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The love for her husband is deep
She would often do things for her husband
Without ever asking him anything in return
or even expecting him to know what she has done for him
However, long she has been married to her husband,
she treats him with respect and tenderness
And she always dresses herself neatly and pleasantly,
but never extravagantly, nor vulnerable, nor Gucci or Versace
My kind of women, housewives.
Lyrics to Housewife/The Conversation by Daan.
Housewife is a term used to describe a married woman who stays at home to personally raise her children and take care of their needs. This is the traditional role of women at least through the children's pre-kindergarten years. "Homemaker" is a mainly American gender-neutral synonym for either spouse doing this.
She's often a stock character in Dom Coms
who can generally be identified by being in the kitchen and lovingly counseling her children because she is The Heart
of the family. There will probably be reference to her doing laundry, grocery shopping, cooking
, household cleaning
, chauffeuring, managing the family finances, sewing
, and bugging her husband for Jewelry
and a mink coat
. Her children and husband usually appreciate what she does.
When a Close-Knit Community
is the setting for Free-Range Children
, she is part of why it is safe — any child who comes to her door stands a good chance of getting support, help, a sympathetic ear, or maybe just a cookie. With a good man at her side she's far from a case of Meekness Is Weakness
Sometimes crosses with Extreme Doormat
, which is culturally neutral and describes someone who lets everyone 'walk all over them'.
Naturally, this is far
less common in newer (ie. 1990's onward) works than in older works. However, the archetype is still used often enough that it has not yet become a Discredited Trope
. It is also, at least, Truth in Television
if the woman decides to be a stay at home mom.
Compare Yamato Nadeshiko
(a Japanese cultural ideal where a woman runs the household with a gentle expertise and touch of iron), House Husband
(when a man takes the role of homemaker, much to the utter surprise of pretty much everyone in popular media).
: Just staying at home alone does not make a character a Housewife
. If her interest in staying at home doesn't include homemaking and/or children but living off her spouse's paycheck to enjoy a life of luxury, she's NOT a housewife, she's a Gold Digger
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Anime and Manga
- Miyako Inoue, at the Distant Finale of Digimon Adventure 02, is stated to be one. She's possibly more like Izumi below, of course, given that she has her Digimon help her with the kids.
- Izumi Curtis of Fullmetal Alchemist loves declaring that she is "A housewife!" whenever someone asks who she is. She usually says that in between beating the living shit out of the (canon) best elite-foot-soldiers in the story, effortlessly taking down borderline immortal creatures (homunculi) that can regenerate (one of them is the size of a tank, incidentally) and invading a bar filled with multiple chimeras, trained fighters, and a homunculus just so she can chew out her student.
- Chapter 95: "When someone asks 'who' I am, I always say, 'a house-wife.' That's the polite response... But just for today, I feel like showing off a little. I'M AN ALCHEMIST!"
- Kasumi Tendo of Ranma ˝ after her mother's demise, despite not being married she maintains the Tendo household.
- Delia Ketchum of Pokémon takes care of the household while her son is off adventuring and her husband is....somewhere unknown. She always reminds him to change his underwear.
- In Sunnyville Stories, the mothers of both protagonists, Rusty and Samantha, are housewives.
- This trope is true of many comic strips before the 1970s. Often because they were aimed at children and were expected to show good social values to the young audience. And, of course, in those days divorce was a social taboo.
- Jo Zette And Jocko, where Jo and Zette's mother is a housewife who is mostly seen at hime while their father goes out to work. Her role is mostly reduced to worrying about the children. Even Hergé, who drew the comic strip felt the series didn't allow him much creative freedom. Every time he sent the children out on adventure he had to work the parents in there somewhere. After only five albums he gave up and returned to Tintin, who at least is family free and could do whatever he wanted.
- Quick and Flupke: Another series drawn by Hergé where Quick and Flupke's mothers are both housewives, whose roles consist of nothing else but them cooking, cleaning and shopping.
- Suske en Wiske: Suske and Wiske have an adoptive relative, Tante Sidonia (Aunt Sidonia) who does all the chores a normal mother would do. Yet she doesn't stay at home when the children go on adventure, but comes along with them. Willy Vandersteen, creator of the comic strip, gave the children an aunt instead of a real mother, because real parents would never allow their children to go on adventure.
- Nero: Madam Nero, Nero's wife and Madam Pheip, the wife of Meneer Pheip are traditional housewives in the sense that they do all kinds of domestic activities. Yet Madam Pheip is a bit more outgoing and willing to go on adventure when her children or Nero and his friends are in danger.
- Jommeke: Jommeke's mother and Filiberke's mother are both housewives who do traditional kitchen-and-household activities and always stay at home.
