Housewife or Officewife? What’s yur label?

(a blog I wrote for mycity4kids…)

Hey guys, so I was “tomato hunting” at Reliance Fresh this morning and as is the case ALWAYS, ended up piling my cart with one pack of mushy pears, Royal Gala apples and Happy bananas. Oh! This tori looks lovely & some ginger also, why not? And also a small packet of tinda, plus the lobhia looks divine and finally, corn –  it just looked like it had to be boiled, buttered and sprinkled with chaat masala

I am sure I had a jaunty swing to my step as I stood at the cash counter admiring my loot — that was my good deed done for the next 3 days and  I was happily packing things in “Gunjan” order in my eco-friendly cloth bags, when this elderly gentleman (well he looked like a gentleman right up till that moment) sort of whispered in my ear, “Waise the best time for housewives to shop is after lunch!”

I think I had a mild stroke right there. I kid you not, but I managed to smile my sweetest smile and quip “Sir, would you please let the HOUSEWIFE decide the best time for her?” Come on, I had just watched Lipstick Under My Burkha with my galpal and was reading The Husband’s Secret for the book club meet & and had been avidly following our Girls in Blue – so I kind of owed it to womankind!!!

Upon close inspection: he was about a foot shorter, the teeth were probably someone else’s  & he was there picking up 2 “Wild Stone” deos mind you & he wasn’t even standing in the express counter! Jurrasic Park 5 or what? Plus the attitude and the gall to smile and think he was “doing me a huge favour” with his unwanted free advice.

Now usually I don’t start frothing so easily, but events like this one really make you wonder #1 about the general attitude to women in India & #2 this thing about housewives — nearly there with the “fungus that eats pond scum” quoting Julia Roberts from My Best Friends’ Wedding – totally taken for granted, expected to bide her time (till eternity), and probably feel blessed she’s even acknowledged in the human race for heaven’s sake! Her Motto: All work and no play, makes Jackie a Housewife! Smile…

I think at this point it is mandatory I put a #rant alert because I am going to be venting & good. First of all what is with this term HOUSEWIFE as opposed to an”Office wife?” So then what happens to the husband- are they all “office husbands?” or the alliteration on Prozac “house husbands?” Maybe someone in the last century did raise a similar ruckus, so another someone (I bet a male) came up with the even more condescending HOMEMAKER crap. If he would just come to my kitchen as I stir the dal (work has to go on dear) I’d like to ask him as opposed to what – a HOMEBREAKER, defined as all others who go to office? Hanh? Hanh?

Wikipedia defines Housewife as “a woman whose occupation is running or managing her family’s home—caring for her children; buying, cooking, and storing food for the family; buying goods that the family needs in everyday life; housekeeping and maintaining the home; and making clothes for the family—and who is not employed outside the home.[1] A housewife may also be called a stay-at-home mother or “SAHM”…. Freudian slip I think for it’s certainly SHAM!!! What a Shame!

Oh and if that is the case, just for purely grammatical purposes, I’d like to know the equally condescending term for the opposite “who DOES NOT manage the house, who DOES NOT care for the kids, who DOES NOT buy, cook, store, stitch?” Of the top of my head “loser” comes to mind – just saying.

So then back to square one… What is the correct terminology? Do we even need to define every thing?and finally, Can we please let the woman decide how she would like to slot herself in the scheme of things if at all?

The legendary 1995 Good House Wife’s Guide – you’ve got to read it to believe it — has some of the choicest snippets:

— A good housewife should have a delicious meal ready for the husband as soon as he gets home (especially his favourite);

— a good housewife touches up her make-up and puts ribbon in her hair before the husband gets back from work

—  She may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first — remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.

Ok, I don’t know why but I need to puke. Please gimme a minute will you.

If we just breathe a bit and think, it does say 1995 – a time when we still had chunky VCRs and loopy tape recorders and Graham Bell’s black phone! Which logically means, in the slick iPhone 7 age when even the phone has come a long way, can’t women? Particularly the so-called housewives? You bet we can! Starting right now, by defining ourselves anew.

A typical stay-at-home mom works almost 100 hours a week – as a teacher; household CEO; psychologist; chef; housekeeper; facilities manager and driver. So according to rough estimates,she should be charging about $115,000 per year for her work. WOW…. (I am gonna have a nice long chat with hubby tonight)

But coming back to the point – I, for one, certainly do all of the above, so let me analyse MYSELF: By definition I do run the house (Oh yes, that certainly is Mama Pande territory). I do cook (and love it), I do store food (like a squirrel), I do buy goods(my shopping is usually about cheddar, organic dals, high GI snacks & natural anti-oxidants) & sometimes make clothes (if you count the Roman toga I made out of the pillowcase for my son in grade 4 and his Minion cross stitch name plate). BUT…. BUT… I also read… write…. bird watch… do yoga… teach… paint… work with NGOs… study psychology … and there’s no ONE word that clubs all those… WHY? & moreover, what is with this global obsession of DEFINING yourself… of fitting a slot…. of carrying your designated label loud and clear on your sleeve so that ” toothless uncles” in a rush to buy fancy Deos can take the liberty of informing you “when is the right time to do what!” WHY?????

(Do LIKE…. SHARE….COMMENT if you feel things need to change  & NOW!!!!!)…. : ))))



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