Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Introducing Gertie's Op-Ed Column: by Elizabethe!

I am super excited to be unveiling a new blog feature today - an opinion column written by YOU, my brilliant and beautiful readers. The idea for this new series came about the day of the fateful apron post, which you might recall set off a bit of a controversy in the comments. I was especially struck by the thoughtful words of regular commenter Elizabethe and knew I had to find a way to work her opinions into a post. And who better to write the post than the lady herself? Please read on for Elizabethe's op-ed piece!
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I want to thank Gertie for the chance to do the first reader Op-Ed. There are so many great comments on every one of Gertie’s posts that this is really an honor!

A while back, Gertie posted a series of patterns that seemed, to her, designed to “anchor” women to domesticity – remember the dress with the oven mitt actually attached? “Woman, don’t think of going so far from the stove that you wouldn’t need an oven mitt attached to you!” the pattern seemed to say to Gertie. I have to admit, I was a little taken aback by her response. I had a completely different feeling for the chic shirtdresses with matching aprons, and with dresses that feature so prominently the tools of domesticity. I thought, how cool! These are some patterns that take domesticity seriously, and think women should be dressed well no matter what they are doing.

The truth is, the various women’s movements have always had mixed feelings about what domesticity means for feminism. Does feminism mean women should be more like men and compete in a “man’s world” or should feminism mean traditional women’s work should be given a more valued place in society? I think the post-feminist movement of the late 20th century has answered a resounding “both.”

Indeed, women’s worlds never could be defined so neatly as “at work,” or “at home,” and some of these patterns Gertie posted reflect that on a practical level. A woman wearing a chic sheath dress with a matching apron does not think she’s going to “just be home” all day. A woman in a well-cut shirtdress could make her kids breakfast in the morning without worrying about getting grease stains on her dress, whip off her apron and go to a meeting with a local politician, serve on community board, or run a business from her home. Even if she “just” stays home, a woman wearing a nice outfit says to her kids and spouse, the people she interacts with on a daily basis, and herself that she thinks being at home is just as important as being at work.

Elizabethe is a wannabe home sewist and recently Ph.D'd historian. She works from home as a freelance copywriter when her two little boys decide to nap.

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Many thanks to Elizabethe for kicking off Gertie's Op-Ed Column! Want to contribute? I'd be delighted! I'm looking for readers to write op-ed posts on the discussion topics we cover here: feminism, body image, pop culture, and how this all relates to sewing and vintage style. The goal of this column is to provide diversity and balance to the views already expressed here. Take issue with something I've written? Want to bring up a debate of your own? Please e-mail me at to propose an op-ed post.


  1. Elizabethe, my compliments. Very well worded and I couldn't agree more!

    Gertie, great idea!

  2. Hi Elizabethe. I do get what you're saying, and I am aware that as readers of a sewing blog we're all into fashion and looking good, but I am still troubled by this interpretation. Valuing domesticity and work done at home, is SO important, but I personally don't feel as though our clothing ought to be important to achieve that (I agree with you that the message sent out by garments like this is that our clothing IS important, but I have trouble reconciling that with my feminism). I guess my reaction is: since when is the idea that 'women should be dressed well no matter what they are doing' the same as 'taking domesticity seriously'? The very idea that the way a woman looks or dresses is related to her seriousness is something that feminists have been fighting against for years. Just look at practically any newspaper article about any woman in a position of power (politicians or CEOs are frequent culprits) - in the majority of cases you'll find some reference to her outfit, shoes or hair colour.
    Anyway, it's not meant as a criticism, more an ongoing conversation with different people about what emancipation really means. I love talking about this stuff :D
    Congrats on your PhD by the way!

  3. Well put, as always Elizabethe, and congratulations on your degree! It's a bit off the topic, but as a fellow historian (but with a much less impressive title) might I ask the topic/area of research for your essay? Always so interesting to hear!

    As for feminism and aprons; Clare and you both have a point. I sometimes feel that this general notion nowadays that sweatpants are perfect for every situation outside work should be battled! In one way clothes shouldn't decide our opinions of a person, and in another way; of course it's a factor for first impressions. When first meeting someone we gain a ton of infromation from their clothing!
    Dressing well doesn't mean dressing traditional feminine, but I would like to see more people, at least here in Sweden, take better care of how they look. Both men and women, and regardless of what style they choose to wear. One can be a feminine feminist just as well in a 50s dress as in modern jeans!

    So yes, Elisabethe, I agree that dressing well no matter if we're staying at home or going off to work IS important. And yes, Clare, I agree dressing well when staying at home isn't the same as taking domestic work seriously, it just doesn't exclude it.
    The two thoeries seems to me to be equally valid and by no means mutually exclusive.

    Really looking forward ro reading the discussion on this post! =)

  4. Gertie, you're a very gracious blogger. Good to read a variety of opinions on a topic which is clearly still high on the agenda for many of us.

  5. I think that dressing well, especially for those of us who "just" stay at home is important. It makes ME take myself more seriously. FOr me dressing well may very well be jeans and a decent shirt, but I will accomplish nothing, domestic or otherwise if I do not get dressed. It is as much about how I choose to present myself to my family, and anyone else I might see that reminds me that I am a woman, that this is the path I have chosen, and that it is worthy of respect (both my own and that of others.) I feel like I've jumped around a bit, I hope I have made sense!

  6. I love to hear so many different views! I think what we mostly need to realize is that most now have a choice. I personally love the dresses with aprons. I am a stay at home mom (for the most part) & an apron is my best friend! I have a 5 mo old so you never know when the chunks are gonna fly & I rarely plan things out so when its time for me to go somewhere, off comes the apron & I'm ready.
    I've talked to my grandmother in law, she was a young mother of 2 who stayed at home during the 50s. She wore these samethings however they had a nanny so I highly doubt the woman changed a diaper, much less had dinner on the table when her husband arrived.
    Just a thought....

  7. Annie, I think you make a good point: dressing well doesn't have to mean dresses or suits. I work in higher education, where jeans are rampant, and the right jeans with the right shirt and/or jacket can convey just as much self-respect and authority as a suit. One of my colleagues was wearing a pair of pinstriped jeans yesterday, and they looked fantastic.

    And yes, if I don't get dressed in something more than sweatpants and an old T-shirt on the days I am home, I usually accomplish nothing.

  8. I'll be honest and say that I didn't really care one way or the other about the original post. That said what I kind of like about these patterns is the idea of women being dressed and looking nice for themselves. As a full time stay at home mom for 7 years now I find that I simply feel better if I get dressed and look nice rather then spending the day in grungy pj's. Trust me I've experimented with both looks there. Now I don't go as far as to attach a matching oven mitt to my outfit though that would have been useful last night when I couldn't find the good one and burnt my hand but that is beside the point. Anyways I don't think the work itself has anymore or less value based on what you are wearing but I do think housewives and stay and home mom's should feel like they too can dress well for themselves.

  9. Last night I was gifted a lovely apron that a friends grandmother had made. It was a wrap around dress basically with frilly lace on the shoulders, lower edge and pockets. It was made from practical cotton and looked to have been lovingly worn often.

    I work in a restaurant and we had one older couple (in their 70's)in the restaurant when this friend gave this to me. I was OVER the top with happiness and glee and quickly put it on over my clothing.

    The women basically sneered at me and her husband said it looked "grandmotherish". It has a deep V criss-cross neck and I could actually wear it as a was NOT further speaking to this couple it became evident that the "apron" signified to them a time way, way in the past. A time not to be remembered with joy. I was really shocked by the reaction of "one simple apron". I think I almost ruined their dinner.

  10. I love how open you are Gertie! Other bloggers would probably ignore the conflicting opinion, you didn't so Brava!
    I love Elizabethe's op-ed, so well written!
    Personally for me, it's what ever you feel works for you and that makes it none of my business, live and let live. So much of a persons view point comes from their life experiences, who am I to decide whether or not they are 'feminist'? Just because I can't/won't do it myself doesn't mean I don't envy the women who can and do.

  11. The blog for better sewing just keeps getting better! I love hearing your point of view Gertie, but multiple views is always better than just one. Such a good idea, thanks!

  12. I really love this post for making me think differently about domesticity. I must admit that when I first saw the oven mitt dress my insides screamed. But after reading Elizabethe's column, I can understand how said dress isn't so objectionable, if objectionable at all.

    This may be unrelated, but since we're on the topic of the feminist movement and the role of women, I think that said movement has put entirely too much on women's plates. Now we're not only expected to do the work of a man (for less pay often times) but we're expected to do the work of women too . . . at the same time! I sometimes feel oppressed by the expectations placed on my sex.

    *Sigh*, there's my rant. But really, nice post, Elizabethe, and congrats on the degree.

