Tag Archives: Homemakers

Traditional Family

In my earlier post, lolz commented:

In my humble opinion, the tradcon exchange between husband and wife that you advocate is not really all that equitable – and certainly not what one sees in ancient societies.

He also posted a link (read it all, it’s pretty good, except the conclusion which is too egalitarian and hedonistic for my taste):

In other words, people we call “tradcons” are frequently hewing to a “tradition” that is mostly a recent invention. Throughout virtually all of history, up to and including much of the world still today, “the family” or even “the nuclear family” meant something very different: what it usually was was father+mother+the kids as part of an extended family, with grandmothers and grandfathers and aunts and uncles and/or cousins frequently living under one roof, or in very close proximity to each other, in a mutually supportive environment. “The family” was all these people, usually dedicated to helping each other, often forming alliances with other families to their mutual benefit. Even in societies where it was the norm for the youngsters to move away, they usually moved in mutually supportive groups together only a day or two away from the rest of the extended family, whom they would often get back together with in times of trouble. Even in societies when young men struck out on their own, they usually did so in mutually supportive groups, not alone against the world.

The ancient idea of “the family” was not “we get together and have dinner at holidays and provide each other some emotional support.” It was much more a matter of, “we work together during the day, we make our meals together, we live in one house or adjacent houses, we fight off enemies together, when one of us is sick we all get together to help. Two of our young’uns are getting hitched? We may need to build them a house because we can’t fit them in here right now so let’s give ‘em a new place over on that hill up yonder.”

First, I’ll answer the ‘equitable’ thing. lolz is right, it’s not equitable. Having to work 40-60 hours a week away from your home and family is definitely the shorter end of the stick to raising your own family, as I’ve written before, women definitely benefited from the ‘traditional’ nuclear family. The problem is, unless you’re willing to abandon your kids as latchkey children to daycare and the public schools or you have family that’s willing to take care of them most of the week, you need someone to take care of the kids, and given biological differences between the sexes, the man staying home will result in marital problems and divorce. It makes sense to have the woman stay home.

Which brings us to the next point: both lolz and Esmay are right.

The nuclear family is not ‘traditional’ or the way things were, it was an adaptation to modern industrial society. What the article above failed to mention, is that ‘work’ as we know it today, is a recent invention. Until the industrial revolution, most people’s ‘work’ was either the family farm or or the family home business (or in tribal societies, men hunted, women gathered). There was no real separation between work and home life, they were the same. Sadly, we do not exist in that society. To not starve, most people have to work outside the home. The nuclear family is the best adaptation to that economic reality we have.

Ideally, we’d be able to get back to that tribal, extended family structure. One of my hopes, if that someday I will be able to be able to create a tribal structure among my family, and maybe with my friends as well. We’ll live on a mostly self-sustaining farm subsidized by some small income from a couple projects I’m working on. That will take a lot of work, and will be a lifelong project, but hopefully I’ll get there.

But for now, the realities of modern society constrain me, constrain us. We can try to build a traditional, tribal structure, but that is not going to happen right away. Before that, I have to get a wife, then keep my children from having their souls devoured by the progressive school system, that means the nuclear, breadwinning family is a necessity for now.


As an aside, I would actually not mind being a stay-at home dad. A commenter at Vox’s site has described his adventures as such:

Hey man… we don’t JUST play video games all day. I mean sometimes its almost 8am before they finish with their school work for the day. And sometimes we go down to the lake and shoot turtles with the 10/22s… or fish… or have great glorious nerf wars in the tree forts. and there is a swimming pool out there for the really nice days… about 300 of them a year.

Ok well… its mostly video games…

He’s also described the risk of it:

Look the truth is if I wasn’t such a stupendous badass my wife would’ve lost interest years ago. Happens all the time. The stay at home dad thing is basically betting your family’s future on your ability to maintain your badass man credibility with practically the whole deck stacked against you. The risks are huge. Of course.. if you pull it off you get to spend all day with your kids shooting turtles, fishing, playing Black Ops II, and watching Sportcenter. so I mean… its not entirely irrational.

Honestly, that sounds like a lot of fun, and would be much better life than going to the office every day.

Even the risk of the family being destroyed, while much higher, is not as brutally punishing, as you won’t be the one paying child support and alimony, and you’ll probably have a decent chance of getting custody.

The question is, could you find a girl okay with the arrangement and could you stay badass. I figure, if you ran a little hobby farm in the country, fished, and hunted, your odds wouldn’t be too bad. You’d still get the provider rep if the meat on the table was something you slaughtered or hunted yourself.

It would take a lot of work to set up, but I’d be okay with the arrangement of staying home on the acreage with the kids while the wife worked.

