“Woman . . . was the hostage in the home,” claimed Barbara Welter in her influential 1960’s article, “The Cult of True Womanhood.” Welter critiqued the expectations of piety, purity, submissiveness, and domesticity she felt that society placed upon women in the early 19th century.
But is “domesticity” really a prison one needs to be freed from? Are the homemaking stereotypes of an earlier era still applicable today? Could it be possible to envision a different type of domestic woman than the hostage Welter describes?
Reimagining a modern, domestic woman
Rather than the stereotype of a pious, domestic lackey and child-bearer, I’ve come to see a “domestic woman” as a woman of any age who is simply proud of her home and all who live in or visit it. This woman cares for her home by creating a feeling of warmth and welcome, often through visual, social, and edible delights.
Today’s modern, domestic woman is anything but a prisoner! While taking pride in her surroundings and caring for the people in her home, she embodies power, organization, creativity, and tenacity. No matter what size or zip code, she’s proud of her accommodations. She may or may not have children to care for. She could be single, in a committed dating relationship, or married. She may work with dedication in a career outside the home or may be a stay-at-home mom. She could be a retired woman or one who is taking care of an elderly parent. Whatever her age, stage of life, or family structure, she’s a woman with a passion for her home and a deep desire to create memories and foster comfort for herself and her loved ones in a place she cares about.1