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Choosing to stay at home or go to work is a personal choice. Why do we need to judge and look down on women who choose to be housewives?
When I was a young girl, I was often asked a question that many children are asked: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The spontaneous thought that would come up in my mind was, “I want to stay at home.” But I never actually voiced it because the expected answer always seemed to be Engineer, Doctor, Lawyer, IAS, Teacher or some such “valuable” profession. No, actually that is not true. Once I did say it out loud and was promptly laughed at – that taught me.
So I too would give out an expected answer but always pondered, why was it wrong to be a housewife? My mom is a working woman, and she is still working. I grew up with the help of nannies and neighbours and an empty silent house, cold food and waiting for amma to come home was a daily reality for me. Sure, it taught me many things such as how to keep myself occupied and to be happy in my own company. In fact, after I grew up, I’ve lived for months together by myself and never really felt lonely – because I was used to solitude from a young age. And no, I don’t think my parents neglected me in any way – I know they love me and they did their best to give me the best.
But, perhaps because I saw how stressed and perpetually busy my mom was, juggling her responsibilities in a full-time job and home, I felt that maybe being a housewife was a better option. Also, I had seen how my friends were greeted by their mothers when they went back home and were served fresh and hot food, and I felt that maybe I was missing out on something. At times it was difficult for me to accept that my mom had to go to office as I felt that she chose her job over me and I’ve sulked and thrown tantrums demanding her to stay back with me, no doubt making her life quite difficult. Now, of course, I’ve realised that my mother did what she had to do and she did not exist solely for the purpose of ladling out hot sambar onto my plate.
“Just” a housewife?
I work too – earlier in corporate offices and now from my home – and I enjoy my work. Some days, work is the only reason why I even get out of bed in the morning. However, there was a short period of time when I happened to be a housewife or homemaker or whatever you wish to call it. After being an independent woman, the stigma that is associated with being “just” a housewife hit me hard. I cringed when I had to fill in forms asking what my “occupation” was and hated to hear people say, “Oh so you’re simply sitting at home?” I could not even resort to the tag of “stay-at-home-mom” because I am not a mother.
Eventually, my unanswered childhood question resurfaced – What is wrong in being a housewife? I feel that nowadays housewives face so much flak and are the butt of so many jokes that we as a collective whole have succeeded in making women feel guilty about their choices. I started seeing how wrong it is to judge women for a choice that they’ve made, each for their own reasons. Perhaps, someone wanted to spend more time with their kids, perhaps someone didn’t like their job or perhaps they simply liked being a housewife. Who really has the right to look down on somebody else’s choices and assign a value to them?
…nowadays housewives face so much flak and are the butt of so many jokes that we as a collective whole have succeeded in making women feel guilty about their choices.
Some may call it a lack of ambition. But ambition is not necessarily a virtue that needs to be solely linked to a career. Aspiring to become a better mother, a better cook or a better friend is also being ambitious. The competition really needs to be with you, not with anyone else. Are you a better person today than you were yesterday? That is ambition to me.
A woman is so much more than her educational qualifications or a job – then why do we need to define her by those limiting factors? Just because a woman doesn’t “use” her degree, does it mean that she is wasting her education? For one thing, having an “education” has no connection to having a “degree”. Plus, after your first couple of jobs, no one really cares about your degree – people want to know what you’ve learnt now, not what you did 10 years back in college, which in this fast-paced and ever changing world would have probably become obsolete. And often in life, we find ourselves doing something completely different than what we learnt in college – like me. But beyond that, the time spent in pursuing your degree, teaches you loads of things – about life, about people, about yourself – that you will continue to use throughout your life and those learnings cannot be contained within a square sheet of laminated paper. A few years after college, no one remembers what was taught in the classrooms. People remember what was learnt outside the classrooms. So in my opinion, an education can never really go to waste.
Does being a housewife mean that you aren’t using any of the skills that you’ve picked up? Of course not! Today, when you hear the term “transferable skills” thrown around when job-hunting, why can’t we apply the same logic to being a housewife? Any housewife would tell you that running a household involves efficient management, organization, delegation, prioritization, planning and so much more! Also, I don’t think that if you become a housewife, you’ll become dull and boring. For one thing, a housewife need not necessarily stay locked up at home the entire day – she can still go out, meet friends, volunteer, join classes etc. Plus in this day of instant updates and 24*7 connectivity, it really isn’t too difficult to stay aware of what is happening around us.
