'Housewife' - derogatory?(102 Posts)
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.
Out of date. Dunno what else to say "unemployed" maybe ?
I'm a bit shocked that the optician needs to know your occupation. What possible difference could it make?
I had this when renewing my phone contract, had a choice of housewife/husband or unemployed, neither of these really describes what I do...
Yeah, nobody's married to a house, are they?
Is it derogatory - it can be. If the attitude is only a housewife and therefore of no importance. If the person using it intends it to be, then it is.
But it can also be meant by them as nothing more than a way to describe someone who is not in paid employment and whose day is spent doing household things and looking after children.
Unemployed isn't the right word. Housewife is a bit 1950s. SAHM is more commonly used now, I think.
Pressed post too early!
I shrugged and said, 'If you like.'
I just don't like the word. It makes me feel like people have me down for dusting a little then settling down for a nice cuppa when nothing could be bloody further from the truth!
Go on, give me a biscuit, pls!
since you asked so nicely.
I think it's relevant in terms if what your eyes get up to during the day iyswim? i.e. are you in front of a computer all day etc.
(yep - MN!!)
I don't give it a second thought, I think housewife is fine and use it to describe myself in real life I only use SAHM on here. I can understand why people would be unhappy with it though. I don't get offended by words because, well, they are just words.
Well if you want to slag off generations of women before you who had a pride in being a wife and running the house, who am I to stop you.
Housewife is perfectly acceptable - i see people use the term house husband.
I don't know....I actually don't think it's a derogatory term in itself, I think it's more how it's used, if that makes sense? As in, if a man described his wife as "oh she's just a housewife" then that would be derogatory, implying it's a "nothing" role. But as a term, I don't think there's anything wrong with it - I'm not a housewife but if I was, I would use it to describe myself. It certainly rolls off the Tongue easier than "stay at home mum"!
Just my opinion though!
If you don't want to be called a housewife then you shouldn't have to be. I can't see the harm in it. Nobody cared years ago when people were called a housewife. But it does sound a bit dated now I have to say.
I always say I am a housewife, without problem, with pride even.
They never ask it, to then judge my situation. It is just a stupid box they need to tick.
Being a housewife is a valid choice, imo, and therefore being classifeid as such does not bother me, at all.
I think it's a more favourable option than 'unemployed'. There is nothing wrong with unemployed but housewife indicates a choice about your situation. I have to document some people's occupations as part of my job and if someone said Full time mother/ SAHM, I would just record it as that. Just pick a phrase you like and tell people that.
Your occupation is a solicitor (currently SAHM if this additional information is required!)
what i hate is how we're often defined by our occupation, when it has little relevance to the origin of the the question
fair enough, if you needed safety lenses and/or your employer were funding your glasses, it might be different, but as a statistic - sod it. i refuse to answer
until there's a box that says 'cunt'
but you are houswife,you're not working I dont see the beef?
is the issue how you feel about your status?do you feel you want a more productive role
maybe you're struggling with the used to be bit.housewife isn't derogatory its factual role
Personally I have no problem with housewife, but I am nearly 50 so maybe that makes a difference.
They may need to have the occupation due to assessing risk factors ie are you on the computer all day at work.
It's difficult...if you had said 'solicitor' she probably would have judged you for not staying at home with your children
It is a crap term, but I equally hate SAHM... People are so many things. It's hard to define with one definitive role.
There is nothing offensive about the word at all. If people think it's shameful to be a housewife or househusband then it's their issue and shouldn't impact on the pride you feel fulfilling your role. If you're got proud if it though, then that's something else. A friend of mine detests the word but fully admit it's because she wants to be working (her circumstances don't allow it atm) and therefore gets stressed at not being able to do that. Do you feel a bit like that perhaps? And if so, could you go back to work?
I get annoyed when people use housewife to mean the same thing as SAHM. I am a SAHM but not a housewife - I do as little housework as poss and me and DH share all of it, not just what there is to do when he gets home, 50-50.
I tend to think of housewives as women who have chosen (or perhaps have husbands who wouldn't 'let' them work) to not work, often regardless of having children or not. I have an Aunt who is a housewife, but her and my Uncle never had children.
