Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Women Plowing

The Thinking Housewife is one of the few people online that I know who questions the hystorical (spelling deliberate) myths of huge populations of women in the work place in previous centuries.  Even the most liberal educators of the early 20th century did not teach  the things about women that modern religious people are teaching today.  I have outlined some of my thoughts on the matter here.

Invented religious history claims that women were always workers earning money, either at home, or, after the industrial revolution, in the workplace of factories and offices:   That this belief came to light only in the last decade (to me, at least) made me suspect it was another fabrication of the left, marketed to religious people, capitalizing on the women mentioned in the Bible and making them all career women—from Deborah the judge, the Proverbs 31 woman, to the New Testament mention of Priscilla, and Lydia, the seller of purple. They have missed the spiritual point of the scriptures regarding these women, and I leave it to my viewers to comment on this.

Changing history to dictate the present culture:An historical account that I read some time ago told how Communists tried to get people to change the old way of life and embrace their new culture. They tried to erase all knowledge of the past, the way people lived, the roles of women and men, and so forth, and re-write history so that the young people would not go back to the old ways. This revisionist view of women having always been considered a statistical part of the work force is no different. It is an attempt to change people's beliefs and dictate their way of life.

Fairy tales invented to prove points:
While I  get letters every day saying that my view of history is a fairy-tale or a fantasy, is not the revisionist view of history even more fantastic? That all women, excepting royalty or the very rich of the 1800's and earlier labored in the fields all day and then gave birth in the fields, getting up afterwards to continue plowing the fields; that all women were beaten by men; that all women earned money; that all women were part of the work-force; that all women of previous centuries who were not royalty lived in putrid poverty with no water, no medicine, no education, no clothes, no shelter, no rights, and no life!

 Is not this the same as taking the  cases where women gave birth in a car on the way to the hospital and making a claim that all women in the 20th or 21st century had to give birth in cars?  Claiming that women as a population always plowed or always earned money is to ignore a great part of the population in much the same way that pollsters choose only a certain amount of people to interview. This kind of thinking leaves out a great number of people; people who lived differently than the perceived norm.

The myth of women  behind the plow: 
Popular myth today claims that women of the 1800's and earlier were working women because they "plowed all day."  Religious people even claim that women of the past "labored in the fields all day, every day," and therefore, were career women. De Toqueville's quotes indicate that American women at least, were busy IN THE HOME  and they were held in high esteem because of it. These pretentious historians believe that all women of the past plowed, but how would they go about proving it?  Furthermore, they claim that women plowed all day, gave birth in the field and then got up and continued plowing. These ridiculous claims leave out the part of the population of women that saw the house and home as their domain.  Before the tractor was invented, plowing was not done by women unless in emergencies, in the absence of able-bodied men, during war, illness, or when men were away. I lived in rural America, as did many people in the 50's, and never saw women plowing in the way that modernists describe. It is possible that some women did, but not full time and not as a career. How would anyone prove that ALL women were occupied in "plowing." 
You can't have it both ways:
Some books will say that before women's liberation, or feminism, women were not allowed to work outside the home. Later, authors attempted to show that the feminist movement was not necessary, because past centuries of women worked in the fields all day (after having a baby, of course).  This is one way in which so called authorities talk out of both sides of their mouths. Can anyone trust such inconsistent reporters? The Bible tells the truth consistently, and we can trust its author for guidance in our lives.

 Modernists sometimes teach that Ruth, in the Bible, was part of the work force, in the fields: but she was simply going to get something that was provided free for poor people. She was not paid for picking up free grain to provide flour for making her own bread, nor was she paying for the grain.  She was not employed in the fields. She was getting something that the Jews provided free for the poor in the corners of their fields. She was not laboring in the fields as a career for money. Gleaning made Ruth no more of a career than going to a food bank gives a poor man a career when times are tough and he has to get free food.  Whatever the matter, it is doubtful that Ruth worked in the fields after marrying Boaz and starting her family.

Sometimes modernists teach that most women died in childbirth, and at the same time say that women plowed the fields.
Some people insist that women were  weak and uneducated,  confined, with too many children,  sickly and dying in pre-modern times, and yet they worked in the fields all day or plowed. There were some who did work in the fields but anyone with a knowledge of farming knows that it is seasonal work. There will be planting, watering and harvest when farmers are busiest.  Family farms always included the women and children, but it does not mean women rebelled against being keepers at home.To listen to revisionists, one would think women were working in the fields in the middle of winter, 8 hours a day, every day, or even when there was no planting to be done.  

 To claim that most women plowed or worked in the fields is to be unaware of women in cities and towns where there were no fields. How would women do that if they lived in the city? How could they have plowed if they were denied their right  to work, in past centuries, as many people claim? Which is it: women of the past were forced to labor in the fields plowing with a hand plow, or they were not allowed to work?  Many people are sure that most women of the Victorian era died in childbirth. If this were so, how could they be plowing?

Why did crops fail when the men were gone?
A history book I own which was written shortly after the gold rush states that during the gold rush  (1848-1855) in the Oregon Territory when men left their farms to find gold,  the crops rotted. Where were all these women  who "worked in the field"?