The issue of dependency
I’ve had many of my friends ask me, “But don’t you feel uncomfortable asking your husband for money? I could never do that! I would never be a dependent!” making me feel as though I had no shred of self-respect in me. But then again, “Why should I feel uncomfortable!?” I run the house, I cook food, I do the laundry, I even clean the toilets – surely, I contribute equally to the household? Perhaps not in the form of cash, but just because my contributions cannot be quantified in terms of money, does not mean that I don’t deserve money! It is not “my” home or “his” home, it is our home, it is our life, our children, our family, and similarly it is our money. If he has eaten the food I cooked and slept on the bed I made, then surely I have every right to the money. I don’t mean to imply that a marriage is like a barter system, where I get paid for my services. All I’m saying is that my contributions count too.
I have invested my time, effort and energy in the relationship, surely I shouldn’t have any qualms about taking what I deserve?
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for financial independence. If you are a working woman, I would think that in a healthy and balanced relationship, while you do, can and should keep a portion of your money for yourself (and his for himself), you would share the rest and both of you contribute towards a shared fund of resources. So now, just because I am a housewife and my contributions are not in the form of money, does it mean that we don’t have a shared fund of resources at all? Afterall I have invested my time, effort and energy in the relationship, surely I shouldn’t have any qualms about taking what I deserve?
Again, I think it all boils down to the fact that we look down on housewives and assume that their contributions are not worthy and thereby attach no value to it. I don’t view myself as a “dependent”. Yes I might be dependent on my husband for money (and of course a lot of other things too but I am steering clear of the emotional aspect here and only discussing the practicalities), but then he is dependent on me for a tasty dinner, for a clean home, for fresh clothes and so much more. Then, how can it be called a “dependent” relationship? Is it not a mutually rewarding one? The moment we change this attitude, no one’s ego or pride will be hurt because they bought a dress or an ice-cream with their “husband’s” money.
A question of choice
Ultimately, each person chooses to do what works best for them. Just because that choice doesn’t work for us, doesn’t make that choice an invalid one for someone else. And if we have no regrets and are happy with our choices, then why should we allow anybody else to tell us what should or should not make us happy? People are often unhappy because they try to fit their lives into someone else’s definition of happiness. I think it is time that each one of us define our own happiness and try to live a life in accordance with our definition. If meeting a deadline at work makes me happy, that is fine. If baking a scrumptious cake makes me happy, that is fine too. No one has the right to tell me that baking a cake is worthless and that it should not make me happy or satisfied.
P.S: I think this applies to men as well in households where the woman goes to work and the man stays at home. If anything, I imagine it would be even tougher for men.
*Photo credit: Shutterstock
Anne John plays with words for a living and would probably do the same even
Bravo! Very well-said!
You have analysed the whole issue very well – it is a combination of issues that goes into this situation – you have taken each thread and looked at it very carefully and come up with a whole that is well put together. Ultimately it is whether you are comfortable with yourself – whether you can shed all those biases and values that have been indoctrinated. Yes, housekeeping or home-making is an art – I know I dont have it and I envy those who do have it. And I wish that they were not apologetic about it at all! I would pay to have someone keep house for me – not just be the domestic worker, but actually manage my house. Of course, the love and personal care cant be bought, but even without that, it would be a blessing!
“…I wish that they were not apologetic about it at all!” – Exactly! I’ve seen sooo many people introduce themselves as “I’m only a housewife.” Drop the “only” – there is no reason to feel inferior for being a housewife.
@ Anne John : Sure its not fair to degrade “house wives”. But in my opinion it should be a conscious choice made earlier in life. I certainly would not agree with a woman qualified to be a doctor for example, and throwing away her career and sitting at home to raise kids just because she can afford it with her husband’s money. The “degree” that you talk of, the “education” and “exposure” that a college gave you not only came from the fees you paid, but also from the taxes people paid,which in turn came as government funds for those institutions. And such infrastructure is funded for in the hope that such qualified professionals would contribute back to the society. Its not just your “choice”. Every tax payer can question you. So if you ask me, if you want to be a housewife, there is absolutely nothing wrong about it,but don’t go about choosing a stream of education which you are definitely going to waste,more so because it gives you a “status” to get married to a high salaried working abroad guy!! Choose your specialisations and hone your skill sets wisely. Learn cooking, be an online tutor, plan trees, have a farm..there are a hundred things to do out there! But if you’re going to argue an MBBS degree still helps you with all the above and its your “choice”, it is ridiculous! And you are only making it more difficult for other women who want to climb the career ladder because the trust on their seriousness about their careers reduces!
