Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Perfect Housewife

I was interested to notice Anthea Turner’s Perfect Housewife series is now back on television. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Anthea Turner. She’s bubbly and a great presenter, and sometimes I even enjoy the show, but the perfect housewife concept really does get on my nerves. I appreciate that some of the housewives she finds really are in dire straits and some are incredibly cringe-worthy, but I’m afraid this sort of programme just makes most 21st Century Housewives even more insecure than they already are.

When I watch the women she is trying to help, I must admit I do wonder where she has found them. Has Britain turned into a nation of slobs? Somehow I don’t think so. Many of these ladies are probably rare exceptions. Having said that, if Anthea Turner came into my house with her white gloves, would I be able to stand there without quaking in my Choo’s? I know my house is clean, but I am sure there are bits I have missed, and if she went into the garage I think she might faint. Our garage has sadly become a catch-all, the first thing on my to do list, and the main battlefield in my war against clutter. On the whole, however, my house is very presentable and certainly very clean. It sure isn’t perfect though.

Most 21st Century Housewives are insecure enough as it is. We are struggling to find our niche in a society that is not quite sure where to place us, struggling to redefine housewifery in the post modern era. We are doing the very important job of making a home for ourselves and our families, as well as working to grow and develop into the best possible people we can be. The idea that our houses have to be absolutely spotless, tidy and organised as well is completely overwhelming.

After watching Perfect Housewife, I generally feel a little depressed. My house is never going to be as perfect as Anthea’s, my napkins will never be as perfectly folded and my cupboards will certainly never be as organised. But still, I consider myself a Professional Housewife. I can say this with my head held high because I am convinced that, and indeed the whole premise of my writing, is that there is a lot more to housewifery than just house cleaning. I would even dare to say that house cleaning is far from the most important part of being a 21st Century Housewife. There is so much more to life than just having a perfectly clean and organised house.

The sad thing about Anthea’s house is that we almost always see it virtually empty of people, with just her and the hapless housewives in it. If my house just had me in it, it would be tidy too. But I would be incredibly unhappy. The organised chaos that is our lives is a real joy to me. I love to entertain friends and family, but the most important thing for me is that they feel truly welcome, not that my house is absolutely perfect. I don’t want people to feel my house is untouchable, or that they have to be careful lest they put a foot wrong. I am sure Anthea’s house is the location for many happy gatherings, but unless she truly is superhuman, I bet it sure doesn’t look as fantastic after a really good party. To date though, I’ve never managed to catch an episode where it looks as though anyone is truly living in her lovely home.

By all means, watch Anthea Turner’s Perfect Housewife for its entertainment value, but do not let it for even a moment make you feel in any way inadequate as a housewife. There is a lot more to Professional Housewifery than a perfectly labelled larder and precisely folded towels. In the 21st Century Housewife’s World, a happy family and a happy, fulfilled housewife are far more important than anything else.

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