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'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.

HanneHolm Sat 09-Feb-13 18:26:48

Out of date. Dunno what else to say "unemployed" maybe ?

Whoknowswhocares Sat 09-Feb-13 18:28:46

I'm a bit shocked that the optician needs to know your occupation. What possible difference could it make?

RhinestoneCowgirl Sat 09-Feb-13 18:30:22

I had this when renewing my phone contract, had a choice of housewife/husband or unemployed, neither of these really describes what I do...

HecateWhoopass Sat 09-Feb-13 18:31:17

Yeah, nobody's married to a house, are they? grin

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.

eatssleepsfeeds Sat 09-Feb-13 18:33:27

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!

HecateWhoopass Sat 09-Feb-13 18:34:32

since you asked so nicely. grin

eatssleepsfeeds Sat 09-Feb-13 18:36:08

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!!)

calandarbear Sat 09-Feb-13 18:39:13

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.

HollyBerryBush Sat 09-Feb-13 18:44:18

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.

Vinomcstephens Sat 09-Feb-13 18:45:01

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!

Viviennemary Sat 09-Feb-13 18:50:09

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.

Chandon Sat 09-Feb-13 18:52:16

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.

StrawberryMojito Sat 09-Feb-13 18:52:42

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.

GW297 Sat 09-Feb-13 18:53:04

Your occupation is a solicitor (currently SAHM if this additional information is required!)

DameMargotFountain Sat 09-Feb-13 18:54:17

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' grin

scottishmummy Sat 09-Feb-13 18:55:58

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

firesidechat Sat 09-Feb-13 18:57:47

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.

plus3 Sat 09-Feb-13 18:58:44

It's difficult...if you had said 'solicitor' she probably would have judged you for not staying at home with your children grin

It is a crap term, but I equally hate SAHM... People are so many things. It's hard to define with one definitive role.

TidyDancer Sat 09-Feb-13 19:00:00

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?

TidyDancer Sat 09-Feb-13 19:01:05

got not proud

OxfordBags Sat 09-Feb-13 19:02:43

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!

NopeStillNothing Sat 09-Feb-13 19:07:08

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

MsVestibule Sat 09-Feb-13 19:07:30

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.

zwischenzug Sat 09-Feb-13 19:10:39

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).

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