(Did I just write that title out? Yes, I did. If you’d like to start your #notallmen rebuttal, please open a new tab and google why notallmen doesn’t make sense.)
Back to topic.
What’s the point of cleaning the neighbourhood if your own backyard is filthy? What’s the point of helping strangers if you haven’t lifted a finger for your own parents? Why do men think helping outside, helping strangers and starting social initiatives in their community absolves them of their responsibility at home?
The image of young men between the ages of 15 to 30 gathering in a group, canvassing, doing heavy lifting work, distributing groceries, dislodging blocked pipes and then ending off their feel-good volunteering with chai in the evening is very commonly seen in India. With men completely occupying the public space, the idea of women even venturing out to do anything for their community is impossible.
Now, you’d think migrating to Singapore where both genders occupy the public space means you’d see this image less often but no. Men don’t do grocery runs for their families but are willing to attend meetings for public initiatives. Men don’t baby sit their younger siblings but are eager to organise drama competitions for school students. Men don’t teach their parents how to access smartphone services but will hand out posters advertising their free digital workshop for seniors.
Make me understand men. Make me understand why your parents, your siblings, your neighbours and your relatives take a backseat when it comes to strangers and social initiatives. Because these darlings can’t put grocery runs on their resume. Because babysitting is a lonely job when you can be having fun doing anything with your friends.
“You crazy woman telling me off for helping poor people! I’m doing good,” they reply defensively.
My mother who treated her daughter and son differently has karma biting her back. She imposed stricter time curfews for me saying, ” why did girls have to take part in so many after-school projects and who’s going to help me at home.” For my brother, she let him lead community work projects, including additional work in the mosque(even the mosque was limited to me, oh my Allah). Now, my mother can’t get her son to help her for he’s away helping others.
This social work veneer makes it difficult to find fault with men shaking off their time at home. I’m doing good for others is a difficult lie to poke a hole in but it is a lie. You are feeding your ego more than you feed stomachs. You feel power more than you feel others’ suffering.
It’s commendable to aid others but it has to start from your family, your neighbours, your friends, your poor relatives and then you venture out to strangers. The beautiful mask of doing service in the name of religion is also despicable. Every God tells you to take care of those around you first and will not reward you for turning away from your parents. Small actions, immediate actions, small but repetitive acts of good and help that is given without anyone knowing(வலது கை கொடுப்பது இடது கைக்கு தெரியகூடாது) are rewarded as much or more than the social work you do by gathering your friends.
Also, so many social organisations just need manpower so they can function without you. You are a small fry so pay attention to those who need you most, to the obvious faces you ignore for unknown faces.