This is partly a response to a comment I got about a post on SAHM socialization that I didn’t let through because it commits an all too common error of conservative thought, which is that the husband-wife marital relationship is the only really important lifelong one to have. The commenter literally could not see outside the husband-wife relationship in terms of social outlets for a married couple. There was nothing else they could think of, if the husband couldn’t provide all in all, there was no other way for a SAHM to have social time with other adults.
The inherent lunacy of this position should be more obvious and yet it dominates many conservative subcultures. It is partially an outgrowth of marriage-as-romantic-companionship, but it’s also an outgrowth of American atomization. I have noticed this pattern quite often, when social outlets for SAHMs are brought up. It’s defined solely in terms of the husband and wife hanging out with each other more. The idea that the domestic sphere would be a social sphere, where women came together and had their girls’ days and evenings and outings *with each other in groups small and large* is so alien as to not even be understood by many conservatives. It is a curious sort of historical ignorance.
Amity, by the way, is simply a way of talking about lifelong friendships as deep as Ruth and Naomi, or David and Jonathan, that can occur alongside a marriage or persist long after a marriage ends due to untimely death of a spouse. Back when childbirth, wartime and infectious disease could shorten the duration of a marriage, amity was well accepted. Now that marriages are not cut short by environmental factors but all too often by personal dissatisfaction, amity has fallen by the wayside and the marital relationship is supposed to be the sole lengthy adult one.
Needless to say, this doesn’t work so well in practice. What I mean when I say that SAHMs need community support in their social outlets, is that other women with leisure have to start the ball rolling and open their homes and provide that woman to woman support. Of course it’s hard, awkward and not easy to begin, the broad-based social capital of previous eras is gone, gone, gone and will not return. All we have is the locally-based capital of smaller communities, and it will have to be the starting point.
It is not something to be left to husbands at all, really. It is female labor, deeply important female labor.