  13. eliza.....nice worded about fashion and style.i cant say in words.

  14. Ask any stay-at-home parent and they will tell you that they're not scrubbing toilets or polishing door nobs all the live long day. Yes, we do have A LOT of cooking and cleaning to do, but we are running many other departments as well, as Elizabethe has eluded to. We manage time and scheduling(I wish there were a Phd program for this!), our home and property(usually on one income), meals(and not just dinner, any other mom feel like children are 24 hour eating machines?), relationship building and maintenence(children require soooo much nuturance, we need to work hard to maintain friendships since we don't have co-workers, which means a lot of involvement with things outside the home, immediate and extended family needs and school and community needs tend to fall on us because we "don't work",etc.....), finances(bill paying, dealing with medical, credit, budgeting, shoppping, banking...again, on one income), special events(birthdays, holidays, gift buying, special meal cooking, weekends, vacations, managing photos and creating meaningful experiences) and last but certainly not least, self care(making sure that you continually challenge your mind, body and spirit while spinning 100 other plates!)oh, and sewing!!!. I could go on, but you get the gist. I'm not saying that women (or men) who work outside the home don't do any of these things, that's not my point. My point is that the job of a stay-at home person is not centered around the stove or toilet and we shouldn't have to dress like it is! We do have a greater challenge staying put together appearance wise because of the myriad tasks that we perform on a given day and I think that clothing can greatly help with that.
    On another note, I have a beef with the implications behind comments about "domestic servitude". I think that much of society's depreciation of people who work in the home can be found in our negative attitudes toward serving in general. EVERY person who works serves someone else. If you are a non-sociopath, service to others is one of the things that brings lives the most meaning, whether you are the CEO of a large corporation or a stay at home mom. Why is it that one servant is more important than another? This notion of servitude brings to mind something more like slavery. It warms my heart that most of my childhood memories and those of the generations before and after me were facilitated by mom(and her unpaid servitude:)

  15. What a fantastic idea for an op-ed column, Gertie!! I'm looking forward to future contributor's pieces. :) Thank you Elizabethe for providing further insight into your opinion on the matter--as a sahw, I really appreciate it! :)

    I just wanted to comment on something FairLadyofCardigan said: "This may be unrelated, but since we're on the topic of the feminist movement and the role of women, I think that said movement has put entirely too much on women's plates. Now we're not only expected to do the work of a man (for less pay often times) but we're expected to do the work of women too . . . at the same time! I sometimes feel oppressed by the expectations placed on my sex."

    Agreed. I have been reading a book about the pressures of juggling it all (aka "perfectionism") that are placed on women nowadays. In some ways, I feel like we've piled more on ourselves, instead of spreading out the responsibilities in life (namely, housekeeping, cooking, childcare--someone has to do these things!) equally among the sexes. Although I am not a raging feminist, and have a very traditional lifestyle, I am incensed that men are still largely left out of the equation when it comes to domestic work, while women who are also pulling their weight in the career world still have to saddle more than their fair share! Yes, I have met men who do pitch in and help (or are at least willing and ready when needed), but the vast majority still seem to look upon housework/childcare as "women's work". As a result I think we're pushing ourselves (collectively) even further towards the edge of what can be humanly achieved and in many ways missing out on things that are healthy in life, like relaxing once-in-awhile and just stopping to smell the roses!

    Sorry to ramble... Just between a book I'm reading ("Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters"... good stuff!) and thinking over the gender issues that we still grapple with in the 21st century, I've been eager to discuss this sort of thing lately! ;)

    ♥ Casey
    blog |

  16. Another great post. Love the idea of having 'guest speakers' as it were.
    It is fascinating to see how people view the same things so differently. I think I agree with both sides of this discussion. On one hand it's true. I agree its good to look great whatever you are doing. It's about looking good for yourself. I know I always feel better when I'm wearing a great outfit that I know flatters me. It doesn't matter if I'm going to see anyone (not that compliments hurt ;p ). I do think the oven mitt was overkill though. There is a distinct undertone, and implication that housework is women's work. Wearing a matching oven mitt doesn't really make much of statement does it?
    That said, I think the point of feminism is getting the recognition that we do have the same capabilities as men (although physically they ARE stronger), but also recognition of the fact that housework is important. It is essential to daily life. And what is more important than bringing up you're children right? It's about having the choice to decide to work, stay at home etc. I think it's a shame that now if you want to be a stay at home mum and give your importance to that you are often thought less of, and not seen as feminist.
    Sorry to rant, it's something I feel strongly about. It's just all the important jobs are always overlooked. The teachers, cleaners, nurses etc. don't get proper recognition for what they do for society. It certainly isn't represented in the pay. However these jobs are all vital to humanity. Its interesting. Anyway, there's my ten pences' worth.
    Thanks for the great post!

