10 thoughts on “The Guilt of the Black Housewife

  1. Hi Eugenia, and everybody else…this was brilliant! Sorry I am so late in the game with my comment.
    This is truly refreshing. You ladies have given me a whole new perspective in so many different ways. Thanks so much for being an inspiration to those of us who are still figuring out this thing called life.

    Anyway, I want to share that I’m a housewife and have been since 2009. I went to college and earned two degrees, my AA and my Bachelor’s.
    We don’t have children but I really want to…I am now about to be 31 next month. He doesn’t want kids but never told me that until much later.

    I’ve noticed that certain people have an issue with me being a housewife, especially a housewife without kids.
    I’ve had different reactions from weird looks to rude comments. One person called me a “lady of leisure”. Another woman (who is a housewife herself, married to a very wealthy man) asked me in a very condescending way if I ever planned on getting a job. She would ask me this whenever she saw me, to the point where I would dread being around her.
    And then last Christmas my SIL made a shockingly rude comment implying that I was a gold digger…I swear I wanted to hit her. I didn’t expect that from her at all, because we usually get along fairly well.

    I have reasons for why I don’t have a job/career and I can’t share too many of the details because it’s complicated. But I agree…housewives generally aren’t respected by most people. And to add to what some other ladies said, intersectionality complicates things further. I believe that many people have a problem with women (especially Black women) being taken care of within a relationship because we are mostly expected to struggle in life. We are either stereotyped as welfare queens or accused of being gold diggers. Or we are depicted as the single mom who has to constantly slave to make ends meet, or the frustrated career woman who can’t find anyone to settle down with.

    I feel like people often judge me without knowing the facts or understanding that my life hasn’t been easy. We all have our own journey. I don’t take advantage of my husband, I appreciate what he does. I was mistreated by men for years including my stepfather…I really don’t see why people are so upset to see me with somebody who adores me and takes care of me.
    I guess in their eyes, I’m not worthy of being treated well. But I don’t care anymore. I will continue seeking employment when I’m able to start working again and they can all mind their own business.

    Much love to you, and thanks again…I needed this!

  2. Let me also add that when I got engaged I had a bachelor’s degree and gotten accepted into a Master’s program. I got SO MANY “You’re wasting your degree” comments from people – as if they really cared about that!!!! And the commenter phadils is quite right – not being tied down to a job left me free to pursue other interests. I started writing again, and developed the skill of writing curriculum. I also started speaking at women’s conferences and workshops. A whole new world opened up to me – and many of those skills I developed then I still use today.

    • I’m so happy I did this blog, it’s really helped me to get some things off my mind. Also to find out that I’m not alone in this struggle and that it doesn’t have to be a struggle.

  3. Great vlog! Before we got married my then-fiance told me that he FULLY expected me to be a SAHW. I was shocked! He insisted – he was very “old school” in that he believed it was the *husband’s* job to take care of his wife – period. I was just getting started in my career, and it was hard to walk away from it. I must admit: It took me THREE YEARS before I was even remotely comfortable with it. Like you, I felt guilty, when I should have just relished that HE thought it a privilege to take care of me – his WIFE. And, as a wife, I took care of HIM – fixing him lavish breakfasts (his favorite meal of the day), trying new recipes (he was a HAPPY taste tester), and just letting him know how much I APPRECIATED his concern and care. Yes, there were women (and some men – go figure!) who resented my lifestyle, but I finally got a clue and shook it off. Live well, enjoy your husband and enjoy your LIFE: That’s what happens when you vet and make good choices!

  4. Pingback: I’m Ph.inisheD! (Among Other Things)

  5. Glad to hear that you are able to take a break from the rat race and take care of yourself. Seems like people would rather see you sick-n-tired, than healthy. Sad.

    I am sure that they would love to take a breather to get themselves together, too.

    Please do not feel guilty about the fact that you have a wonderful supportive husband who is capable of supporting you. Be safe & well and ignore the negativity.

  6. Hi Eugenia! I’m glad to hear all went well with your Mom and I wish her a speedy recovery. I love this post! I am single and working now but one thing I will make known to my future husband is that he needs to be in a financial position to afford me the option of being a SAHW. Whether I choose to exercise that option does not matter, the option has to be available. I am so happy that you have and are exercising your option!!

  7. I feel like this issue is a good example of intersectionality of race and class – most black women in our age group had parents/grandparents who HAD to work to pay the bills. And in the South, it was often black women who were more consistently employed compared to black men. As you said, black women collectively have been working, and hard at that, since we were brought to this country. Being a hard worker is historically part of what we had to do to placate whites, and hell, just stay alive, at certain points in our history. We’re less than 200 years (maybe 3 generations) removed from slavery, and a generation removed from de jure/de facto segregation. So all of those historical and cultural touchpoints play a role in why some whites and blacks can’t wrap their arms around black women who are SAHWs, SAHMs, and/or ladies of leisure.

    So while I was not privy to the Twitter discussion, and I am unmarried, I understand the guilt. I’ve worked in some capacity since I was 16, not counting housework at home. That said, I’ve never given the side-eye to or questioned black women who don’t work. First, it’s none of my business, and second, props to said women. If you and your husband/partner/significant other have worked it out so you don’t have to work, many blessings to you. Heck, even if you’re single and don’t work, kudos. History doesn’t have to dictate the future – just because our mothers, aunts, cousins, sisters, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers worked job(s) to provide for their families doesn’t mean that has to be another black woman’s situation. Women in general are often caretakers, and black women to the extreme. There is not a darn thing wrong with taking care of you first.

    Please believe: if my husband supported the decision for me not to work, I’d gladly tender my resignation and would not feel guilty about it. And I’m fortunate enough to be in good health. Eugenia, I support you putting your health first. We’re all dying, it’s just a matter of how slowly or quickly. Nothing wrong with doing what you need to do to optimize your life.

    When folks talk about wasting a degree, I shake my head. For one, having a degree doesn’t guarantee employment these days anyway. Two, not having to report to a job frees you up to develop other skills and abilities that you may not have the time or energy for otherwise, and could potentially generate income (and that’s why it is often the young who are the innovative). And folks seem to dismiss what the college experience does: it can prime you for critical thinking, out of the box thinking, and exposure to life and learning you may not get otherwise. Not to mention, for those women who are mothers, a college education also benefits your children. Getting a degree is not just about getting a job, and I wish people would get it straight.

    Anyway, my long rant is basically to state: I unequivocally support black women’s right to have a seat, metaphorically and literally, lol!

      • haha! Girl, I have much respect for bloggers – producing content is no easy feat. Since I’ve restricted my social media, I don’t think I’m plugged in enough to pop culture and socio political issues to have anything interesting to share that’s not already been said by someone else.

        Your vlogs always make me think and I get too wordy in my responses, lol.

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