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Teaching children that girls cook but boys don’t

June 8, 2009
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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.

Unfair huh. 

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)

Related Reading: What feminism means to me
Women have feelings just like men do!
The Devaluation of Cooking

58 Comments leave one →
  1. June 8, 2009 3:27 pm

    schools do that.. i didn’t know that.

    that is totally unjust. i know men who can cook better that women and there is nothing wrong with it. nothing to be embaressed.. that is a skill they should be proud of.

    what the school wants to imply..? if the girl doesn’t study well let her atlest be ready for her home life..?

    That’s galling isn’t it! That if one doesn’t do well, then go cook! I hate that. – Nita.

  2. June 8, 2009 3:54 pm

    For my ex-gf cooking was limited to maggi and sandwiches. As for me, I love simple cooking(if I get chopped vegetables) at times.
    The Indian society has changed by and large and as pointed by you, men do cook and perform other household chores. Lets hope the our schooling system, which is not keeping the pace with changing social trends(from cooking to say, sex education) realizes the folly and adapts soon.
    Ironically, schools should by themselves act as change agents rather than the opposite.

    Vipul, Ironic it is. I think these “change agents” are run by people from another era who want to impose their values on the young. – Nita.

  3. June 8, 2009 3:59 pm


    This is interesting although I think gender stereotyping begins at home way before kids get to class VIII in school. That the girls/ parents haven’t yet protested should be more alarming than the choices at school.

    In early years, I was at a conceptual prep school where everyone learnt everything from origami to needlework, from commanding school assembly to debating. Then I changed schools.

    In middle school, we had a subject called SUPW (Some Useful Periods Wasted as we thought it was and Socially Useful Productive Work as the school did!). The girls in my class – and my teacher whose name I still remember because I thought she was discriminatory – thought it was odd of me to be uninterested in hemming and embroidery (I can do both well; it just isn’t my life’s aim to excel at hemming! Embroidery is another thing altogether and I do excel at it.).

    As it happens, I still do most electric repairs myself and I can also cook. That is mostly the result of my prep school (till age 12) and how I was brought up at home. I am glad sometimes schools do not undo the education we receive at home.

    Shefaly, me too had no choice but to learn needlework but was never very good at it. The boys next door has some sort of craft or carpentry and even then I remember resenting that. I never did have the typical “feminine” interests. – Nita.

    • Vinod permalink
      June 10, 2009 9:51 am

      I’m proud to say that I have knitted 2 baby socks as part of my SUPW class in school. My mother still has those. I will anyday knit more if the opportunity arises and learning sewing and making my own clothes is one thing I would like to learn in life along with repairing motorcycles. I feel sorry for anybody who looks down upon these skills. They have not appreciated the beauty in the arts and the character it develops and the love that goes into it and the peace derived from it!!

      (did I go too far?)


  4. June 8, 2009 4:06 pm

    Good post Nita, I love cooking, but I started as recently as 2.5 yrs ago prior to which was enjoying home made food. In our family, mom always had a holiday on Sunday, so dad cooked and he is rightly proud of his cooking skills. He always tells mother to wait until retirement and then she will never have to enter kitchen except on Sunday (roles reversed)!

    I chucked at the term ‘closet cooks’ … hehehe! btw, what do they teach in Home Science anyway? How to make ghee? Girls are groomed to be housewives from a younger age, I’ve seen people say “you must learn to cook if you want to become a good wife” and this enforced gender roles always puzzled me. Same goes for hiring chefs – the top chefs are usually male.

    PS: I liked your picture, esp watching helmet-less bikers mingling with cars and scooters in the same lane.

    PSPS: I wonder why you have not disclosed the identity of the ICSC school. Is it a characteristic of all ICSC schools (don’t they have a centralized system)?

    Priyank, I haven’t disclosed the identity to protect the identity of a close relative who studies in that school in the ninth grade. As I blog under my real name, it would be easy for the school to put two and two together and well, I don’t want her to suffer because of me! – Nita.