There are people who have kept photograph albums of their relatives in the Victorian era, with diaries and letters showing what all the women did at that time, and these records are more consistent with the observations of Alexis de Tocqueville, who visited America in the 1830's:

.*In America, far more than elsewhere, the lines of action of the two sexes have been clearly divided. You do not find American women directing the external affairs of the family, or entering into business or into politics; but neither do you find them obliged to undertake the rough labours of the field, or any other work requiring physical strength. There are no families so poor as to form an exception to this rule. - Alexis de Toqueville

 How would anyone go about proving that all women in the past worked for money or that all women in the past plowed?  It is an argument that is not worth the time it would take, because to the Biblical woman; to the Christian, all traditions worth following must be rooted in Biblical example, Biblical command, Biblical logic, and Biblical conclusion.

Mind your own business:
 Women would be better off to go about the business of the home than to spend too much time trying to refute those who have a new program for them. Don't you see what these arguers against women at home are doing? They are distracting you from being excellent in your work and making you nervous and unsettled. Look at the most religious women you know whose place is in the home. Are they distressed about the things other people are saying about women at home? Does it seem to bother them at all that part of the world thinks they should not be home? Observe them as they shop for food or fabric, and as they go about the business of managing the home. They are business-like, seriously and intensely concentrating on the next task at hand. They seem never to be bored and never to long for the world and its sorrows. They seem industrious in the management of their homes.

The Bible, our ultimate standard of living:
 What does it matter if an entire century of women went to work in the fields?  Would not those who had been taught the word of God want to change their lives to follow the scriptures, rather than follow the customs and commandments of men? If an entire generation of women rushed off to work outside the home for some national emergency, as they did during World War 1 and 2, would that be a guide for us to follow?  Maybe you had an aunt or a grandmother who worked during the war to help in the war effort. Does that mean that you should use it as your standard?

 We may learn from history, but the Bible is our ultimate authority and standard. History can show us the outcome when people do not follow God's law, and the rewards when they do.  Measured against the Bible, it can be useful for our lives, but when it comes to a choice between what people did and what God says to do in his Word,  we must follow Him.

Inductive reasoning, verses deductive reasoning:
I have written in comments previously about the matter of deducting a truth based on your own experience or based on God's word. Inductive reasoning says, "The Bible says women should be keepers at home, but I had an aunt who did not believe it. My aunt was a nice person and she did just fine in her life, even though she didnt follow the scriptures." 

 Deductive reasoning says, "Even though my aunt did okay with her life, and she is a nice person, I could not live as she did. The Bible is my guide, not other people."  Revised historical accounts seem to imply that because women of the past worked in the fields, women of today must work in the factories or the offices, and that they do not need to be keepers of the home.  This reasoning leaves out Bible as the standard to follow.

The  French writer, Alexis de Toqueville observed in his visit to America in the mid-1800's, that women, rich or poor were at home:

"For my part, I say this without hesitation: although the American woman rarely leaves her domestic sphere and in certain respects is very dependent within it, nowhere does she enjoy a higher status. And now, as I come near to the end of this book in which I have recorded so many considerable achievements of the Americans, if I am asked how we should account for the unusual prosperity and growing strength of this nation, I would reply that they must be attributed to the superiority of their women."  Alexis de Toqueville, Democracy in America,  1830.

A woman's domestic sphere includes anything she needs in order to fulfill her obligation to guide the home and manage it. In spite of these observations by past historians, many modernists will claim that all women of the past were laborers or out plowing in the fields as a career. 

Followers of God are different:
 Followers of God's word in any era live completely different than the world around them and do not go down the broad path with the prevailing culture. It is easy to spread the belief that everyone did the same thing at a certain time in history, but it would be impossible to prove it.  One thing that is certain:  the Bible as the word of God is our pattern to follow. History can always be written to suit those in power, but the Word of God is truth. 

John 17:17Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

Some people think truth is what they see around them, instead of looking to the Bible for their authority:
There are those who see things as they are now, and assume that life was always this way. Some people grew up never having seen a woman in the home full time, and believe it could never have been any different. It may be that a generation never saw a woman at home full time, but that  cannot be the authority for living. The Bible is the final authority. It cannot be viewed as just another history book, but a book of life. Man must conform his life to the scriptures, instead of trying to conform the scriptures to his life.

In the past that I lived in, people generally understood the Proverbs 31 woman, and were not likely to create an issue over it. Lately though, there has been an attempt to turn her into a real estate agent and a garment designer and ultimately part of the work force. In their attempt to turn her into a factory worker and a wage earner, many people have failed to find the real Proverbs 31 woman, who carefully watched the activities of her home life. Unable to get people to reject the teachings of the Bible, many modernists attempt to teach a different meaning of the Bible. They will say that the women were career women, just like the women today.


In the unlikely event that it be proven that women all went to work in the 1800's, should Christian women do it, or will they follow the teachings of the Bible?

In the past, men were proud of being providers and protectors and were ashamed if their wives worked. It was a shame (and still is) for a man to put his wife in the workforce if he is able bodied and if he claims to be a follower of the Bible. Even more shameful are the ministers, preachers and religious leaders who have their wives working. The world is expected to go the the way of the crowd, but Christians should be guided by the word of God and have a different standard in their homes. That will mean  putting up with some pressure, but when you follow God's word, you have a host on your side.

 Psalm 18:30 As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.

