Since I quit my job in March, I have become totally addicted to living the housewife life. I spend my mornings pitter-pattering around my apartment, cleaning up the messes from the night before, going grocery shopping and planning dinner for the evening, journaling, laundry, smoking too many cigarettes, and baking various treats—all I need is a house dress, rollers in my hair, and some spawn of my own to fully embody the stereotype.
“The problem lay buried, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American women,” begins Betty Freidan’s seminal feminist text, The Feminine Mystique. “It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction… Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made beds, shopped for groceries…lay beside her husband at night—she was even afraid to ask herself the silent question—‘Is this all?’”
In 2019, housewives are mostly a thing of the past—seldom is a woman lucky enough to find herself in a situation where she can afford not to work, especially in New York fucking City. But the question—is this all?—nevertheless haunts me, just in a very different context. My yen for housewife life is less about my desire to devote myself to domestic pursuits, and more about my skepticism of wage labor.
When I was required to spend 40 hours a week devoting my energies to a corporate entity that I did not hold in very high regard, I found myself completely exhausted and numb during my precious time off. I often thought to myself: Is it this what being an adult is? Will I always be required to spend most of my valuable waking hours time performing labor for a corporation? I don’t know what my purpose in life is, but having a full-time job ain’t it.
Society demanding that I must sell my labor in order to participate in adulthood crushes me—which is why I’ve turned to domesticity. It’s a different sort of work, less alienating because I’m doing it only for myself. As a teenager and young adult, I had little interest in household activities like making food and cleaning, instead opting to focus on being a party girl, writing, and other intellectual and artistic pursuits.
Unlike my troubled teen years, I’ve reached a point in my life where I actually want to be healthy. I so badly want to be sane, completely desperate to become untroubled, dying to escape the grip of technology and the injustice of society. I used to think suffering was necessary in my quest to become a great writer, but nowadays, I think the whole tortured artist thing is baloney. I am tired of feeling bad so often, and crave a way out from career expectations and the burden of wage labor. Domesticity, as it turns out, kinda saves me from being totally miserable. It gets me out of my head, easing the immense pain that civilization has foisted upon me.
Baking allows me to make something tangible, to create a masterpiece out of raw materials that serves to nourish. It is not empty or abstract like the internet. It is a way to take care of myself, to get in touch with what makes me human. It allows me to create outside of capitalism. Even cleaning my apartment achieves similar results. I’ve gotten to the point where I volunteer to do my boyfriend’s laundry, because helping someone I love makes me feel whole—though he has yet to accept my offer.
The public discourse on self-care is generally bullshit—mostly a ploy to get you to buy something, but the underlying anxiety that fuels it is real. People are yearning for ways to love themselves in our brutally consumerist culture. My generation is internet-poisoned, in debt, underpaid, and largely denied the same opportunities our parents had, so the search for a sense of meaning is particularly fraught. Domesticity provides purpose, just perhaps not the only one.
Extra! Extra! Read all about it.
Housewife life isn’t the only thing that makes me feel sane. I also journal, like a lot, and wanted to share some drawings I’ve made with you, my beloved subscribers.
If you follow me on Instagram, you might be aware that my muses include Jimmy Fallon, Chairman Mao, Ellen Degeneres, minions, et al. I will almost certainly explore these obsessions in future editions of Evemail.
One more reminder: