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The Stigma of Being a Housewife

Would You Be a Housewife If You Could?

No not that kind of housewife, who has a TV crew following you around, but the type that stays at home and runs the house while the husband goes off to work.

In Sweden, The New York Times reports, housewives are practically extinct. And one journalist explains, "The few who still do exist don’t really dare to go public with it." Society used to stigmatize women who worked, but now it's the reverse: women who do not work outside the home (and that doesn't include telecommuters) are judged as lazy, old-fashioned, or economically insignificant.

Despite its reputation, running a house does provide economic value, especially when there are children involved. But most of us who live with a partner or spouse still need the dual incomes and many of us also enjoy the challenges and rewards of having a career. If you didn't need the money, would you prefer being a housewife?

Source: Flickr User x-ray delta one

HollyJRockNRoll HollyJRockNRoll 7 years
Being a housewife is challenging, but I wouldn't want to be one. I think it be wasting my other talents. Who goes to school to become a housewife??
Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 7 years
Doctor bills & medicine. Car payments/insurance/gasoline/repairs (for the one working partner, is public transportation isn't available and it is too far to bike/walk). Mortgage/rent. Utilities, and if you're living off-grid, solar panels & rain water filtration systems etc. Taxes. Shoes/furniture/toothbrushes/ otherconsumer goods that can't practically be produces at home. As far as food, you need raw ingredients (flour or a flour mill which I'm sure isn't free to use/maintain). I don't know how one would make their own salt/baking powder/yeast/etc, though those are very minor expenses. You would need dairy products, or a farm complete with chickens and a cow or two (plus vet bills), plus meat if you're not vegan, which either costs money to buy or costs money to raise. Vegans would need to plant one hell of a garden to get the protein they need. I doubt one housewife could produce/harvest everything the family needs, unless she had children and home-schooled them minimally. And then what? Make them farm their entire life and either throw them into adulthood with no real-world experience, or doom them to spending their entire lives baking and sewing-which is pretty much all they'd know how to do. What about saving for retirement? For clothes, you need fabric, a sewing machine, thread, buttons, zippers, patterns. Fabric is fairly expensive, I don't sew often but I sew often enough to know you don't save much money (if any) by sewing. Or you need cotton plants and sheep for wool, sheep need vet visits and then the wool needs trimmed and cleaned, cotton needs harvested and needs the seeds picked out. And then you would need to spin and weave and dye your cotton/wool, and you would still need buttons/zippers/etc. And if there are kids- what kid wants to wear homemade clothes on a daily basis? I have no problem with it, but those kids would get teased and taunted. One could easily consider a couple pairs of jeans to be of "genuine value" in that a child's (or anyone's) mental health is arguably the most valuable thing they have. And what if the husband has a dress code, and you can't sew what he needs? Buying his uniforms would be a necessity. I'm not saying it's a bad idea, limiting our consumption, and I'm sure a lot more people could do it than realize, but a majority? Cops, doctors, teachers, general laborers: we need those jobs, and those jobs start disappearing when people stop spending money. Times have changed since most of history, and we can't just quit our jobs and go back to farming and live happily ever after. It sounds pretty but it's not practical. Total revolution isn't as easy as you seem to think. If all the wives in the country quit their jobs and spend less on consumer goods, half (?) the husbands get laid off, and foreclosures would rise more than they already have. What good is making everything at home if you don't even have a home? I think that would count as something "terrible" and "horrible" that would "befall the planet." (melodramatic much? or just sarcastic?) And what about the media, without consumption there would be less advertising $$$$$, and less $$$$$ to pay investigative journalists, and more public corruption (and all that other bad stuff, etc forever). I think that keeping public officials and corporations in check is something of "genuine value," to me at least. If you have never come across anyone in your life who would lose anything of "genuine value" if they switched to a single income household, you either haven't met many people or your acquaintances must have very well paying jobs. Congratulations, on having such prosperous acquaintances. You are either extremely closed-minded or far too elite for me to associate with (plus you are posting anonymously and I could care less about anonymous posters in general), and I have absolutely no interest in continuing this debate with you.
Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 7 years
" most cases DUAL income is unnecessary..." I 100% disagree with you and I 100% stand behind what I said. I don't care what degree you have. I would hate to see what would happen if "most" people were to quit their jobs tomorrow and start sewing their own clothes and baking their own bread.
Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 7 years
Cheech really, "most people who complain about the 'necessity' of balancing a full time job and homemaking are either working full time by choice... or you're working full time because you live an extravagant lifestyle and don't want to sacrifice your income." I agree with most of what you said but your overwhelming ignorance when it comes to modern economic conditions is shocking. I'm sure most people who work full time (in the real world) aren't living anywhere near as extravagantly as you think. Most people who work full time are doing so because they "choose" to not have a foreclosure on their credit report, they "choose" to pay their bills and they're thankful they have the means to do so. I only wish more people lived in whatever world you live in, where work is a "choice" for the majority.
amber512 amber512 7 years
Well said, Cheech.
MSucre MSucre 7 years
Cheech86: What "convenient" consumer products are you referring to? As a working woman (who also likes a clean house), I'd love to know about these seemingly magical time-saving products. I think any stigma that goes along with "housewives" (as opposed to stay at home moms), comes from the fact that working women have the same homemaking duties PLUS a 9-5 job!
sandra1621 sandra1621 7 years
I am a housewife and I love it! :-)
amber512 amber512 7 years
I am a housewife right now. Have been since I got married, actually.! Technically even before that when I was in school. But I never could find a job with no experience and then I slowly lost interest in doing what I went to school for anyway. Now I technically work 10 hours a week at my church, but pretty much it's me at home taking care of the house, the finances, and everything else.
chloe-bella chloe-bella 7 years
^^Runninesq, you are so right. I worked at a family law firm after my first year of law school, and it is shocking how many stay at home moms are completely blind-sided and left with nothing when their husbands of 20+ years divorce them (or when they leave their husbands without first considering the consequences). Knowing what I know now, I wouldn't consider being a stay at home mom for an extended period of time unless I had a really good pre-nup at the outset.
runningesq runningesq 7 years
No, I wouldn't, even if we could afford it. I love my job and I love the satifaction - and paycheck! - it gives me. I couldn't imagine not being a working attorney. It's part of who I am. I love knowning that if something happened to my husband (divorce, disability, death - all unpleasant but not impossible) I could support us/ myself. Divorce happens and it shocks me that so many women don't have a financial plan seperate from whatever their husband brings home. We're having our first kid in October and I'll stay home for three months, and then go back to work. When I go back in January, my husband will stay home for 2 months. Then to daycare!
chequettex chequettex 7 years
I don't know why people think a "housewife" (for lack of a better term, and yes I hate the term "Stay At Home Mom") has to stay at home in the house all day. Not having a full-time job outside the home means she will have plenty of time to be out and about during the day with the kids. Sure there are errands to run (which she won't have to take time off of work for) but there are also plenty of things to be done, like volunteering, activities at libraries, church functions, and playgroups, and many more ways to be involved in the community. Being a "housewife" is not license to sit around all day eating bon-bons and watching the soaps.
lickety-split lickety-split 7 years
i am one :) have been for just over 12 years, when I had my first child best job in the world the idea of missing events or moments freaks me out and i never mind other kids coming to our house we have lots of company now that its summer friends of my girls who have 2 working parents stay all day, spend the night, etc. i like having the house full of happy times
Natalie-Love Natalie-Love 7 years
I really couldn't do it. I'm naturally very lazy and I really need strong motivation to get me out of bed (school or work) if I'm doing neither, I will probably sleep and be unproductive!
bribella27 bribella27 7 years
I would. To me that would mean that I could clean my house during the day instead of squeezing it in at night or on the weekends, I could spend more time with my dog, and I could volunteer 15-20 hours a week instead of just a couple of hours a month. I wouldn't want to be a housewife if I had children, I would prefer my partner stay home in that case. :)
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