Many women at home did earn money: Though they sold their extra eggs or milk, or sewed for someone, it does not mean that they indulged in full time careers and neglected their homes.  Extra produce that you grow yourself does not always make it into the freezer or the canning jars. There is nothing wrong with selling the fruit of your labors and your talents to your friends and neighbors or others, nor is there anything wrong with earning money. However, a woman's ability and willingness to earn money can be easily exploited or capitalized upon by others, who will distract her from her real job of keeping the home. It must be given moderation.  Taylor Caldwell's excellent essay in the "American Opinion" magazine explained the problem of women earning money being an attraction to weak men who did not want to be providers.

Guard your home life:
 Women need to guard their homes from many things: overcrowding her time, over-burdening her with extra work, and other things that rob the home.  If over-taxed with extra activities, women, who are to be regarded as the weaker vessel,  will crack under the strain and suffer many problems in their home lives.  Guard against others expecting you to bring in money, lest they begin to depend on it and demand it from you. I am sure we have all observed women whose husbands wanted them to work temporarily, ending up working permanently because their expenses grew to envelope the extra money; money that was not so "extra" after awhile.

The scriptures are instructions to a special group of people:
The scriptures are written to those who have been converted, that they may be God's own peculiar people (1st Peter 2:9) . Titus 2 was written to instruct Christian men and women on their conduct, so that the word of God be not blasphemed. It would make them different from the rest of the world. Women were to guide the home, teach their children, love their husbands and, as they grow older they are to teach the younger women about these same things. That is the role of women in the church and those who follow it will be pleasing the Lord. Living Titus 2 and other scriptures pertaining to women and the home, sets women apart from the world.

Church members are not supposed to follow the wisdom of the world:
 In saying "church" I am referring to the body of people who have obeyed the gospel and worship according to the example and practice of the New Testament.  They are not to follow the prevailing culture, but the word of God. Though the women in the world around them may proclaim superior freedom than the ultimate freedom taught by Christ, the women of God will always be different from the world: "For the wisdom of the world is foolishness with God." (Ist Corinthians 3:19).  People on the outside will think that following the Biblical role of woman is silly and unnecessary, but God thinks their wisdom is foolish. What will it be? Will we chose the wisdom of the world, or the way of God, which never changes?

My main objection to the popular culture regarding this issue, is the attempt to turn women into workhorses whose only worth is the amount of money they earn. Another concern is the lack of appreciation of women who are content to be home looking after their husbands and houses and not meddling with the world. Women should be valued for the dignity they bring to the home, and for the virtue they teach their children. This is like the women of old, who were gracious believers in their faith and who lived quietly at home, distinctively different than the prevailing culture in any era.  Following the Titus 2 role gives Christian women a chance to be different than the world and to bring attention to the teachings of our Lord.


Anonymous said...

If their thinking that all women worked outside the home and like it etc were right and true ..then my whole life and memories are a lie. They are not! I grew up in the U.S. and in a whole area where women openly talked about loving their homes and taking care of their home and family. Where men worked and were proud to provide and protect their families. Also they would protect and give honor to their villiage or country if needed. We traveled and stayed in homes and hotels etc but did not anywhere find any different attitude. Study for yourself...also go now and talk to the women and men of older generations and ask Them what is right! Ask them what life and attitudes were like. Do not believe something just because someone says it! Show them this wonderful article and point by point have them discredit what the so called experts are saying to rewrite history. Make sure your children know the truth. I am not saying a few women did not have to work but the general attitude was that they would rather be at home and did when they could. Sarah

Anonymous said...

I find as a homeschooled lady, that history is easier to understand when you view it from the perspective of the home and the family. You understand after awhile that public schools did not always exist and that people were still educated. You understand that women did not have careers but they were still fulfilled and had many talents. You understand that not everything was manufactured but people still had goods and products or made them themselves. Public schools have done a lot of damage to people's understanding of history, especially women's history

Anonymous said...

I have suspecting that the recent spread of the women-plowing rumor is from people who want to control the home. If they can get women to leave and plow the career ladder instead, they can destroy the family. Without the mother around, children can be controlled by the others who believe in modernity.

Anonymous said...

One thing I can say about revisionist belief that women of the past all worked, all had careers or all plowed the fields, is that these pretentious historians do not speak for all women, then or now. Life in any century that has ever passed, was like life today in many ways: there was always a popular culture , and there were always those that refused to follow it, choosing instead to be guided by the principles of scripture. To say that women of the past did not stay home, is to say that they have a record of this, when they do not.

Anonymous said...

A Blessed Morning to You Dear Lydia!

Thank You so much from the bottom of my heart for this so outstanding post!
You cannot imagine how much did I appreciate what you have described
about the women being in the work's fields today.
I really considerate that we live in a new kind of subtil slavery for women particularly.
To be a HomeKeeper is for me the most delightful blessed and artistic activity.
Thank you again for all your great posts that you are offering to us!

Sweet Blessings and have a Lovely Day!

Elizabeth from Europe.

P.S:May I apologize for my English that is not so perfect.
Thank you for your understanding!

Lydia said...

Elizabeth in Europe, how kind of you to comment. Your English is certainly better than mine.

Bobbie G. said...