By that logic, if I go to a private medical college its ok to “waste” my education, since the taxpayer hasn’t paid for it? Also, what about engineers who go to the IITs on taxpayer money and then join an IIM to go sell soap and detergent or make money for foreign banks? How do you propose to penalise them? How are they helping the Indian tax payer? Isn’t selling soap a waste of their engineering education? Or does that apply only to being a housewife?
@ Aparna/Anne John : Of course selling soaps is a waste of engineering education! Those IIM grads doing that need not have been engineers. In my opinion they are also bad enough to be penalised. Again there is a group which gets its education here and moves abroad for work. I did not bring all that up here since it was not relevant to the context.And as for your “private college” question,no educational institution is allowed to function without a government certification, and that is ideally(underline it) given keeping in mind the need for those professionals.
My simple point is, if you want employers to take you seriously, you must be serious about a career. You not doing so will affect other women. Secondly, if you expect to be treated as equal as men in a sphere, you should be ready to shoulder the responsibility that comes with it. This is one example which comes to my mind. If women want equal property rights, but when it comes to family expenses like wedding/medical expenses of the parental side family they want only their male siblings to handle it, it is simply unfair.
Today if there are better facilities available for women at work, it is because of women who slogged in male dominated workplaces generations before us and changed the perspectives. Only a small percentage of women like us have been fortunate enough to have a choice and say and access to education.I am only saying one must use them wisely. I am not against housewives.If a woman is that inclined to be a housewife,why is she getting into a specialisation she will not work for? For societal status?To call herself some “XYZ” graduate so that she can marry a guy abroad? That education could have been put to better use by someone else. If you still say she is getting educated because she can and is sitting at home as a housewife because she can afford it, you are simply using the patriarchial system to your own advantage. Ask such women who do that how many of them will agree if their husbands want to take that “choice”!
Loved your perspective about House Wife…Infact we should teach the generations to call them as Home makers.
I’m glad you liked it Sruthi 🙂
Awesome post! Not just women out of home, we barely respect women in our own households who have been “working as a housewife”, relegating them to a “dependent” and “probably-doesn’t-have-enough-brains” status, not appreciating the fact that this is a “career-choice” too, that comes with its own share of projects, deadlines and challenges.
Totally agree with you Arunima. So true!
Anne – Well written and articulated. It should be a personal choice, and as long as a women has a choice, makes the choice & takes responsibility for it – That is good. The world is full of people who judge you – whether you stay at home or work.. So I think best is to take it in your stride, ignore what’s irrelevant and live at peace with your own choices. Nischala
Yes, it is indeed truly liberating when we decide not to care too much about what others might say or think about our decisions and choices.
Very well-expressed but in a largely prejudiced society like ours,constantly keeping your skills updated whatever they are- cooking,crafts,writing whatever and making some money of our own makes you just a little bit more confident to face the several difficult life-situations.
But ultimately I believe the RIGHT TO MAKE A CHOICE is the most imprtant right a woman should get to exercise.
Well said Pooja!
I have personally not felt it to be wrong or below me to stay at home but there have been many people around who have tried to make it sound like being a housewife is like the pits! I think people who are unhappy with choices they made in their life seem to derive some kind of happiness by running down other and questioning their way of life. One of these days when someone asks me “don’t you get bored staying at home all day?”, I am going to answer by a reverse question and ask them “Don’t you feel guilty missing out on 12 hours of your child’s life every single day?” I know, sounds mean, but if someone tries to deliberately demean the choices I made for myself, I am going to return the favor!
Sounds like a good idea to me Gauri 🙂
Complex reactions for me. Never been a housewife, and never wanted to be one, so can’t comment on that. Certainly I agree with you that there is no need to look down upon someone who is making use of her skills in a sphere inside the home. However, I don’t feel it is that simple either. If being a housewife (or homemaker) is a good option, how is it that we don’t see men lining up for this role? So while we everyone agrees that being a homemaker is a good thing, what is left unsaid is that it is a good thing *for women* only. There is no doubt in my mind that the gendered division of work (men earn outside, women do unpaid work inside) is partly responsible for the poor status of work. And this not just w.r.t being a homemaker. Even when women work on their families’ fields, the worth of that labour is not counted – the “farmer” is usually perceived as a man only.
So while I would certainly not diss any individual woman’s choice to be a homemaker I feel it is time we started making the role pay. When the government proposed this, there was a big hullabaloo, but I do think we need to put some monetary value to things if they are to be counted. And your bit about “why should I feel bad asking my husband for money when I am providing an equal service” sounds good, but when it comes to reality, women are left stranded because the truth is that in this world, if the money is not in your name, you don’t have a claim on it.
