November 24, 2017

Would you rather have a wife or be a wife (with "wife" understood as the traditional stay-at-home helpmeet)?

New York Magazine just reprinted "‘I Want a Wife,’ the Timeless ’70s Feminist Manifesto," by Judy (Syfers) Brady:
I want a wife to make sure my children eat properly and are kept clean. I want a wife who will wash the children’s clothes and keep them mended. I want a wife who is a good nurturant attendant to my children, who arranges for their schooling, makes sure that they have an adequate social life with their peers, takes them to the park, the zoo, etc....

I want a wife who will keep my house clean. A wife who will pick up after me. I want a wife who will keep my clothes clean, ironed, mended, replaced when need be, and who will see to it that my personal things are kept in their proper place so that I can find what I need the minute I need it. I want a wife who cooks the meals, a wife who is a good cook. I want a wife who will plan the menus, do the necessary grocery shopping, prepare the meals, serve them pleasantly, and then do the cleaning up.... I want a wife who will care for me when I am sick....

I want a wife who will take care of the details of my social life....

I want a wife who is sensitive to my sexual needs, a wife who makes love passionately and eagerly when I feel like it, a wife who makes sure that I am satisfied. And, of course, I want a wife who will not demand sexual attention when I am not in the mood for it....

... I want my wife to quit working and remain at home so that my wife can more fully and completely take care of a wife’s duties.
There is only one comment up over there:
I asked a man once if he wanted someone who would do all of these things. He replied with an emphatic 'yes', eyes practically glazed over imagining it. Then I said to him, 'me too.'
Since flipping sex roles is the point of the essay, why didn't the commenter think of flipping her question? The famous old essay is a woman's experimenting with the idea that the man's role in a traditional single-earner household is preferable. I say ask the man: Would you like to do all of these things for a woman you love if that woman did all the outside-of-the-household work and brought home an ample income?

And I note that the famous old essay says nothing about yardwork and car maintenance. I searched the article for "car" and found "care" 10 times, but not one "car." There's nothing about mowing the lawn and gardening. But include all that in the flipped question: How would you like to be the stay-at-home partner in a marriage, dealing with all the tasks that are not the income-producing job that is the full responsibility of the other partner? I'll bet a lot of men would say I'd like it (or I'd only like it if you could assure me other people wouldn't look down on me).

4 other observations:

1. The essay has 2 references to mending clothes. Who spends much if any time mending clothes today? In the old days, clothes were (I believe) much more expensive (in relation to income) than they are today, and women had sewing kits and baskets of "mending" (that is, things that needed mending). It wasn't just sewing buttons back on and closing the occasional burst seam. It was darning socks and stitching on patches. Mending is one aspect of traditional wife-work that's just not anything anymore. There's also much less ironing.

2. Shopping for clothes and other household items is much, much easier. Even though, in the old days, women could outfit the kids by sending mail orders to Spiegel or Sears, it's much easier today to find almost everything you need on line. (By the way, please use The Althouse Amazon Portal.) The clothes are also, as noted, much cheaper, and almost never in need of ironing. Clothes for children (and adults) are much more casual today and much easier to assemble into appropriate outfits and keep clean and presentable. (We did not wear T- and sweat-shirts and jeans to school in the 1960s.)

3. Let's talk about sex. Both partners — whether they're the single-earner or not — should be saying both "I want a partner who is sensitive to my sexual needs" and "I want a partner who will not demand sexual attention when I am not in the mood for it." Was the author of the essay saying she'd prefer to have a sexual partner whose consent is a nonissue, who feels obligated to perform whenever called upon and only when called upon? Is she saying, I want a "wife" because I want to be the one who gets to sexually control the other person?

4. The answer to the questions at #3 is probably no. The author is satirizing very selfish men to show how bad unequal roles can be. She doesn't explore the potential for a good division of labor in a single-earner household. I'm not saying she should have had to do that. It's a short, humorous, very memorable essay. But it does manipulate readers to think, I'd better have a career of my own and get out of the home, or I'm an easy victim.

80 comments:

Darrell said...

Occasional Wife (1966).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LigHqvmOCyg

Meade said...

My wife... makes me take it too.

Xmas said...

I want a wife that will work 8 to 14 hours a day, 6 days a week to earn enough money to support a household with 2 kids and a stay at home husband without complaint. I want a wife that will unhook the sink trap to fish out the Lego guy and put it back together without it leaking.

tim in vermont said...

Women have a hard time choking down the deeply held belief that the man should be bringing in income. And if the marriage should end, what does the man have? Maybe he was married to that unicorn who loved men who didn't have a real job, but is he going to find a second one? Is she going to give him alimony for life? A man cast aside from a marriage like this is in a terrible situation, maybe worse than a traditional wife in the fifties, because she has a far better chance of finding another man who accepts her role.

campy said...

My wife has been the sole income earner for us since 1980. I took care of the kids and house. She did a bit less than half the cooking; I did nearly all the "male" tasks.

I think it worked well for us.

Henry said...

