Is the work which women traditionally do around the house real work? I think the question is easy to answer. If you have a child, and hire a babysitter or bring him to daycare, do you have to pay? If you hire a cleaning lady does she clean for free? If you go to a restaurant, does it cost you any money?
Apparently, when you outsource parts of what traditionally was considered woman's work to others, they consider it "real work" and expect monetary rewards for doing it.
The next objection to the existance of housewives is that due to the modern conveniencies, housework has become so easy that women "really don't work as hard as their grandmothers used to." The answer to this is that most men also don't work as hard as their grandfathers used to, but nobody tries to denigrate men's work (that is, except feminists, but we are talking about normal folks over here).
The problem with housework is that too many women slack and do the bare minimum of chores necessary for the family to survive. The fact that there are such women, or even that a majority of women is like this (I personally don't believe it, but let's for a moment suppose that it's true), doesn't make the role of housewife obsolete, it just means we should raise our daughters to take their domestic responsibilities more seriously.
By the way, even if women's work in general is easier than men's work in general, it doesn't mean that the woman's role in the home should be denigrated. The Scriptures call the woman a weaker vessel, so it's only logical that she is more suited to easier work.
Were there some women who worked in the coal mines and in the fields in the past? Yes, there were. There were also some women who were prostitutes, but it doesn't mean that it's OK to be one. Those who attack housewives always come with some extreme example of a woman forced into an unnatural role through extreme poverty or other unfortunate circumstances and pretend that it's an ideal to follow, or that because some woman somewhere is forced to perform hard labour, housewives everywhere should seek out employment in solidarity.
As Christians, the Bible is our guide and it's clear on the role of the (married) women:
1Timothy 5:14 says "I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully."
It's a quite clear instruction, imho, and one must be willfully blind to disregard it. Lady Lydia has a great post on her blog about the distinction between rules and principles, which is applicable in this situation. Married women being housewives is a principle, which means that there always will be some exceptions, but we should strive for the ideal, not the second best.
If as a woman you want to be a homemaker, search for a man who appreciates the traditional female domestic role, not the one who dismisses it as unimportant and wants his kids to grow up in a day care.