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."
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 often the "traditional" role of women—at least until her children (assuming she has any) are old enough to be in school for most of the day (usually by the time they start Kindergarten in elementary school). "Homemaker" is a mainly American gender-neutral synonym for either spouse doing this—"stay-at-home mom" is another term, but a housewife and stay-at-home mom aren't always the same thing.
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. And of course, since Beauty Equals Goodness and Men Are Strong, Women Are Pretty, she will never slack off on her looks, no matter what her busy schedule may demand. Her hair is always perfectly done, she never has any blemishes, unwanted hair, or wrinkles, and she will often be wearing a dress, high-heeled shoes, and pearls for even the most mundane tasks. And no matter what, she never becomes tired or stressed, even when she's the only one keeping the household together.
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).
Usually the wife of the Standard '50s Father, and mother of the Girl Next Door and The All-American Boy. In more modern stories, she may be the wife of the Bumbling Dad, who spends all her days not only taking care of the house and kids, but Parenting the Husband as well.
Important Note: 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.
- 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.
- Several of the mothers in Naruto are portrayed this way. Not all are civilians though. For example, Shikamaru's mother Yoshino is confirmed to be a retired chunin and Sasuke's mother Mikoto was also a ninja.
- During Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Vivid, the title character finally decided to temporarily rest her wings to recover from her injuries and has taken up this role to raise Vivio, with Fate as the working wife who is usually away from home. Led to a scene where newcomer Einhart mistakes her for an ordinary housewife, causing much snickering from everyone else.
- Wedding Peach: The love angels have frequent fantasies about being this for Yangiba, and their fights over it is the series' longest Running Gag
- Dragon Ball Z:
- Chi Chi after she became Overshadowed by Awesome. When not cooking for her husband and sons, she's scolding Goku for always leaving to save the world and Gohan for not studying (because he too is off to save the world).
- Bulma's mother is also a housewife.
- Videl becomes one at the end of the series when she and Gohan are married with a 4 year old daughter, Pan.
- Hortense Cazerne in Legend of Galactic Heroes is a good example as she manages the household perfectly even as her husband shuttles their family constantly throughout the far reaches of the galaxy due to his work assignments. Yang Wen-li even joked that she is in fact the true master of the Cazerne household.
- 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 home 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.
- 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.
- Hi and Lois: Lois at first before she became a real estate agent.
- Calvin and Hobbes: The mother gave up her career to raise Calvin. She sometimes wonders if she made the right choice. Calvin's dad references that both were working when she got pregnant. According to him, her job was demanding and toiling. Calvin assumed that she ended up quitting; in fact, she got used to it, which was why she was better suited to stay at home and look after him, much to Calvin's surprise and annoyance.
- FoxTrot: Andy has a part-time job as a newspaper columnist, but she's mainly a housewife.
- 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.
- Alice Mitchell in Dennis the Menace (US).
- Federation Law deliberately Invokes this trope (crossed with House Husband) in Jim Kirk, Unwilling Housewife Extraordinaire, ensuring all romantic entanglements consist of 'one working unit and one homemaking unit' in the name of maximising physical and mental health. All Starfleet officers have to declare a marriage within five years of promotion, if you aren't married by that point then any current romantic entanglement will be formalised as a marriage, and if you're unattached you'll end up in an Arranged Marriage. And if you happen to be the younger partner in your new marriage, then tough luck. Given that captaincy is Kirk's first, best destiny and Spock just wants his beloved to be happy, it's not a great situation, and, given that the Federation is at war, forcing half the population out of work is acknowledged In-Universe as being an incredibly stupid decision. It's also pointed out that the reason that Vulcan is far more advanced than Earth is because they actually let both halves of a relationship contribute to society in a meaningful way rather than enforcing an outdated regulation that very few people appear to support.