I want a pony that will do all those things.

tim in vermont said...

Incidentally, I retired earlier than my wife for health reasons I may have mentioned here. Granted that the kids were grown, which greatly removed some of the load, but taking care of a house inside and out, and fixing what goes wrong and dealing with the cars, raking leaves, clearing snow, all of that stuff, and cooking meals, is still a far more relaxing lifestyle than working.

The biggest problem is that I don't notice some things like dog hair piling up in corners until it turns into full blown bunnies, and don't mind if the dishes sit in the sink a little longer, as long as it doesn't interfere with cooking or whatever. The yard, however, I do notice that kind of stuff and address it. If the car needs maintenance, I am right on it. So women need to lower their standards a little bit in the housekeeping department, if they are serious. I think the problem women have with lowering their standards is that they don't want to be judged by other women in that department.

tim in vermont said...

The robot vacuum has been a godsend as far as dog hair goes, though. And paying a housecleaning service to come in weekly isn't very costly.

cronus titan said...

Must be miserable to be someone enraged that they were not born the opposite sex.

Bill Peschel said...

When my wife and I got married, she was in the Navy and earning much more than I was. She had had enough of the service and wanted out, so we had to make do on my copy editor's salary.

I would have been happy to stay home and raise the kids, but she got there first.

Convincing women to leave the home for a career was feminism's greatest scam.

rhhardin said...

Traditionally the put-upon woman hires a maid. In the Schwartzenegger case it even handles the sex.

tim maguire said...

The days of the single income family are over for most families. The issue now is how to divide house responsibilities when both are working. Most social science researchers deal with this problem by studying home life in a way that ignores everything the man traditionally does, focuses only on the things the woman traditionally does, and then concluding that men aren't doing their share.

Social scientists are a threat to civil society.

Henry said...

One of the great works of Zen literature is Dōgen Zenji's Tenzo Kyōkun (典座教訓), or "Instructions for the Cook."

From the introductory lines:

The function of the tenzo is to manage meals for the monks.

This work has always been carried out by teachers settled in the Way and by others who have aroused the Bodhisattva spirit within themselves. Such a practice requires exhausting all your energies....

If a person entrusted with this work lacks such a spirit, then that person will endure unnecessary hardships and suffering that will have no value in their pursuit of the Way.


The key word is "entrusted". The work must be done and the person who takes it on is given great trust.

If work is demanded rather than entrusted, the endeavor will fail.

Henry said...

"entrusted" defines both the spirit in which the responsibility is assigned -- a surrendering of control to someone else -- and the spirit in which it is carried out.

james james said...

I drink. I drink a lot.

A wife would not put up with my habits, and would no doubt grow bitter at me not changing. Because love is supposed to do that.

Now, I could marry a woman that drank a lot. And it might be good sometimes.

But then she's drinking at seven in the morning because you're drinking, and you're drinking because she likes to drink around eleven. And so on.

Now you're drinking far too much, and she's drinking far too much, and the house looks like shit.

There is also the fact that most women who drink are fun for the first hour or so, then become needier and illogical as the drinking continues. Illogical or emotional, flip a coin.

I need a maid maybe, not a wife.

-jj

Hagar said...

There are worse things than being lonely.

Shouting Thomas said...

Bitching never gets old.

Will your tombstone epitaph be: “I bitch, therefore I am?”

I’ve endured 67 years of relentless, stupefying bitching from spoiled, rich American women who have no real complaint. Apparently, the only escape is death.

DevilinaBlueDress said...

Oh my--I was that wife for 32+ years (less the mending!), when spouse declared he had to "find himself". Seems he stopped looking when he found himself in the company of a younger co-worker. I choose "have a wife"--it certainly seems like more fun...;)

tcrosse said...

The world's smallest violin gets smaller and smaller.

Gahrie said...

And paying a housecleaning service to come in weekly isn't very costly.

If you are dinks (double income, no kids) then full time servants is the answer. (can you still use that word?)

You hire a married couple...she does the housework/cooking, he does the maintenance on the house, yard and cars.

If you have kids, you need an au pair or a nanny also.

MikeR said...

My wife did all these things for years, while I worked out of the house. We were both fine with that.
When the kids mostly grew up, she wanted something else to do, and went back to school. She's now employed full time as an OTA. We all have to do a little more in the home, and some things get done slower. We are both fine with that too.
Men are from Mars and women are from Venus, and communication isn't always easy. But give it a try instead of stewing with resentment. If you love each other you can find a way that works.

Gahrie said...

Convincing women to leave the home for a career was feminism's greatest scam

The biggest sin was convincing women that being a full time housewife and mother was degrading.

james james said...

I see a lot of the young heroin girls on the street outside the bar. They still think they have it under control. They don't notice the older women walking by that are thirty but look like death: they believe this won't happen to them.

Many of these girls get into the drug because there is a hole in their soul or their psyche or their childhood somewhere. I'm not sure they would be happy as wives, even without the heroin. They'd probably make the wrong choice there, too.

Some people just chase the toxins.

-jj

MathMom said...

