Maybe being a housewife isn’t so bad…?


A task from the traditional African housewife's to-do list.

The Perfect Image

As a hardcore feminist I’m known to be part of a group that has always looked down on the Housewife Career (“if you can even call it that!”another member of said group could jeer) so imagine my wonder when I watched Mona Lisa Smile and actually agreed with Julia Stile’s character (Joan Brandwyn) when she chose being a housewife over studying law at the prestigious Yale Law School in her country.

In one of the last scenes of this film Katherine Watson, a strong-minded feminist Art-History teacher played by Julia Roberts confronts this woman after she finds out about her decision to drop the career.

Joan Brandwyn: It was my choice… not to go. He would have supported it.
Katherine Watson: But you don’t have to choose.
Joan Brandwyn: No, I have to. I want a home; I want a family, that’s not something I’ll sacrifice.
Katherine Watson: No-one’s asking you to sacrifice that, Joan, I just want you to understand you can do both.
Joan Brandwyn: Do you think I’ll wake up one morning and regret not being a lawyer?
Katherine Watson: Yes, I’m afraid that you will.
Joan Brandwyn: Not as much as I’d regret not having a family, not being there to raise them. I know exactly what I’m doing and it doesn’t make me any less smart.
[Katherine looks down]
Joan Brandwyn: This must seem terrible to you.
Katherine Watson: I didn’t say that.
Joan Brandwyn: Sure you did. You always do. You stand in class and tell us to look beyond the image, but you don’t. To you a housewife is someone who sold her soul for a center hall colonial. She has no depth, no intellect, no interests. You’re the one who said I could do anything I wanted. This is what I want.
Katherine Watson: [hugs Joan] Congratulations. Be happy.

This actually makes sense to me! I was completely surprised at the admiration i felt towards this Joan character after I’d let myself push my sympathy towards Katherine out of the way. Maybe she is right! Maybe you really can’t do both.

In this new generation we’re told as women that we can “do everything” but maybe we can’t. How can one call oneself a full-time mother when one only sees their children for twenty minutes a day? It’s a sad thing that the feminist movement was put in motion for the liberation of women but has now become the very force that puts women in the position to feel so inadequate when they realize, finally, that really they can’t do everything. But we have to understand: neither can men! No-one can do everything—the only difference is that men aren’t forced to.

And at the end of the day we’re all faced with the realization that maybe the “old way” did make sense. A team is defined as a group of people who play different roles to achieve a goal. The goal was a happy household, well-rounded children and a better, more stable society where everyone know what their role is to make it so. The women knew their main goal was to raise the children to be better people and the man’s was to finance that project. I’ve always said that children raised by parents who wanted them and made a huge effort to do so properly are always more emotionally sound. And maybe the feminist movement’s insistence on training women to “think for themselves” has borne a generation of women who only think about themselves! It is this same selfishness that has put the future of mankind on a teeter-totter.

This can only be fixed if we finally admit to ourselves that we do have to choose. How can we expect to raise a generation of better women if we’re hardly home to do so? What happens is we get MTV raising our children and teaching them that the only way to be successful in life is to shake your rear-end and behave promiscuously. We get pop-stars singing about independent women in one video then bowing down trouser-less in front of hip-hop stars in the next.

What I’m saying is: Either you become a successful career-woman who knows that being a woman can never stop her from being the best in her field or you become a mother that raises girls who understand that its okay to be whatever woman you want to be. But I believe that the only way to be good at something is to focus all your energies in that field.

I’m not saying women with jobs are bad mothers; I just think a good mother with a job can be a far better one without.

I’m not saying women with high career goals should give up on the idea of children or that women who want children should forget about their careers. What I am saying is to be the best at either you have to give up on the other and that a career woman should not be surprised when her children aren’t exactly what she wanted them to be.

I’m going to choose the career for now because I’m a perfectionist and have an obsessive need to be the best at what i do, and because i know that i am too selfish to be able to try whole-heartedly to do both. But when/if the day comes when I do decide to have children I’ll have to give up the ole J.O.B because hopefully my perfectionism wont have gone away.

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Comments
4 Responses to “Maybe being a housewife isn’t so bad…?”
  1. As an ambitious mother of 2 beautiful kids, whom I love dearly- but with a career (or at least the beginning of one) which I am truly passionate about- this is quite a thought provoking read…

  2. mama mtoto says:

    Thank you for this. Made a decision 6 months ago to quit because I could tell the effect the long working hours were having on my child and I do not regret it one bit.

  3. Wilbur says:

    Wow!!

    Never before seen a woman who has chosen motherhood over career-hood stand up for herself so eloquently.

    Never before have I seen the institution of motherhood defended with such eloquence and dignity.

    Love it!!

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  • Hey, you.

    Thank you for reading through the ole b.l.o.g. I hope that you have been thoroughly satisfied. Let me know what you have for lunch, hey? Cheers.
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