by Paul Niquette
Copyright ©1996 Resource Books All rights reserved.

housewife n. 

  1. A married woman who supervises the affairs of a household. 
  2. A pocket container for sewing equipment. 
Men do not have jobs.  Jobs have men.  And now jobs have women. 
     -- Maribel Morgan 
My late mother was one of those who supervised the affairs of a household and, far as I knew, was proud of it.  Honorable occupation, I always thought.  Then sometime in the late 1960s -- holy moly! -- a man dares not utter the word in the presence of a member of the distaff persuasion.  I have had that proscription reinforced by all of my most recent marital partners.  Yet, along the way, I have permitted myself to be known simply as a "husband."

The term "wife" -- especially preceded by a possessive pronoun -- has become a soft-core obscenity.  And housewife?  Like I say, holy moly.

Who can doubt that Americans owe this linguistic redirection to Betty and Germaine, Gloria and Helen -- opinion makers who encouraged women and mothers, with or without husbands, to seek fulfillment outside the home.  "Liberation" meant employment and paychecks and independence.

Independence?  "Liberation" also meant keeping hours, doing exactly what another person tells you to do and how to do it and when to take a break or eat lunch.  Anybody notice?  And if you make a mistake or otherwise displease that person (not a husband -- a boss, with whom you would never profess to be in love), he or she will surely chastise you in a soul-grinding style beyond the intensity essayed by the most brutish husband in my mother's day.

 The fifties was not sich a long tam ago.
 Girls learnt from their mithers to cook 'n' to sew.
 What-ivver become of the braddle trousseau?
 C'n Ah be fergiven fer wontin' ta know?

 Boys learnt from their pappies thet wages bestow
 The husbind his place in laff's cameo.
 When did we give up thet grand quid pro quo?
 C'n Ah be fergiven fer wontin' ta know?

 Books in the sixties set women aglow.
 Was the purpose of wratters to seek overthrow
 Of music in famblies lack fiddle 'n' bow?
 C'n Ah be fergiven fer wontin' ta know?

 Bah the seventies, womenhood gave the heave-ho
 To honer fer house-wahvs.  Was a hahyer plateau
 Supposedly reached in a paycheck?  How so?
 C'n Ah be fergiven fer wontin' ta know?

 From home-laff to straff magazines did not show,
 And floodin' job-morkits made labor rates low.
 Whah did women in millions all join the outflow?
 C'n Ah be fergiven fer wontin' ta know?

 The eighties gave choices to women, although
 Which noisy fact'ry er office-bureau
 Is all that much better 'n housekeepin' woe?
 C'n Ah be fergiven fer wontin' ta know?

 Getting farred or demoted c'n be a big blow,
 And women swim rivers with a swift undertow.
 Don't they pay fer day-keyer plus commute to 'n' fro?
 C'n Ah be fergiven fer wontin' ta know?

 Now, husbinds and fathers are only so-so.
 Did political corrictness fer what's appropos
 Make wimps in the nanties constrained to tip-toe?
 C'n Ah be fergiven fer wontin' ta know?

 With waffly dependency dealt a death blow,
 With bosses above 'n' employees below,
 Are women fulfilled 'n' now rollin' in dough?
 C'n Ah be fergiven fer wontin' ta know?

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