When we were first married, both of us self-employed computer contractors well-paid by the hour and working 60-hour weeks, we'd get home to a cold stove, unwashed laundry, unvacuumed and unmopped floors, and both of us were tired. Once, surveying the situation, my husband said "We need a housewife!"

Virgil Hilts said...

I dated/ lived with a beautiful woman (homecoming queen, popular, best smelling person I have ever met); she wanted to stay home, have kids and do every one of those things for me. But I couldn't have conversations with her and it made me feel lonely.
After first 2 dates with my wife, she had to go on a trip; we talked for about an hour each day on the phone, and I knew I would marry her (that was 27 years ago).
She doesn't do several things on that list (sigh), but still most fun person to talk to (more so than our 3 kids) and I still only feel lonely when she goes on trips.

james james said...

I had a friend where we pretty much went our separate ways. He got married, and is now the kind of sober that falls off the wagon a lot.

I'm pretty sure his wife doesn't want him around me, and I understand. I do not want to be his excuse for drinking; I have no desire to be the scapegoat in somebody else's soap opera.

Early on, I did visit their house once. There was no alcohol in the house. Or I should say, there was no alcohol there that she knew of. Give me five minutes and I could find his hidden supply, I know it.

It felt sterile and alien. But she did buy his clothes for him now, which only made him look more white-knuckle.

No doubt they'll have kids and then divorce.

-jj

MathMom said...

MikeR said...
But give it a try instead of stewing with resentment. If you love each other you can find a way that works.


Good for you. I've been the stay-at-home since 1987. I always thought I'd get back to shoveling money, but with a Special Needs adult son it has been necessary for me to remain home. Thank God for my husband, an easy-going man who craps money on command. He has had to crap a lot of money over the years, as I've gone everywhere looking for help for our son.


Gahrie said...
The biggest sin was convincing women that being a full time housewife and mother was degrading.


How very true. When I was the mother of young children, wearing my uniform of blue jeans and a turtleneck, I was picking up our son from preschool one day, and was feeling some envy at a lovely lady showing up in a business suit to pick up her kids. I told her that I missed looking like she did, and was envious of her. She said "I envy YOU! You get to stay home with your kids. I have to work to pay off my law school debt. I would live in a tent to be able to stay home with my kids." I have felt just fine about my job ever since.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

It sounds like Judy, the author of the article, really just wants a servant or as we call them now housekeepers (who are usually illegal aliens). Not a "wife" or a "husband" or even a partner.

William Chadwick said...

I want a wife who values reason over "feelz" and therefore values individual liberty over the collectivism of the "liberal" Hive. Thanks to the Gender Gap, I fear I am pursuing a "white blackbird" (to borrow a phrase from Kropotkin).

MadisonMan said...

@Virgil, that is a beautiful testimonial.

Me, I don't expect perfection, and I generally find things that way.

chuck said...

> In the old days, clothes were (I believe) much more expensive

My dad spent a summer clearing stumps from his older brother's field and got paid with a suit. And from Davy Crockett's autobiography"

The next day, I went back to my old friend, the Quaker, and set in to work for him for some clothes; for I had now worked a year without getting any money at all, and my clothes were nearly all worn out, and what few I had left were mighty indifferent. I worked in this way for about two months;

Henry said...

Hagar said... There are worse things than being lonely.

We were talking about Morrissey the other day.

I was driving my car
I crashed and broke my spine
So yes, there are things worse in life than
Never being someone's sweetie

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Gahrie: You hire a married couple...she does the housework/cooking, he does the maintenance on the house, yard and cars.

Ha! My husband and I are always joking (threatening) to have Inga and Sven, or Maria and Jose, (our imaginary house help) come and do all our chores for us....and more/wink wink.

The reality is that as a married couple, we are a team, and each of us does certain chores. Things we like to do. Things that he or I may be good or better at. Things that have to be done that no one wants to do but by default have to be done. Sometimes we flip a coin on those or take turns :-)

AND occasionally, hire a person to do those things that we don't have time to do or which are more cost effective to be hired out. Also those chores which have become more physically demanding as we age.

For example. Hubby makes a lot of income on a job as a plumber/well contractor. Why NOT hire a guy at @20 an hour to clear the area with his weedeater or trim the orchard trees or even as we did this year, rake all the leaves from the many trees on our property and put them in a big pile to be burned. It is more cost effective and a better use of his time.

No one assigned these chores. We didn't make a list. It is just part of being a partnership and the reality of keeping a household going. The chores are also done by gender or traditional wife/husband roles either. Sometimes they are assigned by height though :-D. Since I am short and he is not.

It works for us.

BN said...

The question is whether either of these options is better than nothing.

Birches said...

I'm glad to see your #3. That's when I thought the essay went bonkers.

From my experience, if there is a proper division of labor (not both spouses trying to make the money and then run a household in your spare time), there is less stress which means more sex.

George M. Spencer said...

Mending? Sew buttons back on shirts? Absolutely. Fix tears in quilts. Absolutely. Sew rips in other garments? Yes.