    • June 8, 2009 6:26 pm


      The removal of Home Economics (as it is called in the UK) classes here is being blamed for a range of things – from poor nutritional awareness, to lack of awareness about household budgeting, basic life skills like sewing and household repairs. So, no, they do not teach how to make ghee in Home Science. They teach a lot of life skills. Which is why leaving out boys is more than just gender stereotyping; it disables them greatly. Schools are doing a greater disservice that way too rather than just by perpetuating gender stereotypes.

      And as Nita mentioned, people are marrying late or living alone. In the UK, for instance, a majority of households are projected to be single-person households in the next 5-10 years. That is a major societal shift for which removal of Home Science/ Economics does not prepare people. Looking closely, I have more single (through choice, bereavement or divorce) friends than those with families or partners. So the trend isn’t happening someplace else. It is happening in our lives as we watch.

      Top chefs are mostly male for the same reason as top surgeons are mostly male. It has more to do with the work environment and the to-the-exclusion-of-all-else-and-others style of working that is required to excel in the field. That is a far cry from the daily dal-chawal cooking – the kind that many men’s wives would be grateful for and the kind that they aren’t taught by their families :-/

      • June 8, 2009 8:12 pm

        Oh I see, very interesting. I remember Kenny from South Park being the only guy in an all-girls home science class. Strangely I did not have any social subjects in school and I can’t recall anything other than ‘Community Living’ (until std 7), a funny course that taught us not to stretch your legs in front of elders, among other things. The only other discrimination I remember was making guys pick stones on the sports grounds, while girls got to sweep.

        There was a debate in Toronto recently over the inclusion of subjects like ‘personal financial management’ in schools since North Americans are generally in perennial debt. So I don’t know to what extent the education system must intervene in grooming the child – is the school a substitute for parents? Maybe.., parent(s) these days have little involvement anyway.

  5. June 8, 2009 5:09 pm

    That’s pathetic. In this day and age! As Shefaly says, I’m surprised parents haven’t protested – but probably, the shortage of ‘good school’ seats is such that most parents will put up with anything. Btw, I still have a life-long hatred of ‘needlework’ ever since I was forced to do it as a 7-yr old in school. The boys got to take ‘Craft’, which perhaps because we girls weren’t allowed to, always seemed fascinating.

    apu, as you said this school is to die for in any other sense. Parents are usually terrified to make a fuss. Overall I find that schools which are in demand tend to bully parents and children. Principals act like king and queens. And I too was forced to take needlework but today my husband can sew a button on better than me! – Nita

    • June 8, 2009 6:28 pm


      SUPW was the only ‘course’ where I was happy to scrape along. In spite of that, I have fairly good needlepoint skills for buttons, hems and embroidery. I can also do tatting and some bit of crocheting that has nothing to do with the rubbish they were teaching in SUPW. We learn skills because we need them and schools can actually stand in the way, in my opinion. :-/

      • June 8, 2009 8:16 pm

        I do lot of embroidery work too, and now I’m picking up knitting so that I can entertain myself when I am old. LOL that’s the last thing you want to see an old man doing!

      • June 9, 2009 5:42 pm

        So true. I don’t deny that basic needlework is a useful skill to have. Just one I am reluctant to acquire 🙂

  6. June 8, 2009 5:12 pm

    That is so unfair! Why aren’t the girls allowed the option of taking Commercial apps? This is such blatant discrimination!

    I think it is extremely important for both girls and boys to be as independent as possible. And cooking is just another way to achieve that. In this case, clearly, it is a case of the school believing that ‘cooking; is girls work and if they are not ‘good enough’ for studies – they ‘should learn to cook’?

    And you are right, if educationalists think like this, what hope do we have for the rest of India? And to think that this is a supposedly elite school.. Absolutely shocking!!

    Smitha, I think this must be happening in many schools across the country and I too find it shocking that it is based on marks. – Nita.