  17. Honestly I never interpreted the apron-with-matching-oven-mitt thing as an idea that passed down from some male CEO, trying to put his thumb down on his female customers. I saw it as an idea that probably "passed up", like from one housewife having the idea and desire to make her own oven mitt to smartly match her favorite apron

    It's interesting how different views of feminism (and everything else) can be:
    "Now we're not only expected to do the work of a man (for less pay often times) but we're expected to do the work of women too . . . at the same time! I sometimes feel oppressed by the expectations placed on my sex."

    I totally don't see it this way! Rather than pushing women to do "men's work" and "women's", I see it trying to push society collectively to think why some work belongs only to one sex, and why the traditional roles belonging to women are always spoken of as though they are shaming or not as important. I don't feel the pressure from any "-ism" to be it all and juggle all my tasks perfectly, just to find what makes me happy and be able to enjoy it (which I have to thank the women before me for).

  18. PS. I didn't mean that I've never looked at an apron pattern w/ oven mitt with a side eye, just that I don't go into a tizzy when I do!

  19. Gertie,

    Very nice, and I enjoyed Elizabethe's column, as well as the comments. As a working woman (lawyer) of a "certain age" I think that something that may be missing from most of the commentators' perceptions here is a sense of context re the original column. One of the reason the aprons with matching mitts, etc., are annoying (to me, at least), is that at the time those patterns came out women didn't have choices - certainly nothing like what we have now. I'm old enough to remember looking at the "want ads" in the newspaper and seeing the "men only" restrictions. There were expectations re what you as a woman should do with your life that I think are hard for us to imagine now. Women (like people of color) had a "place" and were largely supposed to stay there. (By the way, my mother was a lawyer too- one of two in her law school class - but when she got out of law school, she had to go in business for herself - law firms didn't hire women then.) So please keep in mind that all of the choices people have now were not easily come by! And by the way, I'm raising two children, and enjoy sewing, cooking, etc. And I like aprons!


  20. As a p.s. to Rachael, yes, women who work outside the home, as a rule, do all the stuff you mention as the work of stay at home moms. And those of us who are single moms do those, and all the "men's work" around the house too, the gardening, home maintenance, etc.


  21. This is new blog feature is a great addition, Gertie. Very interesting. Excellent comments from everyone here. I particularly appreciated the comments made by Stephanie and Rachael. I won't get into too much here myself because most everything has already been said, and I don't know that my opinion has anything to do with feminism, per se; so please forgive me if I am a little off topic here. As far as dressing goes, I think a woman should wear whatever makes her happy. There are things that would be a little impractical for me to wear because of all of the things I do around the home with the children. With that said, I do like to look as nice as I can. So for myself as well as my family, since that is who I am mostly around with being a stay-at-home mother, I try to look as pleasing as possible and try not to dress grungy (too often, anyway). I have my moments where I'll just throw on whatever, like everyone, I suppose. When I take the time to put a little effort into my appearance, I feel better about myself, more confident, stand a little taller, have more pep in my step and seem to get more done. I love aprons because they protect my clothing. I don't like the idea of having an oven mitt attached, though, because I don't like the way it looks.

    On another note, I am not worried about dividing things equally. My husband and I try to work as a team and whoever can get to whatever needs to be done, does it. around the home, with the children, etc. I do as much as I can do. I don't get it all done. i guess if I would pull away from the sewing machine and the paint brushes more often, I would get more done. But I think it's important to have time to nurture myself creatively, then I have more to give to my family because I am feeling more fulfilled. That's another topic. Sorry. I love serving my family, friends, whoever. It feels good to give. I love my blogging friends, too. I feel that we are serving one another by encouraging one another with our comments, and sharing ideas and tips. When we give to others, we feel better about ourselves and improve the world around us.

    Thank you, Everyone, for taking the time to give of yourself by sharing your opinion. I feel I can learn from each one of you.