The Squeeze and the Surrogate Family

I came across this article (h/t: Instapundit) about the squeeze middle-aged folks, particularly women, are under as they are stressed caring for both their children and their aging parents. According to the article, it is supposedly difficult and stressful to care “for both their children and their aging parents while also managing their income-generating jobs and keeping their partners happy–all at the same time.”

To which the only possible response is: no duh.

It is difficult, if not impossible, because nobody was ever meant to do all that at once. People simply do not have the time and energy to deal with children, old people, a career, and other activities at the same time.

Traditionally, there have always been societal and biological mechanisms to deal with this, but, over the last few decades, we’ve decided to spit in the face of both.

Throughout history, these mechanisms have varied. Tribal structures, villages, and the like made raising children and taking care of old people a community thing for most people. Combined with the typical “low” age of average death, “early” child-bearing ages, and large families things mostly worked themselves out.

When people started living longer and tribal and community ties began to die due to the mass dislocations caused by industrialization and urbanization, society adapted by adopting what we now know of as the traditional nuclear family in the early 20th century. Combined with some help from local churches and community organizations this worked fairly well, reaching its apex in the decades following war boom.

In the nuclear family model, the family adopts a division of labour to help the running of the household. The husband works and the wife takes care of the family. Families have many kids and they have them at a young age, so when they get old, the children can care for their parents.

Given the realities of modern, mass society, this structure works.

Having children young (in your late teens/early 20s) provided future children to take care of you and makes it so that by the time you need to take care of your elders, your children are already nearing self-sufficiency. It means that you have your youthful vigor to raise your children when you need. (Did you ever think of why you are able to go with minimal and erratic sleep when you’re young? It’s because it lets you physically handle the realities of a squalling infant unable to tell time. You are not built to naturally be able to take care of young children in your 30s and 40s, you lose the vigor necessary to do so as you age.)

Having lots of children meant that there would be enough people to take care of you when you aged without it being an undue burden on any single child.

Having the wife stay home provided the family with a person who had the time to take care of the children. She had time to take care of elderly relatives. She had the time to take care of sick family members.

There was no generational squeeze, because the division of labour and proper family planning inherent in the nuclear family model gave each individual only what they could actually handle and there was no undue burden on any single family member.


When feminists, and others, criticize the “housewife”, they miss the importance the housewife has for modern, mass society. Absent the traditional bonds of tribe and villages, anomie was destroying people in an urbanized, industrial environment.The development of the housewife held this back.

The housewife may not contribute to “GDP” but she contributes something just as important, she socially bonds the family together and bonds the family to the rest of the community. She has time to take care of dependent family members. She has time to develop meaningful relationships in the neigbourhood and the family’s social circle. She had time to support local organizations and by taking care of the household, she gave the husband time to support them.

The bread-winning husband is economically productive, while the housewife is socially productive.

In a modern, urban society, social productivity is as essential to the health of society as economic productivity, as the natural social relations and community of a tribal or village lifestyle simply do not exist. But building community takes time, something people working full-time, while taking care of children, simply do not have. The housewife had this time.

She has time to get to get to know Edna down the street and develop a meaningful relationship, which would then transfer into a meaningful family relationship, building community. If Edna’s husband, Bill broke his leg and couldn’t work, her neighbour, the housewife, would have the time to comfort them; she would prepare meals, look after Edna’s children, provide emotional support, run errands, etc., which she was able to do because she had time. She would know that Edna would do the same if something happened to her family.

The housewife would build community where community did not naturally exist.


But, some sections of society (read: leftists and feminists) were unhappy with this adaptation to modern society and set out to destroy it.

The traditional, nuclear family was “oppressive” and being a housewife was unfulfilling, so patriarchy had to be destroyed. (Because working 40 hours in a dead-end office job simply to expand your ability to mindlessly consume was somehow more fulfilling than meaningful community).

And destroyed it was.

People started getting married later, had children later, and had fewer children overall. Family became less important.

The housewife was replaced by a second provider. The traditional family replaced by the broken family. Social productivity was exchanged for economic productivity, with little real benefit.

The result: anomie.

The social capital the traditional family, particularly the housewife, created began to disappear. As Robert Putnam has documented this decline in social capital and social trust. As one example, over the last 25 years the average adult has gone from having 3 friends to having only 2; half of all adults have one or fewer real friends.

The squeeze occurred, as no one is able to work full-time, raise children, care for elders, and develop community. There is simply not enough time in the day and peopel simply do not have that much energy.


So, how was the squeeze handled?

The traditional family was replaced by the broken family and the surrogate family.

The broken family lost the husband and father. Of course, raising a child, while also providing for this family is brutally hard work, almost impossible. So, the husband and father the broken family did not have was replaced by the state, which became a surrogate husband and father. The state would offer provision through welfare, mandated leave, tax breaks, funded child care, public health care, and a wide array of other benefits.

