Women are cooks and Men are ATM

Why I find such posts offensive?

#2

The wedding bells have started ringing this season. The time of the year when your social media feed starts to fill with lavish wedding pictures. Professional pre-wedding photo and video sessions are quite popular these days. Couples along with a team of professional photographers, make-up artists, and even stylists in some cases go to an exotic location for a photo/video shoot to create beautiful memories for a lifetime. They use props to make the photos more interesting for their social media audience.

I recently stumbled upon a picture of a couple on their wedding day on my Facebook account. The couple seemed to be happy and smiling. The groom carried a placard that said, “I got my cook” with a clipart of a woman who was cooking in a kitchen. The bride’s placard read, “I got my ATM” which included a woman near the ATM.

Photo: https://www.facebook.com/beingrealsarcastic/posts/

Even more surprising were some of the comments in that post. Most people were not satisfied with what they were carrying and commented, “Both placards are attacking females more than men”. However, there was a comment which read, “Don’t assume anything. They might be perfectly happy. Their life, their choice.”

Most people take these things very lightly and don’t think that it is offensive at all. However, this mentality of limiting women in the kitchen and considering men as money-making machines exploit both genders. Claudia Rankine’s book Citizen published in 2014 has many such anecdotes where she expresses the instances of discrimination through small acts. For instance, she writes about a time when her friend called her, “a nappy-headed ho” and insisted that it was a joke. However, she was hurt by such language.

I found out that these placards, “I got my cook” and “I got my ATM” were famous. Couples in Nigeria, India, and now in Nepal are seen posing carrying these, and I also found a couple T-shirts custom-designed with these words. Yes, there exists in 2022! I wasn’t shocked but it did raise many questions.

I re-shared the photo with the caption, “Gender roles are so ingrained in our brains that men are still treated as money-making machines and women’s primary role is that of a homemaker.” A few “haha” and “sad” reactions, likes, and comments. My husband commented, “Don’t worry, you have switched the role…Enjoy being my ATM and Fonepay scanner”.

Growing up I saw my father was the breadwinner of the family and my mother was a homemaker. My mother prepared meals and made sure that the house was clean and there was food in the fridge. She never called him by his name. There is this norm in our families, the wife doesn’t call the husband by their name. If my mother has to speak with me about my father, then she refers to him as “your daddy”. It is inappropriate to call husbands by their names in our culture. Even my sisters-in-law and aunts while talking to me about their husbands as “your brother” and “your uncle”. And now they have passed this on to me. This is one simple thing, but this shows the power dynamics between the two genders.

“I got my cook” and “I got my ATM” reflect deep-rooted patriarchy. A woman may not know how to cook but she might be a successful entrepreneur. In the same way, a man could be great at household chores but not have a career. Or both might be flexible enough to help each other in whatever ways possible not focusing on the traditional roles.

Young people learn what they observe and not what they are spoon-fed. Post that limits women to a specific traditional role impact the psyche of young people who consume it. When a young girl observes her mother holding the broom and cleaning every morning, she will think that cleaning is her job. When she sees her mother hurriedly cooking every meal, she will assume cooking is her sole responsibility.

Being a mother to a daughter, I don’t want my daughter to grow up thinking that doing household chores and taking care of family members is her sole duty just because she is a girl.

More women have taken seats at offices and have graduated from colleges. However, this idea that women are still homemakers first and then professionals, burden them. It is unfair for women to be expected to be great moms and women leaders at the same time.

Posts like, “I got my cook” and “I got my ATM” might be published for mere fun but they might have a serious negative impact on an individual’s subconscious and on society at large.

References

https://theconversation.com/the-secret-to-a-happy-marriage-flexible-roles-101275

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/husband-v-wife-the-changi_b_441444

https://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/24/opinion/24tsingloh.html

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