Is it wrong to ‘succumb’ to ‘normalcy’?
I’m taking a break from writing by writing this. Weird, I know, but if your job is 70% about writing and editing, then you’ll understand.
Working women such as myself are accustomed to judging housewives, especially those who have university degrees, feeling pity for them as they -in our opinion- are willing to reduce themselves into ‘just a wife and just a mom’. Housewives are seen as those who like get-togethers, gossip about anything under the sun, and very materialistic toward their husbands a.k.a. financially dependent.
I used to think like this, as I was raised by a working mother as well. The stigma towards housewives have been formed to most daughters of working mothers, that in their adult life, they prefer to build a career in offices, sometimes just for the sake of working and not be seen as ‘only a housewife’.
‘Housewife’ became a dirty word to some of us, because in the spirit of feminism, why in heavens would we let MEN be ‘responsible’ for our well-being? It is our own duty to look after ourselves.
However, motherhood flipped all of my beliefs and views about housewives, especially when I became close friends with some. And this post is me, defending my friends who happen to be housewives, and I will try to break some myths about them. Please note that I am within the middle class circle in Jakarta, so this might not apply to you. I strongly think this kind of disclaimer is necessary.
Myth 1: Housewives don’t look after themselves, hence ugly.
Excuse me, us office ladies might have the opportunity to show off our new Prada bags every now and then, or those Louboutins that are a pain to wear but we wear it anyway just to look and feel good. But as for ‘look after ourselves’, let’s be real. How many of us go to the gym regularly?
My housewife friends do pilates, go to the gym and have the time to figure out how to feed their family healthy food. I just eat whatever my maid cooks for me. They’re my go-to place to ask who’s the best make up artists are, which designer are ‘it’ right now in case I need something to wear and providing that they know these information, they also know very well how to look good.
Myth 2: Housewives have no self-actualization means, hence depressed.
Let’s not generalize. Depression can attack anyone, and we’re not here to discuss that. We’re here to contest whether it’s true that self-actualization is a problem for housewives. The answer: nope.
If you’re a working mother, get off your high horse and check who’s doing all the parent-teacher activities. That’s right, our housewife friends. Without them in school committees, us working mothers are severely fucked (can I get an amen). That’s only one of the things they do for self-actualization. Others have their own businesses, hobbies and interests.
Take note: not all housewives are meek.
Myth 3: Housewives are at the highest risk of being victims of infidelity, hence office job is better.
Now this, is the most sexist statement I’ve ever came across and I am dead sure the first person to utter this was a man. The logic is, since housewives spend most of their time at home, the husbands are free to flee and paint the town with more attractive ladies in heels, forgetting the wives who wears nightgowns all day. In short: infidelity is a man’s domain.
Tsk. How terribly behind.
Allow me to let you in on one fact:
Infidelity knows no gender, attacks anywhere and the mitigation standards of the effect is still being developed.
Myth 4: Housewives only know how to spend their husband’s money, hence materialistic.
The logic is, when the husband is the sole breadwinner, the wife HAS to spend and manage the household’s money, enabling the family to… live. However, since this statement is oftentimes used in a more negative light, let’s be objective and be open to the fact that there are certain arrangements of wife’s allowance money, or that the husband can be extra generous.
“Be given allowance money from the husband? How very degrading!” some feminists will say.
You are entitled to your opinion, but I really think it’s more degrading for women to receive money from men when they are not bound by marriage. But please excuse me and my rather conservative view on this.
Ok, since I have defended housewives so strongly while I am still intentionally chaining myself into a desk in an office, working 10 hours a day that I don’t have time to even take my child to school every morning, one may wonder: do I want to be a housewife?
No, because I will be terrible at it and the casualty will be my family. I’m still far too self-centered to be a devoted housewife.
Yes, I envy the time flexibility, but I am also a weakling in the child-handling department. Sure I love hanging out with my child, but if I have to spend 24 hours with her, I will sure go crazy. Working is my ultimate me-time and I don’t hide my weaknesses behind my career. I admit that I am not a perfect wife, nor mother, and this is why I need to always have a job to keep me sane and balanced.
The questions which started this post remain, though:
Is it so wrong for a woman to decide she wants to be a housewife and devotes her life to her family?
Is it so wrong not to put her university degree to ‘good use’ (while we know we were taught to think strategically and systematically in university and these are useful skills to manage a household but what do I know, right?) and just be a stay-at-home mom?
Is it so wrong to embrace life wearing nightgowns, with a messy bun, smelling of onions or whatever’s cooking while teaching her kids math?
Is it so wrong to ‘succumb’ to ‘normalcy’?
Is it really succumbing?
Is it normal?
What is normal?
What kind of feminist do we want to be? The one who feels pity for other women for their life choices without examining deeper why the choice was made and whether these women really want to be rescued? Or the feminist who fights for women’s rights in a sane, logical way, respecting the world’s various culture?
I’m going to end this here and not open up another can of worms.
Have a good evening, dearests.