How Do You Define a Housewife?
How do you define a housewife and how is she different from a working mother. Do you consider it apt to use the term homemaker for woman who chooses to stay at home to look after her kids? So does this mean a working mom is not or can never be a homemaker? Do you think anyone role is superior to the other. What about those mothers who are on a break till their babies grow up to be big enough to go to a formal school? And what about those women who work from home on a freelance basis, what is the term apt for this category of women?
Women who after marriage stay at home without taking up a job are known as housewives. But am sure most of us categorize women who give up their career and choose to stay at home to look after their babies are also termed as housewife. Recently, the term from the West called ‘stay-at-home-mom’ has been in vogue. In India, mostly the term housewife or homemaker is used to indicate a large sect of women who stay at home. I think the term is stay-at-home-mom is still okay but somehow not comfortable with the term homemaker. Does it mean that a woman, who is a mother and also a wife to someone, who is engaged in a full-time office job (usually 9am-6:30pm) are not homemakers? Have you even come to think about it?
As per my research the term housewife or homemaker is someone usually a married lady who is not engaged in a office job and whose prime responsibility entails her to take care of the household chores including washing, cleaning, rearing her children, educating them and cooking.
The term housewife is used often as opposed to a career woman, whose primary aim is to seek a career and remain engaged in a job rather than being inclined to get married and bear children. Interestingly, this word ‘career woman’ is of Japanese origin. People from Japan believed that Japanese women have special powers to commune with the godly beings. Owing to this belief system, Japan followed a matriarchal society. But post 1800s this belief changed and women were obliged to prove themselves as an obedient daughter to their father, loving and docile wife to their husband and to continue doing the same for their children as they aged.
However, in the 19th century people started witnessing more and more women taking up jobs outside their homes. After World War II, when most men were at war, more women stepped out of the comfort zone of their homes to take up jobs to run their household smoothly. Later on more emphasis was put on educating women and hence women also felt the need to take up jobs outside.
In modern India, many women are employed in various parts of the country. The role of a housewife or homemaker has undergone many changes in many ways. Now women not only step out of their home and take up job to make a career out of it, supplement to the family income, they also take care of their children too. Of course, in order to carry on a full-time job women hire babysitters to tend to their baby’s care which in turn is creating employment opportunity for less educated women.
There are some women who choose to work from home to get best of both worlds. They look after their kids, their well-being and at the same time pursue their interest. In fact a woman who chooses to do both is more than a homemaker, more than just a career woman; she should be known as ‘home-career-maker’, where she takes care of her home and family life, takes on additional responsibility of teaching and caring for her kids and becomes a helping hand in running a household financially too.
Hence, the term homemaker and housewife should no longer be used loosely or in a generalized way. Of course, there are a lot of women who still fall in this category, but even their effort should not be discounted. Homemakers work day in and day out without any salary, without any reward, or recognition. If they step out to take up jobs outside their homes, the work experience of working in home is not taken into consideration. But I still believe the term stay-at-home-mum is much better word to define women whose primary aim is to look after her kids and run the household chores. Also, the term ‘working mom’ is not quite right. It implies as if mothers who work at home are not considered as working since they don’t contribute to their family income. Think about it, this article has many questions, which needs to be answered. Do share your thoughts on the same!
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