Feminism | Posted by Sabina S on 07/6/2011

Blast From The Past

I thought we were done with this...

I thought we were done with this...

I was at my friend’s house working on a project for school. It was getting late so her mum made us dinner. At the table, my friend’s dad was ordering her mum around and asking for things to be brought to him. Now, it was all in good fun, but it still bugged me a little bit because it reminded me of the times that Betty Friedan discusses in “Feminine Mystique.” And then, to make matters worse, my friend’s mum started talking about how she just lost her job. While we were eating, she started complaining about her lack of employment. Then she concluded that now that she is unemployed she MUST resume the housewife roll. She proceeded to name off a laundry list of chores for her to do the next day: clean kitchen floor, wash clothes, scrub walls, clean kids’ rooms, etc.

Does this sound familiar? If you have read the Feminine Mystique then you know what I am talking about. If not, then I will explain to you that the matter at hand is one of 20th century thinking. It’s the concept that women used to believe that all they were good for was house work, being a housewife, and a stay at home mom. Women had no identity in those days because they would only be able to relate to the household world (the “domestic sphere”) and were, in turn, cut off from the outside realms of reality. They were essentially brainwashed by the popular Housekeeping magazines of those days – convinced that their only purpose in life was to serve their husband and children. They were slaves to their own lives, loves, families and own gender. Does this seem fair? NO!

Why was it that Pre-Friedan, anyone with a vagina was socially forced to be trapped in a house wearing an apron and heels the whole day in order to maintain a “proper image”? Thanks to Betty Friedan, a beloved founder of our modern movement, we have been able to branch out past these horrid confinements.

To be a woman is to be strong, independent, loving, powerful, and capable of doing what others can’t. We are born with a motherly instinct, with a heart, with a mind set for living life for happiness. And so, we march on and persevere through the rough patches of weeds that stand in the way of beautiful meadows.

Houses are for families to live in, love in, and laugh in. Not for women to be confined in, to clean in, and to cook in.

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  • allie @ at 11:26 am, July 6th, 2011

    though i get where you are coming from, i don’t think she probably sees it that way. she probably thinks, well i don’t have a job, might as well stay home and clean my house. my sister’s husband said the same thing, he was a house husband. this is a recession and there are no jobs left really, people are getting laid off left and right so i could understand why should would rather just take care of the house instead of go out and look for a new job. i feel if a woman chooses to stay home then it is her right to do so, no shame in it. same with a man, if he chooses to do so, no shame in it. yes women are more than the household, i’m sure she knows this. the joking part i can’t really judge because i don’t know how he said it, so i don’t know how sexist it was.

  • Alexa @ at 12:09 pm, July 6th, 2011

    Good piece :) I don’t agree on all of your points, though. For example, not all women are compelled by “motherly instinct.” Also, the women-do-what-others-can’t sentiment seems a bit superior.

  • Liz @ at 7:57 pm, July 6th, 2011

    You make a good point, and this retro-ideology does come back even today. However, I think it’s important to remember that Betty Freidan looked at a very specific section of society: middle class white women. Poor women of all backgrounds throughout history have worked outside the home and being “confined” by their social va-jay-jay’s roles has not even been an option.

  • Katherine C. @ at 10:52 pm, July 6th, 2011

    WORD to Liz’s comment. As much as Freidan was a ground-breaker, I have HUGE issues with her.

  • Hannah @ at 2:05 pm, July 7th, 2011

    Women are just people. They aren’t naturally anything (e.g., motherly, do-what-others-can’t) based on being women alone.

  • Fiona @ at 11:40 pm, July 7th, 2011

    I get your point, but I think you’re being just a little dramatic with the phrase “we have been able to branch out past these horrid confinements”. As Liz said – Freidan does just look at whilte middle class western women. And while I’m against all forms of gender oppression I don’t think this is one off the worst cases. And of course, it’s every human being’s choice what to do with their own life. If a woman or a man wants to focus on home duties more power to them! I think you are really downplaying the importance of raising children and managing a household. Yes, these tasks are still primarily the domain of women but more and more men are taking up the “house-husband” role when needed. I don’t see any reversions to past domestic arrangements, rather, a slow and steady march toward equality.

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