In the last century technology freed men and women from many time-consuming daily tasks. It was such a rapid, sweeping change that in the 60s people envisioned a time when all labor would be replaced by machines.[e.g. The Jetsons: The Complete First Season ]
I grew up in an era that proclaimed housekeeping a ball and chain holding women back from their true potential. It was a time when all the skills women had accumulated over millennia were belittled and considered worthless. It was a time where Home Economics classes were still taught in public schools (in the late 60s) and yet we were hearing through the culture that women should refuse to do these things in order to be free.
The women in my own family knew how to cook and clean, how to sew and knit, how to organize a dinner party and some of them actually had a college degree and went to work. They did it all. But, I did notice that they had very little time to devote to any creative activity of their own. They were still expected to keep an immaculate home and prepare homecooked meals every night.
By the time I went to college (late 70s), attitudes about women were changing for the better. I was in a Physics class (my major) with three or four other young women. We were holding our own and there was no talk of women not belonging in the sciences. We were going to make the same kinds of intellectual strides as the men.
However, by the ‘80s women were beginning to regret that they never learned domestic skills or, as in my case, failed to practice what they had been taught. They felt guilty that they were not able to do the things their mothers and grandmothers could do.
This anxiety was exemplified in the comedy called “For Richer, For Poorer” starring Kirstie Alley and Tim Allen where a well to do couple, whose marriage is on the rocks, ends up hiding from a crazed IRS agent in an Amish community.
Caroline (Kirstie Alley): Every day’s a reminder that I don’t know how to do anything.
Brad (Tim Allen): You’re feeling sorry for yourself.
Caroline: No, I’m not. These women know how to do everything. Hell, I can’t even cook or sew. [pause] I’m domestically challenged.
Caroline: I feel so useless here.
A link to the video at amazon is below. (Please note that I get a commission if you use that link):Continue reading “Do you experience guilt over housework? We’re all there…Part 1”