Wednesday, May 19, 2010


... adjective: 1) of or pertaining to the home, the household, household affairs, or the family: domestic pleasures. 2)devoted to home life or household affairs. 3) tame; domesticated.

My curiosity is drawn to the third meaning of domestic; tame. If that is the case I fear I may be single for a very long time. Even religious orders expect some degree of obedience.

I have been told repeatedly that men like domestic women, which I suspect is their not so subtle way of saying they don't think I am. Gentlemen, help me out here. I sincerely want to know what your personal definition of this term means to you.


Karen said...

For some reason I'm rather amused by the term "domestic pleasures."

Marquis said...

For me, the word "tame" is used for horses, cattle, dogs and cats. I would never apply it as descriptive of any human, especially my wife or any other woman. Hmm, now that is clear as mud...

Rick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick said...

By domestic, I would think of a "family" woman as opposed to a "company" one. With women in the workforce, some may be drawn to prioritize their careers over their home as they strive to break the glass ceiling or achieve some record of being the first woman this or that. It does not connote being subservient, weak or shy.

PaxetBonum said...

I think there is a useful distinction to be made between "domestic" and "domesticated".

Everyone enjoys "domestic pleasures" to one extent or another, depending on one's home situation. But no one of any intelligence or spirit wants to be "domesticated", as in "domesticated" animals kept as pets, for labor, or for consumption. Has the connotation of hopeless involuntary servitude or slavery, and a broken spirit. Not good. P&B.

JP said...

I agree, for the most part, with Rick. Technically, that definition is true, in that a domestic woman is thought of as one who spends her time at home, with her family, et cetera.

Depending upon who might be speaking, however, there may be connotations of subserviance, shyness, and the like. The very reason I was attracted to my wife (for marriage) was that she wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, with lots of kids, and wasn't overly-assertive. I find that (pardon the generalization if I offend anyone) business women tend to be overly assertive and therefore masculine in their demeanor, which is an enormous turn-off for me. Now, I'm known for being half a millennium or so behind the curve, but that's that. Words like "shy" and "demure" seem heretical to modern sensibilities, but they can be very attractive.

kired said...

Dearest Kat

In my oppinion, only a macho man will search for a tame woman. That is to leave the door wide open for abuse. I, for one, love woman who are happy to be themselves, not afraid of working hard to complete their goals and with a sense of humor. Of course they don't like me.

The Crescat said...

I feared this. So "domestic" is far reaching and encompasses more than just cooking, cleaning and having babies. It is a demeanor too.

I can learn to cook, but I am afraid I will never be shy or demure.


Badger Catholic said...

Domestic to me pertains to countries, "US domestic flights." Now if you enjoy cooking, cleaning, and having babies, then that is definitely what I would like in a woman. And it is extraordinarily hard to find a woman who thinks that way. My wife only came around to it after the birth of our first child. Cooking and cleaning not really a big deal to me since a husband can certainly help with that. But the idea of staying home with children is something some women simply despise for whatever reason. Chesterton writes about the genius of the homemaker... hmm, if I find it I'll post it.

At any rate, not tame. Adventurous, boisterous, sanguine women are better than quiet, timid, melancholic.

joan said...

Most Men do love domestics...especially the modern Priest.
Domestics are their personal Maids, housekeeper and/or cook.

PaxetBonum said...

Kat- Don't be discouraged. I think you are creating a false dilemma for yourself, here.

Some guys like shy and demure, some guys like sassy and brassy. Some guys will prefer some of both. Cooking is a nice accomplishment, but not really a "domestic" necessity any longer in our times, what with refrigerators and microwave ovens. Personally, if I can't nuke it, I don't buy it, and I don't care if my sweetie feels the same way. Most things in life are more important than food, anyway.

Just "be yourself, and be it in style"! If and when you meet Mr Right, he will know it, and so will you, if he truly is Mr Right.

'Thus endeth the lesson'. P&B.

Theocoid said...

1 and 2. The third, not so much.

The Crescat said...

perhaps it is a nurturing quality that men associate with domestic. A tenderness maybe.

Hmmm... Much to think about here.

Rick said...

To ellaborate "domestic" doesn't mean being a cook or a housekeeper or someone who is seen and not heart, barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. It is being an equal in faith, intellect and emotional maturity. Someone who can help carry the burden and share joys, pains and fears - like an old school conservative woman and not a crazy liberal materialistic cosmopolitan who would abort or divorce at the drop of a hat. Demure is over-rated. Some men do not like blushing violets but prefer something with spunk and gumption but whose interests and concerns are with the home i.e. family first before herself and her career. So, domestic is not mutually exclusive with "spirited".

