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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.

HappyMummyOfOne Sun 10-Feb-13 18:53:01

If you dont like housewife then just put not in employment. I think housewife is fine as a term though.

CabbageLeaves Sun 10-Feb-13 16:26:12

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?

Flobbadobs Sun 10-Feb-13 15:08:33

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.

themagus Sun 10-Feb-13 14:45:29

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 smile

marriedinwhite Sun 10-Feb-13 12:38:23

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.

scottishmummy Sun 10-Feb-13 12:16:52

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?

marriedinwhite Sun 10-Feb-13 12:13:26

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.

needsadviceplease Sun 10-Feb-13 10:22:24

Bold fail. blush

needsadviceplease Sun 10-Feb-13 10:21:55

*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!

scottishmummy Sun 10-Feb-13 09:54:57

I'm not sure relevance of who miw dp is?why would that be significant

exoticfruits Sun 10-Feb-13 09:45:04

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?

Badvoc Sun 10-Feb-13 09:31:04

I tend to just call myself a feckless layabout.
That tends to shut them up.

DeSelby Sun 10-Feb-13 09:28:17

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.

CabbageLeaves Sun 10-Feb-13 09:25:03

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

SunflowersSmile Sun 10-Feb-13 09:22:23

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!

scottishmummy Sun 10-Feb-13 09:15:46

I don't get your point married what's relevance of who your dp is?
she's clearly a rude woman

scottishmummy Sun 10-Feb-13 09:13:55

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

marriedinwhite Sun 10-Feb-13 09:11:03

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 grin

Now that, I call someone with a problem.

exoticfruits Sun 10-Feb-13 08:59:42

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!

scottishmummy Sun 10-Feb-13 08:51:54

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

GilmoursPillow Sun 10-Feb-13 03:33:00

My residence visa in my passport lists me as a Housewife.

It also says "Not allowed to work"

Oh, ok then grin

5dcsinneedofacleaner Sun 10-Feb-13 00:47:44

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.

TheSecondComing Sun 10-Feb-13 00:11:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Jizjones Sun 10-Feb-13 00:03:00

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 grin)

Casmama Sat 09-Feb-13 23:56:26

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.

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