A long time ago, it was expected of women that when they grew up, they would get married and have children, and that their job would be to stay at home and look after them. Women didn’t have careers – the men were the breadwinners. And for a women to not have children was unthinkable.
Nowadays, we have it ‘good’. Anyone can get a job. When a couple has children, sometimes the mum stays at home, sometimes the dad stays at home. Sometimes both the parents are women, or both the parents are men, so whoever stays home wouldn’t make a difference to that aspect. And sometimes no-one stays home, and it’s a nanny or babysitter that looks after the children.
A friend of mine posted something on her tumblr a while ago. When she was in high school, her class had to write down what they wanted to be in the future. My friend wrote down ‘housewife’, and was promptly criticised for it, even being called lazy.
Firstly, wanting to be a housewife is not lazy. Housewives have to cook and clean. They have to look after their children – watch them, play with them, comfort them, wash them, dress them, read to them, patch them up when they get hurt… And if they’re babies or toddlers, then just add change their nappies and feed them to the list. They have to do the household’s shopping, and with the children at that, making it all the more difficult. That is hard work. Housewives are not lazing around at home watching telly all day. They are being chefs, and maids, and baby-sitters, and teachers, and doctors, and chauffeurs.
And secondly, I thought the days were over when people had things expected of them, and couldn’t make their own decisions about the future? Women may not be expected to be housewives anymore, but that doesn’t mean our lives are playing into people’s expectations any less. Instead of being wives and mothers, we are expected to get jobs, and have careers. Nowadays, being a wife and mother is viewed as secondary, and nothing to aspire to.
I am currently studying a Bachelor of Arts at university, with a major in psychology. Not because I have any huge desire to be a psychologist, but because it is expected of me. Certainly, I find the subject interesting, but I would rather keep my house and look after my children than actually apply that knowledge to a career.
So tell me, how is it progress, when all we’ve done is swap one expectation for another?