Perhaps it is not so uncommon nowadays to meet men who are ‘househusband dreamers’, or in other words, men who dream to give up all their responsibilities in the professional sphere and start to have an active role at home, taking care of the house and the children.
Not bad I would say, in principle. Although before forming an opinion let’s have a look at the motivations and beliefs underlying this desire.
Firstly, there is the misleading assumption that housewives have a pleasant life, for instance that they work in the morning and in the afternoon they go out with friends and have a coffee. Well, or at least they have free time. Honestly I have hardly ever heard from a woman who does this job that she had free time. Instead, they often say that working in the house is a never ending and mostly tiring chore.
Secondly, some might think that housewives are not working for an employer who exploits them. Really? And what’s to say about the fact that this work is part of the list of informal jobs (many of them performed by women) that are not paid at all? Is not this, perhaps, the highest form of exploitation, working without even a salary and without being recognised as professionals?
And, just in case the ‘househusband dreamers’ didn’t think of it, it is important to underline the lack of economic independence and security which is one main consequences of this. Moreover, as an indirect impact of this economic dependence many women who are victims of domestic violence are constrained to stay in these violent households and unable to leave and build a new life with their children.
Another problem that is associated with the work of housewife is that in many cases it brings with it isolation from the outside world and a lack of a voice in political matters, as housewives are confined to the private sphere of life.
Finally also freedom of choice and expression can be undermined in many cases, especially in a world where economy is the dominant factor and money is a key condition to do almost everything. To say nothing of the fact that being at home and restrained to a one-dimensional world can also affect self-esteem and confidence. These last aspects are also determined by the fact that housewife work is not given its real worth.
Working at home is a very important part of life and throughout history, no matter borders or cultural provenience this work has been carried out mainly by women. Despite being such a fundamental part of human life in our society it has never been recognised, so far, as a real job that should be waged. As such women who do it are not recognised nor valued for their efforts. Furthermore they often have been told this is their obligation and, in many cases, that the house is their natural place and this ‘obligation’ the natural consequence of their ‘being a woman’.
As a final conclusion I may say that this apparently dream profession is not so much as such, as it is associated in many cases with lack of participation in various spheres of life: economic, political and social. As such it is not fulfilling the necessary conditions to offer men nor women a context where to achieve their full potential as human beings and to blossom in their human complexity.
The envisaged change is that working as a housewife may be recognised as any other job, and consequently may be paid. As well, the social and political dimensions of this work should be addressed in order to boost connection with other spheres of life. However, to reach this goal it is necessary to promote a change in patriarchal society. There is the need for a shift towards increased acceptance of diversity and hence towards the importance of all life’s dimensions. This means, in practice, that the private and the public sphere assume the same degree of importance and are equally recognised and valued, and therefore also professionals in both fields. Hopefully this day the ‘househusband dreamers’ will also be free to choose this career path without fear of negative consequences in their lives, such as violence, rejection or exclusion.