Domesticity and Society

I picked up a very interesting book at the library this week, which talks about the “new domesticity,” which is essentially the movement for people to go back to more self-sufficient, handmade ways of living. This may be the one and only time in my life that I’m ahead of the trend, because while I took a few years off due to job obligations, I’ve been organic gardening, canning my own preserves, and making meals from scratch for over 20 years.

Maybe it’s just where I grew up and lived my young adult life. After all, in rural America it’s not trendy to have a garden. It’s just what you do. You don’t need HOA permission to have a clothesline; every house comes with one. While there are as many social climbers there as anywhere else, people don’t have gardeners to tend their lawns or housekeepers to clean for them. Doing it yourself is just how people live. To quote an old radio show (I can’t remember which), “I can fix that, let me get my tools” is commonly heard, and the person saying it is usually accurate.

The author talks a lot about societal change and how the members of Generation Y have seen the mistakes of their parents (and yes, I put myself in that category) and want something different for themselves. Hence, so many highly educated smart women are foregoing careers in order to stay home and raise their children. She notes the increase in homeschooling among groups other than conservative Christians, as well as a trend towards more handmade household goods and localvore eating. She further notes how my generation was rewarded for our commitment to corporate America by basically being tossed aside when the recession came. For our kids, watching that happen has undermined their trust in corporate America as well as their interest in playing that game. (Not that I can blame them; certainly it hasn’t been all sunshine and roses for me either).

So does this mean a great societal change in America? To some extent I hope so. While some feminists are really upset that the gains they’ve made in the world of work will be undone, I am personally all for it. After all, feminism is about empowerment, and about being able to make the choices that make sense for each woman and the people she cares about. I can’t speak for all women of my generation. Certainly for myself, it felt as if there was no choice about whether I would work outside the home – I simply had to work for us to survive.

It’s time that we stopped judging the choices of other women (or men, for that matter). In the best possible world, each family should choose the arrangement that suits them best, and which meets the needs of the whole family, kids and grown-ups alike. For my friends who are currently home with their kids, kudos to you. You have the toughest job in the world, and also the most important. The rest of us should be lining up to help you – and to be quite frank, some of us are just a little jealous.

Here’s to a more peaceful, loving and accepting world, for everyone’s choices.


P.S. In case you want to pick up the book for yourself, it’s available on Amazon here:

This isn’t a plug for Amazon, just an easy way to make sure you pick up this particular book and not the similarly named one about lost pets finding their way home. (A blast from the past of my childhood).


2 thoughts on “Domesticity and Society

  1. Hey, Mardee! I know THAT Homeward Bound book!!! Yes, I felt extremely fortunate to be able to be at home with my two – I felt it then, and I still feel it now. What fun to be a trend-setter, eh?! Still spinning for the Tour de Fleece? X O

    • Mardee says:

      Ah, Irene, you think too highly of me! I fell off my ‘bike’ the first week. I always have good intentions but for some reason, life always seems to get in the way. