The Vanishing Housewife

The Vanishing Housewife

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Running time:

48 minutes


Available on DVD

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The Vanishing Housewife examines the history of the fast-shrinking demographic of the stay-at-home mom. We watch her evolution from faithful farm wife of the Industrial Revolution, husband toiling in the first-ever factories, to buoyant Betty of the 1950s buying gadgetry to better serve her brood. We then witness her undoing. In the sixties, a different kind of Betty--author of The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan--redefines the happy housewife, likening her homemaking to slavery and launching a new feminism that equates fulfillment with employment. Thirty years later, we meet today's homemaker, marginalized by the government's tax laws and ousted as a role model by the nineties' new ideal of the superwoman.

Margaret Horsfield, author of Biting the Dust: The Joys of Housework and Paula Brook, housewife and author of Work Less, Live More define a new question for today's feminists: they ask not whether a woman should juggle family and job, but whether she has the choice not to. Along with Annalee Golz, professor of Women's Studies at the University of Victoria, they depict a new generation of frazzled double-duty-doing women enslaved to a new master--the employer. At the same time, women continue to perform as many hours of housework as they have for sixty years. Their alternative is to remain in the home and in a state of dependency.

The Vanishing Housewife introduces Beverly Smith, so frustrated with the plight of the modern homemaker that she takes her case to the UN, armed with an artillery of statistics:

* a married man and woman are taxed more heavily with a single income than they would be with two incomes;

* in the past 40 years, the percentage of income that a man can deduct on his taxes for his stay-at-home spouse has dropped from 33% to less than 13%;

* a woman who puts her children into the care of a stranger--daycare or nanny--is allowed a tax deduction of up to $6000 per year per child until the child is 14, while a mother at home qualifies for no deduction.

Together these women put out the call for a new feminism that fights for equity, not only for working women, but also for women who choose to stay home. Using archival footage, clip art animation and comedic dramatization, The Vanishing Housewife creates a dynamic voyage into the disappearing domain of the domestic.


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