Replacing motherhood with surrogacy
Posted April 3, 2011on:
This is in response to Kalpana Sharma’s dung heap (If mothers and wives were paid) published by The Hindu on Sunday, Apr 03, 2011.
With the burden of commercial work as well as domestic chores on their shoulders, men spend more time doing unpaid work for the family than women around the world…
All in a day’s work
Regardless of illness, tiresome, lack of interest, abusive boss or coworkers, millions of Indian men will have to work day in and day out in order to feed their families and look after children and elders financially medically socially and also to satisfy their entertainment needs. Such an invaluable contribution to the family has never been given a monetary value. No one knows what they contribute as they do a range of unpaid work — from household chores in the home after their routine job at workplace and running a small businesses to earn some extra bucks, to home-based work (that is not always paid), to helping out in a variety of tasks that they are expected to do only because they are men. Not even a single country has a monetary value been placed on such unpaid work.
No international organisations have ever come out with a study that looks at this issue: men’s unpaid work. Dr. Warren Farrell, author of “Myth of male power”, “Why men are the way they are”, “Why men earn more” etc takes a deeper dive into the amount of time men spends on unpaid work as compared to women.
Farrell found that men contribute more money to the family than women, at the same time women own more things than men do. Women have 4 options in life, 1) be a housewife 2) be a professional 3) do part time job 4) be occasional housewife where as the four options that are available for men are 1) work fulltime 2) work fulltime 3) work fulltime and 4) work fulltime. This is not surprising given that in practically all societies, men are expected to bear the maximum burden of formal as well as domestic work with women helping out if and when they can. Yet at the end of the day, it is the man who is automatically expected to take care of all the financial responsibilities, leaving kids at school, fixing broken stuffs etc; precisely, bringing home food shelter clothing and entertainment.
A current TV advertisement for insurance sums this up rather well. It shows a husband, obviously exhausted, working for his family who returns home and had a chest pain. The advertisement takes it for granted that the man should have taken insurance to protect his family EVEN AFTER HIS DEATH. There is nothing in the ad to indicate what the woman’s role in the family or her responsibility compared to her husband, one can well imagine. It would never have occurred to the woman to figure out a way of relieving her husband of this particular responsibility even if she is more educated or her earning potential is equal or more than her husband.
The ILO study found another element of concern, what the report calls a clear “gender gap” in working time. (http://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/press-and-media-centre/press-releases/lang–en/WCMS_082827) The study says men tend to work longer average hours than women worldwide, with women working shorter hours in almost every country studied. This is very true in Indian society. Women take advantage of employment at home and also take advantage of family at workplace. For example a typical Indian woman wants her husband to drop the kids off to school early morning as she wants to reach office on time because of an “important” meeting; at the same time she wants to leave the office early in the pretext of pick up the kids from school in the evening, handing over the critical responsibilities on male colleagues. And while the men work late, Indian wives and daughters spent time shopping, sleeping, eating, chatting with friends, watching television and relaxing.
Apart from the gender difference in time spent, the value of such unpaid work was not factored into economic calculations that assess a country’s development. “When we focus our binoculars only on discrimination, we miss opportunities available to women, such as the 80 fields (e.g., financial analysis, radiation therapy, statistics and most engineering fields) in which women now earn more than men” says Dr. Farrell who is the only man in the U.S. ever elected three times to the board of directors for the National Organization for Women in New York City
To many, this would appear to be a non-issue along with the issues that men face in terms of violence, inside and outside the home, many forms of discrimination, sexual harassment and assault etc which he has absolutely no available option of legal recourse. Yet, there is a good reason for assessing the extent of unpaid work men do, the gender gap between women and men on this count, and the value of their labour.
Quantifying the value
Men’s groups never advocated assessing the value of unpaid work until 27th march 2011 when they were forced (by the government of India) to come forward in large numbers sending memorandums to Law commission of India with regard to THE MARRIAGE LAWS (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2010. There is no world conference or even national level commission to address the issues of men and they remain as second class citizens even in this 21st century!
A strong reason for not putting a monetary value to such work is that it puts a price tag for human relations where everyone lives and dies for money minus all family and social values. In India, such women — and they are mostly women — who are well paid to advocate such absurd demands of putting price tag for housewives are reducing the value of motherhood and even womanhood. Setting a standard for the amount they should be paid for the kind of work they are expected to do is tantamount to reducing motherhood into a surrogacy; reducing nurturing care and love into a paid service. What is even more disappointing is that women, who is said to have good education and earn well in the formal sector, seems to have replaced all their moral, family and social values with M O N E Y, and they dance on the tunes of Rothschild’s International banking dynasty.
Ultimately, the issue is not the amount of time spent on unpaid work, or whether men should be paid for such work, but the expectation that they will do it unquestioningly and for all time to come. Surely, with so much changing around us, this is yet another arena where gender roles must be questioned; why would the physically easy and non-hazardous household work should also be shared with men after his regular and mandatory hours of job at risky and dangerous workplace, and where those who work silently to run millions of families around the world, should be given the honor, recognition and appreciation that they deserve.