Thursday, 14 March 2013

Pray, tell me the antonym of housewife/homemaker

In vain, I have been trying to come up with a logical antonym for housewife/homemaker. While many find the the term housewife derogatory, the term homemaker is no less. Both terms mean the same anyway albeit the term homemaker can refer to a stay-at-home husband as well. Well, now to the post's main concern. What is the suitable antonym for housewife/homemaker?



While one can easily say that the opposite of housewife is working woman, I don't find that convincing. Well, let's try to make some word operations. The term housewife can be split into house and wife. Right? Of course, yes. Now how do we base the opposites here. Do we see the term as one single word or two words. If we split the words, then what could possibly be the opposite of house -- non-house? homeless? I can't answer this one. Now for the wife part! If the opposite of wife is husband, then the antonym should be 'househusband.' Now I haven't seen many use this term. But let's think logically. If housewife refers to an individual who is at home and takes care of everything that includes the home - children, cooking, cleaning, husband and so on, then the opposite of that should be an individual who works outside the home thus being free from every work at home. Now, does that happen at all? A working woman is a person who works at home and also outside of the home.

Well, there are certain words which cannot have an opposite for it is illogical. I tend to think that the word, 'housewife' itself is illogical. Okay, you find the word 'homemaker' sensible. Then what is its antonym? Homebreaker? Well, there are homebreakers but the opposite of homemaker is not homebreaker. For that matter, even the husband is a homemaker. In fact, he earns for the upliftment of the home and hence he also has an equal share in the making of a home. Out of curiosity, I checked with our friendly Wiki and here's what it has to say, "Homemaking is a mainly American term for the management of a home, otherwise known as housework, housekeeping, or household management . . . [It is also] a gender-neutral term for a housewife or a househusband." Well, I'm nodding my disapproval and reading further and the various related aspects of the term fail to convince me.



A word should be coined taking into consideration the different dimensions of its association - logically and semantically. If you ask me how to then distinguish between a working and non-working status, I will be at a loss for I can't think of A word to describe a woman who works at home and also outside of home and also a woman who works only at home. Work is work, outside and inside of home.

Readers, I would be curious and happy to know if you can coin better words instead of housewife and homemaker.

Sometimes a single term can pack our entire lives into a compartment.We need better terms and definitions.

Did I make sense at all? Just asking.



Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Internet
Image 3: Internet


46 comments:

  1. A housekeeper is a paid profession while a home maker is not. Can your query be a hybrid of both? I wonder

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    Replies
    1. Hybrid?!?! Well, I'm not sure. It's not about money you see.

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  2. Internal Manager? Domestic department presiding officer? Residential CEO?

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    1. What??? Serious. Imagine me or someone else introducing oneself as Domestic department presiding officer. ROFL, Dok.

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  3. Thoughtful. Just a thought, I feel 'Mother' and 'Father' are the two best words to fit in all the above mentioned queries.

    Interesting read!

    Keep smiling,
    Lakshmi

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    1. But isn't mother a relationship's name, Lakshmi?

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  4. I should say I'm very curious as to how you came to think of such a topic. Queer! But this type of fodder for the mind will definitely make one think. Thank you for the post and the pictures!

    Goood read! :)

    Best,
    Gayathree

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    1. Topics like this and more always fill my vacant hours, Gayathree. I would love to create a thinking process through my posts. Thanks for stopping by.

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  5. Good post and thoughtful too. Well my substitutes for the term "House wife / Home Maker" are :

    1) Enabler (Not sure of the grammar, but you people are the one who enables most of the things to happen).

    2) Goddess of the house

    3) Home Strategist.

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    Replies
    1. Wooh, you are coming up with even complicated ones but I like the way you think.

      Thanks for stopping by Deepak.

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  6. I feel that even we coin another term for housewife or homemaker will there be a change in the attitude? That is what I believe needs to be changed.

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  7. Interesting subject for a post...but does finding an antonym make the role of women inside or outside of home any different?

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    1. Atleast the term can sound sane, right. That's why I was trying to deconstruct some popular terms.

