Ehtesham Hassan writes about the concept of hospitality in a patriarchal world
Pakistan and especially Khyberpakhtunkhwa (KPK) province is known for its hospitality worldwide. Most of the guests and strangers that arrive are men and therefore they interact with men only. So men take the entire credit of hospitality but the entire burden of hospitality befalls on the women. Let’s deeply examine the entire concept of hospitality in a deeply patriarchal and conservative society.
To understand hospitality in such a society, it is necessary to take a brief look at the family structure. As it is evident that in patriarchal society male is head of the family, but in our specific case of Pakistan and KPK the women rarely go outside. They are not allowed to interact with any males except their very close relatives.Most of the women are housewives, which is a really tough job. They have to take care of their kids, do the cooking in the kitchen, wash clothes of everyone, be nice to their men doesn’t matter if they’re nice or not.If a guest arrives it is the responsibility of the women to take care of all of their needs.
Women guests are more hard to entertain for housewives than the men. Since most of the women guests only get to interact with the women of house therefore the housewives have to do all of their chores at the same time and entertain the guests as well. If a man returns home and the house is not cleaned because the wife was busy entertaining guests, still the wife will has to bear the anger and wrath of her man. Nobody cares about the personal life or feelings of the women. All of us want them to do everything perfectly, without considering her physical and mental health. Even the concept of good wife or sister lies on her subservience to the men. She must work like a 16th century slave working on plantation somewhere in US.
When strangers or male guests arrive, usually they stay for few nights. And the men insist them to stay more and it consider it their pride if a guest spends more nights.But in reality the more time the male guest stays the more burden for the women of the house. Mere job the men do is sit with guests, enjoy the meals and do some gossip.All the labour is done by the women again. From providing clean beds, making perfect tasty meals to pressing and washing their clothes every burden of hospitality falls on the female shoulders. As already discussed, during the stay of the guests women are supposed to fulfill their usual duties too. Failure in any of these duties will invite male wrath.
Women cannot get sick when they have guests.And if, unfortunately, they get sick still they have to pretend like they are fine and continue the usual labour. Since most families live combine so It is also responsibility of all good women to serve the parents of their husbands. If they’re sick they have to be good nurses, good mothers and good wives simultaneously. Though it is ethically good to take care of and be nice to them but only when it is the choice of women or they’re forced to do that.It is a burden. It is not their responsibility to serve parents or relatives or friends of their husbands.It is need of the hour to get rid of this deeply entrenched stigma.
So the entire concept of hospitality is completely based on women exploitation. Men only get to enjoy the guests while the women has to entertain guests and take care of the domestic chores at the same time.
So next time when any man brags about hospitality, tell them it is not to their credit.All the credit goes to women. It is high time to rethink the concept of hospitality based on women exploitation. It is forced labour and it needs to be stopped. Domestic labor needs to be shared and it should not be considered as a gender role.