Although my mother worked early in her marriage, when all of us were born she stayed at home and loved taking care of her home.
I was home to raise my children. I loved being a homemaker but immediate circumstances dictate that i must work for a short time. I look forward to being a homemaker again when our crisis is over. Please keep telling our young women that being home raises great children.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for yet another excellent post. You make some very wise observations. I come here all the time for inspiration and this site never fails to provide it. I especially like the "Mind Your Business" section of this post.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lydia,

Thank you for yet another much needed essay on being Keepers of our Homes. It is important work, which I am constantly enticed to leave. Now that my nest is empty, people assume I have nothing to do here. On the contrary, I have a very clean, organized home that I intend to keep this way. I have several children that have children for me to encourage through letters and visits. I have birthday and Christmas gifts to design and make for 25 people each year. Because I hold to the idea of wearing skirts and dresses and am of diminutive size, I sew most of my clothes. To feed my family a plant-based diet, I have a garden indoors in the winter and outdoors in spring, summer, and fall to plan, care for, and harvest--with a goal of 100% of our food coming from this endeavor. To further this goal, I keep bees and grow fruit, nuts, and berries. I make all our food from scratch, including tofu and crackers, and don't eat in restaurants. I grow flowers for beauty. I grow and keep an herbal apothecary to care for the medical needs of my family and study herbalism to make this feasible. I take time to strengthen my testimony and my "arms" daily. I keep a journal and a nature diary. As a ministry, I help many high school youth realize a BA using classics and CLEP, DSST, and ECE tests, both on the internet and in my home. I seek many ways to be a Titus 2 woman through ministry, writing, and example.

Do I point out all these things to toot my own horn? Not at all! I do so to show that Keeping the Home is a viable career. By growing all our food, I will save approximately $12,000 per year over store bought organic produce, beans, grains, and nuts once my garden is in full production and an additional $5000-10,000 by not eating in restaurants. By caring for our medical needs through diet and herbalism, I save us at least $6000 in unspent insurance premiums and at least another $6000 in unnecessary doctor and pharmacy needs. I save about $3000 by making gifts for our children + spouses, grandchildren, and parents. I save from $1000-3000 by making my own clothes. I would have to make $40,000 or more to make up for what I save by not working outside the home or applying my talents to my career.

I love being home. I feel happy and safe. I love the work. I was here to teach my children the joys of a job well done, the beauties of God's creation, the delight found in poetry, music, literature, and art, and the fun that is found in applying one's self to academics. I'm not subject to gossip and mean girl-drama of the work place. I'm not tempted by overt or covert passes of men at the office. I'm here to help my children, when they need it. I'm here to help my neighbor as well. I am here to notice, when my husband has a down day and care for those needs. I'm here to care for my family in times of illness. By the grace of God, I was allowed to create a little bit of heaven on earth through these efforts.

Rocky Mountain Homemaker said...

What a wonderful and refreshing post. I'm a homemaker who has done some part-time work from time to time. My husband and I both agree that for me to work part-time can be okay as long as home and family come first. In the past, I worked for a Christian organization, and I had to tell other Christian women that I would not be doing any extra serving at the organization because my home came first. Because I was firm in my convictions they did not challenge my statement, but they continued to spend many unnecessary hours away from home. But, that's between them and God. All I am responsible for is what God has called me to do.
There is such a shortage of Titus 2 women that those of us who fill the role, need to be cautious not to be distracted.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.......Denise

Lydia said...

It is certainly something to consider - that you contribute a lot by being at home and doing things yourself rather than buying everything. I know women to make their own repairs and know how to fix many types of appliances, which would be very expensive if they had to have things done by others.

The modern myth, however, still insists that every woman of the past "plowed" in the field, an therefore, is an example for women today to go out to work, away from home, and earn money. There are many ways to add to the family income, and one is, as you say, producing things yourself and finding ways of making things you need so that money does not go out.

HKA said...

Another important and well written article. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Brava! As a reluctant working mother - I do (and always have) agreed with your blog. This post is excellent.

Ladies - take it from one who missed the Biblical truth: stay home! Don't believe the lie. It's no fun out here in the workforce.

Anonymous said...

To claim that "all" women of the past were downtrodden, poor, forced to stay home, or plow the fields, etc. is a generalization that is very narrow. It looks at women in only one way. Its view is not open-minded. The truth is probably much as it is today: there were those women who stayed home and cared for their families, and there were those who did not.

I think the purpose of saying that women plowed and labored in fields is to make people hate the rural life or to hate the past and especially to hate the Bible.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 7:18, I loved your post. Even when children are grown, there is still much to do. Lady Lydia, if people would spend some time reading actual diaries, letters and journals that were written by ladies in the past they would realized that most ladies were quite busy with their duties at home. While some ( A Midwife's tale- the life of Martha Ballard) have instances of women making money, one can also see the enormous amount of work Martha tended to in the times when she was not delivering babies. Not all payment was in the form of cash either so it could hardly have been called a steady income. Some did not pay at all. However , reading real accounts also makes one aware that while we may romanticize our ancestors and think they somehow lived more rightously, this was not the case. Sin in various forms was rampant in the past as well.

Anonymous said...

This was such a wonderful post, I cannot tell you how much I truly enjoy reading your blog. I am inspired on a daily basis when I come here for a visit. I have been thinking a lot lately on this very subject of women of the past being at home regardless of the financial status of the family. It was just accepted that women were to take care of the home. I find that so hard to accept I guess because that is something I have never seen in my lifetime. When I was home and my children were younger, I was constantly made to feel guilty that I wasn't working outside the home. People would say things all the time, even the cashier at Wal-mart! At the time I didn't have the internet and I felt that I was all by myself, so I eventually went to work. I'm warning all ladies under pressure to leave your home, -You may never make it back if you leave. Sad but so true.

The Lady of the House said...

So true.... Thanks for taking the time to craft such posts as this. Your blog is a blessing and inspiration to me.