- Our Miss Brooks, the cinematic finale of the series of the same name: Miss Brooks, a teacher, wants to marry fellow teacher Mr. Boynton and become a fulltime housewife and mother. Miss Brooks and Mr. Boynton marry at the end of the film, living Happily Ever After.
- 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 & 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.
- Mon Oncle: Madame Arpel is an absurd parody of one. She's polishing her husband's car as he's driving it out the driveway. She serves her husband lunch, then makes him move to another table about eight feet away so she can serve coffee.
- 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 comes 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.
- Deconstructed, like so much else, in Pleasantville. Betty is supposed to be the epitome of this trope in-universe, but once she learns about sex from Jennifer, it begins a transformation of her character.
- Salesman, being a documentary about door-to-door salesmen made in 1966, shows the salesmen talking most often with housewifes, who are often tending to children while the salesmen go through their pitch.
- A dark example in A Woman Under the Influence, where the pressures of being a housewife have driven Mabel literally insane. She loves her children, but Nick is a mean and shouty husband and Nick's mother, who lives with the family, loathes Mabel. The house is badly overcrowded, with Nick and Mabel sleeping in a fold-out couch bed. Eventually she has a complete mental breakdown and has to go to an insane asylum.
- Another dark example in the Film Noir, The Reckless Moment: In order to keep the facade of a perfect family, Lucia Harper covers up her daughter's Accidental Murder, but things complicate even more when she's blackmailed. This blackmail shows how powerless even a wealthy woman was during The '40s and The '50s. It's painfully obvious that not only is her family ungrateful, but that she's trapped in a role that she dislikes.
- A Special Day: Yep, a dark example, set in patriarchal 1938 Italy. Antoinietta leads a rather grim existence as a quasi-slave, waiting on her husband and six kids. In one scene she cringes when looking at all the wreckage they've left behind in the morning. In another scene her dirtbag husband uses the skirt of her dress to dry his hands.
Antoinietta: Try blowing your nose on it too.
- 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, and her husband (an important government official) boasts about her to his friends and colleagues.
- Also, unlike more traditional examples of this trope, she does not remain solely within the private sphere. She runs a textile business, teaches Torah, and purchases a vineyard. (Yet many people seem to forget that she is a businesswoman as well as a wife and mother.)
- The Stepford Wives (both the book and the movie) is about aspiring photographer Joanna Eberhart moving to the town of Stepford with her husband and kids and getting freaked out that all the wives are idyllic housewives who only care about cooking and cleaning because they've all been replaced by robot doubles.
- June Cleaver on Leave It to Beaver is the archetypal television example.
- Our Miss Brooks:
- Martha Conklin is a housewife.
- Miss Brooks' Series Goal is to marry fellow teacher Mr. Boynton. In several episodes (i.e. "The Wrong Mrs. Boyton") it is made explicit that Miss Brooks wants to become a fulltime housewife and mother.
- Samantha Stephens from Bewitched is a housewife.
- Big Love centers around a man with three housewives, and three houses on the same block for them to keep up.
- The main cast of Desperate Housewives (at least originally, later on most of them hold down full time jobs leaving this as something of an Artifact Title).
- In Butterflies, Ria Parkinson is a housewife to a dentist in private practice who is aboe to afford a cleaning lady to keep house for them. It is also understood that Ria is not the world's greatest cook. She therefore has time to brood and get dissatisfied with her life.
- Debra Barone in Everybody Loves Raymond goes through the whole spectrum from domestic martyr to unappreciated shrieking harridan.
- Alice Kramden from The Honeymooners is a housewife.
- Lucy Ricardo from I Love Lucy is a housewife.
- 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.
- In The Brady Bunch, Carol Brady shared this role with their full-time housekeeper, Alice. Alice did most of the actual housework, but both of them were in-house dispensers of comfort, empathy, and good advice.
- Genderflipeed in Hannah Montana of all places where Robbie Ray does a fair share of the home-making duties.
- Edith Bunker on All in the Family is a housewife. Later on, though, she gets hired part-time at the retirement home where she's been volunteering.
