Concise Compositions: The Dual Burden / Triple Shift

I have an aunt who does not work. I mean, she does not ‘partake in paid employment’. Some people rudely remark that she does nothing all day. But this is far from the truth. Do you know how physically toiling it is, to maintain an entire four-floor house? She also has four children; she is the nucleus of their household, and she is their – and her husband’s – rock.

It’s weird – our expectations of women, today. We claim that making paid employment the absolute core of our lives is ‘liberating’. I mean, it is true that humans need things like projects and creative pursuits and things that challenge us in terms of our skills, so as to not get bored, and to feel happier and more useful.

But these expectations on women – to maintain the household, and to work crazy hours, and to be a holistic mother for their children. It is outrageous – so much pressure! Of course, wealthier individuals can afford to hire cleaners and nannies and such, to help spread the labour. Automated ‘helping hands’ like washing machines and vacuum cleaners, upon being invented, have been said to be able to help with this much.

But in truth, I think, we are thinking too ‘modern’ and individualistically. Traditionally, when we consider what Islam says, the point of ‘work’ – whether this is more domestic, or more with regards to the marketplace and the ‘outside world’, so to speak – it should all ultimately benefit the family at large. The household. Serving one another.

It should be (according to Islam) a man’s duty to protect and to provide for his family. It should be a woman’s duty to be in charge of the household and what it accommodates. Women are allowed to work, but she does not have to. She does not have to spend her own money on the running of the home; in fact, what she does spend on the other people in her family – on food, their clothing, and such – is considered as being charity on her part!

Sadly, nowadays, many women overwork themselves. The dual burden, triple shift. It is physically and emotionally exhausting. Sometimes they come home and just sleep, unable to emotionally care for their children very much. Exhaustion, but we think well of it, because in this society, the value of most things is thought of in a capitalistic way.

We need to relax. We need to let women relax; nurture good homes. And, ‘work for the sake of work’? – no thank you.

  • The Concise Compositions series comprises a series of blog articles that are each based on a certain topic. You give yourself five minutes – timed – to write about whatever comes to mind, based on the topic. You cannot go over the time; you cannot stop typing beforehand, either. And you cannot go back to edit [save for grammatical errors, etc.]. I challenge all fellow bloggers to give this a try [or, if you do not have a blog, try it on paper – maybe in a journal]! Include ‘ConciseCompositions’ as a tag for your pieces, and include this block of writing at the end of them. Good luck! 

Sadia Ahmed J., 2020 

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