The housewife was working and could no longer raise her children. Instead, families gave them to a surrogate mother: subsidized daycare and the public school system.

The housewife no longer had the time to take care of elderly or ill relatives and the relatives had forgone having enough children. The work of supporting them became overly onerous, it simply was impossible. So, families entrusted their elderly and ill to a surrogate child, the state. Social security, subsidized senior housing, public health care, and a wide array of government benefits replaced the family.


The problem with using the state as a surrogate family is twofold.

First, the state can only provide bread, but man does not live on bread alone. People need community, friends, family, and social interaction. The state is incapable of providing this; it is a cold, faceless, bureaucratic institution. The best it can do is hire a paid nurse or teacher to tolerate your company for a few hours.

The state can not build community. It can only replace community with economic transaction or destroy it.

The state can not end the squeeze, as personal relations are still necessary for the elderly, the infirm, children, and the building of community. It may alleviate is somewhat, but the squeeze remains.

Second, is the cost. The state’s coffers are not bottomless and when the benefits of social capital that were previously built by unpaid labour, now has to be built by labour paid by the state, the costs become onerous.

The state goes broke.

Greece is experiencing it. Other part of Europe will experience it soon. North America will experience it in time if her course does not reverse.

When the state goes broke, it can no longer replace community, but people have lost the community to replace the state. There can only be a void, with people left to their own devices. Those unable to repair community or provide for themselves suffer.

Without the traditional family, the squeeze is unavoidable.


The traditional family, particularly the housewife, was essential to building community. The state as a surrogate family has replaced the traditional family. Mindless economic production and consumerism replaced community. The bureaucratic state expanded and replaced community.

For what benefit? A squeeze on the middle, a dubious increase in material well-being, and the end to an amorphous concept of oppression.

I hope those who did this feel it was worth it. Do you think it was?

Feminism and Homemaking are not Compatible

TC linked to this article in the Atlantic on feminism and homemakers by Wurtzel.

While the original article has its inaccuracies and slip-shod thinking, it is absolutely correct in its main point:

Let’s please be serious grown-ups: real feminists don’t depend on men. Real feminists earn a living, have money and means of their own.

A women can not be both a feminist and a stay-at-home mother; the two are mutually exclusive.

And there really is only one kind of equality — it precedes all the emotional hullabaloo — and it’s economic.

Modern feminism (with the possible exception of certain forms of liberal feminism which I am going to ignore for this post, but would probably be easier categorized as libertarianism rather than a form of feminism) is based on the application of marxian methodology to sexual relations. In marxian analysis, all power is, at base, economic power and varying groups are in competition with each other for this power. When marxian analysis is applied to sexual relations, the inevitable conclusion is that women and men are in a power conflict and women are economically oppressed. Only by by gaining economic power can women no longer be oppressed. Hence feminism.

Women are oppressed because they are not financially independent; only the financially independent woman can be free of oppression.

The traditional home-maker and the stay-at-home mother is economically dependent on the male breadwinner and is therefore oppressed.

Economic self-sufficiency is feminism.


The augmentation of her main point is dead on as well:

Being a mother isn’t a real job

something becomes a job when you are paid for it — and until then, it’s just a part of life.

A job is a relationship where money is exchanged for labour. If you are not getting paid, you do not have a job.

Homemaking is not a job because the homemaker is not being paid.


There is one specific way in which being a homemaker can be a job.

If there is a written contract between the homemaker and the breadwinner, in which the breadwinner is contractually obligated to pay the homemaker a clearly defined sum for clearly defined, contractually obligated childcare duties independently of the state of the marriage and marriage contract, the homemaker can be said to have a job.


Some guy named Friedersdorf had a response to the original article.

When questioning the main point of the original argument, that being a mother is a job, he pisses all over such petty things as logic. (On the other hand, his destruction of Wurtzel’s analysis of electoral politics is not bad, but her analysis was rather shoddy, so that’s not exactly something to brag about).

His argument essentially boils down to: being a homemaker is a job because it costs a lot to hire a caregiver and because raising children is both important and somewhat difficult.

Just because something requires effort, costs a lot to replace, and is important does not make it a job.

The fallacy of this is obvious. It is important that I fry myself a sausage and the alternative of eating out can be costly, that does not mean I have a job as a chef. Under his argument almost any activity can be considered a job, making the whole concept of a job meaningless.

Something is only a job if you get paid. Homemaking is not a job.

He then goes on with a tale about his mother, of which I’ll only quote a portion:

To describe her as dependent on my father for income is accurate only insofar as my parents decided together that she’d forgo working, plus the wage premium she’d gain from those lost years of work experience, to raise my sister and me, and to do other uncompensated labor

In other words, it’s entirely accurate. That’s very much being dependent; she voluntarily chose to be dependent, but she’s still dependent on a man to provide for her.