- Donna Stone from The Donna Reed Show There was even an episode where Donna explains how women who are "just" housewives actually do many jobs requiring special skills — nutritionist, nurse, therapist, etc.
- Marion from Happy Days is a houswife.
- 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.
- Betty Draper on Mad Men is a ruthless and meticulous deconstruction of this trope.
- On Good Girls Revolt most of the researchers at News of the World are expected by those around them to become housewives once they get married. Cindy’s husband especially wants her to stay home and raise a family, and Bea asks Jane why she’s still at News of the World and not married yet.
- 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.'
- GLOW had a tag team called the Housewives, Arlene and Phyllis. Their backstory was they turned to wrestling after their husbands left them. They would come to the ring wearing bathrobes, curlers in their hair, mud masks on their faces (to hide that they were the same two girls who played the Heavy Metal Sisters), and carrying mops and buckets. They would often get disqualified for using said mops on their opponents.
- 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.
- The GURPS supplement Villains had a character who uses the stereotypes of the housewife in 1950s America as a mask to hide the fact that she's a mad scientist working to uncover the secrets to an alien spacecraft which crashed in her backyard.
- 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 starts 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 with her loving husband Jack and son Junior in Andale, Virginia in Fallout 3. The twist? They are a perfectly normal looking family... living in a nuclear wasteland. Also: they're an inbred Cannibal Clan cannibal along with their neighbors/siblings the Wilsons.
"Why yes, let me give you one of my old-fashioned chocolate chip cookies. Enjoy!"
- 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.
- Saki from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. She stays at home to take care of her son Tulin while her husband Teba is out preparing to fight Vah Medoh. She's later seen doing some grocery shopping when the two of them go practice archery together at the Flight Range.
- Several minor NPCs from Persona 4 are housewives who talk about various things, from cooking for their in-laws to the latest gossip. The Temperance Social Link focuses on Eri Minami young housewife who's struggling to connect with her stepson- with her husband away, her son at daycare and no friends in town, Eri is bored and lonely most days..
- 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 a lot more rebellious in her youth. She is almost never seen without her plain housedress, yellow rubber 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 averted in the 1990s TV-movies, where it's revealed that they eventually started their own catering business.
- The Simpsons: Marge Simpson is a superhuman housewife. It's one of her only real characterizations. Various episodes have her occasionally try out a new career, but it never lasts to the end of the episode and she returns to her housewife role.
- The Jetsons: Jane Jetson. She doesn't even really need to do much to tend house, give her Ray Gun Gothic housecleaning technology.
- Family Guy: Lois Griffin is a stay-at-home mother and housewife who also does some piano lessons from home to supplement the family income. One episode has a feminist who belittles her for being a housewife, to which Lois stands up for herself saying a woman has the right to choose to be one.
- American Dad! Francine Smith is a housewife, as befitting a family whose patriarch seems to be stuck in the 1950s.
- Diane "Didi" Kropotkin Kerpackter-Pickles from Rugrats, after she quits her part-time schoolteacher position from the earlier seasons.
- Depending on the Writer, Mrs. Turner (or "Timmy Turner's Mom") from The Fairly OddParents! is either a stay-at-home mother or a real estate agent. And sometimes a spy. One Nickelodeon Magazine comic also depicted her as a florist.
Mrs. Turner: (at her dead garden) EVERYTHING I TOUCH DIES!!
[nearby characters back away from her]
- 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."
- Parodied with Jimmy's mother, Judy, on Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. She takes all the housewife tropes (baking, cleaning, manicuring the lawn) up to eleven, and this is even lampshaded on at least one occasion ("To think I step out for two measly days and you replace me with some psycho robot with a hideous 1950’s hairdo!"). It's also made crystal clear that she's where Jimmy gets his brains and that neither he nor Hugh (whom himself looks like a Standard '50s Father but subverts this by being an imbecilic Manchild) can survive without her.