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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Whose responsibilities? Men or Woman?

In one class of mine, where the topic is “Career Women” I gave my students the following questions to discuss.
1. Who should be the boss in the family—the man or the woman?
2. Who ought to do the cooking—the man or the woman?
3. Who ought to do the dishes?
4. Who ought to fix things when they are broken?
5. Who ought to wash the clothes?
6. Who ought to be the one earning the most money?
7. Who ought to look after the children when they are under five years old?
8. Who ought to buy clothes for the children when they are under 10 years old?
9. Who ought to discipline the children when they are naughty?
10.Who ought to pay the bills and organize the family’s finance?

There were 16 students; three male and thirteen female students arrived. I divided them into 8 pairs. The two boys in one group and the other boy worked with a girl. All of them are under twenty-five years old, ranging from one senior high school student, the others are college students, and two students are fresh graduates from undergraduate program. In this article, I will write the result of the discussion.

FYI, it is very common in Indonesia to have housemaids in many families. My students mostly come from middle-high social class where many of them have housemaids at home. However, I ask them to discuss it with the basis of living in a nuclear family without housemaids and both husband and wife work.

For the first question, all students agreed that the man must be the boss in the family. The reasons are various. One pair of students cited the Bible “Wives must respect the husband.” Another pair cited the Al-Quran “Men are the leader.” Some other pairs give reasons such as “men have bigger responsibilities in a family coz they earn more money.” “men should be the decision maker coz they earn money.” “men deserve to get respect after doing their responsibilities—earning money, loving the wife, taking care of the family.” “men think more rationally therefore they are wiser than women in making decision.” “the leader of a family must be someone wise.”

For the second question, six pairs answered that both man and woman can do the cooking. Two other pairs said that women are more able to cook than men, and also coz women usually do household chores.

The third question, six pairs said that both man and woman can do the dishes. One pair gave this chore to women coz “women are cleaner than men.” The last pair said it depends on the division of household chores that both of them agree.

Question number four, two pairs said that men are responsible to fix things when they are broken coz “men are stronger” than women. the other six pairs agreed that both men and women can do this fixing thing only it depends on what things are broken. For electrical things give this chore to men; for clothes women.

Question number five, four pairs give this chore to women. The reasons vary from “women are cleaner than men and men don’t know how to wash the clothes,” “women are more careful especially related to the material of the clothes,” “women are more patient and careful” coz the students believe that the longer time someone needs to wash clothes, the cleaner the clothes will be. Until the reason “it is women’s duties to do household chores.” The other half of the students agree that both men and women can wash the clothes coz “both wear the clothes, so, it is the responsibility of both of them” “just use the washing machine, it is easy. Men can do that too.”

Question number six, two pairs said that it is really not a big deal who earns money the most. However, coz we now live in the patriarchal society, it will be better to give this burden to men. The other six pairs promptly gave this burden to men coz “Men have bigger responsibilities in a family.” “When women work, well, their income is only for contribution, and not the main income.” Another pair said (both were girls) “My money is my own money. His money is my money.”

Question number seven, the half of the class agreed that it is the responsibility of both men and women with reasons “children need love and attention from both parents” “to create good personalities in the children, both parents have the same important roles.” “if both parents do this responsibility together, it will increase the emotional ties between the children and the both parents.” While the other half of the class responded that this is the responsibility of the women only coz “women are motherly”, “women are more patient and loving than men” “women know their children better than men and have closer emotional ties with the children due to the nine-month pregnancy.”

Question number eight, six pairs opined that both men and women are responsible to do this. Both men and women go to the department store together, discuss together which clothes to buy for the children. Or, both go to the department store together, women choose which clothes to buy, men pay in the cashier using their money.” The two pairs believed that women do this responsibility better than men coz “Women have stronger feelings in choosing clothes” and “women know the right size and the comfortable material of the clothes.”

The ninth question , seven pairs believe that both men and women must be responsible to discipline the children. “Children must respect both parents, therefore, parents must have the same decision in disciplining the children by having the same regulations,” “parents must give good examples to be disciplined.” One pair said that men are more responsible in doing this coz men have stronger personality and they are fatherly to make children scared so that children will obey the rules.

For the last question, all pairs agreed that both men and women do this together, with different responsibility though. “Men pay the bills coz the money is from them. Women organize the family’s finance coz women manage money more wisely and accurately than men.”

How about my own comment to the students when discussing this in class? I will write another article later. J

How about your own experience, dear friends? :)

1 comment:

jiwakitamerdeka said...

My answer to first question = the best (in terms of mentality, knowledge, piety etc)in making just judgement depends on situations.
The rest = husband. We have to admit that we do not know much about how Islam looks into the domestic problems. What we follow is just a tradition. May or may not be Islamic. Let's go to real Islam according to Quran and Sunnah Rasulullah s.a.w.