The Term “Housewife”
July 13, 2011
I laughed when a friend of mine told me she thought of me when she heard someone on the radio stating, “June Cleaver could have dinner on the table and would always be wearing pearls when her husband came home from work. Why can’t the rest of us figure it out?” First of all (to the person on the radio), June is a fictional character in a fictional setting where timing is always perfect. Secondly, for me to be compared to the Queen of Fictional Domestichood is nothing short of laughable. Trust me, you’d be laughing if you saw me right now.
I do feel, however, in our society today June Cleaver doesn’t get the credit she deserves. It seems (at least in the circles I run in) the mere mention of the likes of her elicit all types of eye-rolling judgements. My question is why? On the surface, June appears to be the “perfect housewife.” She is always calm and collected (even when The Beave is getting into mischief), always has dinner ready on time, and she strongly values her husband’s opinion, always taking it into consideration. That doesn’t sound so bad to me. I’d like to have that calm and collected bit at least. (I know, I know… It’s that last bit when the eye-rolling comes in. But, whether you like it or not, husband’s opinions matter too, Ladies.)
While I don’t really care for the term “housewife,” I suppose that is what I am. I think the reason I don’t like that label is because (in my mind) it means that there are no other aspirations for a woman who calls herself a housewife. She must just sit at home and do nothing else beside tend to her housewifely duties. I don’t think anyone should try to be June Cleaver, but I do think the ideals she stood for are an admirable goal.
One of the most common fears I hear from young women today about entering motherhood (and staying home) is that they are afraid of losing their identity. They can’t imagine only being Johnny’s Mom. Who says you have to only be Johnny’s Mom?
What I would like to see is what June did after she put the kids to bed. Did she write? Maybe she was a scientist or a musician. My point is this; because someone becomes a stay-at-home mom or housewife, doesn’t change who she is. You still enjoy doing the things you are passionate about. Who says that in order to “be a” pianist, writer, chemist, engineer, artist, or whatever your passion may be that you need to be employed by someone who officially gives you that title? Can’t we just Be? I’d love to hear what others think. Do you need to have a paycheck to Be what you want to be?