University of Wisconsin–Madison

Pushed into domesticity

Domesticity is a topic that can be very controversial. This was very evident in the new show on HBO called Big Little Lies. The husband on the show is very controlling of his wife and forced her to become a stay at home mom. When they first met, she was a very powerful lawyer. After they had kids, her husband made her quit her lawyer job to stay at home with their twins. The husband had a vision for the household to be run like a household back in the 50’s. In the Keywords essay on Domesticity, Claudia Nelson writes, “The recognition on achieving and maintaining what is domestic, whether defined as intimacy, familiarity, or housewifery, is often neither easy nor pleasant.” The husband in this television show wanted his wife to be domestic in all ways; he wanted her to be sexually, physically, and mentally domestic.

In The Bluest Eye, Mrs. Breedlove also shares many of the same domestic characteristics as the wives in Big Little Lies. She had to take care of the kids from the white family and got scrutinized from members of the community. In Big Little Lies, many of the wives talked about how they feel pressured into being stay at home moms, because other community members judge the working moms. Many people in this show express that they believe moms who work are selfish and are hurting their children’s development. This idea that working moms are not “good” moms is a cycle that many times keeps passing down from generation to generation.

Although many of the moms from the show Big Little Lies are stay at home moms, there is one mom who works. She is depicted at being “bitchy” and selfish, because of her job status and the way she presents herself to the world. If a guy acted the same way she does on the show, viewers would probably see him as being a successful, hardworking man. I believe that some of the other women on the show judged her for not being a stay at home mom, because they may have been jealous; jealous that she has the ability to do what she loves to do, while also being a mother. This is not to say that all stay at home mothers are not happy, but many may wish that they could be working, but the pressures from the husbands to stay at home may have pushed them into becoming stay at home mothers.

2 thoughts on “Pushed into domesticity”

  1. This is a very interesting topic that has been controversial for decades and will continue to be for decades in the future. There are lots of different views on stay at home mom vs working moms. Also, there are many reasons moms stay at home, be it by there own choice or their husbands. There are many reasons that moms working, including financial need, personal choice, or ability, just to name a few.

  2. This plot point stuck out to me, too. At first I found it strange that a modern man was still pushing so hard for a traditional, breadwinner-homemaker household, but then it hit me that this “outdated” norm still very much exists. This is why I enjoyed the finale of this show so much…I thought it was the perfect way for the women to take back the power from the male dominance and assert their strength outside of the household.

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