“The Forgotten History of Housewives”, a tender tribute to the guardians of the house

When Michèle Dominici asked her mother why she had stopped writing her memoirs in the year of her marriage, 1960, the latter whispered to her: « Apres, it was no longer interesounding. » His mother had suddenly fallen into the world of housewives as into a bottomless pit. In response to this self-deprecation, so common among these shadow workers whose contribution to family development is rarely recognized at its fair value, the documentary filmmaker wanted to give voice to these discreet guardians of the house.

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Drawing from a rich corpus of amateur images and a dozen diaries, written between the 1960s and the mid-1980s, his film, full of delicacy, interweaves the reflections of Anna, Ruby or Francine on their condition and their daily lives, from moments of joy to secret suffering, sources of pride to unfulfilled dreams. “What happenedé so that my life escapes me this point? », asks Anna, who entrusts to her notebook her fatigue and the unbearable monotony of this destiny that she has not really chosen.

“Chief Consumer”

After the war, the distribution of roles between the sexes is still set in stone: “To men, the conquestbeing of the world. To women, the conquestyou of a man », summarizes Michèle Dominici in her bittersweet commentary. She recalls that the housewife was nevertheless « inventIt’se » in the 19the century, after millennia of labor in the fields and factories: “The men of the brand new middle classes then found a way to display their wealth in relation to the workers by indulging in the luxury of a wife devoted to the House. »

The cliché of the radiant housewife in her new role as “chief consumer »bludgeoned by television during the Glorious Thirties, was not enough to eclipse the dull melancholy of certain women and the desires for emancipation that the following generations would finally achieve.