Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Intellectual Housewives

         In the movie about 1953 Wellesly College girls, Mona Lisa Smiles, the malicious Betty Warren (Kirsten Dunst) attacks Katherine Watson (Julia Roberts) for encouraging her friend to go to Yale Law School with this statement in the school newspaper: "Ms. Katherine Watson, instructor in the art history department, has decided to declare war on the holy sacrament of marriage. Her subversive and political teachings encourage our Wellesley girls to reject the roles they were born to fill."   
         Katherine Watson's response is to show a slideshow in class of ridiculous housewife advertisements, asking the girls if this is how they want to be remembered, how they want to use there education:
 "What will future scholars see when they study us, a portrait of women today? There you are ladies: the perfect likeness of a Wellesley graduate, Magna Cum Laude, doing exactly what she was trained to do. Slide - a Rhodes Scholar, I wonder if she recites Chaucer while she presses her husband's shirts. Slide - hehe, now you physics majors can calculate the mass and volume of every meatloaf you make. Slide - A girdle to set you free. What does that mean? What does that mean? What does it mean? I give up, you win." 

Couldn't find the advertisement from the movie!

When I decided this Spring to quit my part-time preschool job to focus on my health and on helping Pete with his ministry, one of my greatest fears was "Will people think that I am just a dumb housewife?"  This fear was compounded to "Will I become a dumb housewife?" when I was first home and went through a phase of doing nothing but cooking and cleaning all day - I felt like my brain cells were leaking, and I hadn't even watched a single episode of Oprah! But I decided to snap out of this intellectual lethargy and use my mind for God's glory and my free time intelligently - to help Pete grade Greek for his intensive two-year in one-summer class. He had no answer key for the textbook he is using, so I made one - an answer key for a first year Greek Grammer - in seven weeks (which explains the 7 week blogging lull!). I literally have been reviewing, not Chaucer, but Greek paradigms, while ironing Pete's shirts! And reciting Greek vocabulary while hanging laundry on the line. And diagramming Greek sentences in my head while cooking dinner. Actually, I've been much more intellectually stimulated since staying home because I've been purposeful to be so, and have had more energy to put into study.
      I think of my mother who is a stay at home mom who reads Church History in her free time. Or my mother-in-law, a homemaker who reads Shakespeare. Or my sister Erica, a stay at home mom who is reading the letters of Clemantine and Winston Churchill.
     I am not a Betty Warren type of housewife, by the way. I think that the 1950's had some good things, but also much fakeness and hypocrisy. I am thankful that women have more options than marriage, or being a nurse, teacher, or secretary. And I think that every woman should choose to do what is best for herself and her family, whether that be Yale Law School or being home. My point is - don't assume a woman is dumb, or is wasting her education, because she is a housewife.


  1. Great post! I will be a housewife beginning this Friday...weird for me. I have wondered if my sense of value will change when I am no longer financially contributing. I worry friends will judge me...but mostly, I am thanful for the opportunity to spend time with my daughter and help Gavin through the academy!

  2. Hey Mo- It will be an adjustment at first, and people may judge you - at first - until they see how fabulously happy and de-stressed you are! And you will really start enjoying your time - and energy! - especially if you let yourself have outside interests like reading or a part-time business or art or whatever makes you passionate.

  3. So true. I think it is true for any woman who stays at home whether she is a housewife or not. I suppose it is even true for the growing numbers of males who stay at home to be the primary caregiver. I think it all depends on us; our interests and our disciplined use of time as to whether we will dumb down or not. You are certainly using your time well ;-)

  4. Joyful - you're right! I didn't mean to exclude women who stay home and aren't wives (like my wonderful Grandma!) or men who stay home - anyone who stays home can nurture their minds and their interests!

  5. Hey there. It seems like ages and ages since you've blogged and I miss you ;-) Though I see from the dates on our comments above that it wasn't that long ago. I hope you're well and enjoying life at home.

  6. Hi Joyful! I am well - I miss blogging but this summer has been busy with helping my husband grade for two years worth of Greek in one summer - my pea brain is spent after doing this and I have no mental energy left for blogging! But I am loving life at home :)


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