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What Does It Mean to be a Housewife?

I had an amazing opportunity to see one of my favorite sewing bloggers in person. She recently published her first book “Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing.” and was speaking in Ann Arbor. A small group of us went to see her present and have our books signed. It was so neat, she was lovely and I was fascinated by all she had to say. She sews vintage fashion with a modern twist (or maybe that could be said the other way) which you know I love. I was intrigued to hear her speak about some of her readers concerns, that loving vintage fashion was in some way supporting antifeminist views. Which got me thinking about my blog and my tongue in cheek idea of “finding the fifties housewife hidden inside me.”

What am I saying? What am I actually trying to say? So I thought I’d talk a bit about it. Not getting ultra political or anything but I do know that we vintage lovers have a tendency to romanticize the past while ignoring it’s flaws.  While I love the beauty of vintage fashion, the style of the homes and happen to love the “home arts” I don’t really wish I lived in a past decade. I’m glad people don’t usually die from finger cuts or child birth any more (at least in the west). I’m super happy with my microwave, hot showers, comfy t-shirts, and pretty quick internet connection.

She was sweet enough to take a picture with us.
She was sweet enough to take a picture with us.

I can be fairly liberal when it comes to what women can do and who women are. Not to be too obnoxious but since I am so involved in the Church world (where, let’s face it, change happens at a much slower pace) I do tend to believe women can and should teach, preach, and lead. I believe the same to be true in the secular world and am really happy that I had access to a great college education, can vote, and was able to choose my own husband. However I always thought that the purpose of the “women’s movement” was that we women could choose what we wanted to do with our lives whether that be pursue a career outside the home or to stay home and pursue that. Not that we now have to work in the traditional workforce or have to wear pants or something. I am just a complete homebody, always have been. I love the art of making things with my own hands whether it’s with my sewing machine, crochet needles or oven mitts. I get the biggest kick out of making my own bread, I seriously feel accomplished any time I use yeast. I don’t think that choosing to stay at home means I’m siding with anti-feminists. I think it means that I’m happiest in my home. We know a couple where the wife has a high powered job and he loves to be at home with the kids. I think that rocks!

Do the clothes of a certain time period really say that much about chauvinism? Of course, we women do tend to dress to impress but is that really any different now then it was in the fifties? Isn’t it acceptable that I love vintage fashion because of the way it looks and because of the way it was constructed? Finally does wanting to feel feminine and pretty mean that I don’t know how to lead? For me the answer is no, not really. I feel like it would be a mistake for women to try and get rid of the things that make us unique from men. Those are the things that can make us look at situations and problems in a different way, to bring a fresh perspective which can only make things better.

When I “channel my inner fifties housewife” so to speak I feel I am connected to the women who have gone before me, including all those brave women who fought to give me equality. I feel I am expressing myself and am doing art the only way I really can. I don’t believe that all women should be stay-at-homers but I do think it’s a valid choice, one that I’m glad I’ve made, at least for right now and I know if I decide to pursue something different in the future that will be fine too. And, honestly I just love pretty dresses. If that’s wrong then I don’t want to be right!

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