I don't like people using the term housewife to mean SAHM because the two are different, IMHO anyway. To me, being a mother is my job, I take it as serious as any work and put a lot of effort in. Being a SAHM was a work choice me and Dh discussed and decided we would make sacrifices for so I could do that (he earned more, so it made sense for me to do it, although he would've been a SAHP). Now, I'm not saying that no-one else puts a lot of effort in, obviously, just that I feel, personally, that SAHM reflects a choice that is different from the choice of housewife and that usually lasts a much shorter period than being a housewife does.
I hope that makes sense!
I suppose that technically it should be unemployed really.
I can understand the issue with it in the same way that a (ex) Doctor with 40 years experience would also take issue with just being labelled "retired"
The problem actually lies with society and how we view these labels as a be all and end all rather than just a category for our current employment situation IYSWIM
It has been frequently used as a derogatory term, so that (in my opinion), it has become one. A bit like the term "Paki" - as a word, it's no more offensive than "Brit", but as it has so often been used as an insult, it's become one. BTW, I'm not saying at all that women who SAH have suffered the abuse that some Asians in Britain have (I don't often have my home daubed in paint with 'HOUSEWIFE' and have my windows put through), but the principle is similar.
It's only derogatory to people who see housewives as lesser beings because they don't work. At least it isn't as cringeworthy as "full time mum" (Which actually is insulting to working parents, implying they put less in to bringing their kids up).
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.
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?
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.
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'
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 ) and I would say I'm available and able to work. I just choose not to until DS is older.
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.
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.
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
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 ..
housewife is dependent upon partner wage,not in receipt of benefits,not seek wor
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.
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
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!
'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.
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'.
I dont think housewife is a derogatory term,interestingly it's the housewives who have umbrage with it
The best answer to these intrusive and inconsequential questions is..."I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you".
Housewife as a term reminds me of dormouse, barnowl ....it just sounds weird.
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.
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.
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.
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
Luisgarcia, that is brilliant.
Your bank is more able to offend than my opticians!
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.
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!
I'd say 'housewife' was a derogatory term. If you are in any doubt think about this. When Dorothy Hodgkin won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry the Daily Mail headline was 'Oxford Housewife wins Nobel Prize'. If the DM uses it it must be bad!
But since there is no acceptable term maybe it says quite a lot about how society view women, bit like there is no generally acceptable non-offensive slang word for female genitalia.
Nah...I don't think it's anything to get het up about. We still use the term 'midwife' after all....In fact it might be term to 'take back' the name, as it were. It has been used in a derogatory fashion in the past, but it shouldn't be.
Indeed scottishmummy...but as Whoknowswhocares said early on in the thread "I'm a bit shocked that the optician needs to know your occupation. What possible difference could it make?"
Unless OP does not feel somewhat diminished by answering the question with 'SAHM' or 'Housewife', there is fun to be had in answering stupidity with stupidity.
...and remember that next time you have to fill in one of those forms, you could also put MYOB or 'International Woman of Mystery'.
It's only 'degoratory' because you lot are all saying it is. Be proud of what you do.
I am happy to describe myself as a housewife and I don't see it as derogatory. I have dc but they are teenagers at boarding school, so I don't feel sahm is an accurate description. I'm pleased that we have a high enough income from dh's work and my investments so that I don't have to work, as I've never enjoyed the restrictions of having a job.
Opticians need to know your occupation because certain jobs will affect your eyesight, e.g. office work involving a lot of computer use.
I'm not married to the house
If the term 'housewife' implies being married to a house, do you regularly refer to yourself as a 'manwife' because you are married to a man? Of course not because you'd sound deranged, and like something you might find in a dodgy Thai bar!
Jizjones' an opticians form is one where it is relevant what you do all day, spending 8 hours a day in front of a computer screen does impact your eyes in a different way to running around after children
The problem with saying you are a SAHM is that it's too long winded to write out on forms in full.
'Housewife' does sound dated; but are there any good alternative words that are less old fashioned yet mean the same thing??
True microfall, my own previously 20/20 eyesight is now ruined by reading MN in bed at night on a mobile phone
The term 'Housewife' does have negative connotations in Society...I imagine OP's 25'ish year old Optician receiving the reply with a small moue.
Best to shaft the system in your own small way and do as WifeofPie and I would do...MYOB, or BYOB, as you see fit.
Bearbehind Agreed - see above. Though CBEEBIES is seared on my retinas for all time.
