Teaching children that girls cook but boys don’t
A prominent ICSC school in Pune forces its girl students to take up Home Science (basic cooking and cleaning skills). I wrote “forces” because if the girls do not score a high percentage (80+) in their eighth/ninth grades then they have no choice but to take up Home Science. If they do score well then they are allowed to take Computers. If the boys don’t score the required percentage, they too cannot take Computers…but they get to take Commercial Applications. Girls can’t.
For one thing, children as young as those in the eighth grade are being forced to make life changing choices not because they like a particular subject or want to make a career around it, but because of their “marks.” Secondly, boys and girls are not treated equally. If teachers and academicians are so prejudiced what can one expect from the rest of society?
I wonder what the school had in mind when it made the option of Home Science compulsory for girls. Did they believe that boys will never do any housework and cooking in their lives or were they under the impression that boys will never join the catering or hotel industry? I doubt that it is the latter. This makes one suspect that the school has introduced Home Science to “housetrain” its girl students. A little surprising considering that most girls learn a little housework and cooking at home, in India at least. If anything, it’s the boys who need the training.
Who can deny that cooking is a basic survival need? Today boys are marrying late and living alone. Sure, a man can hire a maid, and then eventually marry someone who will gladly take on all the cooking and cleaning at home…but why be so dependent on another human being? And what does this man do if the maid leaves or goes on a holiday? If the wife leaves? Eat at hotels and ruin his health?
In reality many men do have basic cooking skills and have no ego hassles about cooking. In a post I wrote on the lack of interest in cooking, some men came forward and said they did pick up pots and pans and wielded them to good effect! We in India may be a long way off from reaching the age of the gastrosexual (men who cook regularly to impress friends and prospective partners) but there are many Indian men who are proud that they cook. There are also Indian men who feel that it is more important that their wife sit at the table with them rather than serve them. And there are umpteen men who are closet cooks. My ex-neighbour is an expert phulka-maker but hotly denies it in public! I also know several middle class men who chip in with the cooking because their wife is working outside but don’t advertise it because they feel embarrassed. I also know men who wash clothes, utensils and do the vegetable shopping, for the same reasons. Their want to help their wife or mother. Or they are living alone.
Whether men cook out of necessity, or out of enjoyment, whether they are closet cooks or gastrosexuals, the fact is that there are many Indian men who cook and clean and yes, iron as well. So what gives a school the right to assume that males do not need to learn Home Science? Or does the school by any chance think it is degrading to teach young boys Home Science? Or do they think the parents will protest? I really don’t know! Whichever it is, give the girls the option for heavens sake!
It’s a little alarming because this school is a so-called elite school in a progressive city like Pune. What must be the situation then in other places in India? This is mainstream education that we are talking about here, not some “finishing school” which housetrains girls after they leave school!
(Photograph is by me and copyrighted. It is there for representative purposes only)