- De Kiekeboes: Charlotte, Kiekeboe's wife, is still a housewife, but her role has changed over the years. She sometimes takes part-time jobs outside the house, which allow her to have adventures of her own.
- Tom Poes: Doddeltje, Olivier B. Bommel's love interest whom he eventually marries, is a caring and admiring wife. She takes the role of housewife, but seeing that Bommel is a noble man who is rich her domestic activities are not that dominant.
- Boule et Bill: Boule's mother is a traditional housewife and most of the gags don't put her in the forefront.
- Jan, Jans en de Kinderen: Jans is a housewife, but as the decades went on she too started working outside the house. At a certain point she switched jobs with her husband. He stays at home and takes care of the children, while she works.
- Le Petit Spirou: Spirou's mother is a traditional housewife and only plays a minor role in the series as cast member.
- Urbanus: Eufrazie is a very docile and devote housewife, who main activitity seems to be cleaning the Virgin Maria statue on the cupboard. She does get involved in the adventures, however, and has been known to protest when her Berserk Button is pushed.
- Nell McLaughlin, mother of Alison Lohman's character in Flicka is the Wyoming horse ranch homemaker with all the domesticity and at least as much guts as the sitcom wives.
- The 1995 film Safe is about a housewife who developers multiple chemical sensitivity disorder.
- In Love and Basketball, Monica's mother Camille stays at home and doesn't approve of her daughter's interest in basketball. This is a source of conflict for them, because Monica thinks of her mother as an Extreme Doormat and Camille doesn't understand Monica.
- In Christmas in Connecticut Elizabeth pretends to be this, writing magazine articles in the persona of a Martha Stewart-style homemaker who tends to her husband and baby, knitting sweaters, cooking gourmet meals, etc. She is actually an unmarried New York sophisticate who doesn't know how to cook. She has to Maintain The Lie when her publisher, who is not in on the scam, invites himself to her nonexistent farm for Christmas.
- One Foot in Heaven (1941) is a pretty good example of how this trope used to be portrayed and how it comes off to a 21st century viewer. Hope Spence is the loving and supportive wife of a Protestant minister who is tending to his flock in early 20th-century Iowa. In 1941 the character of Hope was no doubt meant to be an inspiring example of a virtuous wife who supports her husband. To a 21st century viewer, however, Mrs. Spence may come off as an Extreme Doormat. William makes her leave her family and come with him to the U.S., he tells her that she can't redecorate the dingy parsonage they move into because the parishoners won't like it, he tells her she can't dress nice because that might outshine the other ladies in the congregation, he tells her they have to go hungry because advertising for his wedding services is "too commercial", he refuses the much cushier posting in California that she wanted him to take, he disregards her wishes about naming their third child, and he forces her to leave for another crappy district just when things have been fixed up nicely in their Iowa home. At no point in the film does William ask her about any of these life choices; he tells her, and she obeys.
- Molly Weasley from Harry Potter is the homemaker of the family but she's also an Apron Matron. One would have to be badass to run a household with so many children and especially so when two of those children are Trickster Twins.
- Celie from The Color Purple ends up early on as a housewife of an abusive Mr. Albert, taking care of kids who don't even accept her at first. Woobie ensued.
- Charity Carpenter is a stay at home mom for a total of seven kids while her husband is off fighting evil. However you should never touch her kids. When the villains of one book took her oldest she suited up with a near armory in the back of her minivan and invaded the nevernever to get her daughter back.
- Jill Churchill's Jane Jeffry is a stay-at-home mom who ends up being involved in one mystery after another, much to the chagrin of her cop boyfriend.
- Some Christian groups hold to the idea of the "Proverbs 31 woman" as the ideal wife, based on Proverbs 31 from The Bible. Far from being a doormat, this woman is strong, wise, industrious, respectable, and fully capable of managing the affairs of the household.
Live Action TV
- Peggy Bundy from Married... with Children (though unlike the ideal housewife, she does absolutely no housework and just spends all her time in lazy ways).
- Played with in That '70s Show: Eric's mother Kitty acts VERY much like one, but she's actually got a job outside the house as a nurse.
- Later on when Red loses his job and she has to work full time she nearly cracks when she finds out Red and Eric still expect her to do all the cooking and cleaning anyways.
- Carol Brady, supposedly. She has no job, but she did very little housework, because they had a full-time live-in housekeeper, Alice.
- Genderflipeed in Hannah Montana of all places where Robbie Ray does a fair share of the home-making duties.
- Donna Stone from The Donna Reed Show There was even an episode talking about how being a house keeper is hard work.
- In Smallville Martha Kent can generally be found in the kitchen especially in seasons one and three and part of two when she's not working for Lionel or running the Talon.