  7. cutting_chai permalink
    June 8, 2009 5:13 pm

    Hi Nita,
    I’m surprised…. I thought schools would be encouraging girls to go for carpentry etc and boys for home science!!

    I long for that day! – Nita.

  8. June 8, 2009 5:16 pm

    @ Nita : Indians boys never turn in to men ever 🙂

    They do not have to be independent so they do not need to cook or know of anything to live by themselves.

    And there are schools which help in this retardation! 🙂 – Nita

    • June 8, 2009 8:18 pm

      A guy doing household work is a shameful thing, 😛 We keep maids and wives for that.

      You said it! 🙂 – Nita.

  9. June 8, 2009 5:47 pm

    Males dominate when “Cooking” is seen as a profession.You can notice this, when you go to a small restaurant to big star hotels. Even “Catering” field is dominated by males.
    A school forcing girl students to take up Home Science, if they don’t score good marks is not reasonable.

    OldSailor, glad you think so. And so many men love cooking and make it a profession, I don’t know know why schools are so stupid that they cannot see this around them! – Nita.

  10. June 8, 2009 5:49 pm

    There is still a long way to go for the society to reach gender equality. I wish parents of these girls make some noise for equal rights with the school authorities.

    Its shocking really.

    aniruddha, parents usually keep mum as they have grown up with similar biases themselves. And then today good schools are in great demand, I have seen people begging and crying in front of the principal to admit their kids. Parents haunt these schools, visit umpteen times, just in the hope of getting admission for their kid. – Nita.

  11. June 8, 2009 6:02 pm

    That is so unfair.
    It is true that many men do like to do household chores. It is just not this generation men who do. My father makes phulkas everyday, infact he makes them better than my mom! He also cooks sometimes and cuts vegetables etc and keeps things ready for my mom when she wants to cook!

    shilpadesh, glad to know that you have grown up in an environment where your dad helps your mom! I think in the cities and amongst educated people there is not laxman ram rekha around the kitchen anymore! – Nita.

    • June 9, 2009 6:21 pm

      I like that you called it ram rekha!
      But I have seen that even among some educated, city bred people this unwillingness to work at home!

    • Vinod permalink
      June 10, 2009 11:42 am

      Nita, in my house, believe it or not, it is my mom who enforces the gender stereotypes by preventing my dad from helping her in the kitchen. Apparently it is taboo for the guy to clean the dishes!! My mom has religiously followed that taboo giving the rather lame excuse that my dad does not do the cleaning well.

      • June 10, 2009 12:43 pm


        I hope Nita won’t mind my leaving this link here:

        You don’t have to read the whole post but read the section titled “Women are from Venus, Men are from, er, Uranus?”. I believe women, grown women, play an active role in keeping men away from housework. For many reasons. And then the same women complain about how little men do. It is unfair of course but few will call women out on this ruse. :-/

        Shefaly, I don’t mind at all. I remember reading that post. I think one of the reasons that women may want to keep men away from their “turf” is because they at times feel that he could walk away with all the credit for the nice clean home and lovely cooking! 🙂 – Nita

  12. Bombay wadapav eater permalink
    June 8, 2009 6:21 pm

    I went to a Parsi school. It was a girls school with boys allowed only upto the fourth standard. In the fourth standard we all had needlework. I remember many boys hated needlework but they had no choice than doing it since marks were counted! But as Priyank comments, the parents train the kids up. I remember my best friend who was a Gujju. She and her sister helped the mother making chapatis but their bro was free to dance about all evening which is unfair. esp. when the sister serve hot rotis to the brother and father and the mum and daughters eating later (tho’ this happened once in a while) is also unfair. In any case, the girls did much better in their career: one graduate and the other postgrad whereas the brother failed 7 std twice due to all the “lad and pyaar” and is a dropout. At home, when my father retired and our cook got married, he took over the cooking and his bharelele vaigan was yummy and his chapatis! And now similarly my brother can make better chapatis than me. Mine turn out to be maps and some hard whereas his are proper round and soft.

