Some few months back, President Mohammed Buhari made a phenomenal statement that his wife, Aisha Buhari, belongs to the other room. This statement attracted different waves of reactions from different quarters. Many evaluated the statement as denigrating and disdainful for the status of a woman educated to equal her totality with sex and domestic chores. But, is this patriarchal reception not long coming? With different institutions being established for equality of the sexes in economy, politics and culture. More, the kitchen myth is not peculiar to a culture or country. Kitchen and domestic chores almost pop up at the mention of women.
Sudha Murthy’s book Three Thousand Stitches addresses this gender perception which is still rife till date. In her autobiographical book, Murthy writes:
My mind went back to 1968. I was a seventeen-year-old girl with an abundance of courage, confidence and the dream to become an engineer. I came from an educated, though middle-class, conservative Brahmin family. My father was a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology in Karnataka Medical College at Hubli, while my mother was a schoolteacher before she got married. I finished my pre-university exams with excellent marks and told my family that I wanted to pursue engineering. I had always been fascinated with science, even more so with its application. Engineering was one of those branches of science that would allow me to utilize my creativity, especially in design. But it was as if I had dropped a bomb inside our house. The immediate reaction was of shock. Engineering was clearly an all-male domain and hence considered a taboo for girls in those days. I filled out the application form for BVB College of Engineering and Technology, submitted it and soon received the news that I had been selected to the college on the basis of my marks.
When the exam results were announced, everyone else knew my marks before I did. Almost every semester, my classmates and seniors would make a singular effort to find out my marks and display them on the notice board for everyone to see. I had absolutely no privacy. In time, I became unfazed that my marks were displayed on the notice board. On the contrary, I was proud that I was beating all the boys at their own game as I kept bagging the first rank in the university.