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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

On Service to Husband and Family

Every so often I get letters from visitors who disagree with or disapprove of the concept of a Retro Housewife. Since I love a good debate, I welcome these letters as it gives me a chance to talk about the ideas behind Retro Housewife (And what woman doesn't like to talk!). I got a particularly meaty letter today from a young lady in Australia that I would like to comment on here. I shall comment point by point if I may!

>>What I don't agree with in your site is the idea of service to your husband/family.<<

  1. Service to husband and family should not be confused with servitude. Nowhere do I say that a wife should be her husband's servant! I assume equality of status in a marriage, where both husband and wife value and respect the other's contribution. When you really get down to the nuts and bolts of what marriage is, you will see that on its most basic level, marriage is a life strategy; a man and a woman combining resources and (hopefully) forming a stable partnership for the purpose of raising children, as well as having a life ally who will be there for you through thick and thin. You can just as easily talk about a husband's service to wife and family in his role of breadwinner.

  2. Division of Labor in a world with constraints on time and resources. (i.e. Reality) Wouldn't it be nice if we could all be philosophers and artists, spend more time perfecting our golf game or composing symphonies! While this is certainly possible for the wealthy, most people in the world find themselves in the unfortunate position of having to earn a living. Which leads to the question: "How do we divide up all of this nasty work in order to maximize the outcome?" (The outcome being well-adjusted, healthy offspring, wealth acquisition and life enjoyment.) If you happen to ask an economist (which you did), they would start blathering on about specialization, comparative and absolute advantage, which for our purposes, I will simplify to mean each person should specialize in what they do more efficiently and are better at than the other.

  3. When children enter the picture, the woman is just flat out better at it than the man. (Mr. Mom and Junior notwithstanding). We can make them, feed them and I believe are better equipped to deal with them for long periods of time than men are. Meanwhile, by the woman taking care of the issues of home life, the man is freed up to focus on maximizing the resources he can make available to his family. The total "outcome" should be greater than if either party tried to do it all on their own, or each spouse worked outside the home part-time and in the house part-time.

  4. The problems started because somewhere along the line, society failed to value the contributions made by women to this equation properly, and then somebody looked over the fence and saw greener grass. We then found ourselves in the position of saying "Everything that men get to do = GOOD" and conversely "Everything that women have do = BAD", and the so-called feminists decided that they absolutely have to run into the office everyday or their lives would have no meaning.

  5. I am saying "What men did and women decided they needed = not everything it's cracked up to be" and "What women did and decided they hated = Maybe not so bad after all and definitely important and required for a stable society".

  6. So who is really the feminist here?
To be continued!



La Chouette said...

Dear RH,

I certainly agree with you about division of labour for a healthy family life. A year or two ago, I ran into a National Geographic article about areas of the world with high life expectancy. Turns out that division of labour between men and women is one of several factors of longevity! Trying to do it all is bad for your physical and mental health. Inter-dependence (not to be confused with co-dependence) between men and women may provide stability to families and communities.

finance girl said...

Hear, hear! Speaking as a former Program Manager at a certain software company in the Pacific NW, and after 20 years of that deciding what I really wanted was to stay at home and take care of house, hubs, and dog, I can certainly appreciate your dialogue back to the writer.

Jennifer said...

Great article. I look forward to reading more of ur blog!!

Rootietoot said...

Everything that men get to do = GOOD" and conversely "Everything that women have do = BAD",

Well, let's see. I get to wear whatever I want=good
I get to play with my kids in my pajamas= good
I get to cook! I love cooking!=good

My husband gets to:
Crawl into an ammonia filled range and fix things at work=bad
bury dead animals because I won't-bad
deal with our sons when they do icky boy things=bad
go to work at 6 am and come home at 7 pm=bad.

Hm...I guess it's all how you look at it.

Vidwata said...

i am going to come again and again here!

I am a newly turned housewife, trying to settle in being one!

Recently married and moved for some time to Switzerland , after having chucked a job, where I was only a month old to accompany my hubby.

I see nothing bad in being an RH, the only thing is you don't earn your money! I agree the contribution made, but it is not paid for...and I guess it would not be seemly...

But don't u feel sometimes, for the feeling of need your money!

May be you will write soemthing on this.