Ironing? As opposed to paying a dry cleaner to launder dress shirts? Do it at home and iron them.

RNB said...

The object of the essay was not about division of household chores. The point being made was that the institution of marriage is quasi-slavery for women, who do all the hard work while men go to 'work' for eight hours a day, where they loaf and party with their buddies.

Michael K said...

"Convincing women to leave the home for a career was feminism's greatest scam."

Yup. I saw an interesting comment today on feminism.

First Wave feminism of the late 19th and early 20th centuries was concerned with voting and gaining equality before the law. Second Wave feminism of the first half of the 20th century was concerned with equality of opportunity and treatment. I know of no one who does not support the goals of First and Second Wave feminism.

Enter the sexual revolution of the 70’s, driven by the availability of the Pill. As a child raised in this era, I deeply appreciate that the sexual revolution did away with the Augustinian gloss on sexual morality and notions of shame associated with sex. But once that pendulum started to swing, the Proggies / Third Wave feminists rode it far beyond that limited, long overdue good.

The Left began with an attack on all sexual and moral dimensions to sex. With that success, feminists moved towards changing the dynamic between male/ female relations, destroying the concept of chivalry for both sexes (men to act as protectors, women to act as desirous of and worthy of male protection) and, most recently, establishing a set of neo-Victorian, neo-Augustinian rules and attitudes regarding sex.


The Third Wave Feminists are now in the "Reign of Terror" stage.

Welcome back ST

tim in vermont said...

That post by ST explains a lot

Hey Skipper said...

[Michael K:] Yup. I saw an interesting comment today on feminism.

Third wave feminism will achieve the same resounding success that socialism has done. Every time.

Sydney said...

Having just spent the morning in the perfect contentment of cooking for my family, I would pick, at this moment, being a wife.

Hey Skipper said...

And I note that the famous old essay says nothing about yardwork and car maintenance.

Little known, but true fact. ALL of the studies purporting to show how much more domestic work women do include NONE of the work men do.

Over a couple years, my wife mused that she would like a built-in shoe cabinets by the front and garage doors. And a desk in an alcove at the top of the stairs. And hot water took rather a long time getting to the kitchen sink.

Altogether, those projects took weeks of labor. Care to hazard any guesses how much fun installing a point of use water heater in a crawl space, 30 feet from the access, on the other side of the main heating duct is? (Excluding spiders.)

Never mind doing all the car maintenance, gutter cleaning, lawn mowing, snow blowing, et al.

How much of that would have been included in all those tendentious studies?

Precisely none.

Hey Skipper said...

My wife chose to stay at home with the kids.

Her compatriots regarded her with thinly veiled envy.

BillyTalley said...

Clothes mender here. In this bad economy, don’t have the $ to replace torn jeans, coats. My wife & I use our sewing machine, and I’ve become familiar with its use recently.

tcrosse said...

From the outset my wife and I have alternated nights cooking supper (as we Midwesterners call the evening meal). It's a drag having to come up with a meal each and every day.

Sebastian said...

"The author is satirizing very selfish men." Ah, yes, those selfish men who exposed themselves to physical harm on the job at far higher rates, who worked longer hours even taking into account all the housework, and who worked themselves to death, on average, 5 years sooner than women.

Did feminists ever argue in good faith?

Sebastian said...

"ALL of the studies purporting to show how much more domestic work women do include NONE of the work men do."

Even the time use studies that do include all activities show roughly equal "productive work" by both genders.

The main achievement of feminism since the 1960s is more time for women to watch TV.

Meade said...

Where have you been, Judy Girl? Judy Girl?
Oh where have you been, charming Judy?

I have been to seek a wife, he's the ideal of my life.
He's a young thing
And cannot leave his mother.

Can he cook and can he sew, Judy Girl? Judy Girl?
Can he cook and can he sew, charming Judy?

He can cook and he can sew, he can make a garden grow.
He's a young thing
And cannot leave his mother.

Can he mate, can he provide Judy Girl? Judy Girl?
Can he mate, can he provide, charming Judy?

He can cook and he can sew, he can make a garden grow.
He's a young thing
And cannot leave his mother.

campy said...

Over a couple years, my wife mused that she would like a built-in shoe cabinets by the front and garage doors. And a desk in an alcove at the top of the stairs. And hot water took rather a long time getting to the kitchen sink. Altogether, those projects took weeks of labor. Care to hazard any guesses how much fun installing a point of use water heater in a crawl space, 30 feet from the access, on the other side of the main heating duct is? (Excluding spiders.) Never mind doing all the car maintenance, gutter cleaning, lawn mowing, snow blowing, et al.

Carpentry and gardening are hobbies. Why should men get work credit for playing at their hobbies?

/sarc

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Shopping for clothes and other household items is much, much easier.

So are the other listed tasks, of course: there's a Roomba to to keep the floors clean, a dishwasher, wrinkle-free clothes, steam dryers, etc etc. Even on the "taking care of the home economics" finance side there's auto bill pay, services link Mint, and so on.

