This was easy to do because the traditional women’s sphere of domestic chores provides a mixed experience for women:
- highs & lows
- great satisfaction & profound dissatisfaction
- pride & humiliation
- respite & exhaustion
...and so on.
(And a lot was exacerbated by Hollywood, which encouraged the oppression, dumbing-down, and abuse of women. Please see How Hollywood Corrupted America for more.)
A lot about a woman’s traditional roles and even her very biology play out like one very long rollercoaster ride:
- The heights of pride & satisfaction in a clean, tidy, tasteful home vs. a descent into humiliation (even when it’s not her fault) & dissatisfaction when the home is grimy, messy, and generally not to her liking (due to illness, weakness, finances, family members, etc).
- Mothers can also experience either the heights of nachat or the depths of embarrassment, depending on their children's behavior.
- The energetic mother enjoying her children vs. a descent into an exhausted mother who can’t stand crying, whining, and being pulled at for even one more second.
- The pretty presentable wife vs. a descent into a wife with dark circles under puffy eyes and spit-up or peanut butter across her navy skirt.
- The sturdy, graceful woman vs. the waddling woman heavy with pregnancy.
- The calm, focused woman vs. a descent into a woman suffering from hormone-induced depression, irritability, and physical pain.
- Sometimes, a woman feels free as a bird, yet other times she is limited or even confined due to her monthly cycle, pregnancy, birth, nursing, or menopause.
There are other heights and descents, but these are just a few examples.
The Sweet Trap of "Salvation"
Yes, intelligent efforts suited to your personal situation plus copious tefillah can both lessen the amount of descents in life, and soften the ones that do occur.
But they aren’t completely avoidable.
What feminism did was target and embellish the low periods of womanhood.
For example, most mothers can experience a real low with housework and childcare, even back in the times when stay-at-home moms were the expected norm.
Lows are a part of any role in life.
Even the most successful professional can be plagued with profound dissatisfaction, boredom, frustration, and exasperation—all the more so, a mother with such a physical, spiritually, and emotionally intense duty that never ends.
So when one infamous feminist branded the average American suburban home of the Sixties a “comfortable concentration camp,” she was preying on the lowest lows of a woman’s rollercoaster ride.
In fact, feminists pathologized both the highs & lows of a normal woman's life.
Feeling content & fulfilled with your domestic life meant you were vapid & repressed while feeling miserable & trapped meant you were oppressed overall and in need of permanent escape and salvation.
Not respite. Not help. Not in need of a tweak to your situation.
But total escape and salvation.
And just like the yetzer hara offers suicide as escape and salvation, feminists offered feminism and women's "liberation."
Elated? Depressed? Normal!
Yet throughout the book, Laura also expresses negative feelings, even profoundly negative feelings about her domestic duties:
- “But the windows must be washed…And how Laura did hate to wash windows!”
- Regarding meal preparation: “But it was part of her job and she must do it, though she did hate the smell of hot lard, and the sight of so much fresh meat ruined her appetite for any of it.”
- While pregnant: “…feel ill at the sight or smell of food…”
- “One day…she was particularly blue and unhappy…”
Yet Almanzo surprised Laura by sending a hired girl to clean the windows instead and Laura enjoyed other kinds of food preparation, even stating that she’d gotten quite good at making light bread.
Furthermore, on the day she was "particularly blue and unhappy" during her second pregnancy, a neighbor stopped by to loan her a set of Sir Walter Scott’s Waverly novels:
“And now the four walls of the close, overheated house opened wide, and Laura wandered…through the enchanting pages of Sir Walter Scott’s novels…”
“When the books were all read and Laura came back to reality, she found herself feeling much better.”
But going back to the first trimester of her first pregnancy, Laura felt so sick that initially, her hard-working farmer husband needed to get his own breakfast. (Not so simple when you need to first heat up coal for cooking and make some kind of bread from scratch.)
She fainted whenever she left her bed, yet she forced herself to do so anyway, describing herself as “creeping around the house” and going “so miserably about her work.”
Yet by the second trimester, Laura was feeling better and able to go out and enjoy the buggy rides she and her husband formerly enjoyed. In her third trimester, Almanzo built her a handsled and a harness for their large dog, with which Laura went sleighing up and down a snowy hill for the next month until the moment she went into labor.
At times, her home is “bright and cheerful,” yet at other times that same home grows “to look rather dingy for she couldn’t give it the care she always had” or the house feels "close and hot and she was miserable.”
And in contrast to her grim observation that her family “must be kept warm and fed. The work must go on, and she was the one who must do it,” she describes another phase of constant occupation with “cooking, baking, churning, sweeping, washing, ironing, and mending” as “a busy, happy time.”
Yes, she perceived that time as "happy" even though “The washing and ironing were hard for her to do.”
And also this:
“There was very little visiting for neighbors were far away…and the days were short. Still, Laura was never lonely. She loved her little house and the housework.”
Likewise, Laura had no manicured Hollywood housewives or magazines ads of smiling women mopping glossy floor in heels forced upon her as the feminine ideal.
Laura felt whatever she felt simply by virtue of her innate nature and situation.
Therefore, sometimes Laura loved her little home and her housework...and sometimes she absolutely couldn't bear it.
And that's exactly how it goes on the rollercoaster of womanhood.
In other words, that's NORMAL.
Welcome to the Old Normal
Nor did those times mean that anything is wrong with wifehood or motherhood.
Likewise, Laura’s times of perfect contentment and pleasure with those exact same responsibilities don’t brand her as a Stepford wife or a submissive brainwashed twit.
This kind of rollercoaster journey throughout a female life is NORMAL.
And it’s really important to know this so that these movements of despair can’t ever get a chokehold on you.