On a lighter note – my sister (in the US) was reading this post, and my 9 year old niece happened to come across it. My sis asked the girl if she knew what a housewife was, and she said, “Oh yes, they do the cleaning and the cooking. They lived at the time of the Pioneers.” 🙂
Good one Anne. I know a lot of people who cringe at the thought of “staying at home”. It’s a personal choice after all. I totally disagree with @Aarthi J here – yes, a much coveted MBBS seat was lost but doesn’t a girl/guy have the right to make an independent choice on what they want to do? Also, @Aparna- Housekeeping, organizing and “parental instincts” comes naturally to women than men.
Nicely written, Anne. And in my latest post, I write about the yearning of a homemaker. Unlike what society says, every woman is a homemaker because whether she works outside the home or not, she always works and “makes” the home. Here is my post on similar thoughts: http://www.rachnaparmar.com/2013/06/i-yearn.html
Thanks for your comment Rachna. Appreciate it!
Those who work from home are patronizingly told “it is good you keep yourself busy”. As Gauri said, people who are insecure derive pleasure by putting others down.
This insecurity stems from the guilt a working woman is made to feel by “society”.
Today’s “society” gives far too much importance to money. So if you don’t have or don’t fully utilize your earning potential, your position is questionable. Over time, these comments and perceptions cease to matter if you are at peace with your decision.
Your point about judging someone based on how much money they make is so true Arundhati. Not only housewives, even people who make career switches (like me) are on the receiving end of such judgements.
Very nice post, Anne!!
As you said-Women need to do what makes them happy!
Even if a woman works, she needs to manage the home, washing, cooking etc..i dont think husbands’ expectations reduce if the wife is working..
I was actually on the other end of the spectrum-was a “stay-at-home mom” for 2 years and didnt like it at all..i was so fed up with neighbours and family members glorifying staying at home that i grabbed the first opportunity i got to work!!
Today, i am happy balancing my home and work!:)
Happy for you Sri!
Nice analysis Anne. I always have great respect for house wives and i feel, running a home is difficult than working in an office doing your job.
Thanks for sharing your opinion with us Mahathi 🙂
I am a home maker by choice too after the birth of my son. I think the role of a housewife is extremely important but having said that I do not judge working mothers specially those who have to choice to stay home.
I am extremely happy being a housewife and stay at home mom, I blog, I take up freelance work, I read, I educate my baby about the world by talking to him all the time, and well I do have a full time job.
Love the article though
Thanks for stopping by Aloka!
Lovely write up for sure! Faced this issue when I quit my full time job 4 yrs back, just to give more time to my son. But I’m happier now, being a freelance writer more than a super busy 2/7 working software professional that I was. Much more time to spend with my son and enjoy all the pleasures that life has to offer! There is nothing to be ashamed if you are a housewife, (I prefer “homemaker” instead) In fact, the modern Indian housewife is an epitome of excellence when it comes to patience, multitasking and handling finances, so much so that it takes a load off the shoulders of their better halves. Loved every bit of this post!
Thanks! And I loved your comment 🙂
very well said! A housewife need not feel inferior to anyone, but i do believe that every woman needs to work outside of the home atleast once to make the right choice. Going from college to housewife?, i am not for it. just my opinion!
Yes I agree with you. It gives every girl an opportunity to broaden their horizons, to grow up and to look at life differently.
Enjoyed reading it because it true in my case too. Worked for 10 years and then gave up to bring up two kids. In the meantime did many things including editing the biography of an Armenian doctor, etc. Call myself a homemaker , househol manager,etc .Enjoy cooking for friends and family, but don’t want to open a restaurant . I cook for love; similarly I write when I feel like.. Friends and family are welcome anytime to my house because I am home. I have nothing but respect for working moms because its hard , I know. Anyway its a personal choice. My family is happy and that is what is important to me.