The flip side of the question would be: do you want to be the sole breadwinner and grind yourself to dust working a job you probably don't like very much in order to pay the bills for your entire family (with all the attendant pressures & stress)?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

To seriously answer the question in the post's headline...

I would much rather BE the wife.

I didn't have a choice when I was younger, working and a single mom for a while. Work or starve. Those brief times that I was able to be a SAHM or 'wife' were wonderful. Now that I'm retired, I get to be "the wife".

I like to stay at home, not all the time of course, which is why I volunteer my time at various charities. Love to cook, garden, sew, quilt, knit and other crafts. I like being outdoors and working in the garden and yard.

I don't mind the cleaning chores, because 1. someone has to do those or live in a pigsty and 2. my husband is busy doing other things that make money or are things I can't do. I'm not a fanatic about cleaning as my screen name clearly indicates :-) Hubby isn't reluctant to pitch in with occasionally doing his laundry or cleaning windows. We BOTH live here is his response when I thank him.

There is actually satisfaction in a job well done, like a sparkling clean bathroom or a neat and clean kitchen or even folded warm laundry. Sure...it is all going to be done over again. But, such is life. There are chores that I don't especially like, such as being the house (and business) secretary/treasurer, scheduler and organizer. Again. Someone has to do those things and I'm pretty good at it.

There is also satisfaction in being appreciated for what I do to make our life comfortable and I am appreciative of the things my husband does to also make our life a good thing to live.

I even like to iron clothes. Although we don't iron so much anymore with the type of clothes and fabrics we wear. There is a Zen like experience in ironing.

So yes. I LIKE being "the wife"

Plus, if you do it right, you will have lots of spare time to read a book and sip on a glass of wine in the afternoon sun :-)

HoodlumDoodlum said...

james james said...I need a maid maybe, not a wife.

Always Sunny - Frank Needs a Bang Maid

mockturtle said...

DBQ: I particularly enjoy hanging clothes out in the sun which is something I can do here in Arizona even in winter.

Let us not forget, however, that not so very long ago most families of certain classes had some household help. With larger houses and much larger families it was often necessary and freed the mother for social and charitable activities. I have a book of my great grandmother's describing how a household should be run and how to deal with servants. It was far from a life of ease and fraught with complications!

wwww said...



Last night at dinner we talked about Laura Ingalls Wilder. The First Four Years was Wilder's last book. A good read to absorb the work of being a Farm Wife. House work is a lot easier in the 21st century.

Her daughter followed a different path. Rose wrote she didn't live the life of a woman. She worked as a writer and editor, travelled quite a bit, and is considered one of the founders of the libertarian movement in the 20th century.

The life of Rose's grandmother was very different from Rose's life. Born in MIlwaukee, she married Laura's father and the rented and homesteaded in Wisconsin, Kansas, Minnesota and South Dakota. She moved with babies and small children, living in a dirt dugout for a year. Their 9 month old boy didn't survive one of the wagon moves.

However men and women choose to live and divide up work today, we've got a lot to be thankful for, including vaccines.

Mac McConnell said...

mockturtle

Before I was born my mother with three young daughters had servants in occupation Japan. We had servants in Panama City, Fla and Mississippi. It stopped when my older sisters were old enough to take care of chores and watch us younger kids. Being the only boy they basically locked me out of the house as soon as my mother turned the corner at the end of the block.



Dust Bunny Queen said...

Let us not forget, however, that not so very long ago most families of certain classes had some household help

True. My father's parents (he is almost 90 now) were actually rather well off during the depression and had several servants and one fulltime woman who lived with them for years. Grandfather was a retired military officer from WWI and a Veterinarian with a thriving practice. He later got re-upped to work for the government on the hoof and mouth epidemic in Mexico which was decimating the Mexican cattle industry and was in danger of spreading to the US)

My Grandmother, owned and operated the local town newspaper before and during the depression until the early 40's when they moved to Mexico. (Pretty unusual for a woman at that time) She worked in the paper alongside her employees where the composing, Linotype operations, pressing and printing all took place. With 7 children, they really needed the help and provided nice jobs for others during those depression times.

It was not that unusual at the time to have servants, maids, cooks, or gardeners. Fortunate, but not unheard of. But then again, everything was much harder to accomplish without the modern conveniences that we have today. You NEEDED all those kids and those servants.

We are extremely lucky nowadays and shouldn't forget it.

virgil xenophon said...

Generally, two A+ personalities in a marriage don't work--like two Scorpions in a bottle. When the USAF took delivery of the F-4 Phantom (a 2-seat aircraft) they put pilots in the back-seat also (I initially was one right out of pilot training--a GIB "guy in the back seat". But everyone was unhappy all around. The GIBs thought they were just as good a pilot as their front-seat AC "Commanders" and felt unappreciated and chafed at the limited roles that their ACs allowed them (DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING AND DON'T KEY THE MIC UNLESS I INITIATE) who viewed GIBs as unecessary. Finally the AF solved the problem by putting Navigators in the back (who were happy as a pig in you know what to be there instead of a C-130) renaming them Weapons Systems Operators (WIZZOS) and taking part of the workload of the pilots who could concentrate full-time on flying the aircraft)

A marriage made in heaven..

