“What do you do?” is a question, most of us who have not had the honor of making it to the cover of Time magazine are asked. If like me, you reply, “I am a house-wife”, you would probably find yourself the recipient of a whole gamut of expressions ranging from scorn to pity. And then you will think of the billion things you do to make your house a home and the zillion ways you try to make a decent contribution to society and you sigh inwardly. Well the time for hidden sighs and secret undeserved shame is over. It is about time society gave us the respect we deserve.
According to the dictionary, a housewife is a woman managing a household; a woman who does not go out to work but stays at home to manage a household. So contrary to popular opinion, we do not sit at home twiddling our thumbs watching television reruns, eating an inordinate proportion of chocolates and “re-rearranging” the linen closet (I read that in a women’s magazine and have been breathing fire since).
It is funny, but men have a kinder view of housewives desperate or otherwise as opposed to women in general and feminists in particular. For example Edith Mendel Stern, writer and social critic said, “For a woman to get a rewarding sense of total creation by way of the multiple monotonous chores that are her daily lot is as irrational as for an assembly line worker to rejoice that he had created an automobile because he had tightened a bolt”. In reply I would like to say that satisfaction comes in many forms and it is up to us to squeeze out every little bit of it from our lives our choices notwithstanding. Hence sweeping statements about housewives and assembly line workers are callous and uncalled for.
At this point let me insist that I have nothing against working women, on the contrary I respect and admire every single one of them. I have little patience for those who believe that a woman’s life begins and ends with home and hearth. The point is there is dignity in labor, paid or otherwise and we will do well to appreciate that fact.