Housewife is a 4-letter word*

Once a woman** stops working outside the home, why is she considered a housewife? That label seems very out-dated to me and yet it is still used by some to describe themselves. When I heard it this week, I wanted to pull out my hair and shout about the history of the women’s movement and gender equity. For me, “housewife” is a 4-letter word.

Angry And Sad.

Not a photo of my grandmother

In industrialized countries, it makes me feel angry that women still dismiss themselves and their contributions so much that they put themselves back in the kitchen doing cleaning and cooking, chained to a house for identification. They say, “I’m just a housewife” when describing themselves. I remember hearing about my grandmother who had to ask her husband for money to buy the daily groceries and she had to account for each penny she spent! She had no money of her own. 

I’m sad that in 2023, some women are not able to emerge from the shackles of capitalism that relied on the unpaid work of women for men to go to work each day. A man who stops working outside the home is never called a house-husband. Even the word “homemaker” is not much better, because it means that one person (almost exclusively a woman) is solely responsible for all the unpaid labor in the home.

Step-Up Everyone

Isn’t this an age when house chores are shared by all the people who live in a home together and not relegated to one woman? Aren’t all people taking responsibility for maintaining the home that they live in, and doing the work needed to eat and have clean clothes? Step-up people!

Pride Of Ownership

Sure, be proud of your home and enjoy looking after it as a homeowner. That’s admirable but it’s not an identity. I have a car but I don’t identify myself as a “car-wife” even though I have to clean and maintain my car. People can have pride in their homes without being married to them. 

A Brief Video For International Women’s Day

Be So Much More

What more can you be?  So, much more. Just because the other roles that I fill are not paid, it doesn’t mean that I can’t use them to identify myself. I can have one label, no labels, or many. But if that label comes with a history of oppression, I don’t want it.

*Warning: a strong personal rant.

**The term “women” refers to anyone identifying as female.

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