Death Of The Housewife

There was once a time when women went to work in hopes of meeting the man of her dreams.  She worked as a secretary doing everything she could to catch the eye of her handsome boss.  She dreamed of the day when one of the men from the office would sweep her off her feet, out of the office, and she could be what she had always wanted to be, a housewife.

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That time is gone.

Here is an article written by Bidisha published in Emirates Woman magazine in November 2012.

“The surrendered wife deserves our sympathy,”says, Bidisha, broadcaster and writer specializing in the arts and culture and social affairs including gender, class, sexuality and race. There is no person more boring, or bored, than a stay-at-home wife. I would recommend such a role only for women who have small brains, small hopes, small potential and small personalities. But I know no such women. What I do know is that 5,000 years of inequality, machismo, conditioning, intimidation and oppression have resulted in this strange, stunted creature – the surrendered wife – who finds some kind of sick nobility in grovelling to a man. The wretch believes that her highest virtue lies in giving the greatest attention to the smallest things: the dustpan, the oven, the crib, the sink – and the contents of her husband’s underpants. The surrendered wife deserves our sympathy. Without realizing it, she has been subjected to a deep cultural, social and political lobotomy, internalized the propaganda that says she is naturally destined for wife-work according to her innate capacities, and has emerged competent but wholly unrebellious. She is good at organizing the home, judicious with her children’s upbringing, efficient about the family’s comings and goings, savagely chic when entertaining. But she is dependent for her survival – and that makes her submissive. If she doesn’t please her lord and master, she has nothing to fall back on. In order to survive, she must turn herself into a giver in the bedroom, a maid on the landing, a cook in the kitchen, a nanny in the nursery, a secretary at the desk, a housekeeper in the pantry and a hostess in the lounge. No matter what reflected status she may gain from her husband, at the core of it she herself is merely a geisha: there to serve. She exists to be exploited for her sexual, social and physical labour but, as a dependent subordinate with no power of her own, she can be bullied, hurt, disparaged or replaced whenever her owner chooses. When a woman’s scope is reduced to the four walls of her home, her soul shrinks accordingly. Her frustration, boredom and bitterness are sublimated into obsession with petty surface details, extreme self-objectification, obsessive shopping and the bullying of staff. Because she is isolated, she doesn’t have the resources to fight the source of her oppression – that is, her husband and the entire macho ethos that keeps her in her place – and so she transfers her rage onto other women, satisfying her insecurity by making small-minded, insecure, sniping judgements. She begins to police other women’s behaviour, perhaps even her own daughters’ behaviour, punishing them if they do not conform. This is understandable and it’s what oppressed groups have always done. It is easier to lash out laterally than face the reality of oppression; easy to submit to misogynist ‘tradition’, hard to fight such entrenched views, especially when they are backed up by the threat of violence. I believe women deserve much more than a life of service. That is not a life, it is merely an existence in which all of our resources are used up for others’ benefit. That said, the hardest and most profound free work we do – bringing up children, caring for elderly relatives, keeping communities together peacefully – should be acknowledged, honoured and credited instead of being assumed, expected, unpaid, undervalued and taken advantage of. Instead of women judging each other, or themselves, they should judge men. We deserve to go into the world to fulfill our potential without being leered at, opposed, judged, sexually harassed, sexually assaulted, followed or abused. We deserve to be treated equally as minds and personalities, not as objects. A woman has a basic human right to be seen as a person in her own right, an individual, and not a man’s wife, someone’s daughter, someone’s mother, someone’s sister or someone’s neighbour, with all the labour and duties that entails. And when we come home unmolested from our studies, our work or visiting friends and family, we will do precisely half of the work required, and the man should do the other half. Since a man makes half a baby, he should do half the childcare. Since he makes half the dirt, he should do half the cleaning. And since he eats half the food, he should do half of all the kitchen work. Men have killed each other in great wars, put other men on the moon, created vast architectural structures and tiny electronic circuits, and constructed complex governments in which men help other men achieve wealth, status and power. Women have done so too, of course, but their names are erased from history and their contribution ignored, belittled, downgraded or sidelined. Men have developed intricate religions, laws and courts in which, year after year, men who abuse women walk free using a variety of excuses. Are you telling me that Man, this great and complex creation, in all his genius and abusiveness and hypocrisy, is not capable of wiping a baby’s bottom? Being a surrendered wife is dull, repetitive, unjust, unfulfilling and submissive. Obedient women don’t make history, they merely clean it and furnish it for men to inhabit, and are not credited afterwards. Never forget that surrender is the very last resort of heroes, warriors and adventurers. It is easy to be a slave because you know what your fate is: to be a slave forever. But that is no life. Women are too interesting to be hidden from the world, too intelligent to be barred from contributing in full, too witty to be silenced in public, too dynamic to be held back from the outside world and too strong to be denied.
This article is ridiculous and unbelievable offensive.  Is this the view we have of today’s housewife?  I hate the idea that this is no longer seen as a desirable and noble position.  Between feminists and the disgusting shows on TV (Housewives of Beverly Hills, New Jersey, etc.) the housewife has become a joke.  Children are being raised by strangers because woman have become selfish and career obsessed.  Family values don’t seem to be a priority anymore.  And what for?  For the money?  Is our society so obsessed with having the newest, latest this or that that we sacrifice being at home with our children so we can make money to “keep up with Jones’s?”  Is it pride?  Have women become so prideful that they couldn’t bear the thought of being labeled a housewife?  Being at home and caring for their children and husband would be punishment.  Well I ask you this, why did you have children in the first place?  Why do you have a family if you don’t want to care for them and be around them?  Of course their are circumstances where a woman truly cannot be at home, and I understand that.  And in that she is doing all she can to take care of her family.  But if a woman can be home, and isn’t, that is what I don’t understand.  Are you “above” us housewives?  And speaking of submission and serving, a career woman does this just as much as the housewife.  Sadly, she is submitting and serving her boss and career instead of her husband.
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The housewife is becoming a lost art.  How many women do you know that do all the traditional things of a housewife?  She cooks, cleans, mends clothes, cares for the children, gardens, looks lovely all the time, and always cares for and serves her husband.  In most households dinner is now sitting in front of the TV with a microwave dinner on a tray table.  There’s no prayer before eating, there’s no talking and bonding over a lovely homemade meal prepared by mom.
The true housewife is dead.
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3 thoughts on “Death Of The Housewife

  1. Wow! Appalled! This Bidisha sounds completely ignorant! I was just discussing this very thing with friends. I was fueling them that I know it is not politically correct thing to say, but I feel like society started to breakdown after women went back to work. I don’t disagree with women going to work, if that is what they feel is right for their family. However I completely agree with your comments about keeping up with the jones’s. It’s refreshing to hear someone else echo my same thoughts;)

  2. Thank you for your comment and visiting my blog! I definitely agree with you, the world was a better place when women were at home and not in the workplace. I understand there are circumstances when a woman must work to provide for her family, but if it isn’t necessary then she should be at home tending to her husband, children, and home.

  3. Take that article in context. While it’s a disgusting point of view to me, it’s written in an Arabic magazine. This is a culture that has traditionally suppressed women! Her cultural perspective is much different than ours. We grew up with a choice, I so choose the be a devoted homemaker! Many Arabic women have no choice. Thus that article needs to be taken with cultural perspective.

    ps…I love this blog….;)

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