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  8. Love your philosophical thinking dear Susan.;)
    I think Elizabeth will love this post, she is a home staying mom and I think she works more than any working woman I know.;) My sister is also at home, raising her 3 kids and she tells me that she is actually looking forward to get back to work as then she can relax.;))
    As for the antonyms, I am not sure they exist as in my mind these are professional descriptions. It is like trying to find antonym for a "clerk" or "nurse".
    Have a great weekend dear Susan,
    xoxo

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    1. How happy I am to see you Zuzana. At work sometimes one is relieved of the 'work' forever state.

      No antonyms, sadly.

      xoxoxo

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  9. Another unique topic for a post, Susan! I agree with Lazy Pineapple and RGB here, more than finding an antonym for housewife/homemaker, a change in society's outlook and respect for the tireless work they do 24x7, that needs to addressed!

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    1. True that Shilpa. But sometimes these terms need to change for the mindsets to alter.

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  10. chop chop chop.............the carrot chopper is the real homemaker. I am not ridiculing the Reality that happens at kitchen, but the bias in which society construct....

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  11. I think you make perfect sense Susan. Unfortunately, the words symbolize our own confusion about gender roles. I've tried to eliminate these from my marriage, but it seems conditioning is stronger than ideas of equality. My husband and I have been married for ions, but still have occasional quarrels over housework. But it's good to keep questioning these words and hopefully make baby steps at changing things for the better. You do that with your writing.

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    1. Questioning is the rule of the thumb, Myrna otherwise one just loses awareness and the ability to think.

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  12. the post is absolutely good to read !! but i missed the point ?

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    1. Missed the point? Can't be since this is so simply written, Tara.

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  13. Irrespective of who works where, I feel that there is no need to get upset about certain terminologies as long as their contribution is significant. Which, in most cases is.

    Destination Infinity

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    1. Rajesh, I think that words and terminologies imprison a personality and stereotype the roles.

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  14. I like the term homemaker because it implies the importance of a person's role in making the house a home. It is another matter whether the respect due is accorded. And I prefer using terms like work-at-home mom or Stay-at-home mom or woman which are more prevalent these days.

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    1. Work-at-home mom and stay-at-home mom/woman definitely sounds a lot better than housewife or homemaker.

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  15. Replies
    1. Superwoman . . . err . . . I'm imagining a lot of red and flying.

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    2. Love this! And the superpower? Getting things DONE.

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  16. I dont think I can come up with an answer, but I loved the way you were dissecting and analyzing the words. True, there can never be opposites for a few words, and Superwoman can be a good synonym :-)

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    1. Even I don't have an answer. I was just thinking out loud. Words Terms can sometimes imprison us.

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  17. Love this post, very thought provoking...

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  18. Good in ur words that u r i wish u had addressed the matter in a different way. This is a very touchy topic for me and i don't blame u for that. But i think coining words or just discussing would change anything. i don't like any of the words coined to give the woman at home some respect. i agree to what lazy pineapple and RGB have just said. And i too feel that the only word that can describe her best is Ma.

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    1. True that Shivani. Coining words don't much change anything but I do hope that women who do different things don't get slotted and trapped in a term or definition.

      And, how beautiful is your thought about Ma. Loved this one.

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  19. I don't think there should ever be an antonym for a housewife/homemaker. An opposite of one person would naturally be what the former cannot do. But women are capable of doing everything, homemakers and homebrekers need not be necessarily different, they can be one and the same. Similarly, women are capable of managing between the extremes :-)

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  20. Home maker gives just a feel of one who looks after home tries to make it every day ! It sounds almost like a job :p but with out salary as people around us love such terms which sound like they have a job to do ,to build, to make .
    In India may be there r no house husbands but Its not a uncommon scenario!!
    Frankly I don't think I need any of these terms . Mom is some one with out whom our home won't be home whether she is a home minister , house wife , home maker ., cook a maid or so on so forth where as a dad who looks after the home needs and our needs also completes the home

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  21. the term'housewife' also infers that the woman is married, for better or worse. the term 'maid' would be acceptable for a lady that cares only for the house although it general is for a employed woman. if we're ok with the term only for married women's, then I'd say that housewife is the best term in modern english. 'lady of the house' like 'lord of the house' is a bit more of a noble term also.
    however the antonym could be, imo, 'a career woman' or the old term 'breadwinner' if the husband isn't working. however, I'm not convinced of the term househusband or stay-at-home husband. is there nothing better then those?

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  22. You definitely made sense! - Vid :)

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  23. You definitely made sense! - Vid :)

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