Anonymous said...

I should say that my Gramma had a little poem she kept later in life about how all the importance of being a career woman was nothing compared to being The Pie Queen!!, and Ruler of her Own Home.!Gramma has been gone 20+ years and we all remember her pie and sewing and hugs and tea.

Anonymous said...

Women like my Grandmother did help to plow a field ocassionally but my Grandfather also helped her wash the upper windows of the house ocassionally. They helped each other when needed ... out of love. In general though, my Grandmother, Mother and I still do what Anonymous at 7:18 does and work at the many things a women can do in her home to better her family. Also when you love what you are doing and do it out of love, it hardly feels like work. You may get physically tired at times but mentally and spiritually it is refreshing. Diaries were suggested in these comments...maybe this is again a though we should think about...diaries of our thoughts on this type of subject to be passed down to our Grandchildren so they will have a history of what our lives were like and how much we loved and honored God's laws. I have thought about a diary of thoughts for a long time but this now spurs me on to do it so future generations can read and know that at this time in history women were still at home whenever possible and still loving it. I will not just record my way of life but how many others did the same. I always love coming here for inspiration and encouragement. This site is like no other. Thankyou. Sarah {again}

Anonymous said...

Women like my Grandmother did help to plow a field ocassionally but my Grandfather also helped her wash the upper windows of the house ocassionally. They helped each other when needed ... out of love. In general though, my Grandmother, Mother and I still do what Anonymous at 7:18 does and work at the many things a women can do in her home to better her family. Also when you love what you are doing and do it out of love, it hardly feels like work. You may get physically tired at times but mentally and spiritually it is refreshing. Diaries were suggested in these comments...maybe this is again a though we should think about...diaries of our thoughts on this type of subject to be passed down to our Grandchildren so they will have a history of what our lives were like and how much we loved and honored God's laws. I have thought about a diary of thoughts for a long time but this now spurs me on to do it so future generations can read and know that at this time in history women were still at home whenever possible and still loving it. I will not just record my way of life but how many others did the same. I always love coming here for inspiration and encouragement. This site is like no other. Thankyou. Sarah {again}

Anonymous said...

Our daughter has long hair (beyond her shoulder blades in the back) and was advised by an older man at work that she should cut it off and give it to some organization that accepts donations of hair to make wigs for cancer survivors... While online looking for long hairdos, she found only a small number of photos of really long haired women and did come across the site this man recommended. There were people on there actually posting that women should not be so selfish as to keep their own hair when it's needed so badly for wigs! I told my daughter that the feminist worldview has come to this...reducing women to nothing but laborers and something similar to a llama or sheep! I know this sounds a little ridiculous, but now we are not even allowed to keep our long hair? And this too is in the scriptures, that a woman's hair is her glory and it should be significantly longer than a man's hair. Not to open another topic, but there are plenty enough of older women out there with sweatpants and butch haircuts to satisfy me that they are having the freedom to do as they please. My husband says that my daughter and I have something not often seen anymore...the form of a woman.

Anonymous said...


This is a great post. I think what I most enjoyed was the quotes from De Tocqueville.I read his book a few years back and yes he was very impressed with American women of the 1800's. What people are saying about women in the 1800's is no different from what they are saying about traditional women today.. that only the rich can afford for the woman to stay home. This is untrue! Our income over the years has never exceeded or reached $50 000 even. And yet I talk to women whose household income is $50 000 and above telling me that only the rich can have traditional wives.When I tell them the truth of what we survive on, they have this incredulous expression on their faces.

Also, one thing that traditional wives and mothers have to guard against is people forever pressuring us to do more 'volunteer work' Now this is work done for free and which they expect that since we stay home, that we have plenty of time and energy for! My answer from now on will be ," Well, I am already a workaholic. I am trying to take some things off my plate , not add to it. How about you? " :)


Lydia said...


Your statements are probably the best summary of the subject I was trying to explain: that people cannot accept women as homemakers unless they are producing like a factory, and making money off their talents. I do believe homeschool families have an obligation to teach their sons and daughters how to turn a skill into a profit, and I don't believe it is wrong for women to sell the product of their hands, however, they have to be so careful not to turn it into something that dominates the home, and they also have to be careful not to allow anyone to "make merchandise" of everything they do in the home that is admireable. A girl I know is really good at cooking, and she is forever being told that she could make a lot of money cooking. She has other skills, and when she makes something for her family or her home, someone usually says, "You could sell these!" They want her to make a hundred of the item and sell it. While it is rewarding to sell what we make, it can use up energy you might need for your home. Others just cannot accept women as wives, mothers and homemakers. They do not see any worth in that. She must WORK (never rest) and she must PLOW and she must be PRODUCTIVE every waking minute. She is not allowed leisure or arts and crafts. If she is home reading a book or writing to a friend, she is told she is lazy or wasteful. A lot of this ignorance comes from not obsrving a generation of homemakers and the things they do. A lot of what we do is hidden or not noticed, but they are things necessary for the larger part of living at home. Just because someone doesnt see a homemaker working every minute, does not mean she is not making a difference in the home or doing a duty. Even those social workers who sit with older folks in their homes for a living, are doing a lot of sitting and watching televison, but because it is a career, no one objects.

Anonymous said...

