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Monday, January 10, 2011

You're a House Cat

The Daily Mail posted today about a study which found that British women have an increasing desire to be stay-at-home wives and mothers. The article notes that 64% or women aspire to marry a man that makes more than them, and 69% would prefer to stay home and raise children over re-entering the workforce.

It's an interesting and enduring topic of feminism, the priorities and power of women. Whether or not you work after having kids is an issue that defines a woman far more than any other choice does. Not just in your own personal sense of self, but in the way other women classify you in the hegemony of feminism.

There is a fair bit of strength growing in the stay-home corner. Mommy-bloggers are the new voice of the housewife, and there is a lot of power in their organized ranks. One word and collective re-blogging from them can make or break a product. At the same time though there is still derision from the populace, and in the anonymity of the web it is not uncommon to see these mothers dismissed as snobbish and lazy.

The snobbish angle is actually pretty easy to buy, because who else can afford to be a stay at home mom these days but the affluent? Biodegradable diapers and organic baby food are the hip topic du jour because that's the caliber of product a person who can stay home can afford. I think that making stay at home motherhood a more widely available opportunity would really be to the benefit of all people. But I'll get to that...

A return to celebrating home making is something that I can get excited about. While I'm no Martha Stewart, I do feel that that there's something immensely satisfying about supporting and perfecting your household. 

There's a part of me that feels like ever since I started working 40 hours a week, that I'm not living up to the wifely standard that I hold myself to. I look around and see the dirty dishes left undone, the projects I've been neglecting, and bathrooms in need of scrubbing and feel truly overwhelmed. When I only worked four days a week, I felt more comfortable in my home, like I was caring for it properly. It gave me time to organize, cook more dinners, and take the stress of chores off the shoulders of Paul, who frankly is the bread winner of the family. It makes me feel good to take care of the homely things. It makes me stressed out when things are left undone.

I don't feel its wrong to take pride in housework and cooking, and I don't think it's wrong to consider the success of these tasks my wifely duty. And heck, I am pretty sure that I'll want to stay home with children once we have some.

I actually think that having more stay-at home mom's would be a positive step for modern a society. More children with an active, strong home life helps assure the moral and societal development of our future. I also see it as a necessity for the propagation of our economic system. We work in a time where labor is no longer imperative. More and more jobs, duties and tasks are being delegated to automation. We have a high unemployment rate, and our rate of creating new jobs falls short of even the number of people initially entering the work force consistently, We should really come to terms with the fact that a full time job for every American is not a realistic vision of the future. It will take a feat of societal re-working, but we possibly could retool a labor-force that is fair but competitive. One way would be to guarantee a living wage, and make stay-home motherhood more feasible for the working poor. The other would be to re-distribute the amount of hours in a standard work-week. If people worked a schedule that is considered "part-time" all the time, it would provide more opportunities for others to work, while increasing the potential for worker happiness through personal development and leisure.

I know in my heart though that these ideas for a Utopian part-time society are pipe-dreams. What with our workaholic, bootstrap, capitalist culture, it would be almost impossible to stop people from working their hardest for personal career gain. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, we've got moxie.

And I'm certainly not yearning for the sexist days of yore, where a career woman's goals were seen as prone to flights of fancy and romance.

I certainly wouldn't criticize any woman who wants to build their career throughout their lives. It's a wonderful goal, to be successful and great at what you do. But part of me does wish that the virtues of good housekeeping were more celebrated as they were in the so-called good old days. Not in a "don't worry you're pretty head way", but in a

kind of way.

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