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My mom is always trying to get me to do household chores like washing dishes, brooming, cooking, cleaning, etc. I hate that she is the designated person for doing chores in our household. I strongly believe that chores should be equally split among everyone in a household. That said, it’s unfair how my mom only targets me when she wants chores done. One time I confronted her about it and she admitted that due to our culture (we’re Pakistani), she specifically asks me to do house work because I’m a girl.

Meanwhile, my brother who is 18 rarely gets asked to do anything, and my mom is constantly covering for him and making excuses. Yes, my brother does have a job, but it is a part time job and he doesn’t even work everyday. Regardless, it’s his responsibility to do his fair share of chores, and it’s not my fault that he has a job; I shouldn’t have to pay the price for his decisions.

I understand that ultimately I should listen to my parents and do what they say (I’m only 16 after all), but when their initiatives are based on discriminatory ideas like sexism, I just don’t want to take part in any of it.

I’ve suggested creating a system of chores where we switch chores weekly, but no one takes it seriously.

I don’t know what to do now to convey the idea and explain to my mom that she should stop targeting me. How can I do this?

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    Quick question: your brother works - does he keep the money for himself and contribute it to the family? Also don't worry about this being long, it's pretty concise for this site. – Erik Aug 4 at 7:14
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    And even if he does keep the money for himself, does he then start to buy things (like his own clothes) so that they are no longer provided by the family money? Can you describe more what the balance of "things you do" vs "things your brother does"? I'm wondering if it's possible to start defeating the parental arguments by putting yourself to the same standing as your brother, eg you getting a job too, so that you can say "I work, he works, I clean, he should clean" - is it an option for you? Does your mom see her job as keeping house while dad works/earns? Does mom work a job too? – Caius Jard Aug 9 at 5:15
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I write as a male raised in a type of servitude to my older brother and with some experience with girls and women raised in a similar environment like yours.

Use yourself as an counter example. What if your brother would start dating a girl like you? One that would expect him to clean THEIR place from time to time. One that would like to have something cooked for her?

The changes might be slower in very traditional parts of the world but it's there. Ask your brother if he wants to be with someone whom he loves, likes to spend time with and be with, or is he ok with settling with whoever so long as they cook and clean up after him. Because that means he's ok with marrying Roomba and Uber Eats.

I would talk with your mother, and with your brother, that there are more and more girls like you. And it's your mother's responsibility to prepare your sibling to live in such world. And it's your brother's responsibility to be able to take care of himself. Wash the dishes, do the shopping, cook a meal, etc.

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  • I edited your answer but I'm not sure I got your meaning. Feel free to undo if I got it wrong. Also, I think your answer would be clearer if the last paragraph were moved up just below the first, making it the second paragraph. I like your suggestion very much. – Sarah Bowman Aug 4 at 22:07
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Unfortunately, we cannot make others do or not do anything. I'll share my experience, in case that helps. I come from a similar culture where labour is strictly divided along gender lines. My brothers were quite a bit younger than me so the distinction was not quite so evident but there still were situations that were very unfair. For example, the boys could earn money for themselves and as a girl I couldn't. I complained to Mom about it.

Her justification, "They're boys!"

As though that would answer everything.

It answered nothing for me. I knew they were boys but so what? I was a girl and I wanted a bit of spending money, too. All of us were children of the same parents. It was not fair!

There was nothing I could do about it. They were boys and that was that. We all grew up and lived our lives. My one brother seems to be doing okay but the other was in serious debt all his life and finally went bankrupt. Maybe his wife has finally learned that she can't have everything money can buy. I managed to "work the system" and I'm happy with the little I've got.

I don't know if any of this is any help or consolation for you. The best I know to advise is to obey your mother and stick it out. The work won't hurt you. The skills you learn will stand you in good stead throughout life. When you get older, make your own life according to your own values. If this includes a life partner, make sure that person shares your values.

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  • This is a good start. One thing I'd respectfully add: you are the next generation of parents. So, when it comes time to engage in relationships and parenting, remember this situation and what you'll do about it when you have kids. I think you touched on this idea; I'd even suggest stating it more strongly. – baldPrussian Aug 4 at 15:03
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    This assumes she becomes a parent. I did not want to assume that much for a sixteen-year-old who expresses no interest in males outside the family. – Sarah Bowman Aug 4 at 21:53
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Unfortunately what you've already attempted may already be your best bet. There may be a few possibilities in how to better express your hope for change and a chore split but I'm not the best person to comment on that.

However, I notice you focused exclusively on household chores here (which may just be a cultural miss on my end). What about outdoor chores? Speaking from my own experience (older brother, US Midwest) my family had very similar chore breakdowns per gender roles. I never had to do dishes, learn to cook, and I swept very irregularly. However, my younger sister also never had to do my chores: mowing the lawn, chopping wood, clearing underbrush and house repair.

Working off on an assumption your brother has been assigned different chores, why not offer to trade? This shows a willingness to still put in work towards chores, just maybe not the same ones all the time. It reframes the issue from (Oh, I just don't want to work all the time) to (Hey, I'd rather break up the monotony from time to time) and has a much more positive spin of win-win on it.

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