Stay-at-Home Wives

Shakers Susan and Poly both sent me this CNN article about the "growing niche" of stay-at-home wives (i.e. straight married women who don't have children). First of all, like every other hot vagina-trend (see: the opt-out revolution), the veracity of stay-at-home-wives as a "growing niche" is dubious at best, though it's already warranted an article at CNN on this incredibly thin basis:
Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of "The Secrets of Happily Married Women," says stay-at-home wives constitute a growing niche. "In the past few years, many women who are well educated and trained for career tracks have decided instead to stay at home," he says. While his research is ongoing, he estimates that more than 10 percent of the 650 women he's interviewed who choose to stay home are childless.
Yeah, more than SIXTY-FIVE WOMEN (maybe as many as 70!) have reported deciding to stay home instead of work, so that means it's surely a raging fad across the nation.

The thing is, I'd actually find an article on women who decide to stay home rather interesting, if done correctly. But, needless to say, this one isn't. It wholly ignores what an obvious class issue this is, except to note that having a stay-at-home-wife is the newest status symbol for rich men. It combines rather curiously women who "give up a job to focus on an advanced degree, pursue artistic or creative goals, or deal with health issues," with women who just want to be homemakers, as if going to school isn't intimately work-related, or as if being ill is a choice. And it skims right past noting that one of the women spends part of her time doing charity work to quote the same woman saying: "I've actually heard people say that women who don't work are a drain on society," without ever connecting the two, despite the obvious point waiting to be made that charity work done by women who don't have to work is the precise opposite of a drain on society.

But this article isn't really about women, anyway. It's about the men who find "especially with the recent economic pressures, a stay-at-home spouse is often an extreme and visible luxury" and the insistent implication that marriages are improved because the husband is never expected to do anything anymore.
It's a lifestyle, Davis says, that has made her happier and brought her closer to her husband. "We're no longer stressed out," she says; because she takes care of the home, there are virtually no "honey-do" lists to hand over.
If the author and her primary source, the aforementioned Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of "The Secrets of Happily Married Women," weren't so busy trying to cram a new vagina-trend down our throats, there might have been a good piece about a non-gendered solution to hectic modern lives being carved by couples who have the luxury to do so. I personally know several gay couples where one partner has stayed home and organized their home and lives, either full-time or while working or attending school only part-time. For straight and gay couples, a designated home-maker of either gender, if they can swing it and if one of them wants to do it, can indeed free up loads of stress- and chore-free time for them to spend together.

But that's a new narrative—and new narratives require thoughtfulness, time, and energy. Why think outside the box when it's just so much easier to stick women in the same old box we all know so well already?

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