What woman hasn’t been told explicitly or implicitly at some point in her life that her place should be in the home dusting furniture and taking care of the kids? This sure gets old quickly. But the first case of Hello Counselor Episode 293, which aired on October 10th, 2016, and features guests Wheein and Moonbyul from Mamamoo, and Chorong and Namjoo from Apink, involves a 13-year-old girl who is wasting away her childhood because she has to stay at home taking care of her younger twin sisters. Her parents decided to have more kids and only afterwards did they realize that they couldn’t actually handle raising more kids, so Soo Bin had to step up as the oldest daughter of the family.
She takes care of the twins every day after school, doing everything from changing diapers to playing with them, and even wakes up in the middle of the night to feed them. She’s more of a mother to them than their actual mom. This, unsurprisingly, is coming at the expense of her personal life- her schoolwork, which she can’t start until after her sisters are asleep, her hobbies, her friends. Which is really sad because, let’s not forget, she’s only 13. But maybe her family is struggling financially and they need all hands on deck to stay afloat. Except her father comes home from work and lies around taking five-hour-long naps and demanding massages while his daughter is getting worked to death. Why doesn’t he help out around the house? Because he apparently needs his beauty sleep, more so than his daughter who’s just about to hit puberty if she hasn’t already and actually needs sleep to grow and develop properly. He’s not just lazy, he has these ideas that “men should only focus on pursuing economic activities” and “men only enjoy spending time with kids up to 10 minutes.” Say what? Where is he getting this information from? I’d like to know, because his made-up rules are screwing over his family. He seems to think that even if he could help out around the house (which he fully can), he shouldn’t because something about masculinity, blah blahblah. Along the same lines, he also doesn’t show any affection toward or interest in his children - he can’t even remember their birthdays.
These notions about how men shouldn’t do housework or shouldn’t show affection are outdated yet so hard to get rid of since they persist at a systematic level. And it’s people like Soo Bin who have to struggle and deal with the consequences just because her dad can’t get over himself. The hosts make an honest-to-goodness attempt at trying to show him how unhappy his daughter is, but he doesn’t seem to be able to fully empathize with her. It’s certainly due to his lack of compassion and interest but also partially due to the larger issue of gender norms. They get ingrained in people’s heads starting at an extremely early age, and their influence grows over time.
Moral of the story? If women weren’t expected to take responsibility of housework and childcare, Soo Bin might not have lost this much of her childhood.