At Home by CHOICE?


(Image by Stockimages, courtesy of

You may have seen the articles that have been making the rounds for a while, showcasing a collection of vintage print advertisements from the 1970’s and earlier. They’re considered shocking and sexist. You can view an example of one such article here.

I understand why people find at least some of them offensive. They’re not a reflection of the world we live in. We don’t have to turn back the calendar very far to encounter women who can’t even fathom the changes the world has been through. My daughter, for example, is a young adult, and she could look at my life history and see nothing so different from what she’s familiar with. My own mother finished high school in 1955, but even her life was not like these ads would suggest. She never had the chance to be Betty Crocker or Susie Homemaker. While she had no strong political leanings that I ever heard of, nor any serious desire for a career, she always worked outside the home because nobody offered her an alternative. I wonder, now, how she felt about that. Did she grow up just naturally expecting to marry a man who would work to support her while she kept the house and raised the children? Did she go through life feeling she got cheated out of that?

My father is not the man my mother spent most of her life married to. (They divorced when I was still a baby.) But my father believes that feminists messed up the whole order of things by flooding the job market with women. There were then twice as many people competing for jobs, so everybody’s paycheck got smaller, and consequently we wound up with a world where many women HAVE to work. That may be a little simplistic, but I see some logic in it. I can sort of see a woman like my mother, who probably wanted to be a homemaker, saying, “Thanks a lot, feminists. I had to work in crappy jobs all my life because you didn’t want to stay home.” Through no fault of her own, she never got to live the life she was led to expect.

Here’s all I’m saying. A lot of feminist-bashing goes on among Christian women. You’ll read about it on a lot of blogs–heck, you can read whole books about it if you look for them. And meanwhile, SAHMs  share that they set aside their careers to raise their children and care for their husbands and homes. There is no job more important, they tell us, and I happen to AGREE with them. So, summing up: philosophically, many of us agree that home is a good place for wives and mothers to be.

I’ll invite you to consider just one other possibility, though.

Suppose you’d never had a choice? It’s one thing to prove to the world that you can graduate from the finest university and excel in your chosen field and then decide to take up the profession of homemaking. You’ve already proven you can stand on your own two feet, you can paddle your own canoe! But suppose your parents had laughed at your silly desire to go to college? What if they had patted your pretty head and said, “College is for boys, dear. You don’t need that kind of education to change diapers!” What if no scholarships or financial assistance had been available for you? What if the field you were interested in working in was something other than being a teacher or a nurse, and everyone had ridiculed you? Imagine going to a job interview at a place where you had amazing skills to fit the job, and a burning ambition to work, and being summarily told that they were looking for a man to fill the position.

Suppose you had wound up exactly where you are right now: keeping house and caring for your husband and children…but you’d never had a choice. Suppose you had the same capable hands and brilliant mind that you do right now, but had never been afforded the chance to prove it to anyone. Would you feel as confident as you do today? Or let’s go briefly down another road…what if your husband mistreated you, but the law still regarded you as his property? What if he died and you had no choice but to fall on the mercy of relatives who would support you? That happened all the time, and not so long ago.

It’s very easy to condemn the wicked feminists who messed up the world. I wouldn’t even totally disagree, since some of the world’s most famous feminists were clearly not fighting on God’s side. But it wouldn’t hurt to remember that our mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers fought hard to get us the rights we have today, partly because they knew something most of us will never know: what it was like to be at home because you had no choice.


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