    In Germany, most women are bad at cooking. Men are good cooks and most men do a lot more than women in the household.

    Bombay wadapav eater, thanks for sharing that. Glad to hear that boys too had to do needlework, it’s rare and the fact that the school was parsee must have had something to do with it! And I have seen households where girls and women are supposed to wait on men and eat afterwards. I find that pretty mean. If this doesn’t happen in rich families its because servants are employed. If the servant takes a holiday, the wife does her bit because the husband needs hot steaming phulkas. The husband won’t do the same for her so it is not reciprocal. – Nita.

  13. June 8, 2009 8:26 pm

    I am not at all surprised. I am, however, sad that the parents have not yet protested and brought about a change. If this is how narrow-minded ‘elite’ parents are, how can you blame the rest of society?

    Sadly, these days, the only way to bring about change in India is through the media sensationalizing the issue, bringing us SMS polls, live television debates, and all that.

    Mahendra, I am sure as you said some parents too have similar attitudes but I am sure not everyone. The rest are terrified of protesting as they are more interested in getting their kid into the “best” school. About the media, yeah!! Someone should take up this cause. But I doubt the media will because the may not get the kind of support from the society. – Nita

    • Vivek Khadpekar permalink
      June 8, 2009 9:07 pm


      //Sadly, these days, the only way to bring about change in India is through the media sensationalizing the issue, bringing us SMS polls, live television debates, and all that//

      …and after all that, does it really lead to any meaningful outcomes? It is just a tamasha, with the same dozen or so ‘experts’ taking turns on various panels, and an audience captured largely from about two-and-a-half postal delivery zones of South Delhi who, if at all they open their mouths, seem to be high on put-on accents and low on ideas or content. They get the satisfaction of being seen across the country, while those who sms or e-mail their comments enjoy their five seconds of fame with their names sliding across the bottom of the screen.

      • June 9, 2009 12:31 pm

        I agree it is mostly a tamasha. Except in very few cases.

        And like Nita pointed out, not all parents would support such a ’cause’, so this will be a pointless exercise anyway. Sigh.

  14. June 8, 2009 8:57 pm

    That is really interesting.
    Normally I think in many countires (I know for sure about Russia and Austria) there is Home Science for girls and something technical for boys.
    BUT then Computers is compulsery for everyone, not depending on a score.

    Axinia, I am surprised to know that these things happen in Austria too! It’s shocking that even in the “liberal” west boys are not allowed to take Home Science and that girls are not allowed to take something technical! – Nita.

    • Vivek Khadpekar permalink
      June 9, 2009 4:47 am


      I don’t know if it is still holds true, but in some Indian schools, until a few years ago, to be eligible for Computers at the higher secondary (11th-12th grade) level you had to be good in either maths or typing!!!

      And since long before computers became so ubiquitous, Typing has been available as a subject for students taking the secondary (10th grade) exam. And the number of students offering it is mind-boggling, the reason being that it is considered as a ‘scoring’ subject, i.e. easy to get high marks in without having to work too hard.

      This seems strange to someone like me, who learnt typing at age 12 or 13 during a two-month summer break, spending an hour a day, six days a week, at a typing class just round the corner from home. But I went to school long before the times in which one needs an aggregate score of something like 96.89% at the higher secondary level to get into a decent college in the science stream, and if you get, say, 96.84% you are doomed to either accept a somewhat lower-class college or enroll for either Commerce or Arts (i.e. Humanities/Social Sciences). The pecking order, believe it or not, is Commerce and Arts! And where I live — in a city of more than 5 million — there are less than half a dozen schools which even offer Humanities or Social Sciences at the Higher Secondary level.

  15. June 8, 2009 9:00 pm

    beyond the question if boys cook or not , what really bothers me is the way kids choose careers , a lot of counseling is needed and schools should come up with ways to tell kids what are the options which kids have once they are done with it..