Anonymous said...

I was rather hoping someone would chime in with an "Archie Bunker" style answer. I'm not up to it, but I do participate in a forum dedicated to chainsaws. Perhaps I could copy & paste your post to there and see what kind of response we get. Interested? :)

The Crescat said...

Cliff, as entertaining as that may be, I would rather not unless you think the insight would be truly helpful.

I am genuinely curious for my own benefit. Having been independant for so long and raised by feminist to be a feminist I am now trying to understand my gender role... albeit a bit late in life.

"xbf", the snideness is not necessary.

Lydia McGrew said...

I'm female, not male, so I hope you won't mind a comment from me on the thread: I do know that whenever I suggest to my husband that perhaps I should have been more of the meek and mild type to make a better wife, he laughs at me. In other words, not all guys really want a meek and mild type. Mind you, guys are human beings and, like us women, like to have their own way as much as anyone. But I really think there are lots of guys out there who would be bored to tears by a sweet-natured wife.

I do think C.S. Lewis had it right, that in a group of two, someone has to have the deciding vote, and it's best if that's the husband. But parliamentary debate before the deciding vote can also go on for a long time. :-)

The Ringmistress said...


I am frequently mistaken by my friends for some sort of domestic goddess, but I usually feel like a fraud no matter how well I am keeping house. I think it has to do with being raised to have a career. I actively chose to become a stay-at-home mom, but I usually feel slightly incompetent at doing it. Femininity is half-nature, half learned, and for a bunch of us, we're having to cram the "learned" part of the equation because we were raised to be independent, modern women.

I too feel like demure is one of the virtues I will never manage to master. And being the scrupulous sort, I am forever looking at moments when I wish I had kept my mouth shut and just looked winsome and pretty. Thankfully, I have a spouse who doesn't seem to mind this.

Can I recommend a book that helped me separate false ideas of femininity from the true Christian vision of womanliness (including the domestic bits)? Alice von HIldebrand's The Privilege of Being a Woman is simply wonderful and I think might give you some food for thought. And it's short. Short books are good things for busy moms.

Lee Gilbert said...

My wife and I had a good laugh the other day when I noted that we found each other in the reject pile. That was 33 yrs ago.

She had been a teacher and was then a salesperson for box manufacturing company...almost 39.

I was a book buyer for a dinky charismatic Catholic bookshop, age 33, with no degree,impecunious in the extreme and no prospects.

She had a new company car. I had a clunker- a falling apart clunker.

We married. Three months into the marriage I asked her to quit her job, because it all had to be on me or I was never going to rise to the occasion. She did...and discovered she was pregnant three weeks later. No more company car and no insurance.

We tithed. Things worked out. We had a second child, She stayed home with the kids till they were both in grade school. She then went for her Masters in Math Education.

She taught school for 23 yrs, and for thirteen of those years she came home and cleaned the foyers and laundry rooms of our apartment complex for an hour (which gave us a big break on the rent), fixed dinner, and then till 9PM read lives of the saints and catechism and other good stuff with me and the kids, then corrected papers and made lesson plans till midnight and often later, and somewhere picked up the habit of saying a rosary for each of us in her 18 mile commute in Chicagoland rush hour traffic.

The house was and is always neat, because it is subject to a relentless cleaning schedule. She always has been "game", upbeat, cheerful, loving, forgiving, understanding, prayerful and docile to me when I insist that we have to pursue this direction or that- after hearing her out. The husband does have, I am convinced, the "grace of state" to guide his family, but he'd be nuts to neglect the advice of his wife. The fruits have been great, since both the kids are still practicing the faith fervently.

The only point where she resisted tooth and nail was over my ardent wish to homeschool the kids, but as a result we arrived at the semi-homeschooling described above.

What a blessing and grace she has been for me, a steadying column and an endless source of sympathy, common sense and good companionship.

Anyway, that's "domestic."

Angela M. said...

Domestic means how you make your house a home. That doesn't necessarily means cooking and cleaning - it means coziness, being welcoming, laughter, kindness. And Honey - you got all that!

Shark Bait said...

Speaking for myself, I place a higher premium on "feminine" than "domestic".

