In high school, I had this physics teacher who loved to take a crack at the girls in the class. He had a favourite phrase he used which riled the girls was;
Women are a necessary evil.
He’d say it with a gleam in his eyes and sure enough, the girls, though young felt quite insulted and never hid this fact. In hindsight, I would probably say he was slightly misogynistic.
However, there was something he did in one of his classes that stuck with me and is going to be the topic of discussion for today. He asked the class, or more specifically the ladies if any of them would be a housewife. Cue no hands. Why? Well, nobody wanted to be a housewife! They all wanted to be doctors, lawyers, accountants, fashion designers, governors’ and presidents’ wives, but no one; NOT ONE wanted to be a housewife.
One of the very first articles I wrote for this column was “For the W.A.Gs (Wives and Girlfriends)” where I mused about what guys looked for in a girlfriend and/or wife (as the case may be), and I never mentioned anything about the housewife. I will be addressing that now.
This question my teacher posed was way back in 2004 and it’s a mentality that has become reality over the years. I find it very amusing the vehement reactions I get from ladies when one raises the idea of being a housewife, like it’s something demeaning; most of whom have mothers that are/were themselves housewives! And I asked myself why are the ladies of my generation so abhorred at the idea of being housewives?
Who is a Housewife?
A housewife is a woman whose main occupation is running or managing her family’s home—caring for and educating her children, cooking and storing food, buying goods the family needs in day-to-day life, cleaning and maintaining the home, making clothes for the family, etc.—and who is generally not employed outside the home.
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary; “A housewife is a married woman who is in charge of her household.”
Oftentimes, the term housewife is used in contrast with that of “career woman”. And the impression I have gotten seems to be that housewives are either lazy, or lack ambition, or are generally leeching gossips who do nothing all day but sit at home and mooch off their husbands. (The rise of Tv shows, both fictional and reality haven’t particularly helped this opinion.)
I beg to disagree with this widespread opinion because I believe that housewives work just as hard as many “CAREER” women.
In fact, some feminists, and non-feminist economists (particularly proponents of historical materialism) note that the value of housewives’ work is ignored in standard formulations of economic output, such as GDP or employment figures. Housewives work many unrecorded hours a week, while depending for money on their husband’s or partner’s employment.
I’m a teacher and I have to handle eighteen 8-9 year olds every day from eight in the morning till four in the evening when I leave work and then I am EXHAUSTED. Sometimes I come home and collapse into a self induced coma because of exhaustion. Now imagine a woman who cooks, cleans, does the laundry, runs household errands, takes care of her husband and STILL has to handle 2 or 3 kids of her own; feeding them, clothing them, attending to each child’s peculiarities and whims etc. Ladies and gentlemen THAT is a JOB!
A housewife doesn’t get paid; probably gets underestimated a lot by her husband and kids and people like you and I who don’t think she’s got anything to do with her life; It’s probably not as glamorous, or as spiffy but its rewards are beyond monetary, and beyond statutory. And like any other occupation, there are those who excel at it as well as those who are terrible at it.
I understand that in this era it’s very difficult to find a family where only the man brings in the money, what with spiralling costs of living etc. But we will be remiss when we begin to look down on those who choose to stay home and be homemakers simply because they are not career women.
A Little Thank You…
I just found out that my blog passed the 500 hit(s) mark and I’ve been blown over. I honestly never thought it would ever reach this stage. It might not seem like a big deal to some, but I’m a firm believer in gratitude for the little things.
I would like to say a big thank you to God; Vivian, editor of this column and you wonderful people who have actually read and still read my rants!
Ariel Ugorji identifies himself as a mild insomniac, geek, nerd, an audiophile, an avid music lover, Liverpool Fan and an unashamed Christian; with more often than not a completely different point of view on the world and a love for sensible arguments. He Resides in Warri, Nigeria; the land of the sharp and the brave.
To view more of his write ups, please visit his BLOG. You can also share your views with him on twitter @arielugorji.
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