There is a saying that says something along the lines of: in what ever surroundings you are, you will with time adapt and change to suit thT particular environment. I did not agree, but an incident took place earlier today that really captured my attention and I realized it was indeed true.
I have always been with the idea of equality amongst the genders, after living for almost three years in Kurdistan, it became normal for me to think washing the dishes, changing the baby’s nappies, cooking and cleaning was what women had to do because of who they are.
Now back abroad, it was a family gathering with some close friends of some of my relatives. After dinner was served, everyone stood up- women and men; boys and girls! each helped in getting the plates, cuttelery and left over food to to the kitchen. That was not what got my attention, I have seen on many occassions Kurdish men assisting with getting the food to and fro the kitchen.
As I pffffing looking at the mountain of dirty dishes covering the double sink, knowing they were waiting for me I began to lift up my sleaves in order to begin what was going to be a tough duty cleaning those dishes, from no where one of the elderly men volunteered to wash the dishes.
That second something inside me said this was not right. I felt almost embarrased to be girl sitting down whilst one of the older men, not his wife, was in the kitchen washing the dishes. I know when I was in Australia this was very normal, and I would never have felt the way I did today. But because it has been almost three years, and the culture in which I have adapted to in Kurdistan it becomes normal to accept the fact that these duties are stereotyped for women.
Going back into the kitchen for a glass of water, I saw even the sink sparking clean the dishes stacked better than I could have ever done, even the large pots washed (I usually prefer to fill it with warm water with a tonne of detergent- supposedly to soak – after an hour or so someone would have scrubbed it and washed it clean!!). I was shocked to see a second male dry cleaning the already washed dishes with a cloth and helping his wife put them away in the cupboards.
This small incident of today is really nothing in a western country, that is why I was surprised and upset to see myself in a situation that I would have never been in. I do wish simple things as such change in our Kurdish culture, where women are elevated out and above their stereotypical duties in the house.
I respected the elder man who volunteered to wash the dishes instead of his wife or daughter, whereas I am almost sure if this was in our region he would be called names by his male friends. I am also sure if this man spent his life in Kurdistan, he would not stand to do the dishes and see it as part of his duty, simply because society and over all environment does not help.
It will take time for Kurdish men (not all, of course) to realize it will not lessen their reputation or decrease from their ‘maleness’ if they helped their wives here and there from time to time… nevertheless, at the same time that feeling of a hero and the spirit of a Kurdish Peshmerga in our fathers and brothers some how gives them this extra respect that I also adore. Like anything in life, a little bit of this and a little bit of that is always better than good!
let me know what you think…!!