Should Housewives Receive An Allowance?

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Senior year of high school I took a college level Spanish class. We read novels, news articles, and even some academic works to practice advanced vocabulary and communication skills. One article we read concerned a hypothetical plan to legally mandate husbands to allocate an allowance to their wife if they happen to be a housewife. The author argued that housewives provide labor and services that individuals normally pay for, but husbands are receiving them for free. In a class discussion I blatantly told the professor that I do not support such a mandate and she immediately branded me “El Machisto”. I never got an opportunity to explain my reasons to her and as a staunch advocate of gender equality I assure you my reasoning concerns economics and the practicalities of government policy.

A very basic problem is that the author was not neutral in defining her mandate. By that I mean a housewife will be guaranteed an allowance, but what about a stay at home husband who fills the same role? The policy should not discriminate based on gender. However this is quite trivial and can be easily fixed.

More importantly, I want you to consider the root of the problem concerning the power dynamic between a housewife and her husband. Being the primary income earner in this scenario grants the husband a great deal of power. Housewives may prolong their marriage even if they are unhappy because their marriage provides financial stability. Some housewives also feel guilt when spending money they did not earn themselves. The housewife may feel hesitant buying a new dress or purchasing cosmetics due to the fact that her husband could question her spending decisions concerning money the housewife did not earn herself. On top of that, husbands are capable of criticizing activities housewives partake in throughout the day. Going to a movie during the day or meeting a friend for lunch may be frowned upon when chores around the house are left unfinished. This establishes that housewives may face immense criticism from their husbands if they feel their spouses are not contributing equally to the success of the family.

The root of the problem seems to be poor communication. My mother was a housewife for several years when I was a child and my father never clearly communicated his expectations to her. At the same time good communication requires that the power dynamic is equal. Setting unrealistic expectations for the amount of work your partner can accomplish in a day can be very damaging for their sense of accomplishment and self esteem.

I will concede that the author was correct in that services provided to the family by a housewife have real economic value. Raising children, cooking meals, grocery shopping, cleaning, and laundry are all expensive tasks for a family to outsource. It is important that husbands recognize these services would incur a high cost when outsourced to a third party. However, I think an allowance is not the appropriate decision in this case.

If the source of the problem seems to be poor communication, financial decisions will not solve abuse, insecurity or an imbalanced power dynamic. Therefore I do not believe that government interference here will help at all. Temporarily a housewife may feel greater financial security and freedom, but many of the power struggles and criticisms remain. A husband who was previously criticizing his spouse will probably continue to do so under the mandate. Only now he has reason to state that his wife is allocated a portion of his hard earned money in return for being lazy. In that case the problem was only exaggerated. Having the government make this decision for a couple only hides a bigger issue, which is the stigma and criticism many housewives face. Any financial strains are only exaggerating the results of poor communication. Husbands need to realize the value that productive housewives bring to the table.

This is a very controversial and complicated topic, I would love to hear your opinions in the comments below!

5 comments on “Should Housewives Receive An Allowance?

  1. Hello 🙂 I love that you summoned the courage to write about this topic; it is indeed very complex, as are feminist issues in general. I stumbled upon your blog today and hope to read much more from you in the future. In any case I took the liberty of nominating you for the Versatile Blogger Award; for more infos check out my latest post. Feel free to accept or reject 🙂 It’s just a little nudge. In any case, all the best to you!

    Like

  2. Brandy says:

    I just don’t see how an “allowance” would improve any relationship. If the couple has a good and strong relationship, then they’ll realize that being a full time parent/house keeper is a job in itself and that, while both parties may not be contributing equally to the overall income directly, they are both contributing. The one who stays at home all day has just as much right to go out in the evening as the one that works all day. And the one that works all day only has the ability to go out in the evenings because there are no chores to be done, thanks to the one that stayed home all day. An allowance in that case would just seem silly because the one working outside the home would be fine with paying for the one working inside the home to go out. And, as you stated, and allowance for a bad relationship wouldn’t improve anything, and could easily make things worse.

    Liked by 1 person

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