Meals have a way of bringing families together. As food is laid out, everyone gathers around the table, conversation flows and families bond.
But traditionally, eating together has not been encouraged in India. Men and children are fed first and only then women sit down to eat. The so-called norms made by our ancestors always amazed me much. No-one knows when or where or how the practice started, but like every other symbol of patriarchy, it is deeply entrenched in people’s psyche.
We often say “Ladies first”!
Then why women get to eat at last? Well, my point here is not who is first or last, the only point is “why not together”?
This staggered eating sometimes caused minor friction at home – if men delayed mealtimes, eventually all women of the families wait for hours. They go on telling them to wait. It didn’t matter how hungry they were, they just had to wait. In homes like ours, it has no serious impact- even at my home we always eat together; we called it our family time, where we all sit together and share our day. Moreover, me and Maa eat in the same plate. But if you see poor rural homes, that often leaves women hungry.
Well some people will now say there is nothing harm in that as she is a homemaker, she ensures everyone fed first, but what about her? of course, no particular harm but this tradition of prioritising men’s needs; means sometimes when women sit down to eat, there isn’t enough left for them. This is an irony that Indian women mostly spent there time in the kitchen perfecting their cooking skills and she gets to eat at last. At times she compromises with leftover things.
I feel women should also start taking it seriously. Eating late brings many health consequences as well so it’s time to ask about the change of rules which are causing side-effects.
A woman is human.
She is not better, wiser, stronger, more intelligent, more creative, or more responsible than a man.
Likewise, she is never less.
Equality is a given.