It is not a joyful thing to be trapped in the domestic sphere. The realm of home and family can seem very narrow and dull if you don’t get many opportunities to break out and do something else. This however is not going to be a piece of rage about the historical treatment of women, but about the ways in which domestic days can be a really good thing.
When you spend much of your time outside of the home (the traditional male role) then home becomes a place to retreat to for peace and comfort. It’s much easier to find comfort in a domestic setting when it’s not the only setting for your life.
I’ve noticed this summer, travelling in August for two events, one of which was massive, that a quiet weekend at home seems rather pleasant after that. It becomes a chance to catch up on the domestics, to potter about and cook. If you’re up to the eyeballs in it all the time, yet another weekend at home can really wear you down. I know – I’ve been there.
Humans need a balance between rest and stimulation. If you don’t get enough rest, all becomes exhausted, threadbare misery. If you don’t get enough stimulation, all becomes dull monotony and feels like a trap. Most of us need some degree of getting out there and being active, alongside some amount of folding in and retreating. Exactly what balance any given person needs, will of course vary. In an ideal world we’d all get to deploy our time on our own terms, but it doesn’t always work out that way.
One of the things it is easy not to notice is the way in which our choices shape other people’s options. If one member of a household won’t go out (can’t is a different issue because it’s not a choice) other members of the household may feel obliged to stay in too. Equally, if one person is out and about all the time, it may give the other person no choice but to stay home and take care of things.
I noticed in many years of going to folk clubs that there are usually more men than women there. In conversations with people I found repeatedly that this was because when the children came along, the women stayed home and the men kept going out. There are far more solo male performers than solo women on the folk scene as well, and I think this is part of the same thing. It is easy to fall into unconsidered cultural habits, where the men go out to play, and the women are expected to be satisfied by a life lived in the domestic sphere. In practice most of us benefit greatly from spending time at home, resting and taking responsibility for our domestic arrangements. The people around us also benefit when we all show up to making a household work, rather than not noticing the impact it has when the divisions of going out and staying in are really uneven.