Housewives and proud of it

2020-02-10 13:10

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Being a housewife in a 21st century relationship is a topic of controversy.

The general belief is that being a housewife is antiquated, and that it insults those who worked to obtain equal rights for women.

On the other hand, there is the more positive view of the role that sees it as making a contribution to society and is about the power of choice.

Weekend Witness spoke to Masibonge Mkhize, a woman who went from being an independent career woman to a housewife and stay-at-home mother when her husband got a good career opportunity that required him to relocate to Dubai. Mkhize, who was pregnant when the opportunity came up, was faced with the reality of packing up her life and leaving her well-established career behind to support her husband on his new venture, or staying in South Africa and raising their first child together alone for a few years.

Mkhize and her family since returned from Dubai in 2018 and she has resettled into her more “comfortable” role of being independent and career driven.

“Home manager”, which is the term that Ndumiso Zondi prefers to identify with, told Weekend Witness that being a housewife was never an aspiration of hers. She said that when she had her first child, staying at home felt natural to her.

“I wanted to raise my son and watch him grow until he was a little older. Then I had two more children a few months apart, so my ‘home stay’ just got longer.

“I am enjoying watching them grow and being there whenever they need me, and being able to capture all of their milestones,” said Zondi.

British lifestyle author Alena Kate Pettitt said in an interview that being a housewife is a career. 

Mkhize agreed with the statement and said there are underlying expectations that need to be fulfilled, therefore that makes it a career. “If it takes your time, and requires you to be functional and engaged, then that qualifies as a career to me. It’s definitely not a hobby, I can tell you that much!” said Mkhize.

Mkhize said that moving from being a “career woman” to being a housewife was a huge transition for her because she was leaving her career at its peak, until she realised that her new role was “a real job” too.

Zondi told Weekend Witness that the biggest challenge she has as a housewife is being able to fulfil her need for stimulation and motivation.

“As much as there is always something to be done around the house, it does get lonely. The lack of motivation comes from not working for so long. I don’t even know where I would start, and how quickly I would be able to get a grip on an office job,” said Zondi.

The home manager said that being judged is something that she has got used to. “Some look at me and assume that I am lazy because I do not work. Others have said that I am too dependent on my husband for things that I could do for myself. I say, each to their own,” said Zondi.

Mkhize, on the other hand, experienced challenges that were slightly different. She said that she had to learn how to use her time differently to feel like she was accomplishing something.

“I had to learn to be more secure in my new role; especially when people would ask me what I did for a living. I also missed having a month-end salary, as opposed to having an ‘allowance’,” said Mkhize.

Abigail Mauris (22), who was raised in a home where her mother was a housewife, told Weekend Witness that she would never want to be one herself. 

“If I were to be a housewife, I believe I would lose my identity,” said Mauris.

Mauris said that because she is so keen to start her career, the “lack of balance” between family and career would drive her crazy. She added that she wouldn’t want to put herself in a position where she would be financially dependent on a person because it would take away her bargaining power, putting her at a disadvantage.

“There is nothing wrong with being a housewife. It’s just not a life that I would choose for myself,” said Mauris.

Mauris said that when she takes into consideration the role of feminism in a relationship, she can only speak from a heterosexual perspective as that is her lived experience. She said that in a heterosexual relationship, equality is complex, especially when you factor in the gender disparities that exist.

Mauris said that being equals in a relationship does not mean that you are 50/50; it means that there is a level of equity and fairness. “When there is equity in a relationship, there should be no need for submission because it removes the power dynamic of the ‘dominant partner’,” said Mauris.

In a television interview on Real Talk with Anele in 2018, South African media mogul Dineo Ranaka said: “Submission is inspired by leadership.”

Ranaka went on to explain that a person should never have to ask for submission from another; the act of submitting should come naturally to a person according to the way they are being led.

“If a person’s leadership qualities are distorted, I will not have anything to submit to,” said Ranaka.

Zondi told Weekend Witness that becoming a housewife was her choice, and it was not forced onto her.

She said that the idea of it being “anti-feminism” is situational.

“Maybe in the rural areas there could still be a strong stigma that women need to be at home, cooking and raising their children,” said Zondi.

Mkhize rejected the idea of it being “anti-feminism”. Instead, she said that being a housewife is the definition of feminism. “To be a feminist is not about power over men. For me, it’s about being at peace with the place that you are in; and killing it!” she said.

Mkhize also said that the idea that black women who choose to stay at home are uneducated or do so for cultural reasons is incorrect. “My transition to becoming a housewife was due to expatriation,” said Mkhize.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  housewives
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