If you google "Two Temples" by Hattie Vose Hall, you will find a lovely poem along these lines. It is true that most of what I do, whether I do it well or not, may only be seen by God, or may not even be realized right now by those I am caring for - but they will know it some day, and God will know. Another beautiful poem I read tonight - "My Mother's Garden", by Alice E. Allen

An excellent book to read on the myths of the horribleness of giving birth in Victorian times is "Silent Knife" by Nancy Cohen. In many ways, women are more exploited and harmed in childbirth now than they were then.

The real agony for women started at the turn of the century, when medicine tried to step in and relieve women of some of the "primality" of the birth experience. It's a very good read.

This book encouraged me to get a good midwife, and deliver three more children that I would not have been able to have, if I had continued going to my doctor.

Also, I was just thinking today that it is worth it to dress nicely for your homeschooled children. It tells them you are happy to be home, and that this day with them is worth your effort. Make being at home a happy thing - you can never change their memories of you - take the effort to make them nice ones.

If you are miserable at home, you can escape inside your mind, because you are an adult and can think about other things. But children live in the reality of today. If you have made a sad, unhappy, lonely day for them, there is no way they can escape from it. They need happy fellowship with you.

Lydia said...

That is a great book recommendation.

Other books worth reading online are "An English Woman in America" by Isabella A. Bird, "Up From Slavery" by Booker T. Washington, "Democracy in America" by Alexis de Tocqueville.

For feminists, I would recommend "The Benevolence of Manners" by Linda Lichter, which compares the lives of women in the Victorian era with women of this generation.

Truly, homeschooling is such a rich experience for both the parents and the children, that it is worth dressing up for, having your own concerts, speeches, formal dinners and book reviews. I agree that homeschool mothers should look special for their children. HOmes should look special too, as if they were great estates.

Mama Said No said...

WOW--I love this blog and the ladies who comment on it! You make me think, Lady Lydia, and inspire me to dig deeper into the Bible for my guidance in my life, home and family.
In reference to the "My aunt did it this way," remark--I had to laugh, since my grandmother was a flapper during the 20s, but I just don't see myself in fringed dresses, rolled stockings and a pageboy, doing the Charleston!
Oh--I DO plow here at my home, but since I use a roto-tiller on a small garden and the produce is only for our use...I don't think it makes me a career woman, do you?
Love you, Lady Lydia--postin' truth and keepin' us on track!

Michelle said...

Thanks for this great post! I love your passion for homemaking, I share that passion as well! There is nothing more disheartning than watching the young wives at my church having babies and staying in the workforce (and the ministry supports stay at home moms, and promotes that as the ideal, so these Moms have good examples, they just choose not to follow them). They are missing such precious time with their babies!

Far Above Rubies said...

Lady Lydia,

Another wonderful and encouraging post.

Thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful article dear Lydia. I really appreciate the effort that goes into your writing. This (and the ladies' comments) are a real inspiration. Thank you so much.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to comment about hair donation. If you were thinking about cutting long hair because you were ready for a change or what-have-you, then I think it is wonderful to donate the hair to Locks of Love or another charity. However they need cash donations just as much as they need hair donations. In fact some charities that make wigs for cancer patients have had to sell the hair donated just to make some cash. Don't feel you have to cut off your hair in order to contribute to Locks of Love.

Gail said...

Plowing the fields, indeed! I think people who say this have been too busy plowing their own fertile imaginations and producing yet another bumper crop of foolishness. It used to be that on the farm women would help their menfolk with whatever was the most important, so yes, in a pinch, they might be assisting at that kind of work. Mostly, however, they had enough to do, keeping their kitchen gardens and cooking the vast amounts needed to sustain the men in their very arduous labor. They were usually in charge of the chickens and sometimes they might raise Turkeys to sell in the Fall. Along with their mothering duties, the washing and ironing, and general housekeeping, they lived full and busy lives right on their own homesteads and life beyond their own farm lane was of secondary, if any, concern.

Now even the ladies who lived in town usually had gardens and some kept chickens or other animals as allowed. The home was their domain, and they were serious about it. Does anyone remember, or have you ever read what Fall and Spring cleaning entailed? People might say we don't have all that work today with modern heating, lighting, plumbing and conveniences, but still, most people's homes, including mine, are nowhere near as clean as were the homes of the generations who went before us. We are either lazier, or too busy with the affairs and concerns of the outside world, including working outside the home. And lots of women do not cook at all or very little from scratch.

So while the women today have been put out in the "field" to plow for outside bosses, the home and home life are often like a garden overgrown with weeds and thistles, and I daresay, a place where spiritual wolves and other wild beasts have come to prey.

Anonymous said...

Emmarinda pointed out that "We are either lazier, or too busy with the affairs and concerns of the outside world, including working outside the home. And lots of women do not cook at all or very little from scratch."

That would an interesting comparison, the cooking output coming from today's expensive kitchens, with every possible electrical convenience, to the output from the kitchens of previous generations.

Lydia said...

Ladies these days we can all plow with the tillers that are available, but what I object to is the preaching that women always worked in the field, all day and every day. Where were their children and what was the husband doing? I may plough but it is for my own small garden, and I do get my hands dirty and enjoy working in the dirt. I posted my potato harvest last year and I enjoy that sort of thing, but there is a failure to accept women for who they are: wives, mothers and homemakers. People want to make them into factory workers at home, by insisting that women in the past were tough and they "plowed" and therefore, women at home should earn money all the time and never rest and never have leisure time to serve tea to others or make things with paper or with thread, and that they should not have the leisure to decorate or blog or anything like that. It shows a misunderstanding of the true worth of women, and of the biblical description of worthy women. One way to get women to feel guilty about being home is to say that the women of the past plowed and worked and got their hands rough and dirty, and therefore, you are all spoiled and lazy. Since 80 percent of families were rural in the 1800's, women were naturally at home in their own gardens and fields but it does not mean they took over the men's roles.

