from the comments:
February 18th, 2009 at 9:55 pm
No kidding. I find this picture a little offensive, actually. Feminism did a lot of good things for us, but it also cut off our options. I would love to be able to stay home and raise my kids and be a homemaker when I get to that point in my life. Would be a shame to waste all these years in college, though…
Every time I hear someone from my generation say that, I feel this compelling urge to stab myself in the head, and not only because these women are almost invariably college-educated (thanks to their hard-working feminist mothers) and childless.
The 1950′s were a time of almost unprecedented economic prosperity in the USA, coming on the heels of the late 1800s/early 1900s (in which men, women, and children worked – usually on farms or in factories), the Roaring Twenties (in which working and middle class women worked and the idle rich got fabulously schnockered), the Great Depression of the 1930′s (in which men, women, and children worked – when there were jobs) and the wartime rationing of the 1940s (in which women did the jobs – including mechanical and factory work – left vacant by their deployed male counterparts). Prior to this era working class women did just that; they worked.
You’re longing for something that never happened. Don’t blame feminism for economic reality. Very few women historically could afford to become housewives, that’s why it was a matter of pride for a man to be able to say “No woman of mine is going to have to work outside the home…”
And honey, you’d better believe she was working inside of it, unless she was genuinely wealthy, in which case she would hire working-class women to cook, clean, and raise her children.
Who raised the working-class woman’s children? She did – when she got off work. Her older children did – when they were old enough. Her family and friends did – when they weren’t also working.
Woman up and stop expecting your “man” to deal with all the harsh realities of the workplace while you sit home and play Martha Fucking Stewart. A real homemaker/working partner relationship is formed between two or more people who are each bringing something to the table other than resentment and misplaced nostalgia.
One chooses to spend most of their time working at a higher paying occupation with long hours, leaving little to no time for basic life maintenance such as making sure the children aren’t wearing diapers when they’re 10, making sure there’s food on the premises, physically paying the bills and making sure the bathroom doesn’t turn filmy green. The other chooses to spend most of their time in the administration, maintenance and unglorified dirty work that is completely essential to running a household of any size. It’s specialization and it’s the backbone of our economy. Gender roles have nothing to do with this arrangement. Don’t assume any particular woman wants the homemaker role, and (even more common) don’t assume any particular man doesn’t. You’re not entitled to get out of the workforce by virtue of your vagina any more than he’s entitled to get out of childrearing or home cleaning by virtue of his penis.
And what’s up with the heteronormativity here anyway? What, I don’t get a housewife/house husband because I don’t have a penis? (Actually I have several; they’re on the shelf. Pick your favorite.) I can cook but my skills end there. Gladly taking applications for someone who can decorate, clean, wash my cashmere sweaters without making them all pilly and arrange social outings with my friends since I am awful and forget too often. I promise to only beat you the way you like best. Gender unimportant. Must look good in pantyhose.
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