- Amy Matthews of Boy Meets World acts every bit the domestic one, doing all the cooking and cleaning, from the beginning usually letting us forget about her real-estate career in the first season.
- 7th Heaven's Annie Camden studied everything from art to business and economics for the express purpose of running a household.
- Roseanne threw this image out the window and replaced it with something much closer to reality. They even lampshaded the differences on a clip show hosted by Roseanne and a committee of TV moms who had come to "set her straight."
- Though Roseanne often described herself as a housewife, and did do the majority of the actual housework, she was never a stay-at-home mom. In fact, she worked more consistently than her nominal "breadwinner" husband.
- This is actually the exception rather than the rule on The Real Housewives; most of the Real Housewives are not real housewives. In fact, Atlanta's Porsha got some flak from the rest of the cast about the fact that she didn't work, as did Miami's Lisa.
- Belgian rock artist Daan released a hit single named Housewife in 2004, featuring both an instrumental version and a B-side named Housewife/The Conversation in which he has a conversation with a woman praising the virtues of housewives in a tongue in cheek way, naming them housewives, my kind of woman.
- Every family-oriented comic strip is covered by this trope, although some housewives eventually found jobs outside of the house.
- Blondie: She was an archetypical example, doing all the cooking and cleaning, until she got her own catering business.
- Calvin and Hobbes: The mother gave up her career to raise Calvin. She sometimes wonders if she made the right choice.
- Baby Blues: Wanda even cried when they asked her to go back to work in one of the early strips. In today's strips, she still has mixed feelings about it, and in the Animated Adaptation final episode, she wanted to go back to work, only to change her mind again and go back to taking care of Zoe, leaving the Nap Nook business to Melinda.
- The Melissidae bloodline from Vampirethe Requiem sometimes invoke this role to hide their undead activities under a facade of being a loving wife living in a small house with a white picket fence caring for her nuclear family. Said housewives usually being absolutely inhumanly insane. Also due in part of their loving "families" actually being made up of kidnapped strangers who were tortured, brainwashed and subjugated to the Melissidae's screaming hive mind to the point where they lost their sentience and began acting as mindless drones to their new queen, living and dying to her whims. Yikes!
- The very dark KULT once suggested this as a playable character — looks straight, but spends her time reading old tomes about how to summon eldritch abominations.
- Mistel from Yggdra Union always claims to be one, but although she does all the housework for her grandfather, she's not actually married — her fiance ran off on her before the start of the game. She's very proud of her domestic skills, and they do not stop her from kicking massive amounts of enemy ass.
- An odd example: In the "Milkman Conspiracy" level of Psychonauts there are a number of G-men who "disguise" themselves as normal people by carrying an item specific to their supposed profession. One house contains three G-men brandishing rolling pins and talking disjointedly about pies and their neglectful husbands, apparently pretending to be housewives.
- Barbara Johnson a.k.a. The Housewife (pictured above), one of the playable characters from BioShock 2: Multiplayer. She is described as "a dutiful housewife and an attentive mother" but with "a familiar and nagging sense that there must be something more," since Bioshock is a an Action and Survival Horror Game things don't get any better for her. Once she's chosen to be a product tester by a company called Sinclair Solutions she grabs her frying pan and starts rampaging on the battlefield. As she get more and more addicted to ADAM she loses her grip on reality and start hallucinating that the warzone is her household and that the Little Sister is her daughter. In the end she acts in ways no typical housewife would.
- Linda Smith is a housewife and mother living in Andale in Fallout 3. The twist? They are a perfectly normal looking family... living in a nuclear wasteland. Also: an inbred cannibal.
- Fate/EXTRA: Playable Caster (aka Tamamo-no-Mae) of She has a dirty mouth and can be scary at times, but she still carries herself in this manner and her desire to be a good wife is as genuine as it gets.
- Dexter's mom from Dexter's Laboratory. She seemed to have little characterization outside of her housework, though it's implied at least a few times she was much more of a rebel in her youth. Her typical outfit that she wore everywhere even included yellow rubber dishwashing gloves and an apron.
- Wilma Flintstone and Betty Rubble from The Flintstones, doing the cooking, cleaning, taking care of the children and their husbands, but averted in the 1980s series The Flintstone Comedy Show, where Wilma and Betty work as newspaper reporters for the Daily Granite. Also in the 1993 TV-movies where they start their own catering business.
- Diane "Didi" Kropotkin Kerpackter-Pickles from Rugrats, after she quits her part-time schoolteacher position from the earlier seasons.
- Mrs. Turner (or "Timmy Turner's Mom") from The Fairly OddParents, although in the earlier seasons she was portrayed as a real estate agent. And even as a spy.
- Mother Up: Several characters implicitly have this role, but Sarah is the one who most strongly fits the "traditional homemaker whose life revolves around her husband and child."