A woman who is not afraid to be a woman, and the woman GOD made her... whether that means being in the kitchen, or the boardroom. I judge her by standards of femininity that include compassion, tenderness, confidence, support etc. Meek and mild mannered are not part of that (for me.)If she wants to swear like a sailor, and tell me when I am being an idiot that is fine, as long as she is not trying to compete with me to be the better man.

I think a lot of men fantasize about a 'meek and subservient' wife, but I am sure the reality would drive many of them crazy. They like the idea of having it at home, but fall into bed with the first woman who challenges them.

P said...

According to St. Thomas, love is specified by its object. That is to say, different types of love are distinguished by the different types of goods that they are moved to.

So Charity is the movement of the will toward Divine goodness, either in God or in His image and likeness in men.

Friendship is the movement of the will toward personal goodness, those things that make someone uniquely him/herself.

Attraction is the movement of the will toward sexual goodness, masculinity or femininity.


Obviously, those three above can all be loved separately. Total heathens have friends, Christians have enemies, and people can like or dislike people they are or are not attracted to.

But the bottom line is that if a man does not find a woman *feminine*, he will not be attracted to her, regardless of whatever admirable personality traits she might have.

Now, the definition of the word "feminine" is very much up for debate. Some of it is certainly cultural, e.g. the 19th century Chinese preference for small feet.

However there are some things that I think virtually all men include in their definition of femininity: from semi-abstract things like motherhood, to more concrete things like certain *ahem* anatomical differences :)

So remember, "domestic" is just code for "my understanding of femininity involves..."

I think that women tend to be much more practical then men, who tend to think things through more abstractly. So when a women hears "domestic" her first thoughts are often like yours were - cooking, cleaning, etc.

But for a man, "domestic" is not in the concrete, it is like you said, a demeanor. Femininity has a lot to do with how a woman makes a man *FEEL*. Now men don't talk about their feelings a lot, they leave that kind of stuff to women :)

But men don't do this because their feelings aren't important to them - quite the opposite. For a man, a woman is a repository, a treasure chest. She is the vessel of everything from his hopes down to his seed.

So a woman's "domesticity" is her ability to be a *caretaker* of all of the things that he hopes to invest in her. Will she be a good steward of his home? of his money? of his trust?

Remember Ephesians chapter 5. The husband is like Christ, the bride like the Church.

What a man wants to know is, "If I give this woman my two talents, will she come back with four?"

That's what a woman does for a man, she takes whatever he gives her and makes it better. He goes to work, brings home a paycheck to his wife, and by some marvelous alchemy, he finds himself sitting at a dinner with his wife and children (who themselves arrived at that table through an even more mysterious alchemy brought about by a far more intimate gift to his wife).

That is why men so love a cook. Not because they need a slave, but because every time that man sits down at that table he is reminded that everything he has to offer becomes more and better through her.

I hope this helps!

Suburbanbanshee said...

The classic Italian lady has usually been a domestic goddess, but certainly not meek or shy! Not uninterested in the outside world, either.

I would also venture to suggest that the reason that some of these men you're meeting are still single is that they're Too Darned Picky. Or because they're in the habit of rejecting women quickly, for fear that the women will dump them first.

I will furthermore mention that most people, men and women, don't really have much clue what they're _actually_ looking for.

My elder brother spent years dating blondes of a certain career/makeup/outfit type who didn't really understand his job or personality, assiduously avoiding dating normal ladies or women who worked in his own field. Many's the time I tried to set him up with nice blondes; many's the time he dumped them for not fitting his mental issues. Many's the time he persistently pursued the kind of woman who would soon dump him.

The woman he married was brunette, worked in a close variant of his field, and fit most of the criteria for women I'd tried to set him up with. However, she was also a lot more cunning in pursuit, and so managed to get past all my elder brother's weird dating illusions. :)

My point is that a lot of people don't know what suits them, unless a perfect match to what they really want practically slaps them in the face. (This is true also in business, where customers may know how they feel and think, but may have no clue what would really help their performance.) So believe what your dating "audience" tells you, but only as far as you can throw it. What people show you through behavior may actually be more revealing; but what's actually going on with their inmost being, you may never know. (This doesn't mean 'give up', but it does mean 'take what people say with several grains of salt'.)

s-p said...