One other thing. Contrary to his assertions, his mother was not acting like a feminist. She may have had all the right cant, but she did not live them.


As a side note, he then makes this asinine assertion:

The legal recognition of community property was a major, rightfully celebrated feminist victory.

It was not a feminist victory. It was a form of marital law developed from civil law (as opposed to common law) and Catholic social teaching so that children were provided for if the husband died, not because of what it did for women. It preceded feminism by centuries and has only been adopted in less than a dozen states. It was, at most, a partial victory of civil law over common law in some jurisdictions (which is still not good, but that’s currently irrelevant). It was neither feminist, nor anything resembling a victory.


Of course, near the end of the article he actually almost begins to stumble upon the reality of the situation, seemingly by pure accident:

GDP is evidently her bottom line.

Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner.

Although,not GDP per se, economics is feminism’s bottom line. The economic power and independence of women is the central point of feminism. (Other forms of power/independence, such as political power, which are critical to feminism would flow from naturally from economic independence/power).

The notion, implicit in Wurzel’s piece, that men and women should set aside the work arrangements that best suit their families in order to further an ideological agenda

He hits the nail on the head. Feminism is an ideological agenda. It requires that men and women set aside “best suited” work arrangements in favour of the women being economically independent.

That’s exactly the damn point Wurzel was making.

If a family is not willing to do this, they are not feminist.

Feminism may require sacrifice so that a women can be economically independent.


The paragraph before that he stumbles upon another truth. Friedersdorf states this:

If anything, society benefits from a diversity of arrangements being tried all at once, both because variety is more conducive to fulfilling diverse individuals, and because stay-at-home parents and working parents can likely learn something from their analogs using a somewhat different model.

He is right, society does benefit from a diversity of family arrangements.


So, if he understands both that Wurzel is arguing that feminism requires women be economically independent and he understands that society may benefit if not every women is economically independent, what’s his problem?

His problem is that he is unable to connect the two ideas. That is why he makes up all sorts of half-baked justifications for why a homemaker somehow has a job, even though she is not getting paid, and is somehow independent, even though she depends entirely on someone else’s income for sustenance.

He is not able to connect the two ideas because he wants to be labelled a feminist (or supporter of feminism, it’s unclear which from the article and the difference is irrelevant for our purpose) without actually adhering to feminism.

As soon as he connects the two ideas his thinking will become clear and he wouldn’t have to make such logical contortions to continue to hold his own ideas, but then he would have to make a choice.

He would have to choose between feminism and his support for multiple family arrangements, because homemaking and feminism are mutually exclusive. This, of course, presents a dilemma.

If he chose feminism he would have to *shudder* judge other people’s decisions.

If he chose the acceptance of multiple family arrangements, he would *gasp* no longer be supporting feminism.

He is like the liberal Christian deciding whether he wants to follow the Bible or follow worldly wisdom. The “Christian” can’t make choice, so instead he decides to contort the Bible to fit worldly wisdom. Friedersdorf can’t make a decision so he contorts the English language and logic so that independence means dependence and a job includes any activity that requires some skill, effort, and someone somewhere gets paid for.


Friedersdorf’s confusion is not solely his own. Many seem to have this confusion; it is often called choice feminism.

Feminism has become very popular; most women want to be identified as strong and independent feminists. Most liberal men want to be seen as supporting female equality and feminism (which are not necessarily the same thing).

Yet, most women do not actually want what feminism is selling. They want to be dependent and have a man upon whom they can depend, they want to stay at home with their children, they don’t want to have to work at a job. Even when they work, a significant number of women choose to work in fields no different from what they would be doing as a homemaker anyway (ie. teaching, non-registered nursing, child care, etc.)

They don’t want feminism, but they want the label of feminism. So, what do they do?

They contort. They twist feminism, the English language, and logic so that they can somehow define themselves as feminist while doing things that are a denial of feminism.

They contort until somehow they have convinced themselves that being a homemaker, totally dependent on a man for income and devoted entirely to children and the home, is somehow a feminist act.

But it can not be. A women can be a homemaker or she can be a feminist. She can not be both.

Trying to be both is nothing more than self-delusion.

Choice feminism isn’t.


All this isn’t to say homemaking is a bad thing. In fact, I am opposed to feminism and I am in favour of woman staying home as homemakers and, if I marry, I will marry someone who wants to be a homemaker.

I support families who decide the wife should be a homemaker. I’m not going to say that it’s the hardest job in the world, because it isn’t particularly hard and it’s not a job, but I will say it’s a respectable and worthwhile life path.

But there has to be a choice: feminism or homemaking.

If homemaking is your thing, repudiate feminism. If feminism is your thing, then live it and be economically independent.

If you don’t like that feminism requires economic independence, perhaps you may want to reconsider your attachment to it.