Wisdom has never made a bigot, but learning has. (Josh Billings)
“Children and zip fasteners do not respond to force”
That expression, from English journalist Katherine Whitehorn, applies to verbal force, too, I expect. “Just-a” is, in my mind, verbal force. “Just a housewife” is the king of the “Just-a’s”, and one which this fella thinks should be relegated to language’s trash heap.
It’s the last day of Women’s History month and Halloween too. We still have too many ghosts, goblins and shenanigans in our equality of the sexes closet, and that housewife “just-a” is one.
A tip of the hat to all the events held celebrating Women’s History Month, which shouldn’t end until we rid ourselves of all our inequalities, but I suppose that’s in the same league as wishing for peace. It’s a funny thing about equality; talking about it has gone on for centuries in the halls of religion, politics, business, and later, in unions. It’s an old cliché, but so true, talk is cheap. Actions, which do indeed speak louder than words have yet to become a whisper you can hear clearly.
When it comes to matters of equality of the sexes, the bizarre fact is much of the world is still in the Dark Ages, and some are still in the Stone Age, and while in our so-called western world we brag we’re leading the way, but we’re a long way from journey’s end.
Canada’s elite, an almost all male choir from business, religion and politics were as thick as tar on the matter for a century or so. Finally, a ray of light made it through the tar in the 1920s and, in their largesse, “allowed” women to vote. Until then, it is told, women were non-persons. (How ruddy bureaucratic of them. How can you be a non-person?) Apparently they strutted around like peacocks for awhile, and are still strutting in the history books receiving kudos for getting the prejudicial tar our of their heads and doing the obvious, which was, for Canadian women, a century overdue.
It was a refreshing month for another reason. Not once did I hear that previously mentioned king of ‘just-as’ “She’s just a housewife!”
There are dozens of “just-as” in our society. They appear to come mostly from upper-crust thinking, arrogance and elitism carried, and practiced, by more than just the upper crust. (I wonder if the people of Vancouver still say “just” a garbage person? Some will, I suppose; wiser people will now understand the term “essential service.”)
Anyone who uses the phrase should be sentenced to be “just a housewife” for a year.
A modern household of course — they’d be unable to handle a 1930s-style home when a houseful of children was five, six, seven, eight or more, where washtubs had scrub boards, furnaces and stoves were hand stoked, ashes dumped … OK, you’ve heard the drill from Grandma and Grandpa if you’re lucky enough to have extended family close.
Anyway, we’d sentence these “just-a’s” to a modern pushbutton house with a modern family which would include a couple of incalcitrant teenagers, a couple of terrible twos (who aren’t terrible at all; labeled so by a “just-a”), and a stay at home 30-year-old.
Under such ‘housewife’ pressure there’s many a macho “just-a” would be whimpering in a week, especially if we threw in Granny, and a granny suite for good measure.
It seems we may have lost a word in all of this social looking down, and looking up?
The “Family of Woman and Man!”
There’s a priceless gift many of the ‘just-a-housewife’ people received which will be rare today. A married child coming home with grandchildren, telling them, and Grandma, “when I came home from school Mom was always there. I’d holler Hi Mom, and she’d say Hi Mary (John). It’s hard to explain. I felt good. It was really special.”
Isn’t there too many ‘just-a,s’ in our world already? He’s just-a stay at home father, she’s just-a truck driver, they’re just farmers, she’s just-a housewife, and on it goes ad infinitum. In our search for Canadian heroes, which seems to be interminable, look no further. They’re the foundation of the society, and of the families, and families are the glue that holds it all together. Winston Churchill thought so too when he said, “There is no doubt that it is around the family and the home that all the greatest virtues of human society are created, strengthened and maintained.”
Just-a couple of final thoughts: Living in the lap of luxury isn’t bad, except you never know when luxury is going to stand up, and a tribute to Halloween by Dexter Kozen:
“Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen,
Voices whisper in the trees, “Tonight is Halloween!”
Have a good one!