Thursday, June 10, 2010

Housewife, The Endangered Species

I probably belong to that generation where the parents and the kids, both, were in a great dilemma as to whether moms should go to work and bring in the extra moolah or sit at home and take care of the kids and family.

It was a period (70s and 80s) when the general income levels in the country were rather low. The economy was closed. The middle class leaned towards the bottom. Today, it might be slightly moving to the upper end. Liberalization, not only of economic policies but also the women-kind, has accelerated the rapid urbanization thus catalyzing the formation of 'un-supported' nuclear families.

The family now consists of parents, kids and 'integral and indispensible' maid. 

But if there is one 'breed', if I can say so, that is fast vanishing, at least in the upper middle class urbanized society, is the housewives. This, to my opinion is also true, to a large extent, for many other socio-economic classes on both sides of the 'equator'.

While, to start with, economics was the reason from many women to have ventured out of the borders of their house; today, it is all about women wanting to be independent. Making a career is about self esteem. Women, today, are equally and, in many cases, much more educated and aggressive. Emancipation of women has completely altered the social and family fabric. While it is creating tensions in the family bond, it does present great opportunities for businesses. Fast foods, packaged foods and restaurants are variant of one kind. What interests me is the opportunity to professionalize and organize the maid services. Difficult but great opportunity.

Today, it many not be considered an 'in-thing' for women to say that they are housewives. At least, in the circles or categories, which are reading this blog post or can have access to it. Some women upon pregnancy do chose to become housewives. But I feel that, in future, it may not be so. 

But why can't being a housewife be as cool as career woman.  Reasons are many. Most important being that if something is not monetized, it is not valued. Housewives are at best considered a free maid for lifetime who doubles up as a partner, for sex and other reasons, an ayah who takes care of kids and many times also a finance minister. Identification of housewives as a homogeneous group women who sheds tears watching soap opera has been quite detrimental. Another important reason is that housewives bind themselves and never invest in acquiring new skills or for that matter pursue their passion.

I do ponder if with passage of time, housewife species will become extinct. Should I feel bad about it? Can something be done about it? Or is it a species that has lost its relevance? Is it doomed to become extinct like many species that didn't survive the different ages? Will the new environment necessitate development of the new species - the Househusband?