Hi Anne . I liked your post .But what if a husband leaves a wife after some years . How can she get a financial support . Should she depend on her parents for financal support . Ofcourse, she can find ajob for herself . But don’t you think it is difficult to get a job after so many years after completing education in these days where it is very difficult to get job . Instead , why can’t a wife do a job and husband share equal responsibility of raising children
Hi Pravalika, Thanks for your comment. I am not trying to say that being a housewife is the only “right” choice and that every woman should become one. It obviously varies from person to person, situation to situation. All I am saying is, if there is someone who has chosen to become a housewife, there is no need to judge their decision or look down upon them and make them feel inferior. If you ask me personally: Obviously if I had felt that my husband was an irritating specimen, I would have held on to my job. I quit because I felt safe enough to do so, Having said that, I also know that circumstances and people can change. Therefore, what I did for financial security when I was a housewife – I already had some savings in my name from the money that I had earned when I was working. Plus, apart from getting money for household purposes from my husband, I always took some money just for myself – and kept it just for myself. As I have explained it my article, I don’t think there is anything wrong with that – I have indeed worked for that money and I believe that I deserve it.
With the increasing number of divorces nowadays, do you think staying at home and keeping the house will work on a rainy day? I see a friend of mine who decided to give up on her career after marriage to be at home. Now at the threshold of divorce, she has to start anew! After a five year break not having done anything, has made it really difficult for her to start over again!
Choices are all for themselves, being a good home maker is and definitely should be an ambition. But Let’s not slap that stereotype on every woman, alive on the face of planet earth!
Hi Rinzu, I don’t think I “slapped” any stereotype on anyone! This is most definitely not a call to all women on earth compelling them to all become housewives. The gist of my write-up is this: If I want to be an housewife I will be one – please don’t judge me simply because you think that working women are superior. As you can probably see from the numerous comments above, too many housewives have had to face such uncalled-for judgements in their life. I have simply conveyed that angst.
Awesome! I loved reading it. I think the same way for women and I am glad that my mother is a homemaker. Being a homemaker is a very tough job and requires different skills which I don’t think everyone has. 100 % agree with Anne’s comment’ If I want to be an housewife I will be one – please don’t judge me simply because you think that working women are superior.’
Will share this with my wife!
Thanks Praneet! Hope your wife enjoys it too 🙂
you should be sympathetic to the working wives… they go out and work and again they work in their home (u do get maids but maids cannot replace the wife) Infact now a days are just enjoying the kitty parties and flaunting money
you should be sympathetic to the working wives… they go out and work and again they work in their home (u do get maids but maids cannot replace the wife) Infact now a days house wives are just enjoying the kitty parties and flaunting money
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hi..felt very happy reading this..I”ve gone thru the same situation as yours in my childhood..Now I am a happy housewife and mother
Well the article is pretty interesting..juxtaposing homemakers vs non homemakers (if we see being homemaker as a career choice, those who opt otherwise should be called non homemaker). But there are a few questions i would like to voice
1. What about women who do not have the freedom to make a choice, whether to be working at home or outside it. Perhaps a woman wants to be a homemaker but cannot because of her circumstances and vice-versa
3. I have often heard men glorify homemakers because their mom was one. A lot of men categorically say that they prefer a ‘non working’ wife or a wife who can balance both but give more preference to her family. I would like to ask such men would they do the same if the roles reversed
4. A tricky question is monetizing housework. While we can monetize activities we can never monetize care and love. We can hire nannies, cooks and cleaners but we can never hire mothers and wives.
when we talk about motherly instinct and other attributes associated with women we must remember that there are twin forces at play:biological and social conditioning. Before generalizing we must remember what simone de beauvoir said : one is not born a woman but becomes one
I know your intentions are good and you voice out the opinion of a disgruntled bunch. I am also a stay at home wife, not by choice but because I am on dependent visa in US. Every time I say “I am a house wife”, I see people nodding me off as unimportant.
My opinion is a little different from you. I have seen a lot of wives, who just can’t handle both work and family. A lot of times they are just not competent enough, even if they may be skilled. They can’t handle the stress of managing everything – home, family, work. That’s okay, that’s a choice, I get that. But the working woman does take that choice, despite knowing that she will likely be made to feel guilty at both work and home, simply because she is human and can’t be 24X7 at both places. But she still takes the choice to be independent, have her own life outside of work, contribute financially and generally give her kids a “business world” (for lack of a better word, I used that) perspective too rather than just being “mommy”. Lot of kids when they grow up, start to think of mommy as just that – someone who manages the house and not someone to take real world advice from.
I dunno.. I really feel despite currently being a housewife that a working woman simply does everything that a house wife does and has a job. Maybe the kids get lesser face time, but if we compare with only work – they cook, clean, raise kids, make home earlier, help with homework, are usually still the ‘primary’ parent, share a lot of errands – generally all housework work, but with a work life. A full time job that means work stress, performance pressure, handling the boss, working day in and day out endlessly, getting up early and getting out of the house, handling the husband, balancing with home, everything… Full time working husbands hardly put the same amount of effort in the home department. I feel a full time working mom trumps a full time working dad.
