Monday, April 11, 2011

i'd like to be her.

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?


Laurie said...

I think you're right about the service thing! But I always wondered where their kids were in all the pictures. Off being perfect, too, right? :) I think there's a balance between being the perfect wife and being the perfect mother. Both are great goals, though!

Cannwin said...

I think the reason why they're smiling in the pictures is because they were advertisements. ;)

I agree that what I want is to be the perfect, happy homemaker. But for our era and not that one.

Did you ever see Mona Lisa Smile? That's what I think that time period was like. Some people really enjoyed it and wanted that for themselves, others poured themselves into it and got nothing in return.

Then again, isn't that how life is now? I think that what happens is we see those images and we think they had it made, but in reality they had the same issues we do.... just with less political voice.

So I definitely wouldn't give up my right to vote or anything. ::wink-wink::

Sam said...

I like trying to be a similar sort of woman, but people think I'm crazy (and oppressed) and that JD is a pig, so you have to take what you get. :) But I think the attitude is worthwhile, providing service for the sake of showing love and expressing joy. It makes one happy, at least it makes me happy.

Heidi said...

I returned to "work" about three weeks ago after more than 20 years as a housewife. On my days off, I LOVE doing the dishes, making dinner, etc. I love the feeling that I am doing things for my husband and children from which they will directly benefit and that it feeds and nurtures them in so many ways. Having said that, working outside the home has brought me to the conclusion that I have been bored and not using my brain as much as I could have been. I am really enjoying the new challenge. My youngest is almost ten, so that makes a big difference. All my kids really miss me, though, even though Dad is home with them when they're not in school. Funny how these things work. Meanwhile, if I were YOU I would be happy to be YOU b/c you rock.

Kristi said...

Amen, sistah! I am in the boat currently of having way too much on my plate, so I always feel like I can't be the cute little housewife I want to be. I don't wish for the 50's to be back, but I see how some of the things were sweet, and not so bad. I want to be that apron wearing woman (thus all my aprons on Pinterest!). :o)