The Great Housewife Myth: how a fanciful invention stuck

You’d be considered lazy and idle if you tried to ‘stay at home’

Madelaine Lucy Hanson
5 min readJan 21, 2024

If you have been exposed to the manosphere or a particularly stupid post from an account called something like TradMaleWest or ConservativeTradHeroes, you’ve probably heard the declaration that for “almost all of history, women didn’t work: they stayed at home to cook and look after their husbands and children, and they were happier that way”. This is, I’m afraid to tell you, complete and utter nonsense.

In fact, your ancestors would have openly sneered at you for refusing to work, if you tried to claim your ‘husband was your job’.

Because women have always, always, always worked.

All day at home baking pastries and snuggling the baby?

The fantasy of a woman staying in her rosy cottage, never working, her sole responsibilities being the niceties of folded stockings, the feeding of nesting swallows, the cuddling of adoring little ones, and cooking steak for your strong husband is one that is the preserve of 1950s adverts trying to sell suburban cheap housing to the aspirant working class. Similarly, no one spent all day prancing around meadows for wildflowers before delicately arranging them in a vase for beloved husband to return from the mine for a hearty stew. Life was unbelievably hard, for most, if not all, of human…

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Madelaine Lucy Hanson

27 year old with an awful lot to say about everything. Opinions entirely my own. Usually.