"I suppose that technically it should be unemployed really"
If it was a tick box list, it would come under Caring, or Caring responsibilities.
I was a member of the GSCC (now disbanded) and every week from leaving school had to be accounted for, so Carer was acceptable for even your own children.
Unemployed suggests seeking work (in theory) which Carers, aren't.
Certain occupations puts you at risk of disease and eye strain etc, so it is an information gathering question, as the eyes show many medical conditions and an eye test is a medical examination, of sorts.
It is used by some as a derogatory term, including by several aggressively anti SAHM posters on here. I'd never use the term as it defines the role in relation to a husband, when it is usually about the children, I.e. the woman exists only in relation to the man.
i think full time mum is the most often used term these days in reallife
Jizjones, good point, maybe they should have a seperately tick box for that
I don't care what anyone calls my occupation, "housewife" isn't particularly accurate, but explaining would take ages.
tell horrendous lies fabricate a little, but that is only to amuse myself.
We use the term homemaker, as it doesn't refer to gender, or if there are kids at home. I think it sums up what I do rather well.
"Reading the Plowden Report from 1967 for my literature review, I'm intrigued that several members of advisory council describe themselves as "housewife and parent".
I wonder, would anyone choose that description today for their formal as a committee member?
It made me think about how much we value job titles and roles now; in the 60s it seems that it was possible to claim one's worth in other ways.
The report, by the way, is scathing about childcare for working parents: some mothers who are not obliged to work may work full-time, regardless of their childrens welfare. It is no business of the educational service to encourage these mothers to do so.
yeah homemaker is agood one
eatssleepsfeeds How you/we are defined is clearly important for 'data collection purposes' and I'm very Hmmn about that. I do take on board that looking at a screen for +++ hours per day may have an impact on your eyesight (though differentiating between for work and MN'ing may not be so easily distinguished!) - may I ask, in all honesty, what would an Optician do differently if you stated you were working in I.T as opposed to a SAHM/Housewife, when carrying out an eye test?
I don't like it as a term- I think it is a bit derogatory. I think I would just like to be known by name or 'not in paid employment' or something similar and nothing with reference to my marital or parental situation.
Homemaker is also awful! It's like something from 1952.
jiz apparently it's all to do with your eyes drying out when you stare at a screen all day.
Homemaker is a horrible term IMO, it makes me think of someone trying to fix one thing that is broken.
In my previous job as a mortgage adviser a housewife/househusband went under the heading of "domestic responsibilities" which sounds suitably vague in my mind.
I'm a SAHM now but would have no issues describing myself as a housewife on a form!
Why would you say you were a solicitor on a form if you're not currently working as a solicitor, or seeking work in that field? The person completing the form couldn't care less what you do, but in order for them to do their job properly they need to know at least a vague idea of your day to day life - If you were taking car insurance for example it would be fraudulent to claim to be in a job you aren't currently doing!
perhaps opticains think us sahms are on the internet all day
i know i am
I think I relation to this thread it is a non-issue. For filling in a form " I look after my children all the time now" is a bit wordy. If you told her you were a solicitor that would be a bit odd as irrelevant. Pick your own term- you were asked for one and I'm sure she would have recorded whichever one you wanted but didn't need a sentence.
Bearbehind YY, and my corneas are hardening with age...between work and MN I'm fooked. Eyes like a hawk before I discovered this site I tell thee.
...there is really no term that (acceptably - to all factions) encompasses the JOB that is bringing up children (be you Man or Woman). Whether you are a pedant regarding the etymology of the word(s), or an apologist/advocator from either the WOHM/SAHM camp, there is nothing to be gained by pandering to the 'put me in a box' tick list of services that we may occasionally avail ourselves of.
And that's why I, and many others, say/put whatever we damn well feel like on any given day. (Thrills to the possibility that some descendant in 2113 may squeee on discovering their ancestor was an Astronaut in ye olde bygone days of 2013 )
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
I could describe myself as a few things! I own 50% of our business with DH so could therefore say businesswoman or company director if I wanted to sound a bit posh. I also work (from home) part time in that business so I could use a job title. But I actually mostly describe myself as a sahm or housewife because that is the most important part of my life, it's how I see myself and its how I want others to see me. I see no problem with housewife tbh I enjoy it (most of the time) and get far more satisfaction from the sahm/housewife side than anything else.
My residence visa in my passport lists me as a Housewife.