If you read the letters and diaries of women in America regarding their food storage and preparation, it shows that a lot of time was taken up getting their food preserved and stored and prepared in the summer, for the winter. Most of that was done in the home, and some of the writers expressed their satisfaction at seeing all the dried fruit and other foods ready for cooking.

Gail said...

Lydia, your last comment is exactly what I meant - they might have been working but it was for their own families and almost all of it was considered the traditional woman's work. I hope you didn't think I was saying anything to the contrary.

Lydia said...


I was agreeing with you.
There is a new religious slant to women working. When people cant get women to get away from the Biblical role, they re-invent it to mean that all women worked all day in the fields.

I do understand that most women were rural, necessitating that they were in the fields, but is this what modernists think women are for--to work in the fields? Its puzzling to find ministers who are teaching that women ought to be making money all the time at home. Nothing wrong with selling something on etsy or selling your sewing. I once got paid for making a dress for someone, but it does not mean I am a factory worker at home making dresses ALL the time.

and yes the women on farms were serving their own families.

Anonymous said...

The thing I don't understand about the theory that women plowed all day is, when would they have had the time? They cooked three large meals a day, from scratch. They did all laundry by hand. For those with a large family, that would be an all-day affair. Once or twice a week they would spend the day making bread, which requires diligence and patience and a lot of attention. Many of the clothes were homemade and later remade for someone else, not to mention the ongoing repairs necessary for the clothes of active children. Usually there were several young children of various ages who had to be cared for. As anyone who has been around babies and toddlers knows, you can't take your attention from them for long without courting disaster! During certain times of the year, there was the canning and preserving of food so that the family wouldn't go hungry during the winter months when nothing was growing. That was an extremely labor-intensive and time-consuming endeavor. All of these activities were in addition to the everyday upkeep of the house, without the help of electrical appliances and conveniently packaged cleaning products. In other words, women had so much work to do in and around the house that was vital for the very survival of the family that I don't see where they would have found the time to spend hours every day out in the fields on a regular basis.


Lydia said...

Julia, I agree. Too much is attributed to the ordinary women of the past: they are touted as being in the field all day every day, all year, and yet they sewed everything, cooked everything, grew their own vegetables for the table, looked after the house, etc. How in the world could they do that if they were out in the field all day. The paintings that I often show here from the 18th century are usually women gleaning, which was something for free. Other paintings show women gathering their own hay, and if you are a country woman, there is always need for hay for your own chickens or cows or horses, but it doesnt mean you are a farm laborer. A farm is part of the family and the home, not some place of work apart from it. I think there is an attempt to get women out of the home and out in the job market, so they have to spread the fable that, after all, women of the past, labored all day in fields, and were not homemakers. If they did, who did the work of the house and who looked after the children and did the laundry, and where or where were the men?

Anonymous said...


Spreading the rumor that women of the 1800's were oppressed and had to work in fields and such is nothing more than attempt to get more women to hate the era completely enough that they will not want to adopt any part of it in their lives, such as the family structure with the parents in control and the children honoring them, and the women minding the home and seeing to their children's character. There is a hatred for the Victorian era which began in the 1920's, and those who promoted it made sure that there would always be a hatred and suspicion of it, and that whenever the word Victorian was read or spoken it would conjure up visions of hatred and oppression, rather than progressive inventions, beauty, improved government, hospitals, and motor cars. No one remembers that anymore--they all think of the Victorians as the builders of haunted houses.

Anonymous said...

I can really see how important it is for homemakers to avoid getting caught up in earning money. It takes away your concentration of home keeping and you lose your eye for details, skimming over your work so you can get your selling done. I believe most women did work on farms, but not as their role. They were mostly in the house doing the laundry and dishes and supervising the children. I dont believe they were career -plowing as modern evangelists claim today. Its all an excuse to make women labor in places other than the home, and to make men think they are super strong they can do a mans work and a womans work all at the same time.

Lydia said...

It is worth reading Alexis de Tocqueville for the personal observations and experiences he had in the 1830's. He said the women were home, and even the poor women were occupied at home. False teachers try to tell people that women who were poor had to work, but it is not true. Women have always had a choice. What people overlook are the religious people in any era who quietly obeyed the scriptures, not being pulled along by the popular trends around them. There were always Christian women who followed the instructions of the bible to mind their own business, be workers at home, be keepers at home, guide the home, and be wives, mothers and homemakers. Men today love to twist the scriptures to suit themselves and they tend to admire women who bring in money, more than women who guide and care for the home.

Anonymous said...

Laura Ingalls Wilders wrote in The Long Winter about helping her father with the haying in the fields in South Dakota in the 1880's. Pa didn't have enough money to hire workers and there were too few other homesteaders to help. Ma agreed to Laura's helping, but this was her view: "She did not like to see women working in the fields. Only foreigners did that. Ma and her girls were Americans, above doing men's work."

It reminded me of what Tocqueville wrote about women in America. Women had their realm of work and men had theirs. For women or men to move into a role of the opposite sex was to step down from their own recognized place.

