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The Militant, 28 September 1946

Alice Patton

The Slavery of a Housewife

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 39, 28 September 1946, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


According to the Hollywood movies, every woman can be a lady of leisure. All she has to do is marry the boss or his son and live happily ever after.

But the daily life of a worker’s wife is mighty different from that of the beautiful lady on the screen. She is chained to the house, her husband and children just as surely as if actual chains existed. I know, for I am a housewife and mother of four young children.

Lenin truthfully said: “A woman’s domestic life is one in which she is sacrificed every day amidst a thousand petty details.” Here’s a brief sketch of my day, which begins at 5:30 in the morning:

Never Done

A woman’s work is never done. A woman with children can never sit down and consider her ■work complete, until the day she dies.

A housewife and mother must also be master of many trades: cook, laundress, interior decorator, doctor, nurse, scrub woman, purchaser of necessities, presser of pants, and a good seamstress to make old clothes into new.

On the farm, women are expected to do all that and to drive a tractor or team, raise chickens, tend garden and can vegetables besides.

If a woman becomes ill she must keep on working just the same. No one willingly takes over her work, even for one day or one meal — especially the male of the species.

The birth of each child deepens the slavery, adding to the drudgery, making escape less possible. The full weight of the care of the young falls on the woman: the daily care of bathing, feeding and diaper washing.

Behind the label “Housewife,” or “Home-maker” if you like that better, you will find: DRUDGERY, MENTAL STAGNATION AND ECONOMIC SLAVERY.

Day after day the housewife’s life is the same round of cooking, sewing, scrubbing, dishwashing, and care of the young. Her whole outlook is confined to FOUR WALLS, and a man.

Her contacts with other human beings is limited to trades people, fellow housewives, neighbors, whose problems and outlook are essentially the same.

Her pay consists of food, clothing and a roof over her head. The quality and quantity depend upon the size of her husband’s pay check and how many children must be fed and clothed.

What Is Answer?

What is the answer to this enslavement of the housewife?

There is absolutely no escape for her under the capitalist system. ONLY SOCIALISM CAN FREE THE HOUSEWIFE!

Only under socialism will women be freed socially as well as economically.

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Last updated on 28 June 2021