Sunday, March 29, 2009

Chesterton on wives/mothers

I have never understood myself how this superstition arose: the notion that a woman plays a lowly part in the home and a loftier part outside the home. There may be all sorts of excellent reasons for individuals doing or not doing either; but I cannot understand how the domestic thing can be considered inferior in the nature of the thing done. Most work done in the outer world is pretty mechanical work; some of it is decidedly dirty work. There seems no possible sense in which it is intrinsically superior to domestic work. Nine times out of ten, the only difference is that the one person is drudging for people she does care for and the other drudging for people she does not care for...

But, allowing for the element of drudgery in both cases, there is rather more element of distinction, and even dictatorship, in the domestic case. The most fully trusted official must very largely go by rules and regulations established by superiors. The mother of a family makes her own rules and regulations; and they are not merely mechanical rules, but often very fundamental moral rules. Nor are they merely monotonous in their application. Mr. Ford is reported, rightly or wrongly, as saying that the woman should not be in the business of the outer world, because business people have to make decisions. I should say that mothers have to make many more decisions. A great part of a big business goes by routine…

--hat tip: American Chesterton Society


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