Everything put together, I do actually feel that working mothers definitely deserve more respect. This is my honest opinion. I really think that working mothers are respected more because they really do a lot more and deserve it…. This is not an absolute percentage of course, exceptions are always there. When one group(working) gets more respect, the other group (non working) automatically gets a sort of lower respect or status or sometimes derision. That’s natural progression and works against full time home makers. This is is unfair, can’t deny that. But it’s sort of inevitable.
(P.S. I am not comparing illiterate women with strong, skilled women. I am talking about two women who can both at least manage to get a job. Basically not comparing a working woman with some one who is not skilled enough to get a job. )
It looks like everyone here is Indian. I am not I’m American though I have Indian friends and love the food.
In response to your comment I think there are few women who have a career and family and home who do both well. So few as to be almost non existent. Something always suffers: home cooked meals, or the cleanliness or organization. Or time with husband and children or appearance and health. Or having children. Many I know, to cut down on the stress and work load don’t have children or have one. At most 2. I know women who gained a lot of weight because of the stress of it all. To use the term competent to describe someone who appears to juggle so much well and those who don’t incompetent reveals a really off base, skewed perspective in my view. It conveys a belief that unless someone is maxed out and juggling what in reality is too much and to the point of unhealthy in so many ways, they are not competent. From my experience everyone is happier and healthier when there is a dedicated person that is free to focus solely on all the many home and personal jobs that need done : office work/bills/estate planning, errands, shopping, cleaning, organizing, decluttering, yard work, cooking, chauferring, nursing sick people etc etc. I feel for those who can’t be at home. The truth is that 60 percent of women on the 2015 Gallup poll wish they could be at home and are willing to admit its I bet there are more that won’t because of the stigma. I bet at least another 15 to 20 percent increase would occur if not for that. You can thank women, feminists for the crappy attitude and stigma. And progressives of liberals that don’t value family or faith.
I’m sorry if my opinion angers anyone but I’m tired of political correctness which also seems to have infected most in the US. I will say what I think is true pc be damned.
I too have found myself in similar situations,that is why I am writing this comment.I agree with you and being a mother to a 11 year old boy,I must add one thing . We ,as educated & smart moms can nourish our child and shape them into ace human beings in all the fields , if we are giving our 100% to them.But once the task is done,we can move back and concentrate in our career ,while supporting them only when they really need it.So my point is ,it is really effective to be a stay at home mom during their formative years (first 10 years) .But a career or social work is necessary for a woman to keep herself busy and to quench her thirst to make a mark in the world.
Your statement implies that a woman is not making a mark in the world by creating a happy, well adjusted intact home and family in and of itself.
I posit that this is the greatest way a wife and mother can positively impact the world. Not that there is anything wrong with other ways in proper timing and balance but the way you said it makes it sound like other ways are needed in order to make a positive impact. It’s not true. Even charitable or social work can be, and I would argue is best done, from the home. Being hospitable and providing for people who need physical, emotional or financial help and care is a great fit with home making. My home has been a haven for many people.
Very well written .
I wonder how many women would be open minded enough to accept alliance of a house-husband!
First of all , Anne, u’ve just spoken my heart out…. M going through very similar reaction from others and somehow pushes me to think over my decision to be a housewife !
Everything u have penned down here answers
My question/ doubts , but just that ppl think ” what’s the big deal in keeping the house clean, we can hire a full time help , job will still be done ” !!
I agree with Aarthi. If we want to be treated as equal with men, then we need to look at both sides of the coin. If a husband and wife, as a couple, choose that the man is to take care of the money earning part entirely and the woman is not, it is absolutely fine. But that should be a conscious choice and in that case also, the woman should not give up her need to contribute monetarily where she has to (Eg she should also have insurance, contribute to her parent’s household etc as she might have in case she was working and wanted to do this). Similarly the other side of the question, in such a case if consciously the man has chosen only to earn money and not partake in household duties, it should be ok for him to expect that food is put on the table, clothes are made ready etc entirely by the wife? Is that fair? if its not fair, then neither is the fact that the man is the sole earner.
I would not even go so far to say a housewife is wasting her education system etc. I think our education system has far too many flaws to even go into that aspect.
