Think You're a Stay-at-Home-Mom? Nope! Wikipedia Says You're a Housewife!
UPDATE 2: Someone has redirected Stay-at-home mom back to the "housewife" page. Back to square one.
UPDATE: Thank you to Lolamonkey for actually editing the Wikipedia page so that Stay-at-home mom now connects to it's own page.
Words matter. A lot. The difference between “leak-proof” and “leak-resistant” could mean nothing, or it could mean a kid sitting in a puddle of pee because you picked the wrong diaper cover. That’s why we pick our words (and diaper covers) carefully.
So consider this little tidbit from Wikipedia: If you search for “stay-at-home dad,” you will be taken to this page, titled, not surprisingly, “Stay-at-home dad.”
Now search for “stay-at-home mom.” Go ahead. I’ll wait. You will land on this page, titled, “Housewife.” It doesn’t even use the words “stay-at-home mom” in the article until the very end.
That’s right. Wikipedia doesn’t think stay-at-home moms exist. Only housewives.
The words we use to describe ourselves are often very loaded. With all the emotion around how mothers (and women in general) are described, it isn’t easy to find just the right one. Is a mom who stays home to take care of the kids a “full-time mom,” or does that imply that mothers who work are only moms part of the time? If a mom who gets paid for work outside the home is a “working mom,” are moms without a paycheck just relaxing when they take care of the kids? It’s a linguistic mine field.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t step carefully and try to make sense of it all. This is not about “mommy wars,” something I don’t believe truly exists beyond the fringes; nastiness exists, but the vast majority of moms don’t buy into that. I am part of that vast majority who think that each woman needs to decide based on their own circumstances, and that all forms of work are to be respected.
But I will take a stand here: I don’t think that housewife and stay-at-home mom mean the same thing. First of all, the women I have met who embrace the term housewife tend to think their primary job is as a caregiver to their children. But the Wikipedia definition barely mentions kids. This definition of housewife is just a throwback to the days before a woman had options; she was defined by the role of supporting her husband and keeping a house clean.
Today, if a woman chooses to stay home, it is usually because she has the option and wants to care for the children. Her primary thought is not of the vacuum and the dishwasher. If I was a housewife, I would have a much cleaner house! Now, is a title that defines her by her role as a mom perfect? No, but most women find stay-at-home mom more accurate than housewife.
So what does this all mean? Well, Wikipedia is written by people, so people can change Wikipedia. In fact, it is written by volunteers, which means anyone can do it. Right now, though, only 13% of the thousands of volunteers who edit Wikipedia are female. That means the person who decided that housewife and stay-at-home mom are exactly the same was probably a guy.
I have heard of at least one group that wants to fix the stay-at-home mom problem on Wikipedia. And it should be fixed. Afterall, I know quite a few stay-at-home moms, so I am confident they exist. There is also an acceptable article about working parents, but it could certainly be improved upon. And maybe we need to have a Wikipedia page defining “mommy wars,” if only to do the work of debunking them. Changing a page on Wikipedia is not a big thing, but it is something that can be done, and that makes it worth doing.
Lexie Tigre is a Seattle area mom who blogs at www.RubySlipperGuide.com, where she finds fun stuff for local families to do. She also loves roller skating.
Photo Credit: lisaclarke.