Mac McConnell said...

wwww

One of the most vivid elementary school memories was a teacher reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder book series to us after recess each day. What made it interesting was her beautiful reading voice and the fact that she had been born in an adobe house on a west Texas ranch. You could tell by her weathered complexion and hands she had lead a hard life growing up. If you had any questions about frontier life she had an answer.

The next most vivid memory of elementary school is nuns kicking my ass.

Jupiter said...

I am told that when Bianca Perez-Mora Macias was getting ready to become Bianca Jagger, her mother told her that if she wanted to keep a husband, she needed to be a maid in the living room, a cook in the kitchen, and a whore in the bedroom. To which she replied, "But Mama, I can hire a cook and a maid".

Funny story, true or not. But my thought was "Yes, and your husband can hire a whore."

Jupiter said...

The essay is framed in terms of what the author wants. I could write an essay explaining that what I want is a flying car. I might get a fair amount of empathy, but not much sympathy. Apparently, this author's expectation was for a good deal of both. Which is peculiar. If one regards marriage as a contract, as she seems to do, then one enters it or not, as the terms seem attractive. If the terms offered are not to your liking, don't sign. Simple. No?

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Sebastian,

Ah, yes, those selfish men who exposed themselves to physical harm on the job at far higher rates, who worked longer hours even taking into account all the housework, and who worked themselves to death, on average, 5 years sooner than women.

You forgot to add that men's suicide rate is five times higher than women's, and the murder rate ratio is similar. We hear about female murders precisely because they are rare. I should add that male jobs tend to be not just dangerous but also plain nasty. (I am seeing garbage trucks go by; there are no women on them. But practically all teachers K-6 are female.) And that men's higher rate of pay means, in practice, a massive wealth transfer from men to women within marriage. As a woman practically unemployed at the moment, I can't say that I disapprove; but there are consequences to be faced.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

DBQ, Chesterton says, basically, would you rather have a home to manage, all by yourself, to do what you like with, or would you rather work in a factory, where your every move is dictated by another? Which of our two hypotheticals has the better deal?

He adds that the man is the head of the house, sure; but the woman is the heart of the house.

You know, I don't really cotton on to the ordinary "men and women are different" arguments, but Chesterton's seem to me alive.

mockturtle said...

Chesterton was very wise.

FIDO said...

If a man of any stripe goes missing, or is murdered, it barely pulls two inches in a newspaper.

If a perky (white) female goes missing, say down in the Islands or from D.C. it is THE ONLY NEWSSTORY, and requires the involvement of the FBI, U.S. Navy and the State Department. It will get a new law with her name slapped on it forever.

So...ladies...would you rather be a male crime victim or a female crime victim?

I guess it depends if you want to live or not.

Jessica said...

I am a wife who stays home and supports her children and husband in all of the ways listed here. I gave up an annual in income of over $200k to do so (my husband made the same). Just because the division of labor is traditional does not mean it's unfair. I would much rather have my job than his. He is the one who had no choice.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

From my experience, if there is a proper division of labor (not both spouses trying to make the money and then run a household in your spare time), there is less stress which means more sex.

Agree. I don't see a lot of happy marriages with children at home wherein the wife is working. An overworked wife* is often bitchy, perpetually tired, put upon, and resentful, and the last thing she wants to do at the end of the day is make love. No lovemaking means no intimacy period means the marriage goes down the crapper.

*yes, men work hard with little leisure time, and get too little credit for it, but many of them seem to have an easier time turning off their work brain when they are home. Women who work all day then start their second shift of worrying about the 1,001 details of their households have basically no bandwidth for affectionate, loving downtime with their husbands.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

I've thought about that essay over the years and the only thing I wish I had a wife to do is iron and dust. I hate doing those things. So I don't buy things that require ironing (husband does his own) and I have a housecleaner come in every other week to dust and do other cleaning chores that I don't particularly care for and that I don't want to take the time to do. Problem solved.

I am extraordinarily grateful to be married to a man who wants the same kind of home as I do, and sacrifices to support me so that I don't have to create that home while selling large chunks of my time to a third party. (Did that in a previous life and it sucked.)

If both spouses work full time you have a less pleasant home life; there is no way around that. Some people mind that more than others. Some people don't have any choice. I think my husband has it pretty good, in that he has a clean orderly and inviting home that runs smoothly with minimal effort from him, full of well-nurtured children, home-cooked meals, fun well-planned holidays and a happy, grateful, non-resentful wife who has time and energy for a robust intimate life (interesting conversation, fun dating and energetic sex). I know I have it GREAT as I get to decide how to allocate my time caring for our house and children, and we have enough money that I can hire out for the things I don't want to do but are part of that well-turned household that we are both proud of and enjoy.

Bay Area Guy said...