It also says "Not allowed to work"
Oh, ok then
think folks is over thinking this,housewife isn't derogatory
in comparison to other love to hate jobs,that get immediate oohhh and eye roll and I dont know how you do that
Imo housewife isn't job but it's innocuous enough to not get folk going when asked
It depends on who says it scottishmummy- if you hear Xenia on the subject of 'housewives' it is derogatory and is fully intended to be!
I never had a problem with it at all. The only person who did was a solicitor. I shall never forget it. We were at a drinks party and this plain little woman of about my age came and started talking to me and we chatted for two/three minutes about her and then shse asked me what I did and I said I was a housewife now. She said "oh" and then she turned her back and walked away. Then her face fell when she realised who my DH was
Now that, I call someone with a problem.
all the convoluted other terms are bit cringey,homemaker,fulltime mother
maybe the touchiness felt at term housewife is worth exploring?
why does using another term for same thing make it any more palatable
I don't get your point married what's relevance of who your dp is?
she's clearly a rude woman
Just cannot use 'housewife ' on form- just can't.
Don't like SAHM much either.
If a housewife am a crap one as house a clutter mountain!
I am not wedded to house and do unpaid work/ volunteering which takes a lot of time.
I put whatever crap comes into head on a form.
'No paid work at present'.
'Not employed at present' etc.
Annoys my MIL who spotted me doing it on form!
Forms never have my exact occupation on it so if its a mandatory field I pick one which approximates to something like it
I don't get my knickers in a twist about it.
The fact that you think housewife is significant says you have attached connotations to it?
I'm not sure how I'd feel being described as a housewife but suspect if it was an option I'd chosen in life and was comfortable with, I wouldn't give a monkey
but there might be a part of me wanting to yell out, I did have a high power job, give me some respect damn you
I'm happy to be a housewife and describe myself as such. It's not my problem if somebody else wants to use it as a derogatory term, it's theirs.
I am not unemployed, I do not get a wage for what I do but looking after 2yr old and 1yr old DS i feel as though my time is fully employed.
I tend to just call myself a feckless layabout.
That tends to shut them up.
I said I was a housewife now. She said "oh" and then she turned her back and walked away. Then her face fell when she realised who my DH was
How strange-why is it relevant?
I'm not sure relevance of who miw dp is?why would that be significant
*I'd never use the
term as it defines the role in relation to a
husband, when it is usually about the
children, I.e. the woman exists only in
relation to the man.*
I also don't really see that it's the optician's business. Surely a handful of questions (hours screentime per day, sleep(?) issues, potential for eye injury etc) would be more useful than something that just gives them a - possibly erroneous - assumption? An administrator, "housewife", designer etc could all easily spend all day or no time at all looking at a computer screen!
Because DH was someone she needed on side for her clients. Don't think she ever made partner. She wasn't just rude to me she also potentially offended DH who was in a position to decide whether to accept her firm's instructions.
I hope your not saying a rude comment to you,was conveyed to dh and cost her career
seems to me you are suggesting better be nice to you because who your dh is
do you vicariously expect status because of who your husband is?
No course not: just that she didn't give two hoots about my feelings but did about DH's. She was rude to me because she didn't care and thought a housewife was inconsequential and that it was OK to walk over one of the "little people". DH would accept instructions on the basis of the case; not the personalities (unless he had qualified misgivings). But the lady was rude and didn't know how to behave and presumably this was noticed at her firm as time went on and may have been why she didn't get to the top.
I find it interesting that people with that sort of stance don't actually make it to the top because it's an attitude threaded through their dealings with people generally and it doesn't make them good managers either of staff or their clients.
The American term is "homemaker". It is a bit vom-inducing but better in that it doesn't define you by your husband the way housewife does!
I think SAHM should enter into the OED
I find it very hard to get worked up about it tbh, I describe myself as a 'Housewife' alot or SAHM, I could call myself the Grand High Poobah of the Kitchen and it would mean the same thing...
Anyone who uses it as an insult potentially insults generations of women from their own family, as well as everyone elses.
It's interesting that I can think of names used for grouping women (single mothers, housewives, ladies who lunch) but can't really come up with equivalents used so often for men?
I know you can replaces the female term with a male version but they just aren't used as widely are they?
If you dont like housewife then just put not in employment. I think housewife is fine as a term though.
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