    I think the IB system provides good counseling, but only a few Indian systems do. – Nita.

    • June 14, 2009 11:41 pm

      I think Vishesh has come to the crux of the issue here, Nita. Both parents and students (may be even teachers) are hopeless when it comes to helping the students to make their carreer choices.

      I don’t think other schools (at least here down south) make such distinction between boys and girls when it comes to such courses. Every one had home science when we were young, and both the boys and girls were hopeless at that subject! 🙂 And when it comes to higher education, a stupid trend exists especially among parents and teachers who tend to pass it down to the students that commerce is for the weak students and science is for the bright students! I don’t see this kind of nonsense happening in developed countries.

      Destination Infinity

      DI, its good to hear that schools in the south are not making these distinctions based on gender. And I too get very upset when only the so-called “bright” children are selected for certain callings. Its the aptitude which counts, not marks!! – Nita

  16. locutus83 permalink
    June 8, 2009 11:12 pm

    Now this is grossly unfair. Schools are supposed to be centres of learning and training for life; creating independent, confident, rational free-thinkers, without any discrimination, stereotyping or bias. It’s sad to see such elite institutions re-inforcing gender stereotypes which the educated Indian society should be trying hard to discard.

    Not only the fact that girls are not being offered Commercial Applications is extremely galling, but as Shefaly pointed out, ‘home sciences’ is not a joke or a barbie doll play class; even for single boys and men acquiring basic household skills like cooking, sewing buttons, washing, ironing can be extremely beneficial in the long run.
    And trust me (from personal experience), these tasks are not easy; they require quite a bit of self discipline, planning, analysis, judgement, hand skills, basic scientific knowledge, multi-tasking skills and many other skills.

    I can boast that I can cook quite well, especially cheesy pasta, exotic salads and Bengali style chicken curry, and some other basic dishes. I can bake decent tasty cakes, and the credit for my culinary training goes to my mom, the High Priestess of the Kitchen, to whom I have been an apprentice since the age of ten!

    It gives me great pleasure to experiment and rustle up new stuff on weekends when I am free.

    I believe that girls and women can be quite adept at fixing electrical problems, repairing the car or managing taxes and finances if they put their mind to it. Similarly, men can also decorate rooms, select curtains and tablecloths, cook and clean dishes if they put their mind to it. In fact, for a modern day working couple, sharing such skills and doing chores together only makes things easy and efficient for both, and enjoyable too.

    It’s high time that children are treated as human beings, as independent individuals and are trained with some universal life skills, and are encouraged to excel in the fields where they are naturally talented in.

    locutus83. thanks. It felt wonderful reading your comment! – Nita.

    • June 8, 2009 11:53 pm

      Now this is grossly unfair. Schools are supposed to be centres of learning and training for life [..]

      locutus83, so many skills that I find useful and necessary in life, I didn’t learn in school, and neither were those lessons taught in school. Mark Twain said it best when it comes to schooling and education. 🙂

  17. June 8, 2009 11:56 pm

    >what gives a school the right to assume that males do not need to learn Home Science?

    I agree. The problem here in Italy though being that nobody, women or men, study home science any more, so many cooking traditions are getting lost. Micro-wave is THE word now, which equals to zero cooking, for both men and women. Wonder if globalisation will sooner or later bring all countries to a micro-wave barbarianism.

    Man of Roma, I too have heard that in many western countries cooking is now not common. I think people must be assuming that outside food is as good and healthy as home food. Maybe in some countries it is, but not in India. – Nita.

    • Vivek Khadpekar permalink
      June 9, 2009 5:33 am

      Man of Roma,

      Globalisation will sooner, rather than later, bring about a homogeneous world in which not only cooking traditions but anything deviating from a standardised global culture, prescribed and dictated by a cartel of supranational corporate sharks, will be forbidden. Acts such as brewing your own cup of tea, or repairing a torn shirt instead of discarding it and buying a new one, or singing a lullaby to put your baby to sleep, will all be governed by Intellectual Property Rights regimes which, if at all they allow you to do such things, will require you to pay royalties for the privilege granted.

