Why aren't housewifes angels?

If housework is therapy, why aren't housewifes angels?

It is because they don't live alone.

Having to keep house for a group of people is exhausting. There is more work in housework than we generally acknowledge, but that's not where its negative mental health impact lies. The problem is unpredictability.

Other people's needs and schedules generally control the housewife's tasks and schedule. (If you're not a housewife, imagine living with housemates who routinely trash your room, leave dirty dishes in the kitchen, and bring their mates for a wild party on the night before you have a job interview.)

So that self-efficacy feeling? Gone. Results disappear randomly, sometimes minutes after the job was finished. Not only that, but people who undo the housewife's effort generally don't notice they've done it. If she attempts to get them to empathise with how much it means to her, it's dismissed as "nagging".

While people will help the housewife, they won't share responsibility. She has to run a schedule in her head, organise shared activities, ensure everyone is in sync and bought in, and also train and motivate the juniors. Housewifes are middle management of the household, having no control, little status or appreciation, but all responsibility and blame if the household fails.

And that is why housewifes aren't angels.

For a great satirical take on this, also applicable to office politics, read The Politics of Housework by Pat Mainardi.

Categories: gender · mental health