  22. Oops. I guess I went a little long when I said I wouldn't say much.

    Also, I appreciate anonymous's comment (the lawyer) directly above mine. It adds some perspective for myself being probably younger than she.

  23. Reilly, I truly hope that I'm in the minority and that more women feel the way you do.

  24. Excellent post! I couldn't agree more.

  25. I'd like to comment here as a student of history who was considering writing about the Victorian Middle Class Ideal Household versus the actual practices of the era (I changed my mind after another topic seemed more appropriate). A lot of my research such as by the scholar Handlin really made me see that the "working mother/housewife" is not a new thing at all. In fact, the idea of a stay at home mom who did nothing but care for children and not have to struggle with financial responsibilities was very much a construct of the Victorian era unattainable by most. Prior to that, it was very common for the home to be seen as a workplace and this continued, albeit with newfound prejudice, into the 19th century. For example, many middle class widows, who were left with only their property and no other income, would rent rooms to boarders. (These women were often the subject of terrible scrutiny, with social workers checking in periodically to make sure no "funny business" took place.) Working class women in the South would essentially operate laundry services out of their homes in order to be able to earn money and keep an eye on their children. (these women were also scrutinized and the practice was made illegal, for "health" reasons, by the turn of the century in most places).

    My point is not that stay at home moms are lame and I hope that isn't what comes across. Just the opposite (my family is from the middle east and operates via "traditional" gender roles so you better believe a SAHM raised me). My point is that throughout history, women have always been forced to juggle two "conflicting" roles: that as domestic caregiver and as an income producer, often in the same physical space. Sadly, they have historically been given very little credit for their work and shamed one way or the other. Think of the local fisherman back in 1400. Do you suppose his family was so rich that his wife was NOT helping him clean and gut fish or whatever other prep work was needed? These kinds of tasks get relegated as "bitch work" and go unappreciated. Imagine how much it would cost to hire someone to do all the work a SAHM (w/o a home office or outside career) does? I would venture to say that it would cost thousands of dollars a month.
    Beyond that, I'm not sure what my point is, except we have had it tough as women, been strong, and that continues. I feel like at least our generation is able to bring these issues to light although a thousand year old pattern is hard to break.

  26. Rena, you pretty much read my mind. Although this has not been my experience personally (I'm college-age and my mother has always worked), what many readers are forgetting is that when these patterns were made, women DIDN'T have a choice. I think this is the fact that initially made Gertie (and myself) cringe at these patterns. Back then domestic servitude (and the lady-like dress code that went along with it) really were more like slavery than a lifestyle choice.

    That being said, I agree with what many have said about dressing nicely. Although legions of college students schlump to class every day in their sweats, I just don't feel ready to do anything if I'm not dressed at least presentably. It does a lot for a person's self esteem and ,consequently, productivity.

    I love aprons, for both practicality and cute-factor, but I think the oven mitt is just a little silly... why not hang it or put it in a drawer right next to the stove? That's really easy enough. Some of these patterns still do reinforce the idea of domestic chores as distinctly "women's work". Can you imagine a pair of tailored men's trousers with an attached oven mitt?

    While I wish that our society had moved past these issues, feminism is still considered by many with a certain lightness or derision (think of the last election... many would agree that jokes about Obama's race are in bad taste, but then laugh about sending Hillary Clinton back to the kitchen where she belongs).

    Anyway... if you think the potholder dress is really cute, go for it. Just be sure to keep things in perspective. The important thing is that it's because you want to, not because society tells you it's what you want : D

  27. O, P.S.

    Great perspective, Elizabethe. Gertie, keep up the op-eds. This was a great discussion starter.

  28. Great column Elizabethe! The feminist movement has opened up so many doors for women today, however i don't think we should forget or underestimate the importance of those women who stay home and raise children and run a household. We are just lucky that today, it's our choice if that's what we want to do.

    As a stay at home mum i take pride in the appearance of my home and i was always brought up to be a presentable young lady. Even if I am just going to be at home all day i do my hair and put on some make- up and dress nicely but appropriately for my day, because i feel good when i do. I dont think this make me any less intelligent, or caring about world issues.

    I think that maybe we should just think ourselves lucky that today we can wear a cute apron because we want to and not because we have to, and we are not just glorified maids.

