22.7.07

homebody

homeworking
J getting some help when he is working from home. click for view in flickr

"Housewife" is a funny kind of word, as if you were married to the house. Perhaps it's meant to be ironic. But I find "homemaker", its more contemporary alternative, even more odd. What makes a home? surely not just a homemaker.

"Housewife" is still allowed for older women - like "my mother's a housewife" - but it's less often used to refer to, say, a Mrs Lim, 32 years old - "She left her job as an accountant with one of the 'Big 4s' to be a homemaker." For the latter, it's as if "housewife" was too crude, suggesting a woman's limited sphere of influence. Plus, I guess "homemaker" is gender neutral. And besides, a homemaker may have nothing, no work, to do with the house (unlike the domestic help, the maid).

But friends, I think there is something about "housewife" that is lost with the "homemaker" replacement.

It's a something else you might understand if you spend an hour or so cleaning the floor with a pail and a piece of cloth, knowing afterwards that almost every square inch of that tiled surface has been examined and bear the mark of your handywork. A relationship is forged, this caring. As with the mosaic-tiled toilet. Or the shelves. Ah - I can't quite describe the relationship, but there is, for me at least, a sense that I can live in this house for the rest of my life! Yes, like some kind of married!

3 comments:

oraclemonkey said...

i think i'm with you on this one.

in the US there's a term for stay-at-home dads: 'househusband'. i did that for a while and the only thing i disliked more was being called 'mr. mom'.

look: i call the person delivering the mail a mailman no matter what their sex. i don't use words like 'policewoman' and i use the term 'guy' more generically than most.

oh, and the word 'actress' is very nearly extinct everywhere. how did that happen?

so yeah. i was married to that effin' house, and because those little girls were there too i loved all of it.

said...

i have not heard someone use the term "homemaker" here. everytime they ask me my occupation, i say "i'm not working at the moment" and they go, "so, housewife?"

even now, i find it hard to accept that i'm a "housewife"... i think i prefer "stay-at-home mum"? Hmmph.

ampulets said...

Heyhey, I wouldn't mind being a stay-at-home/house-ANYTHING. :>
as long as there are no little girls/boys at home. hehe.

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