Monday, August 12, 2013


"The motivations behind New Domesticity are varied: an interest in self-sustainability; concern for the environment; the need for flexible, child-friendly work; the desire to remain connected to older generations. But the common thread seems to be this: . . . [a] longing for a more authentic, meaningful life in an economically and environmentally uncertain world."

. . . .

"I was really obsessive about doing everything right. I put so much expectation on it . . . When you've approached your life as a series of projects - school and work and so forth - parenting becomes one more." - JJ, 32, Los Angeles


"On a Colonial homestead, both men and women had clearly contributed to the bottom line by raising pigs and sowing wheat. But in the new, cash-reliant economy of the 1800s, labor was now valued by the amount of money it earned. Therefore, men did 'work', while women did 'homemaking.' The world was split into separate spheres . . . New standards of motherhood also promoted feminine self-sacrifice. In the Colonial era, children were basically farmhands - loved, sure, but generally viewed as mini-adults. In the 1800s, a middle class began to arise that no longer needed children to tend livestock and comb wool, and middle-class children began to be seen as creatures in need of nurturing and affection. . . . If children went astray it was now seen as a mother's moral failure."

. . .

"At the dawn of the twentieth century, American homemaking became more and more about consuming rather than producing . . . The American housewife became, in the words of Thorstein Veblen, "the priestess of the temple of consumption . . the limitless demander of things to use up."

. . . . .

"But did feminism also kill homemaking? . . . For those who say feminism turned women against full-time homemaking, well, it's clear that women were already unhappy with it. In fact, by the 1950s, many middle-class mothers were encouraging their daughters to have careers because they themselves were unhappy with their own limited options. The feminist movement simply made it okay to say you weren't content as a full-time housewife, or that you wanted to continue your education or find a job. Betty Friedan didn't invent the Problem That Has No Name. She simply chronicled it."


". . . the New Domesticity phenomenon wouldn't even exist without blogs, because educated women crave the kind of external validation they're used to getting from careers. Until the Internet, no one got much attention for cooking dinner. ' This lifestyle wouldn't work if women were raising their perfect, happy locavore children in the middle of the woods with no internet connection.'"

. . . .

"To read lifestyle blogs is to inhale a curious combination of unvarnished honesty and high-gloss fantasy. One minute, you're nodding along with a blogger's heartfelt rant about her nosy mother-in-law, the next minute you're reading a half-veiled promotion for Swifter dusters. . . . bloggers are selling fantasy but calling it reality."


"we are, as a generation, more addicted to positive reinforcement than any before us, and because we have learned firsthand the futility of finding that affirmation through our employers, we have returned to our stuff-making ways, via pursuits easily mocked: the modern-day pickling, the obsessive Etsying, the flower-arranging classes, the knitting resurgance . . this is a golden age for creativity and knowledge for its own sakes. Our pastimes have become our expressions of mastery, a substitute for the all-consuming career." - 2011, New York Magazine cover story on Gen Y


"Femivores. . . use food as 'an unexpected out from the feminist predicament, a way for women to embrace homemaking without become Betty Draper." . . . Femivorism helps give social legitimacy to stay-at-home motherhood . . . feeding their families clean, flavorful food; reducing their carbon footprints; producing sustainably instead of consuming rampantly. What could be more vital, more gratifying, more morally defensible?"


"Liberal feminism suggest that most gender inequality is culturally based . . . girls are socialized to be less competitive than boys, female businesswomen are punished for ambition while men are praised for it, companies don't accommodate women's needs. . ."

"Cultural feminism is the idea that some gender inequality is actually just 'gender difference' and that we should honor women's (and men's) natural, inherent natures . . Women are less competitive than men, and why is that a bad thing? Why should 'success' be measured by a male-designed scale - why should we view a CEO as more successful than a mother of four happy, well-cared for children? The fact that we don't honor women's natures as nurturers is frankly sexist."


JJ - "Being a stay-at-home mom to one child, a baby, when you're a mom is not really a full-time job. . . You've got a lot of other time. I think that's where all the canning and the cloth diapering and that frenzy comes in. You have this time vacuum. It really isn't that hard to look after one kid all day long. . . . "We're all very insecure . . . none of us is going about parenting the way our parents raised us . . . I'm making it up as I go along. So everything is a choice. And when everything is a choice, it means you could have chosen something different. That makes mothers desperately insecure."

. . . .

"Anthropologist David Lancy . . . points out that in developing countries mothers frequently nurse their babies but otherwise pay them 'relatively little attention.' In fact, he says most developing-world mothers practice what he calls 'detachment parenting' taking a utilitarian view of babies as future workers and investing relatively little in them emotionally, since they often die from disease at an early age. . . . mother-child play is considered 'absurd' in much of the developing world."

. . . .

"'People with political power don't feel that their own children are at particular risk' these days. We've moved far away from the world of the late nineteenth century, when disease knew no social bounds. For a dramatic example, look at the presidents of the United States. In the decades leading up to the Progressive Era, every single American president suffered the death of at least one young child, usually due to infectious disease. The death of a president's child today would be a frightfully rare and shocking incident, as would the death of any child born to parents of middle or high socioeconomic status."

. . . .

"Golden sees parental uninterest in collective solutions as part of a larger 'declining social contract' one that happens to be particularly evident in the world of children . . . 'I'm very disturbed that we have more [media] articles about toxins in the home than the fact that we live in a country where we don't have universal prenatal care. . . We've moved from collective concern about infant and child welfare into this very privatized focus on 'my child' and this intensive child-rearing."


"New Domesticity has made being a stay-at-home mom a palatable option for women who are unhappy with their jobs, but who would rather chew broken glass than sit around watching soap operas and ironing curtains like their grandmothers did. Today's neo-homemaker is no longer a drudge - she's an eco-warrior, an attachment mom creating a better breed of child, a blogger with a huge following, a food producer."

. . . .

"If the world of work lets one down, if it fails to offer the position one deserves, if it provides neither social status nor financial independence, then why give it priority?"


"If we're going to embrace New Domesticity, we need to make sure that the downsizing of career options doesn't continue to be a largely female prerogative. WE need to make sure that they rallying cry of 'take back the home' is shouted as loudly by men as by women. This won't be easy."

. . . .

"In an era where free time is the ultimate luxury, time-consuming types of cooking, child rearing, and crafting speak to affluence and a wealth of choices. In the early twentieth century, a homemade quilt meant you couldn't afford linens from Sears, Roebuck, and Co. Today it means you have the time and the money to indulge in an expensive hobby. . . . All this puts us in the weird and somewhat uncomfortable position of having privileged people proudly 'reclaiming' the work that poor people have long done out of necessity."

. . . .

"I see New Domesticity as a distinctly middle-class phenomenon, not a wealthy one. . . . New Domesticity is most attractive to people who are removed enough from the horrors of rural poverty to find canning charming yet still struggle to find genuinely fulfilling careers and decent ways to balance work and life. For the genuinely rich, there's nothing to cry about. People at the very top of America's class structure, men and women alike, have options. . . . New Domesticity is, at heart, a cry against a society that's not working. A society that doesn't offer safe-enough food, accessible health care, a reasonable level of environmental protections, any sort of rights for working parents."

- Homeward Bound: Why Women are Embracing the New Domesticity, Emily Matchar

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