July 12, 2007 by Stacy McDonald
A lady commented on my blog that she didn’t like the word “housewife” because we are not married to our houses. She is right, we are not married to our houses and I actually bring that up in the first chapter of our book. However, we do not use the term “husbandwife” either, though we are in fact married to our husbands. The word housewife refers to a “wife who is at home” and that I can agree with and seems to be consistent with what the Bible calls being a keeper at home.
What’s funny is that “stay-at-home-mom”, “keeper at home”, and “homemaker”, seem to be acceptable terms for women who do not work outside the home, but call someone a housewife and some will think you’re being oppressive. “Homemaker” would seem to line up more with “housekeeper” than “housewife” would, yet, the word homemaker is perfectly acceptable and an even preferable term to most. And we are certainly more than housekeepers to our families.
Could it be that feminism has made us sensitive to the word housewife? Would we be so offended if we were referred to as a house-mother rather than a stay-at-home–mom? It certainly is a shorter term and it wouldn’t mean we were mothers to our houses. The following quote is from dictionary.com:
“Housewife is offensive to some, perhaps because of an implied contrast with career woman (just a housewife) and perhaps because it defines an occupation in terms of a woman’s relation to a man. Homemaker is a common substitute.”
This quote is from a website reviewing a book written by author, Rosemary
“Call her a homemaker, a working parent or even a yummy mummy — just don’t insult a woman by referring to her as a “housewife.”
‘Since the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s, “housewife” has become a derogatory term,’ says the author of a new Canadian history book on the topic.‘There was a tremendous reaction against the housewife of the ’50s who stayed home in suburbia and did her vacuuming in her high heels and was supposed to serve her man,’ said Rosemary Neering.
‘Today the negative stereotype of the housewife is that she is brainless.’ But housewives weren’t always so maligned. ‘For three centuries, Canadian women were very proud to call themselves housewives,’ said Neering, by phone from her home in Victoria, B.C.
‘They were proud of being cooks and good seamstresses and even when they were poverty-stricken you’d find them doing embroidery on flour sacks because they wanted to beautify their homes.’
So, whether or not I have children, I don’t mind being called a housewife. I am in fact a wife-at-home. I also happen to be a mother-at-home, but since I am a wife first, housewife seems almost more appropriate (though I admit I never call myself a housewife). If I call myself a stay-at-home-mom am I somehow neglecting the fact that I am a wife? No. But, it is interesting how it seems a little out of order.