Sunday, August 28, 2011

June Cleaver Died of Ennui

The fifties mom so many cherish and yearn for wasn't sacrificed to "Womens' Rights", the fifties mom died of ennui.

The grocer gave her a plucked and packaged chicken, technology cooked her dinner, Sears' braided her rugs and the government taught her children.  Maytag washed the clothes and Standard Oil fed the iron horse.

What was she supposed to do?

Eureka! The floor was swept and the rugs beat, in an instant!

Housewives didn't stay home for 6000 years because men dominated them.  They stayed home because they were busy.  When the work finally dried up, they made tracks for new occupations.  Considering how long they had stayed home, the exodus was remarkably fast.

Womens' exodus from the kitchen followed mens' exodus from the farm very closely.  Men left the farm for the same reasons - technology lightened the farm work load while it offered new work in the cities.

The early women rights advocates were mostly single or weathily connected without dependent families. The early protestors weren't leaving their cows unmilked or the stove unstoked to join their sister suffragettes for the right to work in the cities. Thanks to industrialists like Isaac Singer, by the second wave in the 1960s, undergarments were even so plentiful and cheap they were burned like dried leaves.   When the home didn't need them, women sought work elsewhere.

Many voices these days decry the breakup of the nuclear family.  Rather than sitting on our heels blaming the vapid specter of "womens' rights", this author maintains the nuclear or even extended family can be reunited only by the thing that tore them apart...employment.  The biggest target today to bring home employment is home schooling.

If parents wish to recreate the family synthesis, they (particularly mothers) must realize that the family that is busy at home stays home.  Working outside the home is no more a repudiation of June Cleaver than working at home is an abdication of rights.  Far from it. Following the work is the nature of humanity.  Being busy at home is a shouldering of the self responsibility which rights exist to protect.

You may believe Ms. X when she says if Ward and the Beaver had been homeschooled, June would never have been an icon.


  1. I think it's important to note that there's more to the story of farmers migrating to cities than more sophisticated technology. The peasant lifestyle is largely self sustaining and could survive without selling their crop to large markets.

    The story of this migration is really one of intentional relocation of these populations. Be it through enclosure of previous "common" land, or directly state orchestrated forced relocation, for instance, as it occurred in soviet Russia.

    It's true that once small farmers were competing with large agribusiness (in large markets) they were at a disadvantage, however, in the States this was compounded by a change in agricultural policy that privileged capital intensive operations over small operations. In short, small farmers were forced to go into debt to keep up with the amount of production that was expected of them (we overproduce) in order to receive sufficient subsidies.

    This last example is only a specific instance of various methods of "asset stripping" that have resulted in a dwindling number of farmers all over the world. Technology is, of course, an integral part of capital intensive operations and certainly contributed to spot we find ourselves in. But it was not technology alone that led us here, rather intentional public policy.

    By the way, thanks for your coverage.

  2. uwo, I couldn't agree more. Technological advances hastened the migration and because of technology I believe it would have occured to some extent regardless of government influences. But to paraphrase Rahm, why let a good opportunity go to waste? That government took advantage of technological advances to further its control of the populace is a subject outside the real intent of the post (which was that people go where they can get work, regardless again of the forces that push them around.)

    Thanks for your comment.