Shorter version of article by obscure Feminist in the 1970s:

"I want, I want, I want, I want, I want, I want"

The ditzy broad sounds like an infant. Real women don't think or write this type of selfish nonsense.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Women who work all day then start their second shift of worrying about the 1,001 details of their households

This is known as "Mental Load". Men have it, but more often it is women in a relationship and especially with children who have this.

The mental load is the running commentary that plays in the minds of (mostly) women, of all the things that need doing that no one else sees but you. And the mental load doesn’t respect downtime. You may be snuggling with your partner in front of the TV, but you’re actually wondering if it will rain on the laundry overnight because the kids are down to their last socks.

Think of a household like a company running several ongoing projects all in different stages (cooking, cleaning, laundry, bills, maintenance, childcare, etc.), and you’re the project manager for all of them.


Remembering when you are out of milk to put it on the list, when to take the kids to practice, arranging for rides, are there clean clothes, being responsible for the scheduling of activities, feeding the cat, did you buy cat food, making the reservations for a planned dinner, reserving a room, adding items that everyone needs to the shopping list, does the refrigerator need to be cleaned, did we pay the insurance bill, who remembers the banking, the credit card statements, did we empty the garbage, is it garbage pickup day tomorrow, put the cans out.....on and on and on.

Not just the actual physical things that need to be done to run a household, but all the planning, remembering.

In a good relationship you can share this mental load by having certain responsibilities and the task of remembering designated to the other person. AND then spend time hoping that he/she will remember.

It can be exhausting and even cause some people to just NAG out of frustration.

Dave said...

or I'd only like it if you could assure me other people wouldn't look down on me

Is this sexist? Maybe it is just an outmoded view? Can we allow outmoded views to not be sexist?

If you look at the quote it seems to me that the author assumes there are some men who would assume other people would look down on them for doing traditional wife's work. Can we assume that to be the case?

I mean there is a lot packed into that phrase, but I am just not smart enough to make sense of it all. I am probably just mistaken about the whole thing. Never mind.

mockturtle said...

DBQ: My husband and I, both working full-time, put on a dinner for 28 for his department from work! He decided a few hours before guests were due to arrive that it would be a good time to clean out the gutters. :-(

We women are known to be better than men at multitasking. I used to make menus for six weeks at a time on a rotating schedule and shopped accordingly. He usually bought the wine. Had he been American, rather than British, and not 16 years my senior I might have pressed him more to help around the house. He did eventually learn to make a good pizza. ;-)

Michael K said...

It was not that unusual at the time to have servants, maids, cooks, or gardeners. Fortunate, but not unheard of. But then again, everything was much harder to accomplish without the modern conveniences that we have today. You NEEDED all those kids and those servants.

Yes, it was pretty common for middle class families and, while Ritmo makes ignorant comments, I was raised that way, as were most of the kids I went to school with.

My wife's grandmother was the oldest girl in a family of 12 and had to do half the work with her mother. They lived on a ranch in southern California in the 1920s.

I've been reading the "Outlander" novels the last several weeks and commented on the obvious research the author had done on life in the 1770s Carolinas where this novel is situated. She has gone into considerable detail and, in doing some family history, I have noticed how many farm and rural family census records include "hired hand" or "hired girl" in the census form. This was in the late 1800s.

I expect there were few idle hands in that era.

virgil xenophon said...

"Happy wife, happy life"

OR..

"You can be right or you can be happy"

...An old fraternity brother who was for many years a columnist for the New Orleans Times-Picayune..

mockturtle said...

My great grandfather actually ran off with their maid for a time but came back. In many respects, he was an Asshole with a capital A. He was 96 and blind when I last saw him and was still an Asshole. My grandmother took care of him for many years.

mockturtle said...

There was a time in our history when one either had servants or was a servant. Modern conveniences have [thankfully!] made it unnecessary for most families although many still have weekly housekeepers. My younger daughter worked for a while as a housekeeper and actually enjoyed it. She now works with developmentally disabled children, her specialty.

Unknown said...

Surveys have found that couples with more traditional roles are happier and have more sex.
Such essays never say that the wife wishes that she was solely responsible for the family income, as many men are. This responsibility means that work is not a hobby, not for fulfillment. You take the job that pays the most even if it is night shift or driving long distance. You sweat bullets when there are rumors of layoffs or that your company might close. I have endured bosses who tried to fire me for no reason and probably 8 rounds of layoffs. Each time has been harrowing. Women never wish for that and if the husband loses his job is likely to divorce him. Women often take either a job to provide a second income, or something fulfilling emotionally. They never decide to become a roofer. Feminists think men's work is where the action is because the vocal feminists are teachers, professors, writers, journalists, where your work really is fun. There is never a vocal feminist plumber.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

In a good relationship you can share this mental load by having certain responsibilities and the task of remembering designated to the other person. AND then spend time hoping that he/she will remember.

