• kewal sethi

the pleasures of housewife

the pleasures of housewife

simone de beauvoir was a french existentialist philosopher, political activist, and feminist theorist. her significant contributions to existentialism and feminist existentialism have solidified her legacy as a feminist.she is best known for her 1949 treatise the second sex, a detailed analysis of women's oppression and a foundational tract of contemporary feminism. she described housewife as a 'vassal'. the slave and humble dependent ….. doomed to bear children; the care of home, forced 'tyrannically' upon her; her home a prison.

it was a surprise to read her later views on the subject,

:”the housewife can set up a home that has everything for her and of value beyond her. in the form of more or less expensive bric-a-brac. she has within her four walls, the faunna and flora of the world, she has exotic countries and past times; she has her husband, representing human society; and she has her child, who gives her the entire future in portable form. home can become 'the center of the world, a kind of counter universe or universe in opposition, a refuge, retreat, grotto, womb that give shelter from outside dangers. with shutters closed, the wife feels herself queen. tasks within the home are valuable too, food preparation is agreeable, as also gossip on doorsteps. while peeling vegetables is a gay relief from solitude, and going to market is a profound pleasure. a discovery, almost an invention. the housewife knows that a solid cabbage, a ripe comambert are treasures that must be cleverly won from the unwilling storekeeper, the game is to get the best for the least money. the housewife is pleased with her passing triumph, to triumph as she contemplate her well filled larder. in the kitchen, she becomes a soceress, by a simple movement, as in beating an egg, or through the magic of fire, she effects the transmutation of substances, the matter becomes food. in all of these alchemies, there is a enchantment; there is poetry in making preserves. the housewife has caught duration in the snare of sugar; and a woman can find social satisfaction in a sucessful cake or a flakey pastry, for not everyone can do it

(the miseducation of women – james tooley: continuum 1963 – page 66)

note – reading the piece again after eight years, wonder whether it is all sarcasm.

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