  29. Such a topic and the responses bring up so many thoughts and feelings for me. I am 61 and lived through the feminist movement. So have, I think, a more broad perspective than younger women; not more wisdom, just more experiences from which to draw. I find it amazing that the attitude of the younger set regards the “roles” of the sexes to be so evenly matched and not a relevant issue today. Yet, I still see sexism, especially in the work place.
    I have raised 3 children. With the first 2 I did not work outside the home until they were older. I loved being Mom but hated having coffee with friends and not being able to talk about something other than yellow waxy buildup or what showed up in the diaper. Then 20 years later I had my third child (what can I say?) and a professional career. I loved both my child and my career, and continually felt guilty about both.
    What a difference, in so many, many, many ways!
    During the 50’s and well into the 60’s, women did not wear pants unless they were camping, riding a horse, etc. Girls were not even allowed to wear culottes to school because they were too much like pants…we could, however, wear fingertip length miniskirts! (show our derriere but not wear pants?!?) My mother would never leave the home without her white gloves and hat until the 60’s. And, she changed into a better dress (and better apron) before Dad came home from work.
    Servitude? Absolutely!!! But, just as almost everything else, it had its good and bad aspects! It certainly limited the aspirations of women…..and the humanness of men. It also gave the family unit the full attention of one person; which I think is more important to children and the family unit than is truly and fully appreciated today. I wish we were in an era that it was ordinary to have one person (equally father or mother) to continue that domesticated position while being able to have a respected part time career that later, after the kids were older, was able to blossom into the completion of fulfilling that person’s aspirations. Normal, accepted and respected.
    My point is that while the 50’s were not a good time for all women, we tend to turn our noses up and ignore the beneficial aspects of the 50’s housewife. If women, and men, are to be given the choices they should have, then being a housewife/Mr. Mom (there should be a word that is less sexist!) should be viewed as a very noble profession. It took me the experience of having children/families at two very distinct times to so completely appreciate the housewife and not just give praise lip service. Women can be so hard on other women when we should be so appreciative of ourselves. A point missed by both sides of the early feminist movement!! Then, as well as today, IMHO.
    As to the dress, apron and attached mitts; Getting “dressed” rather than “clothed” is so uplifting to the sprit! Wearing an apron should be a need rather than a sign of servitude. My son-in-law straps on an apron if he is in his dress clothes! I didn’t see many mitts attached to aprons, although it does make a bit of sense, doesn’t it?
    I am so tired of the t shirt and jeans!! I want to put on a dress and not feel odd…or old/old-fashioned… when I have to rush out to the store, whether grocery shopping or picking up a new wrench at the hardware store. I like dresses. They are so easy.
    As to having 3 children arranged in 2 families – One still at home in school…….I’m quite tired of kids that need my “housewife” side!!! Don’t bother me, do it yourself…..I am sewing!

  30. Thanks for your perspective, Doreen.

    I meant to add that I really do think that it is important that either father or mother is home with the children for their development, well being, happiness. I am not judging anyone who does not choose this. I just think it's important and benefits society as well. I think we would have less gangs, drugs, etc., if they had mom or dad there for them. But at the same time, I am so thankful that we have a choice and that if I wanted or needed to work, I could. I actually was a court stenographer for six years before becoming a mom.

    Just to give you a little glimpse of how things have changed, I was talking to my mom today about this post; and she shared with me that in 1965 that she went to sell blood (instead of give) (they were paying $25 for blood, and that would buy a week's worth of groceries) anyway, she had to have her husband's written permission in order to sell her own blood.

  31. Rena, I find some offense to this comment you made:

    "As a p.s. to Rachael, yes, women who work outside the home, as a rule, do all the stuff you mention as the work of stay at home moms. And those of us who are single moms do those, and all the "men's work" around the house too, the gardening, home maintenance, etc."

    It sounds like you're saying "Hey, buck up! You have it easy, because you don't work outside the home and you have a husband."

    I thought one of the points of feminism was to join together in a sisterhood of support, not perpetuate the stupid "mommy wars". SAHM understand that women who have careers outside of the home almost always have to pick up slack at home. We also understand that single mothers have it very hard. So please don't dismiss what we do as SAHM just because we aren't single or corporate-minded.

