Homeward bound: the new domesticity

I admit that I bought the book because of its cover. It has this soft paper, with a modishly sketched woman on the cover, splendid in her tattoos, funky haircut, and crochet needles. I could see myself in the cover, and when I opened the book, I found that it was all about me.

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And I don’t mean that in the sense of the song “you are so vain, you probably think this song is about you.”

No, the book really is about me, and about so many women that are making lifestyle decisions in the same way. My homeschooling friends, the ladies who run businesses from home, and our gaggle of organic food growing neighbours. We aren’t just a book cover… In fact, we have become of movement.

Author Emily Matchar calls it the “New Domesticity,” the movement of women flocking to the home front in a way that hasn’t happened since the beginning decades of huge last century. If you are not sure what movement I am talking about, and if it applies to you, answer these questions:

1. Have you made a major work decision, like changing careers, working from home, building a home based business or staying home with the kids, because of your personal values?
2. Have you taken up or enhanced your ability to craft, see, grow or cook, or any other activity that used to be found in a Home Ec class?
3. Have you considered getting, or are the steward of backyard chickens? A small hobby farm? A homestead?
4. Have you baby worn, or adoptive breastfed, or otherwise attachment parented?
5. Have you spent time on Pinterest looking up suggestions for homeschooling, herbal medicine, DIY home decorating, or … Tiny houses?

If you’ve answered a couple of these questions in the affirmative, and read my blog, (which increases the chances of you saying yes to these things anyway,) then you probably are a part of the movement.

According to Emily Matchar, rafts of women becoming homemakers, home schoolers, Etsy shop sellers, and backyard homesteaders has massive implications on North American society.

There are amazing positive implications because of this movement. Did you know, that last year there was a growth of farmers in the USA for the first time in 100 years? Families are becoming more self reliant: the home garden industry is booming and municipalities are passing ordinances allowing backyard chickens. There are isles in grocery stores dedicated to canning and sausage making; dehydrators are all the rage. Thrift is in. DIY is in? Food from scratch is contributing positively to family health. Kids and parents are spending more time together… Homeschooling isn’t a fringe activity any more, and attachment parenting is completely mainstream. There is a renewed societal focus on family togetherness, a value that finds commonality between the extreme political right and leftiest of lefts. It’s fascinating to watch the pivot in culture and cool.

There is a negative side to all this nostalgia, though. Women are checking out of corporate life, fed up with the demands of work and home. Heck, I’m one of those women. But being a mompreneur or owning an etsy business is a hard slog, and corporations definitely are better off with women in them, especially at the helm. (I don’t just say this, there are studies on corporate board compositions to back it up.)

And what about the role of women in society? I personally grew up with all the possibilities in the world, and never doubted my options to work in any field or profession. I feel that I have the choice to work out or in the home, or both… But if there are more and more women at home, it does change the perceptions of society and children about a woman’s role. And if women don’t have an independent source of income, they do become reliant on a partners income. The last point the author makes I have remarked on myself: if women are using the home as vehicles for social and environmental change, they may be less likely to be active in the community , and certainly, politically. Personal sustainable choices vote with the pocketbook, but they don’t keep politicians on their toes. And the issues we are facing as a society today do need the big guns of social action.

I highly recommend this book as a read for women, and men, who are interested in societal change. It’s fascinating for the marketer in me, and it also gives me some more depth to the way I see my own life, and the choices I make.

Let me know what you think of the book… I’d love to hear your comments on the New Domesticity movement!

4 thoughts on “Homeward bound: the new domesticity

    • You should! And tell me what you think. Also, I’d love to blog more about specific topics, so if there is anything that particularly struck a chord, even in my post above, let me know and I’ll follow up 🙂

  1. “But if there are more and more women at home, it does change the perceptions of society and children about a woman’s role. And if women don’t have an independent source of income, they do become reliant on a partners income.”

    I admire the intention of this “movement” but choosing to stay at home and raise your children and not bring in your own income only works if you have a spouse with a high salary. It’s not an option for most women – single parents or those require two incomes just to survive. This whole conversation is about a very small minority of the population that has the luxury of making this choice and has time to write about it on the internet.

    • Absolutely! In fact, in one of the chapters Emily talks about the decision to stay home as a class issue. Now, in Canada we have different class issues then the United States. But truly, if I was a single parent, I would find it a lot more difficult to either start a business or stay at home full-time. I know precious few women were single parents who have those options. And education and income come into play! For example, my husband went to university long enough to have a decent paying job that covers off about two thirds of our expenses. I have the same luxury… Even though I had to work for! And my education

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