      This is why Home Science — a subversive subject in a globalised, prescriptive, capitalist paradise — must be stifled and phased out. That objective will be easier to accomplish if the subject is initially restricted to ‘not so bright’ girls, perceived as being less likely to protest against or subvert the grand design of a globalised society. Computers, while massaging the ego of those ‘allowed’ to learn to use them, are easier to centrally monitor, regimentalise and control.

      Orwell had seen all this coming, but he was grossly misinterpreted for the first 36 years from the publication of his prophetic work.

  18. June 9, 2009 1:42 am

    Ha! The principal must be a sexist! The best part is that such people don’t even realize that they have done something wrong. They think that this is the way things have always been.
    Btw, I have started cooking and I love it. 🙂

    It’s never too late to start eh. I think one of the reasons why so many Indian men who live abroad learn to cook is because there are no maids, and because it’s not something one needs to hide! And ofcourse money needs to be saved. – Nita.

    • June 9, 2009 2:22 pm


      As they say: aavashyaktaa avishkaar ki janani hai. It will be interesting to note your mom’s reaction when you get back.

  19. June 9, 2009 2:30 am

    I think it is a wrong way of teaching things. It should be like this, Come on sing with me:

    Cook … Cook … Cook … (Just like Choli ke peeche)
    Girls cook well, Boys don’t cook well!
    If Girls are unwell, Boys can Cook as well!
    If Girls Cook unwell, then Boys should Cook as Hell,
    If Boys too Cook unwell, then Pizza hut better cook to sell!
    Cook … Cook … Cook …!

    May be they can make it a rhyme in school with Baa Baa Black sheep!

    🙂 I was thinking of a more aggressive tune though! 🙂 More like the way we used to sing, “Schools Out!” – Nita.

  20. Dev permalink
    June 9, 2009 8:56 am

    Very apt post Nita. Many of us, both men and women, need to cook on our own nowadays, irrespective of whether we are single or even living with a partner. I find it amusing when many grown up and supposedly educated people give me this argument that just for eating home cooked food one should get married. I tell them that if eating home cooked food is the main reason to get married, one should then rather hire the services of maid/cook than to get married!
    I learnt cooking after coming to west and even though I dont have much patience required for cooking food (I eat out a lot), I still love the freedom which comes from being self reliant in cooking my own food if and when I feel like.

    Dev, These same friends will probably confide another reason to get married – regular sex! 🙂 – Nita.

  21. June 9, 2009 12:06 pm

    It doesn’t alarm me if the school assumes that boys don’t need a lesson in home science, but it does when they assume that girls don’t need a lesson in computers or commerical applications!

    If one looks at it this way, it’s even more alarming! – Nita

    • June 12, 2009 12:50 pm

      I couldn’t understand why it’s even more alarming !!!

      • June 12, 2009 1:59 pm

        Tara Prasad, I meant it’s more alarming if the school is doing this because they are assuming that girls don’t need career options like computers and commercial applications. My take on the school’s stand was that they put girls for home science to housetrain them because of some medieval ideas on life and education, not specifically to prevent them from learning computers.

  22. June 9, 2009 5:21 pm

    Nita,the school you have referred to is actually behind times.Generally ,the outlook is changing.More and more couples are into love marriage and most of them are vworking.I know of cases where,husband and wife return from work and both take the responsibility of the kid,cooking and dishes.

  23. June 9, 2009 7:09 pm

    i choose not to think much on equality of men n women. its never ending and frustrating at least in our cultured country.

    but one should be concern about their own family and make sure that girls in the family will always treated equally.

