While watching the debut episode of America's Got Talent 2013, a female contestant got my Irish up when she said she sacrificed her career as a stand-up comic to become “just a housewife and mother”. Excuse me? Just a housewife and mother? That phrase is like nails on a blackboard to me! Go ahead and call me super sensitive, but in my experience there is no such thing as “just a housewife and mother.” Had the woman simply said she was a “housewife”, I would not take issue with her; however, prefacing her occupation in life with the belittling word “just” implies inferiority. Perhaps she thinks housewives are not as important as stand-up comics, but from where I stand, housewives and moms run the world!
Are you laughing? Well, don't. Salary.com likens mothers to chief executive officers of major corporations, and as such, if housewives/mothers were financially compensated in today's society, they would earn a salary of $170,000. Still giggling? I think not.
Seriously, linking a person's merit to his/her financial worth is a shameful reflection of our contemporary values. Is the contestant on America's Got Talent “just” a housewife because she does not earn big bucks? Maybe she thinks so; thus, her answer...but that's like saying people who don't earn hefty salaries are insignificant compared to those that do. Is a police officer or a fire fighter “just” a civil servant because he/she doesn't earn as much as a professional baseball player? (It's a screwed up society that pays millions of dollars to someone who can throw a ball rather than one who protects and serves, but I digress.)
Every job, including running a home and motherhood, has its challenges. Nothing, of course, is perfect. “Mommy wars” waged between women who are employed outside the home and women who choose to stay home with the kids stir the inferiority that leads former stand-up comics (or former teachers, or former nurses, or former accountants, or former whatevers) to think of themselves as “just” housewives. Women should reject being labeled “just” anything. We are not “just” women. Not “just” housewives/mothers. We are the often under-appreciated backbone of society. We make the world tick, and if you think we don't, try functioning without us.