What are the jobs a housewife does? Cooking, cleaning, washing etc which are very important ones in anyone’s life. Is it really right for a woman to say she will take those up solely as she is passionate about them and therefore her husband can completely absolve himself of that as part of division of labour? That seems wrong to me…I think everyone should be bothered to some extent about about making sure that nutritious food is available or that hygenic conditions are maintained under the roof they live in.By the same logic, everyone should be concerned about where the finances come from and yes, cant give it away consciously as part of division of labor.
Also in that case, if housekeeping is a calling/passion such as say interior decorating etc (as it probably is seeing the roaring success of magazines like Good Housekeeping etc) then lets not be squeamish about it as a job. For instance if I am a housewife passionate about my work, why should I limit myself to my own house – if I am interested in earning money or making my passion big? Why cant I, say, consult on housekeeping or provide housekeeping services to others who may not have the time to do it? It seems only logical. But would most housewifes do it? I think we still see it as a maid/domestic servant kind of job which is where the difference lies in saying and doing.
I am only raising my questions and opinions here and am open to be corrected/change my opinions if I see an answer that seems right!
Bottom line is, I think financial contribution is an important one not to be overlooked at any cost. Thats the reason we are talking about this here since being a housewife often entails giving up of that part since what you save as part of housekeeping is more like a stopped outflow of money/expense in a couple’s life and not something that brings money in. With regard to parenting, I believe men and women have an equal role, period. Nature had to design one person bearing more of a burden than the other for the initial few months but that is it. So beyond that a woman choosing to be a full time mom etc (or a father choosing to be a full time dad etc), had better do it because they really wanted to do it and not because they believe thats what is best for the child etc. If a child needs its mother full time, then he/she equally needs the father and we cannot talk about one parent filling in the shoes of the other etc.
Parenting if not a part time job and people who work are also being full time parents (no less than parents who have chosen to be at home). End of the day, as a person you play different roles – as a son/daughter, sister/brother, spouse and as a parent in addition to other roles you may don as part of your passion/career/to earn money. I dont think you can say you absolve yourself of one in order to play the other.
Wow.thanks for the self motivating post
yes I agree that a person has right to choose, but looking at society around us, I seriously think being a housewife puts women at disadvantage. My observations are based on very close friends and relatives that I saw facing this……
1. In case relationship goes sour. Looking at the increasing divorce rate its more a reality than fantasy. 2 close friends one with a baby and without had to face this within 3 years of marriage
2. Getting suddenly in workforce after 10 years of being housewife is not so easy: After uncle passed away aunt really tried but go a job at 1/3 salary as employer wanted experience
3. What if there is a medical condition: Husband passed away due to cancer at 36 with 2 kids and the women had never worked. Financial issues really took a toll
4. Have seen couples where they got married based on discussion that both will work and just after 6 months of marriage women decided that she does not to. The poor guy cannot force her as he will be called greedy.
I am a feminist coming from a community where girls get married at 22 and stay at home. I have seen so many ladies around me facing issues as husband does not give enough money, hands it to his side of family but not his own, beats women because they have no where to go etc. I am a big proponent of a women working even if its part-time for just little amount of money as independence cannot be substituted with anything.
That’s why you need to marry a committed Christian man. I mean one who really truly follows Jesus’s teachings. Not one who says they are Christian and has a bunch of religious rules that have to do with appearances, what color clothes or kind of clothes to wear, how many times a week to go to meetings, etc. But one who follows what Jesus says about loving others sacrificially and being kind, patient and gentle to even those who are behaving badly. Jesus said to husbands to love their wives as their own selves and to die for them if necessary. And for Christians not to divorce. This is the husband that have. Outside of being able to count on and trust your husband (now because of feminists there are no fault divorces. A person can divorce any time for any reason or no reason. In the U S it didn’t used to be that way. A judge would say no if there was not a good reason like adultery or violence. Heavy payments to the wife for support would be required also. So feminists in the US caused a lot of the problem. They made it easy to escape instead of working things out and getting through the inevitable hard times in marriage.) There are things to take care of death or disability like life and disability insurance and all families with a mom or a dad at home should have these is at all possible.
But beyond that my provider is God and if I follow him and what he wants he will take care of me.
Very apt and well written post. I can relate to most of the things mentioned in the post. Growing up my mom had to work full time because I lost my father at an early age. We grew up mostly in the company of maids and lot of solitude. I wished if my mom would spend more time with me but she had no choice but to work full time to raise us and she worked equally hard at home to take care of us. If she was not working, we could not afford to have the quality education and lifestyle which we had. So I also wanted to be a working woman when I grew up and I chose to take professional education. Unlike what some people think, I did not study hard to get myself a good husband. In fact when you choose your field of study, you don’t even know who you are going to get married to in the next 10 years whether he will allow you to work or not , whether you will get settled in India or abroad, you don’t know at that time. You study to become an independent person to face the world.