  24. Dnyanesh permalink
    June 10, 2009 2:29 pm

    I think it is wrong to teach what you said in the subject. But at the same time parents, schools must also teach responsibilities of man and woman. I have seen many women not taking necessary precautions (eating, exercising) while they are pregnant. They do it because they feel job is more important than the baby. I have also seen men who feel that they have to no role to play during this time. Man must know what his better half is going through and it is not just his better half but the angel she is helping to arrive in this world.
    I think it is responsibility of parents, schools to make boys, girls responsible human beings and citizens. They also teach them to treat other gender with equal respect.

  25. Bombay wadapav eater permalink
    June 10, 2009 6:58 pm

    Thanks Nita.

    Obviously in Asia cooking, cleaning, stitching are classified as female tasks. If a boy would take interest in these, I think he would be looked down upon or thought to be girlish and not manly. But this was also true in the west. My husband’s aunt also panicked if my husband wereto lend me a hand by getting crockery out after undergoing three hours of strenuous cooking on my own. Oh in her times, men would not do such things and her father and husband couldn’t even boil water, she’ll say very proudly, altho’ she can hardly cook either since she was a very career-minded woman and food came from the freezer into the oven. Today she is sick all the time but still she boasts that nourishing the brain with Goethe and Schiller is more important than what we eat and she does not understand why I “waste” so much time over cooking. But then many German women today are the same including my sis-in-law…cooking is a pain.
    One thing I have noticed is some best fashion designers, chefs, make-up artists and hairdressers even in India, not just abroad are men. Does it imply that men can take the best jobs in every field?

    I don’t know when people will understand the importance of home cooking!! What’s the use of Goethe if one cannot see and walk properly, gets some disease or cuts short one’s life? Unfortunately people do not see the connection between good health and home cooking. – Nita

  26. June 10, 2009 7:29 pm

    Wow, that is alarming. Unless there is outcry from the public, I don’t see it changing. Do you?

  27. ahumanbean permalink
    June 12, 2009 3:11 pm

    Haven’t read all the comments…but just burst out laughing when I read your post. Brings up the classic IndianMale/Brought up to be an Incapable Household help stereotype 🙂

    1. Was watching the wonderful old Merchant-Ivory film The Householder when I read your post – rather relevant, standard overprotective overbearing Indian Mommy to beloved son and all that

    2. My friend ( a foreign national) was very surprised that her male employee’s * Mommy* called her and told her that her son will not take care of her dog for a few days…something that would not be wholly inappropriate in some countries, open to debate but still…

    I hate Mommies who call me and tell me How To Behave With Their Sons/Children. It happened with a Indian Catholic friend and her mother who called me to rant at me for something extremely absurd…my friend was 31 years old at the time!

    ahumanbean, I know of a few cases too! Best to never marry these types! – Nita

  28. ahumanbean permalink
    June 13, 2009 8:24 am

    more lol!

    From today’s Epitome of British “Culture”: an insight into teaching teenagers how to boil an egg –

  29. vasudev permalink
    June 14, 2009 9:57 pm

    well…my son does the dishes (as of now). I too do the dishes (as of now). my wife doesn’t approve of the invasions into her domain. my daughter cooks, was a responsible child even at 12 yrs(her mom sick she got-up at 5am religiously for one week, prepared bread-toast for my son(8yrs), packed his lunch and sent him off to school(i was too lazy to get-up that early).
    girsl ‘naturally’ mature early. boys grow into manhood and never mature. my attempt is to change all that. my son also sweeps and wipes and helps his mom. the children have a rota. one day ‘you’, one day ‘me’. well…i am the speciality ‘cook’.

    vasudev, boys may mature a few years later but can’t agree that they don’t mature. If they don’t then the fault lies elsewhere. However if your son helps his mom he is probably on the right path! 🙂 – Nita

  30. June 15, 2009 11:17 am

    kya kahein!! 😦

  31. June 16, 2009 9:21 pm

    Dear Nita,

    Is it Okay to teach like this to Girls.

    1) Is it okay only a Boy has to work and girl will sit at home..?

    2) Is it Okay to teach a girl that girl has to marry a boy who is educated and with a big Job..?

    3) Is it okay to teach a Girl that even you are working you shouldn’t marry a husband who will cook for you..without working?