Crescat, Having been married 38 years (not in a row), I'd say "domestic" means having a woman you want to come home to, even if the house is a wreck and she can't cook. "Demure and subservient" to a man means after all these years you are still entertained by him even when he's being "a guy", you don't castrate him privately and ESPECIALLY in public. When you must disagree or have the difficult conversations you can do it holding his hand and looking him in the eye, then make love with him that night (or the next morning) without it coming off like a "charity f--k" (forgive me, sensitive readers). "Roles" and jobs etc. are functional issues that orbit around character, virtue and how love is expressed within the walls of the home AND when in front of others. (I found your blog through one of your nominees... LOVE it!)

P. F. Hawkins said...

As a man, here are some prime examples of women who *I* find super-domestic:

a) St. Gianna Molla - Holy Moly! She was a doctor as well as a devoted mother.

b) Blessed Marie-Azélie "Zélie" Martin a.k.a. St. Therese of Lisieux's mom. Ran a lace-making shop 16 hours a day and raised a cadre of saints.

c) Servant of God Empress Zita of Austria. Her husband is a Blessed, and at some point in her life she got a papal indult to spend 3 months out of the year enclosed in an Abbey.

As a man, I find a woman to be domestic if she is capable (with husband's assistance, of course) of bringing about a happy, healthy, holy home life, no matter what else she does, and in accord with her true personality. Saints, as always, are the best examples of someone being their true self; I'd look at women like these to see how best I could be a domestic woman.

The Crescat said...

P.... I thinked you touched on the fundamental reasons I was so opposed to cooking and being "domestic".

Your response was more than helpful. Thank you!

P said...

Your welcome!

So I take it you are now fully resolved to spending the rest of your days in the kitchen? :P

Anthony S. "Tony" Layne said...

Men may prefer women who are domestic ... but not necessarily domesticated. Many men actually are contemptuous of women who are passive and subservient, especially the men who brutalize women. The woman who constantly plays the helpless damsel in distress may attract us at first, but she quickly becomes a drag on us. The trick is to learn how to challenge us without cutting us down.

The thing is, men want a home-maker. Not necessarily a woman who spends her life "at home, barefoot and pregnant" (as the saying goes). Rather, they want someone who can transform four walls and a roof into a place of warmth, comfort and love. Women tend to be much better than men at creating such an environment, not just with furnishings and decorations, but with their presence, attitudes and emotions.

So you're not that talented a cook? The truth is that we'd rather have meatloaf and Ore-Ida potates at home with the wife (and kids) than Chateaubriand at Domenico's with the boss. If you work and thus aren't home long enough every day to clean the place within an inch of its life, so what? We can live with the dirty clothes in the closet and the panties drying on the shower curtain rod, as long as it means you're coming back home to us every night. We can fight with each other every once in a while, as long as we're not in competition with each other ... we get enough of that at work. (Besides, the nice thing about fighting is the reconciliation!)

This is where I disagree with Shark Bait: Profanity is a kind of verbal violence, ugly and squalid even from men, and effective only when used sparingly. So, okay, mea culpa; I too let fly with an occasional f-bomb, or some other four-letter Anglo-Saxon epithet. But it's uncomfortable enough to be around men whose everyday language is riddled with obscenities; it reflects a mind, heart and life that has been degraded, debauched, demeaned and depersonalized. It deflects intimacy, and substitutes vulgarity for honesty. That's not what I want to come home to! So while I'm not shocked or upset if a woman cusses every once in a while, I couldn't see myself being attracted to a compulsive potty-mouth, let alone marrying one.

Therese Z said...

Sorry for another female comment, but even *I* prefer a "domestic" female for a friend.

By that I mean someone who enjoys taking care of people, who finds beauty and satisfaction in a peaceful and serene house, healthy and happy meals, parties where all enjoy themselves and feel loved, personal possessions cared for and used with respect, etc. etc.

That's what I hope I am, and even in my failed marriage I believe my ex enjoyed that part of me.

I worked with some women who were either naturally NOT "domestic" or, more likely, felt they couldn't display any of those traits for fear of seeming unable to fight their way up the corporate ladder (and I work in a VERY competitive industry), and they openly scorned sewing and cooking and taking a turn bringing home-baked goods to work. They made fun of the bride in the office who made all her favors and turned up their noses at another's crafty Christmas ornaments.

They didn't feel "womanly" and they gave me the creeps, but I didn't realize why I didn't fit in until I changed offices and met women who were more secure in their "domesticity."

Women who are not naturally "domestic" may not have to suddenly start vacuuming in pearls and high heels, but they should be careful not to disdain what is normal for the majority.