The 1950's housewife is curious conversational topic. These images of women in dresses and heels pushing vacuums, pulling pies out of the oven, and serving dinner to their husbands seem to invoke some seriously strong feelings in a lot of us.
I know that the first time I came across an article from a 1950s Good Housekeeping on How To Be a Perfect Wife, I rolled my eyes and laughed/ gagged at the ridiculousness of their recommendations. Freshen up your make-up before your husband gets home. Tidy the house before your husband gets home. Have dinner on the table when your husband gets home. Rub his feet. Yeah, right! I thought. What!? Didn't these women have any kind of life of their own? I pictured these women as oppressed. Unheard. Stranded in a life lived in shadow of their husband, forced into obedience and service to him. Almost indentured-servant-ish.
But the thing is, I think I was wrong on that. I think there is a reason they are always smiling in these pictures. I think they are smiling because service brings joy, service shows love, and joy and love are the perfect recipe for a happy home and a happy marriage. It might not have been half as bad as we might think.
Don't get me wrong. I am thankful for these modern times. I'm thankful for a husband who doesn't expect dinner on the table, doesn't expect me to dote on him hand and foot. I am thankful for a husband who treats me as his complete equal, and shares the household responsibilities with me. These changes in the attitudes of men towards women make a big difference, don't you think?
I am thankful for all the women before me who have proven to men that we can have our equal place in this world. That we are every bit as smart and capable as they are. I am thankful that higher education, and respectable careers are ours for the taking. I am thankful that these days women have a choice. We are not dependent on men for anything, really. The freedom in that is something that was worth fighting for, but as I see it, that fight is over. We've won. We've won the right to chose. And the choice is what makes all the difference.
I want to be the apron-wearing woman, cleaning the house, pulling pies out of the oven, and serving dinner to my family -with that cheerful smile on my face. I realize while some people might think I'm backward, or old fashioned in my desire, I don't. I really don't. Do you?