Being a housewife in the 21st century puts you in a controversial position. Many people believe women who are housewives are nurturing their families, making homes and building up society. Others are convinced housewives are old fashioned and outdated, responsible for thwarting the efforts of women who work outside the home and insulting the memory of those who worked so hard to obtain equal rights for women.
What does it really mean – being a housewife in the 21st century? Frankly, it’s almost easier to approach it from the angle of what we are not.
Housewives in the 21st century are not ‘typical’
There are no ‘typical’ housewives or stay at home moms anymore. We are all different, with different lifestyles and circumstances. Some of us have never worked outside the home, many of us have. Most of us are well educated – some of us are even biochemists and neuroscientists. Many of us have children, a number of us don’t. Some of us love what we do, others are doing it as a labour of love while they put their own dreams on hold.
We are not bored – or boring
Most of us are so busy that we get up earlier and go to bed later to try to fit more hours in the day. We are well read, well informed, politically active, contributing members of our communities. Honestly, I haven’t been bored since 1991! Anyone who believes a housewife’s life is boring should come and spend the day with one. Seriously – I dare them to!
We are not anti-feminist
Most housewives are feminists. The feminists who deride us – and I’d love to name some very public names here but I’ll take the high road – seem to have forgotten that the whole premise of feminism was a woman’s right to choose her own path. The majority of housewives believe in that right no matter whether a woman wants to work outside the home, be a housewife or become prime minister.
We are not looking down on women who work outside the home
Being a housewife in the 21st century doesn’t mean that we think every woman should be one. Not every woman wants to be a housewife nor should they be. We know that there is no proof that children raised by stay at home moms are any happier or well adjusted than those raised by women who work outside the home – or vice versa. We don’t think we are looking after our homes or our families better than anyone else. We respect every woman’s right to choose her career, be it outside the home or within it.
We aren’t housewives ‘because we can afford to be’
The decision to become a housewife or stay at home mom can have far reaching financial complications in the 21st century. Having only one income can mean having to tighten your belt and make sacrifices. It can mean spending years on a tight budget and struggling to make ends meet. While my husband and I now enjoy a very comfortable lifestyle, this was definitely the case for us when we first started out.
We are not kept women
Many of us contribute to the family finances either through savings we have built up in earlier years or via working part time at home. We bring value to our homes by the tasks that we perform. Ever priced up hiring a nanny, personal assistant, housekeeper and accountant? Enough said.
We are not ‘ladies of leisure’ or ‘ladies who lunch’
If you see a housewife out to lunch with a friend, it’s likely been scheduled for weeks and we are sandwiching it in between other commitments. It’s not a regular occurrence and we’ve probably been looking forward to it for ages. The ladies of leisure shown on certain ‘reality’ television programs? They are our bête noir and about as far from ‘real housewives’ as you can get.
In a nutshell, being a housewife in the 21st century is a profession in and of itself. Running a home, raising a family and managing family life full time can involve making financial sacrifices, putting your own dreams on hold or foregoing them entirely. Being a housewife in the 21st century is a vocation and a labour of love. It’s a choice that deserves more than just a little respect.
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