Staff Stance: Home Economics vs. Feminis – An Uneasy Union

Ask a Hockadaisy to graph the inverse of any given function and she won’t have a problem, but ask one to hem her skirt or change a flat tire and she will likely return nothing more than a bewildered stare. For a school that sits at the forefront of female education, this seems a significant dearth. Daisies excel in academics, athletics and the fine arts, but the majority of us are completely ignorant when it comes to the subject of “Home Economics.” Can we really consider ourselves prepared for life beyond Hockaday when many of us cannot even cook an adequate meal for ourselves?

With working parents and a shortage of time out of school, it can be difficult to acquire these skills on our own. The issue extends even beyond Hockaday’s student body; an increasing number of parents have begun to rely solely upon restaurants for food and tailors for even the simplest sartorial alterations. As our lives get busier, the tasks of obtaining and retaining these important homemaking skills tend to fall to the bottom of our priority lists.

The obvious solution is to create a class over this material, a kind of crash course in the rudiments of independent life skills. Home Economics, a class offered at many schools, is just that, but at an all-girls school, there seems to be a stigma surrounding the idea of Home Ec. Once we start learning how to cook and sew and pay bills, we might as well cast aside decades of feminist advances and start working towards our MRS degrees. Or at least that is the mentality. This attitude, in the Fourcast staff’s opinion, is a shame.

There is perhaps no more ubiquitous (and, to many, offensive) stereotype than that of a woman in a kitchen making a sandwich with an apron tied around her waist. But a “Life Skills” or “Independent Living” course would in no way perpetuate this stereotype; it would fill in a major gap in the Hockaday education; it would go beyond cooking and cleaning to paying taxes, balancing checkbooks, basic car maintenance, skills that every woman—as well as every man—requires to live a self-sufficient lifestyle. Offering such as a course as an elective, not a requirement, would mean that only those interested would have to take it. Maybe changing its name from Home Economics to something with a less sexist connotation would attract more interest.

Last year’s senior class expressed widespread support for the establishment of a “life skills” class, and current Hockaday students agree. After years of sending off graduates who were unprepared for the fundamental chores of daily life, it’s time Hockaday closed the gap. Just because we support equality of the sexes does not mean we should have to give up the chance to learn useful, everyday skills.