By Latasha McGill
It does not matter what a Black woman accomplishes in her lifetime; society, including our own people, will judge us by how well and how often we cook and clean our homes.
The topic of having a housekeeper was discussed in one of my Facebook groups one day. This group is for Black women only (this statement is added for context and understanding). One of the commenters said, “Real women clean their own homes.” Pause and take a moment to read the quoted sentence again. Some agreed with her comment, and some vehemently disagreed with it. I’m floored at the notion of devaluing a Black woman because she has outsourced some of the cleaning responsibilities of her home. I understand cooking and cleaning is a love language; it’s a show of respect and reverence for family values, and it’s been a part of the Black woman’s genetic makeup going back to slavery. We cooked and cleaned for everybody. So, yes, I get it. However, this isn’t the 19th century anymore, and Black women have and continue to conquer the world in and outside of the home. Black women are busy leading voting drives, running for public office, starting businesses, being CEOs, and leading academic settings. And doing all of this most times while raising children, being wives or significant others, and/or caring for their parents. Let’s not forget; we must make time for friendships, networking, and whatever self-care we can squeeze in while saving the world from themselves; yet, dealing and healing through traumas. And some have the nerve to say we aren’t “real” because we hire a person to mop our floors and clean the bathrooms regularly. I laugh at this foolishness because the days are long gone for Black women being defined by anyone’s standards but their own.
The judgment of what real women do isn’t just about house cleaning. I’ve witnessed spirited debates about cooking meals and certain foods from scratch. According to some, if you are a Black woman and don’t make homemade cornbread or macaroni and cheese from scratch, you may as well turn in your Black card and don’t ever speak again. You will be canceled before breakfast tomorrow morning. Why are we like this? Rhetorical question. I enjoy a good food photo. I also enjoy when people show off their cooking skills. But what I don’t enjoy is within the context of their post is a statement about how “real women make food from scratch” or a connotation about how the only way to eat cornbread is homemade. And let’s not talk about disowning folks for eating jiffy cornbread mix. I’m almost afraid of what may happen to me if I admit I like jiffy.
This conversation is bigger than cooking and cleaning. It’s the passive aggressiveness of telling Black women they don’t measure up or not good enough because they don’t break their backs churning butter, scrubbing baseboards, or making seven-course meals nightly.
Furthermore, let’s debunk this notion of a Real Woman. The term is used so loosely in every conversation in every setting. However, I’ve never read the term in the Bible. My Bible talks about a virtuous woman. See, a virtuous woman is a woman of wisdom and understanding. She knows how to use her resources appropriately to create a balanced life. She understands cleanliness is next to Godliness. So, if that means hiring someone to help her keep her home, pick up a rotisserie chicken from Sam’s and pair it with a box of macaroni and cheese, then that’s what she does. If a woman’s home is clean and the family is fed, who cares if she was the one who swept the floors or if the meal took six hours to prepare? (Ain’t nobody got time for that.) It’s funny because we will drop praying hands when a woman says she isn’t feeling well or she’s stressed out, probably because she’s trying to be all things to all people all of the time, yet we will devalue her for using wisdom to balance her life. Make it make sense, please.
Listen, sis, if you can afford a housekeeper, please hire one; if you want to hire a caterer for that holiday meal, do it, and if you prefer to use alfredo sauce from the jar, warm it up. You are a woman of great wisdom, and your value isn’t tied to kitchen hours.
Latasha McGill is a Contributing Writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC. Tasha Mac is a mom of four adult daughters, a vegan, and a workout junkie who lives by the mantra Whole Person Healthy. It is her journey of total wellness in all areas of life. She enjoys encouraging, uplifting, and inspiring people to discover their own journey of total wellness and seek wholeness and freedom every day. Her favorite guilty pleasure is veggie chips with hummus or guacamole.