Feminism and housewives

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Linda Hirshman declared that women who leave work to raise children are choosing “lesser lives”.[1]

Cathy Young wrote:

  • For all the talk of respecting choices, only half the stay-at-home moms in a recent Washington Post poll agreed that it's all right for the mother of a young child to get a job if she's happier working. [ibid]

The French feminist Simone de Beauvoir wrote the following regarding women's role in society, in particular childrearing and being housewives:

  • "No woman should be authorized to stay at home and raise her children. Society should be totally different. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one." - "Sex, Society, and the Female Dilemma," Saturday Review, June 14, 1975.
  • "A parasite sucking out the living strength of another organism...the [housewife's] labor does not even tend toward the creation of anything durable.... [W]oman's work within the home [is] not directly useful to society, produces nothing. [The housewife] is subordinate, secondary, parasitic. It is for their common welfare that the situation must be altered by prohibiting marriage as a 'career' for woman."[2]

Similarly, Betty Friedan, despite never actually acting as a housewife for most of her life, wrote in her book The Feminine Mystique regarding housewives:

  • "All this seems terribly remote from the easy life of the American suburban housewife. But is not her house in reality a comfortable concentration camp?... The work they do does not require adult capabilities; it is endless, monotonous, unrewarding. American women are not, of course, being readied for mass extermination, but they are suffering a slow death of mind and spirit."

In actuality, stay-at-home moms report having happier lives than their working counterparts.[3]


  1. http://www.reason.com/news/show/33291.html
  2. The Second Sex, 1949. Cited in Domestic Felicity: Feminism vs. Women's rights
  3. http://www.momlogic.com/2008/07/sahm_wahm_happiness_poll.php?icid=100214839x1204880052x1200231518#start