Nostalgic Home

A Vintage View of Homekeeping

In defense of June October 8, 2007

Filed under: Nostalgic Homemaking — LotusMama @ 2:52 pm

Surfing through google results for “June Cleaver” I found almost unanimous resentment or ridicule. The very name of this sitcom mom has come to be a derogatory statement, shorthand for a cardboard woman that does nothing but clean, wear pearls and say “Oh, Ward…” But for me, June Cleaver isn’t that woman. She was a college educated woman who made her family home admirable and warm for her kids. She had a loving relationship and took pride in her life. She was good at what she did and treated her home as her job – finding excellence in her tasks. If I get branded a June Cleaver, I’d consider myself lucky.

So why do we ridicule this character? Do we find it hard to believe she could have an inner life, a fulfilling life, taking care of her home? Do we mock her because her home exemplifies the unattainable – clean, organized, homey – that we see as the source of our irrational guilt over our own homes? I’d be the first to say that the Cleaver home was a bit too homogenized for me. I’d like to think that Ward had a stash of Playboys in the den and that June kept a drawer of leather corsets. The Cleavers could have used some Bridge partners of different ethnicity, social status, political persuasion or sexual preference. But be that as it may, I hope the day comes when we can stop villifying the woman and recognize that we wouldn’t even be talking about a 50 year old television mom if she wasn’t on to something.

Is my house picture perfect? Far from it. Do I vacuum in pearls? Rarely. Do my husband and son have a home waiting for them at the end of the day, with all that Home means to us? Yes. And really, I think that’s all June wanted for Wally, Ward and the Beaver in the first place.

Keep on wearing those pearls with pride.


One Response to “In defense of June”

  1. Lorraine Says:

    Amen. I’ve thought alot about this and I think part of the issue is simply that feminism made homemaking a bad thing. We were supposed to be freed of all that stuff. It’s like the love/hate thing people have with Martha. She celebrates homemaking, which pisses people off, but she’s also figured out a way to build an empire on home making; which also pisses people off.

    I am a feminist. And I vacuum in pearls. Sometimes a tiara. I have a life, interests and pursuits outside of homemaking but I also regard this whole homemaker thing as a very important job. A calm, clean home…fresh baked treats…yummy dinners…it’s a gift I give myself and my family.

    I think I’ve always identified more with Donna Reed than June, though. But that’s just me.

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