WOMEN
11/14/2011 12:58 pm ET

The Evolution Of The Housewife

"We are all housewives. We would prefer to be persons." Jane O'Reilly, in the 1971 premier issue of Ms. magazine.

Two-thirds of stay-at-home mothers in the U.K. dislike the word "housewife," according to a recent study. A third find it insulting. The housewife has taken a beating ever since she was born, and the last few decades have been especially unkind. These days, the housewife tends to conjure an image of quivering Freudian repression, who vacuums the living room with a faceful of make-up.

"Housewife" began to fall out of usage in the late 1970s. But in recent years the term has been bandied about again, thanks to those real ones in Orange County, New York, Miami, and Beverly Hills.

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