Anonymous said...

I think the feminist spirit is the thing we need to guard against. I have earned money from home with a homemaking spirit and I like it.

I want to be on guard not to encourage anyone to have a feminist spirit.

Anonymous said...

I remember reading in the Little House on the Prairie books that it was considered unusual for Laura to work beside her father in the fields temporarily -- only foreigners allowed their women to work in the fields back then, not Americans. Laura begged her family to allow her to help her father (they hand no sons) and she was allowed to (at least in the books), but it was considered unusual.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia,

Your blog inspired me yet also make me sad. I'm 40 years old, never married, and live alone. I don't have any family left so I'm supporting myself by working an office job as an Office Manager. I regret to say that my domestic and crafting skill is almost none, though I've learned a bit in the past several years, so making money from home from crafts is not an option. (Yes, I was one of those who were raised to study instead of helping with chores, especially because maid service is very cheap in my country).
Could you write a few pieces for women who are like me, are single and have to support ourselves, to make the most of our far-from-ideal situation? You know, to still be feminine and ladylike even when we have to jump on and off public bus and work at an office?
I'm saving and investing now and hopefully I can stop working when I reach 50. Until then, I need a lil' bit of encouragement on how to go on with the current situation the Lord has put me at present.

Thank you.

Ira Kusumawati

Lydia said...


I have always said the best thing to do in a situation that is not quite the best, is to get as close to the model as you can. A girl who has been put into schools or college can take her sewing or her knitting with her and can dress femininely, grow her hair out, and not look like the working girl. Take some books on the bus about homemaking or cooking or sewing. On week nights cut out your sewing projects and on weekends sew up a new outfit to wear to work. In college, show your domestic side and dress like a lady, not like everyone else. There are many ways to get into the world you love and to not run with the culture around you.

You mentioned maid service. They are great teachers. Just by watching them, you can pick up the skills yourself and eliminate your need for one. The money can be spent on something that enhances your home life.

You mentioned that maid service is cheap in your country, but over a month's time it might not be so cheap. It might end up being a couple of days salary from your own work. If people eliminate maid service and learn to do it themselves, they might save more than they think.

Maid service is wonderful for some people but it is important to learn to do it yourself. You probably already know this. In some countries the women do no housework at all, and only go to work somewhere else. Consequently, they have no domestic skills and when their system of life collapses through political or economical. changes, women have no clue how to survive at home.

It would be good to take a lower paying job near home and avoid bus travel, if possible..i know this might not be an option. However, look for ways to get close to the model of homemaker. Clean up your own office surroundings and desk and have an attitude of homemaking about you.

There is more to it than just not working outside the home. You have to have an air of home life, or a homeyness in your personality.

Stuck in circumstances like yours, a girl can still do an awful lot to foster home life in herself. I have known women who took a hand made purse to work (knit or sewn) and it was so admired by co-workers that she was hired to make several for them, and for the wives of men who worked there. Later, her job was downsized by the company and her post was eliminated so she just made more things to sell. Not that it earned the great amount that she was hoping, but something is better than nothing, and it increased her knowledge and skills. Another woman was eliminated from her job through some economical changes, so she began to clean houses for other women and actually liked it better.

I do hope to write on it some day, but in the mean time, as I said in the beginning, do little things that get you closer to the domestic sphere of life: study books and articles on the subject of home living.

I do know one woman who was living alone and she had a job. She liked hunting for antiques on her time off and she would collect things and photograph them in her home. Later, she would submit the photographs to magazines and win prizes for interior decorating photography. Then, she put her antiques on ebay and sold them. Then she would go out and buy something completely different at junk stores, maybe in a different style or color, and re-decorate her apartment. She then took more pictures, won more prizes and sold more junk. She would wash or paint some of the things she bought and she would create a different arrangement in her home, photograph it, and sell it. Eventually her hobby became her business and when her company went out of business, she at least had something going at home.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia,

Thank you for your encouraging reply. I'm going to do it! I've always worn my hair long, but now I'm inspired to wear more if not all skirts to the office.
And first thing tomorrow, I'll put some homey knick-knacks and decoration on my office desk. Come to think I have some old colorful, flower-patterned mismatch cups that would serve nicely as pen holders. And perhaps to put some flowers, too! They'll surely make my drab, minimalist desk look prettier! Oh, I have a lot of ideas running around in my mind. And I'll look at the pictures in your blog as inspiration.
I like your idea about buying and selling lovely things. I might give it a try, as I'm not good enough to make things to sell.

Thank you for being an inspiration. And please, do write some articles about how to make the best of not so-ideal situation when one is not yet stay at home, but want to and is getting there. I'm sure many women like me, single (not by choice), live alone, but determine to become as close to the kind of woman God want us to be, even without husband or children!

God bless.


Anonymous said...

You might also practice your budgeting skills and cooking skills by creating nice home made lunches for yourself and taking them to work in something like a small picnic basket. I think you could also hand make gifts for co-workers, even if they are just antiques re-painted or embellished...i am sure you will hear things like, "I wonder what Sally is going to give us this year. It will probably be home made." It will be half admiring and half jealous, and maybe a pinch of sarcasm sprinkled on top, but it is to be expected. I worked once and became more domestic while there, and eventually I got married. I dont think if I kept on like a career girl I would have inspired anyone to marry me. I am now home, homeschooling , homemaking, and my husband is very happy.