This is why I love being the family planner, administrator and details manager. With the help of a variety of digital tools (primarily Google Calendar) to keep track of it all, I manage all the things so I rarely have to delegate (I like to trouble husband with as little as possible, plus it's necessary because he's often away for work) but also I don't work harder than I need to. I don't worry about things out of turn which saves me SO much stress. I know I do upstairs laundry every Wednesday so I don't ever think about it on other days. I vacuum the couch and wash the throws every Tuesday and Friday (cats) so I am not in the middle of doing four things on Monday and then stress out because the couch is covered in cat hair. A month before each kid's birthday I have a calendar event to schedule their checkup with the pediatrician, which is set to recur every year. I do it that day and then I don't think about it again, and husband definitely doesn't have to think about it. Rolling shopping list is on my phone and I use curbside pickup. Monthly trip to Costco to refill the staples so we never run out of flour or toilet paper and there is no nagging husband to pick it up and worrying whether he'll remember. Low-stress big family management!

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

When you're trying to split all the details between two tired and overloaded brains things go awry and people get stressed out and have to devote bandwidth to putting out fires. "Oh shit we're out of toilet paper--you pick it up on the way home from work because I have to pick the kid up from ballet--oh dammit you forgot how hard is it to remember one little thing I swear I do everything around here and you never remember a goddamn thing I think there is some kleenex in the garage" ugh. Takeout again because everyone gets home at 7 pm and who can start cooking at that hour. Saturdays spent on laundry and errands. Digging through a basket of clean but unfolded laundry hoping you can find some underwear when you're already 15 minutes behind schedule getting ready for work. Toothpaste splatters all over the mirror, Mom you forgot to sign my permission slip, I thought I told you to call the exterminator for these goddamn ants, why can't you do it you know I have a presentation to give tomorrow---ugh, what an awful way to live, if you have a choice not to.

Bruce Hayden said...

Bummer that I missed this thread.

In any case, some thoughts. One thing that may be missed is that the Baby Boomers may have been reacting to their mothers stuck in the house raising kids, when they had gotten to see to working during WW II. There was apparently a major move after the war by the government and MSM of the time to move them out of jobs and into marriages. This, BTW, is a big part of why we, as well as the Canadians, The Aussies, and Kiwis, had a Baby Boom, and most of the rest of the world did not. I know that I grew up with a bit of background unhappiness about this by my mother, and expect that many others did too. She was first in her class in the school of science at the University of Illinois, and for better than two decades talked baby talk, while my father got to talk to lawyers, bankers, and clients every day. Which is probably part of why I didn't really want traditional marriage roles, and let a beautiful, talented, woman in college get away who did.

But things were destined for change anyway, even if WW II hadn't ultimately pushed one generation of women back into the house, and the next out. Industrialization has gotten to the point that the amount of time required to run a house have been greatly reduced. Plus, it is no longer necessary for women to stay pregnant to 40 or so to guarantee enough descendants to perpetuate the couple's genetics. Two kids, if protected, are usually enough, and if sufficiently close in age, would take a stay at home parent out of the workforce for only a decade or so, until their kids' start spending their time in school and with school friends. That leaves maybe better than three decades open of a 45 year working adulthood. I don't think that very many men of my generation would have been happy with the idleness that we saw with our mothers' generation after the kids were out of the house, with some in the neighborhood playing a lot of golf or tennis. My mother's hobby was politics - she was legislative chair and chief lobbyist for the CO League of (Very Progressive) Wonen Voters. I think my father's generation took pride in being able to provide that for their wives, having grown up in the depression, when their mothers often worked because they had no choice. By my generation, the Baby Boomers? No way. The women can work too at real jobs, bringing in real pay checks.

Leigh said...

I've really enjoyed reading all the stories about good marriages and the sensible division of labor. The biggest tragedy of "Third Wave" feminism is that women who stay at home wife to raise the children no longer have any economic security or protection if the marriage ends (at least this is true in most states). Because ... EQUALITY! Since men and women are equal, why should the laws provide women any protection? While the husband will (presumably) have a stream of income to support himself, the wife -- now, a single mother -- has little to none; alimony is either non-existent or limited to a few years, in most states. And with 50/50 shared custody, there is no child support for the woman, either.

Another tragedy of feminism is that sex has become an abundant, cheap commodity and college girls are doling it out for free -- as if it had no meaning -- because EQUALITY! Sex, once so scarce it was a driving force in motivating men to marry, has lost all value. Why should a man commit to marriage when sex is a Tindr swipe away, Merry Maids will come every day, and those Amazon "dash" buttons will manage his household inventory?

Feminism has been an absolute betrayal of women. It refuses to acknowledge, much less celebrate or embrace, that women and men ARE different. Women, generally speaking, are wired to have children; they are NOT wired for one-night-stands. Yet "he's just not that into you," on the morning after, is all young women are getting these days. The damage appears to be irreparable, and it is equally devastating to men and children, too.

I'm glad I'm old enough to have missed most of the fall-out. And I'm thrilled my husband cleans the gutters, kills the roaches, investigates strange noises, and checks our foundation ... EVEN if he decides that cleaning the gutters -- or steaming raw broccoli -- is just the thing to do before company arrives.