My husband tried to identify in the 2011 census as ‘housewife’. Luckily I grabbed the form when he had dozed off and put him down as ‘economically inactive’.
At bottom, housewife is no more demeaning than husband. Husband is compounded of the elements hus, ‘house’, and bond, ‘householder’. Housewife has the elements house, ‘house’, and wife, ‘woman’. (Woman itself comes from wife, meaning ‘woman’ and man, meaning ‘human being’.) These words have a rich history.
Housewife is now almost impossible to use. Yet Housewives’ Choice, on the wireless from 1946 to 1967, when the Light Programme was abolished, attracted audiences of eight million. Its theme tune, ‘In Party Mood’ is a shorthand for the days when saying housewife was not yet a hate crime.