Keyword: Domestic

The word “domestic” defined in the Keywords for Children’s Literature by Claudia Nelson implies the closeness of an individual, specifically females, to the home. Domestic work relates to many tasks in the home, such as cooking, cleaning, and child care. Domestic fiction is also associated with girls and it was expected to facilitate adjustment to home duties, focusing primarily on the interior of the home. With that being said, domestic fiction is often perceived as being for and about girls. The two pieces that I will be discussing, the movie Annie (1982) and the song Ain’t your Mama, have two differing viewpoints on the word “domestic.” In the 1982 film Annie, Annie is a young girl living in an orphanage who is patiently awaiting the day that her parents will return to bring her home. Miss Hannigan, who is in charge of the orphanage, forces the girls to do all of the domestic duties around the building, such as mopping the floors, scrubbing the toilets, and cleaning the dishes. One day, Annie is given the opportunity to live for a week in the house of a very wealthy man named Mr. Warbucks. When Annie arrives at the lavish house she is asked what she would like to do first, and in response Annie states that “first she will clean the windows and then she will scrub the floors.” Annie had been conditioned her entire life to do the domestic duties of the home, so when she arrived at Mr. Warbucks, she assumed that she would also be completing domestic duties there as well. On the contrary, the song Ain’t your Mama by Jennifer Lopez, voices the refusal of women to compete these domestic duties because they want to be treated as equals. The music video begins with Lopez stating “look I don’t have to tell you things are bad, everyone knows things are bad. We have a big big problem ladies.” The video continues with Lopez singing “I ain’t gonna be cooking all day, I ain’t your mama. I ain’t gonna do your laundry, I ain’t your mama.” As the video progresses you see women fed up with their under-appreciated duties in the home, and angry about the inequality that they face in the workforce. This song demonstrates the change in current times, in which women want to share domestic work with their partners, and be seen as equal amongst their male counterparts. Through Annie and Ain’t your Mama, we are given two varying opinions on what the word “domestic” represents to different women throughout history.

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