'Housewife' - derogatory?

(102 Posts)
eatssleepsfeeds Sat 09-Feb-13 18:26:03

This has probably been done to death in times when I hadn't discovered MN joy. So sorry in advance for the yawn.

I was at the opticians today. The 25 yr old optician (I'd say) asked me what my occupation was. I've got 2 teenies but my DH was looking after them outside. I said I look after my 2 children all the time now. I used to be a solicitor. She said, 'Ummm, I'll say housewife then.'

This isn't the first time someone's said this.

I accept I'm a wife and that I'm in the house quite a lot. But I feel that there is a difference between being a SAHM and being a 'housewife' - looking after children, namely.

MsVestibule Sat 09-Feb-13 19:11:32

NopeStillNothing, no 'unemployed' is not the correct term. One dictionary I looked at defines the word as 'Without a paid job but available to work', which doesn't describe the status of a SAHM/housewife.

Bearbehind Sat 09-Feb-13 19:19:38

The trouble is, forms etc that you fill in in places like opticians are only trying to get the gist of what you do all day. In the case of an optician, i'm guessing it would be to gauge how much time you spend in front of a computer.

They don't have the space for every possible occupation. If you were a QC or a barrister, would you be offended if the only option was solicitor?

NotAnotherPackedLunch Sat 09-Feb-13 19:25:36

I hate the term housewife. When people insist on making me specify an occupation I use career break (previous job title).

I'm not married to the house.
If you could see the state of my house you'd all be waiting for it to start posting in Relationships or AIBU asking if it should LTB. grin

SlumdogMummy Sat 09-Feb-13 19:35:50

I agree with the conotations of housewife.
When we registered DS I was still technically working. With DD I was a full time Mummy. I told the registrar I wasn't a housewife as cleaning etc were way down my list of priorities and caring for my children takes so much of my time. On my DD birth Cert it states my occupations as 'full-time mother' grin

NopeStillNothing Sat 09-Feb-13 19:41:03

Ah yes MsVestibule I have just found that too. Good ol' Wikipedia.
It makes me wonder how those who can't work due to a disability or the lucky few who are too well off to need to work can categorise themselves though. Tbh, I'm a SAHM/Housewife/Unemployed (take your pick from the least offensive everyone grin ) and I would say I'm available and able to work. I just choose not to until DS is older.

Aelfwyn Sat 09-Feb-13 19:44:08

I sympathise as I always struggle with how to define myself for these little forms too. Having been a mum for 12 years (at home full time, plenty to do but no income, our choice) I am more relaxed about it all now. But going from having a career with a job title and a certain amount of recognition, to being a full-time bottom-wiper, is a huge readjustment. Faced with yet another form one day I decided to appoint myself 'Futures Portfolio Investment Manager'. Futures because that is what kids have; portfolio because we have more than one; investment because that is what they need and manager because I am. But 'Mum' will do fine too. smile

eatssleepsfeeds Sat 09-Feb-13 21:01:49

Ooh - really don't like 'full time mother' either - even more so in fact! How offensive to those mothers who are therefore by definition 'part time mothers'!

No, I have zero problem with not being a solicitor anymore and so that is not the reason behind my reluctance to be a 'housewife'.

Once the little ones are in school (plus think I have another baby in me yet so after that!) I'll think about returning to work in some fashion. But not as a solicitor. For me, the v long and unpredictable hours I worked would not be acceptable to me anymore. God knows what I'll turn to. We are utterly, utterly skint now but what the hell, surely the lottery win is around the corner.

scottishmummy Sat 09-Feb-13 21:05:36

plan your return to employment now as housewife when you have the time
research jobs,courses you fancy.try meet and shadow some folk in area you interested in
if you're so skint you need to figure how to contribute and be less skint

HanneHolm Sat 09-Feb-13 21:06:58

Is housewife a middle class unemployed?
I work in a public sector thing where people on the dole would be described as unemployed. Not a housewife
If a middle class person were not working ..

scottishmummy Sat 09-Feb-13 21:11:15

housewife is dependent upon partner wage,not in receipt of benefits,not seek wor

eatssleepsfeeds Sat 09-Feb-13 21:13:37

When I say skint, I mean I can't really afford to buy any nice and unecessary things like I used to without going over my monthly budget and into credit.

We can afford a weekly food shop and a little extra for necessities and a coffee out of a weekend etc. We fill our spare time nicely and simply without spending a bucket.

I'd rather live like that then return to the world of work right now.

I really like my life as it is.

scottishmummy Sat 09-Feb-13 21:17:30

of course you like life,you're not in stressful role,middle class skint,but getting by
one wage with no intention of working anytime soon.no wonder you're nonplussed

jellybeans Sat 09-Feb-13 21:44:20

I am a SAHM and the term housewife/houseperson doesn't bother me at all. In general though, on most official forms I have filled in lately, they have 'looking after home/family' these days and sometimes 'full time mother'. It doesn't really matter what they call it or even what people think of it!

jellybeans Sat 09-Feb-13 21:46:58

'On my DD birth Cert it states my occupations as 'full-time mother' '

My DC also have that on their BC. Think they tend to use that rather than housewife these days.

eatssleepsfeeds Sat 09-Feb-13 21:47:33

So I need to earn a wage rather than bring up my children myself?

Ok. Didn't intend for it to be one of those threads at all.

This is about the term 'housewife'.

For me, it is about no more.

I'm comfortable with my choices in life. I don't think I am at all 'nonplussed'.

scottishmummy Sat 09-Feb-13 21:49:37

I dont think housewife is a derogatory term,interestingly it's the housewives who have umbrage with it

Jizjones Sat 09-Feb-13 22:02:56

The best answer to these intrusive and inconsequential questions is..."I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you".

Skinnywhippet Sat 09-Feb-13 22:05:08

Housewife as a term reminds me of dormouse, barnowl ....it just sounds weird.

luisgarcia Sat 09-Feb-13 22:11:47

I've been officially labeled a housewife more than once. My bank recently changed my status from unemployed to housewife.

I am a stay at home dad.

HecateWhoopass Sat 09-Feb-13 22:14:35

I dislike it more now than I used to. mainly because my husband's family have 'housegirls' and 'houseboys' (they are kenyan and it is very common there) and i find the terms really dehumanising. The housegirl. The houseboy. no names. I am finding myself beginning to see housewife in the same way, tbh.

Permanentlyexhausted Sat 09-Feb-13 22:22:35

I can't see the issue.

Housewife, SAHM, Homemaker - they are all just different terms for the same thing - someone who doesn't have any other occupation in addition to running a house / looking after a family.

scottishmummy Sat 09-Feb-13 22:26:16

aye,jiz not a dry seat in house as you trot out that quip
hows about not be so touchy and just actually say what you do

eatssleepsfeeds Sat 09-Feb-13 22:27:06

Luisgarcia, that is brilliant.

Your bank is more able to offend than my opticians!

deleted203 Sat 09-Feb-13 22:29:12

I don't mind it. I've never described myself as a SAHM, which sounds terribly, consciously PC to me, and I loathe the American 'Homemaker'...

When I was at home with DCs I gave my occupation as 'housewife' without worrying about it.

exoticfruits Sat 09-Feb-13 22:33:26

I'm not married to the house

My feeling exactly-it is a silly term and out of date. It is definitely derogatory when used by Xenia!

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