  32. Krista,

    Sorry you took offense. The point I was making to Rachael (and there are other posters making the same assumptions) is that mothers who work outside the home also have to make a home for their children - and this is very much the case whether married or not since most men are far from taking up 50% of the burden. I am certainly not knocking stay at home moms - indeed, I have friends who have saved my life on more than one occasion b/c they were able to pick up one of my kids or let me know what happened at a school meeting that I simply could not make, etc. But I take offense at anyone who assumes that my children are not taken care of, fed, clothed, etc., simply b/c I also have a job. (And like more than 50% of the population, I don't have a "choice" about it - not if I want a roof over my (and my kids') heads!) Hope you understand,


  33. Rena, that is a fact that the job of "homemaking" often falls to the woman, whether she works outside of the home or not. I truly hope that one day it will become a joint endeavor between the spouses.

  34. Thanks to both Rachael anc Krista for their responses, and to Gertie and Elizabethe for hostessing.

    Time to get back to work!


  35. Well put! I am a stay-at-home-mom, or housewife, or whatever label you want to put on it. For me personally, it's been really hard to try to look nice and put-together after having children. There were days that I certainly didn't look my best when my littles were wee babies, but I always got dressed and at least brushed my hair. I am not doing it for my husband, or the mailman, or the cashier at the supermarket. I am doing it for me. Because I feel better when I look presentable. There are days that I miss being able to "dress up" for work. But at the very least, I do not wear sweats, or denim shorts and athletic shoes, because I feel awful when I do.

    My kids are a little older now (5 and 2) and I have a little bit of time to take care of myself now. When I am not working at home, I am sewing new clothes for myself because I want to look nice *every* day, and since I am not earning a paycheck, money is tight and I cannot afford the kind of quality I would buy if I could.

    I have battled with the feelings of worthlessness that come when you are not a wage-earner, but I have come out the other side as the confident woman and mother that knows that what I do IS important. Children need to be loved and cared for. Food needs to be cooked, and the laundry needs to be done. I work hard and I take my job seriously. And anyone who stays home with kids can attest to this: being at home with kids all day is HARD work.

    So I love your thoughts that just because a woman works inside the home instead of out, doesn't mean that she is less valuable as a person. Thank you for your eloquent words!!

  36. Rena, I feel ya! I was a single mom of two for 4 years. Every relationship status has it's joys and it's woes. So glad you gave us all a perspective that is often overlooked. I'm very thankful to Doreen for her wisdom even though she doesn't call it such. We young-ins are blessed to have had a path cleared for us to make choices about our lives. I loved this dialog Gertie!

  37. Good post, Elizabethe, and wonderful idea Gertie!

    Several months back, I posted one of Elizabethe's comments to my "Favorite Quotes" section of my facebook page (with full credit to her name, of course).

    The quote was, "Homemaking -making one's home run beautifully, efficiently, cost-effectively and well- is a dignified and essential task that brings joy and peace to everyone who lives in and comes to your home. It is in no way inferior to other kinds of work and women and men should be proud to do it."

    Ever since then, I've kept an eye out for her comments. She is a very intelligent woman, as are so many of your readers, Gertie. The comments are always one of the most rewarding parts of reading your blog. :)

  38. Congratulations Elizabethe for your column as Gertie's guest! I hope to become a PhD'd historian soon too, and I am happy to notice that discussions on feminism also reach the domestic sphere, and thay they reach this blog's followers too! When you are keen on reading and writing articles and essays on Women's History, it sometimes seems you are focusing in far away topics, outside real world... Thank you for bring feminism back to everyday issues, as the meaning of aprons!! I'm looking forward to your next column!

  39. I'd love it if we stopped referring to domestic work as "women's work", as if by default it is the responsibility of women. I'm saddened to hear that even nowadays such work seems to fall on female shoulders even if both parties in a marriage work full time. It makes me wonder how many people actually discuss this division of labour with their partners, and how many women just take it on because they feel obligated to.

  40. Wow I am always amazed at how much everyone has to say! All opinions are valid and help us all to understand the other side of the discussion, so it is great that you are providing such a platform.
    Well done Gertie and Elizabeth!

    As for the matching oven mitt, I see as just a overenthusiastic extension of a themed kitchen. Life was all about being clever with your resources and you could if you wanted to, make an oven mitt out of the scraps from your dress. It might present pride in your work and your crafty cleverness.

    Now, thinking about it, I have a duvet cover that I made from sheeting fabric. I liked the floral print so much that I made a pair of bloomers out of the scraps. It has NEVER occurred to me until now I have knickers that match my duvet!

  41. Great addition to the blog, Gertie! I loved this op-ed. I plan to raise our kids while working from home, and consider "women's work" to be my favorite kind of work, but I had never thought to look at those patterns from Elizabethe's perspective.


Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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