A good housewife is worth the money

Posted on September 19, 2011 by

It has been repeated often in the internet that homemakers are leeches, who spend all day watching television and shopping. The Urban Dictionary defines homemakers thusly:

A lazy woman who sits around the house all day, often under the illusion that their job is just as hard as a mans, and that they deserve to be paid for it. Of course, they fail to take into account the fact that most women waste half of the money their man makes on crap they don’t need like about 20 pairs of shoes and other unnecessary garbage.

Also, when asked what their job is, many women will say “I’m a homemaker!”, when in reality they are unemployed.

The truth is far from that. Such a description does not fit to homemakers in general, but to lazy homemakers specifically. But then the critique should be about their laziness, not their status as homemaker. Doing otherwise is akin to complaining that doctors are all worthless because there are some of low quality. Such a complaint glosses over the central question of: Is the world better off, or worse off, for the existence of doctors? And therefore: Is the world better off, or worse off, for the existence of homemakers?

I think it is obvious to any traditionalist that the West’s decline has correlated closely with the disappearance of the homemaker (who I will define here as any woman who doesn’t work more than 10 hours per week outside of the home and/or who considers homemaking to be her primary endeavor). Severing a woman’s attachment to the nucleus of her home also weakens her attachment to her husband and fosters a sense of independence from her own family. I suspect this is the underlying reason for the fact that divorce rates are highest for women who work full-time outside of the home. The liberal causes of consumerism and efficiency, and the denigration of complementarity, have cheapened the role of homemaker to a position that is considered to be of little worth to her family and society.

The fact that many women — who have been told that they should “get a real job” — hire nannies and housekeepers (or the equivalent services) to mind their children and care for their home while they are away, shows the schizophrenia inherent to this liberal philosophy. Why is it that someone working in a day care center, or a teacher in a school, is considered a productive member of society, while someone minding and educating their own children is not? Why is it considered productive to bake bread and cook meals for other people, but a superfluity to do the same for your own family?

The key to understanding the denigration of homemaking is to understand the concept of “effort monetization”. As more and more of our work and efforts have been farmed out to factories, corporations, schools, and other such enterprises, we have all come to the general understanding that anything worth doing is paid for. All efforts that are not monetized are therefore assumed to be worthless. After all, if it was worth something, wouldn’t someone have commoditized and sold it by now?

It is not that critics believe the individual tasks the homemaker completes are of low value, but that she shouldn’t be the one doing them because she isn’t being paid for it. This viewpoint is also not limited to women. The same theory underscores the child support industry, with the father’s monetary worth precisely calculated and demanded of him in exchange for the loss of his “parenting services”. His efforts are deemed quantifiable and exchangeable, so he can be replaced with a monthly check.

This came to my recognition last summer, while out at a dinner party. I was one of two homemakers at the table, facing down five hostile female opponents (none of whom had children at home incidentally, but all very opinionated in spite of that). Their professions were: canteen cook, school bus driver, elementary school teacher, bookkeeper, and nurse’s aide. They were quick to criticize us homemakers for our laziness (because we did not have paid employment), but bristled and became quite incensed when I noted that I found their own efforts completely irrelevant to my existence. After all, I prepare our meals, drive my children to school and activities, educate them, maintain our family’s finances and file our taxes, and care for my family at home when they are ill. Why are they wasting their time and my husband’s hard-earned tax dollars providing services that anyone of average intelligence and ability could provide to her own family? But they didn’t want to hear that.

Nobody wants to hear that.

Posted in: Homemaking