    Common … Be a Girl.

  32. June 21, 2009 4:27 pm

    taking the topic back to when kids are small, many sons are not involved in kitchen while their moms cook. I think they should be involved and given small tasks like peeling vegetables etc. and the slowly on to cooking. That prepares them for future bachelor life and also married life.
    I know so many bachelor friends who due to non existent cooking skills are forced to eat canteen food daily or else Maggi. Then I see the mothers saying poor son is having such a difficult time staying alone..lets get him a wife. I ask wife or cook eh?

    Reema, just the other day I had a conversation with a neighbor. She has a son and me a daughter. She said at least you have a daughter! I have a son and I have to worry about his health, what he eats and so on! It was so ridiculous that I just changed the subject. – Nita

  33. June 22, 2009 12:10 pm

    The only assumptions in your blog that I don’t agree with are:

    1. Pune is a progressive city (duh! really?)
    2. Elite means more liberal/cherishing equality.

    Apart from that, I share the outrage. I’ve had numerous fights (verbal of course, that’s all I’m capable of) over ‘men and house-keeping’ issues. Personally, since I enjoy cooking immensely, it’s a pleasure to cook, and do it almost on a daily basis, including elaborate dishes when we’re entertaining guests. But more than that, I believe it’s high time Indian males picked up house-keeping duties (and they are too, although still a long way to go).

    Indians parents lament on lack of support from their daughter’s husband, and yet, hate when their son seems to take (to keen in their view) interest in their wife’s career, helping out equally in housework. It’s all too muddled up, really.

    Of course, we should expect more from schools, of all places. But then, they are nothing more than commercial institutes, any more.

    That leaves us, to make any changes. Awareness is the first step. Too many people live sleepwalking, and won’t see a problem till someone shows it (some won’t see it even then, but that’s something one’s got to live with). And you’ve done a good job of doing that.

    The second thing one can do it to keep on fighting these stereotypes in immediate spheres — family, friends and so on. Over the years, I’ve realized that speaking up at key times has more long term effect than I was ready to believe. People take time to change, but some of them do change, gradually.

    Phew! This is surely one of my longest comments. I’d better stop. Thanks for a thought-provoking post.


    asuph, thanks. well, when I used the term progressive to pune I was I guess comparing it to certain cities so it all relative. And to me the word elite is a bad word so we probably agree on this one. Maybe I should have used the word “elite” in inverted commas to explain myself better. And you are right about the commerical institute bit. Its a real pity. – Nita

  34. priyadarshanisharma permalink
    June 25, 2009 2:47 pm

    I don’t know how much the environment outside can impact our children when at home most of us are brought up with the conditioning that girls play with doll-houses and tea-sets while the boys go to office like their dads.

    I know the scene is changing in most indian families but we are really talking about mostly urban families and households here.

    Thankfully I am married to a guy who, despite his small town background, is quite proud to flaunt his newly acquired, though limited, cooking skills. I have a son who is one year old and I know that he will never have to survive on packaged/outside food. 🙂

  35. July 10, 2009 6:21 pm

    the irony is there are more number of professional chefs who are men. now how does that happen ?

  36. July 10, 2009 7:56 pm

    gender inequality right from beginning?? we are responsbile for this discrimination right from the stage when the child is in womb. blue for boys, pink for girls, dolls for girls, cars for boys etc etc
    I wonder why there is no protest agianst such discrimination. we have men as excellent cooks and women excelling in computer field. so how can an eductational institute force children to take certain subjects just because of some stereotype notions. few days back i wrote a post on “All Men get prepared” asking the parents to prepare their sons for domestic life and their role as husbands ( we only teach the girls)

  37. ananya permalink
    March 28, 2014 11:27 pm

    And this is the brave new 21st century !! … It would be helpful if this ICSE school’s name is revealed


  1. How to stop faking it and start living in the real India | neoIndian - Confessions of a newly returned Indian

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