"A woman’s place is in the home” is a phrase that—with different wording—dates from at least classical Greece. “A woman’s place is in the bosom of her family” is cited in 1826. “A woman’s place is in her own home” is cited in 1832. “A woman’s place is in her own house” is cited in High Life in New York (1844). When New York City lawyer and activist Bella Abzug (1920-1998) ran successfully for the United States House of Representatives in 1970, her slogan was “This woman’s place is in the House.”
“Woman’s place is in the kitchen” is cited in the book My Summer in the Kitchen (1878) by Hetty A. Morrison.
“For men who think a woman’s place is in the kitchen: Just remember, that’s where the knives are kept” is a jocular variation on the saying.
The Phrase Finder - Discussion Forum
Re: Woman’s place, Part II
Posted by ESC on October 12, 2000
In Reply to: Woman’s place in the home - origin? posted by Jan Bradley on October 11, 2000
A third source has more detailed information about the origin of this saying concerning a woman’s place:
“[T]he notion of women staying at home was apparently quite old, though it was not quoted in written form with any frequency. The earliest version appeared in ‘Seven Against Thebes’ (467 B.C.) by the Greek dramatist Aeschylus, who wrote, ‘Let women stay at home and hold their peace.’ Perhaps the earliest English version was rendered in George Pettie’s ‘Civile Conversation’ (1574) as ‘A dishonest woman can not be kept in, and an honest ought not.’ In ‘Don Quixote’ (1615), the Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes penned the downright ghoulish ‘The respectable woman should have a broken leg and keep at home,’ and an English version rendered in the next century was no better. Thomas Fuller’s ‘Gnomologia: Adagies and Proverbs’ (1732) gave this variant as ‘A Woman is to be from her House three times: when she is Christened, Married and Buried.’ By comparison, the nineteenth-century ‘A woman’s place is her own house, taking care of the children (1844, ‘High Life’ by J. Slick) seemed comparatively mild.”
Wikipedia: Bella Abzug
Bella Savitsky Abzug (July 24, 1920 – March 31, 1998) was an American lawyer, Congresswoman, social activist and a leader of the Women’s Movement. In 1971 Abzug joined other leading feminists such as Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan to found the National Women’s Political Caucus. She famously declared “This woman’s place is in the House—the House of Representatives” in her successful 1970 campaign to join that body. She was later appointed to chair the National Commission on the Observance of International Women’s Year and plan the 1977 National Women’s Conference and led Jimmy Carter’s commission on women.
April 1826, Edinburgh Magazine and Literary Miscellany, pg. 467, col. 2:
A woman’s place is in the bosom of her family; her thoughts ought seldom to emerge from it.
August 1832, New Sporting Magazine, pg. 303, col. 2:
There is nothing extraordinary in this, and Mr. Pittman showed his sense by keeping the matter to himself, for a woman’s place is her own home, and not her husband’s counting-house;...
High Life in New York
By Jonathan Slice, Esq. (Ann Sophia Stephens)
London: Jeremiah How
“I don’t much care whether she’s harnsome or humbly, os long as she understands and acts up to woman’s natur; but, according to my idee, a woman’s place is her own house, a taking care of the children and a darning her husband’s stockings.”
12 February 1852, Janesville (WI) Gazette, pg. 1, col. 5:
My mother used to say that a woman’s place was at home, and I am exactly of her mind.
My Summer in the Kitchen
By Hetty Athon Morrison
Indianapolis, IN: Douglass & Carlon
Accepting ourselves at the valuation of such men as these, that woman’s place is in the kitchen, or, to word it more ambitiously, that “woman is the queen of the home,” the right I ask for is that we be allowed to reign undisputed there.
24 October 1901, New York (NY) Times, pg. 5, col. 5:
The Ladies’ Democratic Club of the Tenth Assembly District held an enthusiastic meeting at 94 Second Avenue yesterday afternoon. Mrs. Julius Harburger presided. When she arose to call the meeting to order the hall was filled by 700 women.
“One of the gentlemen on the Fusion ticket has said that woman’s place is in the kitchen,” said Mrs. Harburger. “No man here will say so unless he is a confirmed and prejudiced bachelor, I am sure.”
Twilight Tales of the Black Baganda
By Ruth B. Fisher
Published by Marshall Brothers
Item notes: v. 1
“A wife shall not leave her house to be overrun by fowls, a woman’s place is in
the kitchen, or in the field digging and gathering firewood, or at the wellfetching water for her household, not visiting in the huts of...”
Newcomers in the House
Monday, Nov. 16, 1970
THERE will be 62 new members of the House of Representatives when the 92nd Congress convenes in January. Among the more interesting newcomers of both parties:
BELLA ABZUG. One of the fall’s liveliest campaigns produced a colorful new Congresswoman. Mrs. Bella Abzug, 50, trademark brimmed hat pulled over her head, canvassed Greenwich Village, Lower East Side and West Side streets of Manhattan’s 19th Congressional District seeking support for her antiwar, Women’s Liberation views. She upset a longtime Democratic incumbent in the primary, then turned her energies on her Republican opponent, Barry Farber, a local radio interviewer. Farber (who is Jewish) accused Mrs. Abzug (who is Jewish) of being anti-Israel. But Mrs. Abzug said she had long been active in Zionist causes and had underscored it by campaigning on the Lower East Side—in Yiddish. A lawyer who traveled to Mississippi to defend black clients in the mid-’50s, an organizer of Women Strike for Peace and an architect of the “Dump Johnson Movement,” Mrs. Abzug was the darling of the city’s ultraliberals. She sloganeered, “This woman’s place is in the House . . . the House of Representatives.” And after winning her seat she vowed to go to Capitol Hill and wage war on the seniority system.
“A Woman’s Place is in the Kitchen”: The Evolution of Women Chefs
By Ann Cooper
Published by Van Nostrand Reinhold
Q & A with Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation
Posted by Lucy Blatter on April 22, 2009 6:02 PM
This year’s James Beard Awards will celebrate “Women in Food.” We spoke to Susan Ungaro about this year’s event James Beard Awards.
How do you hope to bring women into the spotlight?
People joke that a woman’s place is in the kitchen. But we believe a woman’s place is running a kitchen. I just want to focus on the fact that women are achieving a lot of great things. This is a celebration, it’s not a defense.