by their wives as much as the mothers! I personally know women in my family who do not let their husbands do anything in the kitchen and mother them all the time.They don’t even let the husbands get a glass of water by themselves!
    If anything has to change for women, it is they themselves in their thinking! Once that happens, situations will slowly start seeing some positive changes.

    • Yes women must change. I guess men don’t have to change at all K? Poor men, they have to suffer their mothers’ ministrations and the attempt to keep them in the dark about the secrets of rice cooking.

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