I was quite happy to get a good job after graduation and was quite content in being a working woman. All that changed after I got my baby. I had to work hard at the office but I had to work equally hard at home. After a long days work, my husband would sit down in front of TV for hours with a glass of wine. I had no such luxury and I used to slog in the kitchen cooking, doing dishes , feeding the baby. After spending couple of miserable years feeling guilty at work for not spending enough time with my kid and trying to balance career and home, I got fed up and quit my job. It was my turn now to experience the housewife phase. I also remembered how my mom could not spend enough time with me during my childhood so I more than ever wanted to be there for my kid. I embraced the change and accepted my new role wholeheartedly. I got my sanity back and I am enjoying the simple pleasure of being with my kid.
After seeing both the signs of the coin, I have come to realize that you don’t always have a choice when it comes to being a working woman or being a housewife. Situations in life dictate that. But I firmly believe that every woman should be financially independent because life does not always give you a smooth ride. Although I am happy to be a housewife, I sometimes regret the time spent in office. Working outside teaches you how to deal with different people and you are better equipped to face the society. Having said that household responsibilities are equally important and I feel that there should not be an either /or. Some 80 years back when mostly men worked outside the home and women took care of home, 8 hours workday was fine but as women are becoming more educated , time has come for the work structure to change to incorporate more women in the workforce. I strongly believe that having 3-4 hour work shifts/part-time/half day jobs for both men and women should be a norm. It will give more control to everyone to better manage their careers and household responsibilities.
I will be a housewife .period.people can judge..I will also marry a God fearing man as I don’t believe in divorce.but just on case housewives should always be smart and keep some savings
That’s a wonderful article…I am also a stay at home mom…I quit my job to take care of my two lovely kids but deep inside sometimes I felt had I made the right choice…after reading ur article all my doubts have faded..I m proud to be a housewife n mother ..u have very well portrayed the life and value of a housewife…without a housewife a home doesn’t look like a home..she manages everything.. multitasking she does is commendable…no one can replace her..thanks for publishing such a beautiful article…it’s motivating n has made me even more confident…salute to all the housewives
You literally took the words out of my mouth, Anne! Absolutely fantastic read. I’ve often felt the same about homemakers. I believe we deserve the same kind of respect that working women get. But I guess we have a long way to go before that happens. Thank you so much for this post. I really needed it.
I know it’s a little too late, but THANK YOU! I question my choice way too often lately and your post wass just what I needed now. I’ve never seen anyone analyze this important issue better than you. Every superlative I’d write would be insufficient to describe my opinion on your masterpiece. It’s refreshing to read something like this on the web that’s full of people’s stupidity and conformism.
So, again, THANK YOU!
Love this!! Thank you
There are a couple more ways to look at it.
1) While it may sound a bit outlandish, what happens if this ends up being a cycle? I mean, with many couple having only one or two kids, what happens if the daughters grow up seeing their mothers function as home makers and aspire to be the same, and the same happens to their daughters ad infinitum! On a macro scale, would it not be a setback after having made so much strides in gender equality etc.? Indian women’s workforce participation has fallen from 35% to 27% in the last two decades, so this is not entirely a hyperbole.
2) If we have moved from women being forced to stay home( maybe in 70s ) to women choosing to stay home (now), what has been the net change? The demographics now seem to look similar to how it was few decades ago, so it seems like we’ve come a full circle to where we started.
3) Spare a thought to the husband who doesn’t really have a choice to make (staying home vs working ) at least in 2017 India. He too may want to spend his time watching his child’s first steps rather than toil away for someone at an office. So, I hope the decision is arrived at as a couple rather than unilaterally. Also, I hope you will stand by your husband’s decision if he chooses to stay home. If not, we’re just playing into centuries old stereotypes.
PS. Of course it goes without saying that if a woman does work, she is well within her rights to expect her husband to share the house work. There is no two ways about it. I am not advocating that women do double shifts at all.
Source : https://thewire.in/165005/indian-workplaces-losing-women-nationwide/
This is just outstanding. I loved it. You have written about every aspect Nd totally practical md true things. Nd thank you soo much bcoz after reading this u just answered the questions the doubt which I had.. Nd I will always be grateful to u for that.! Once again thanks a lot!
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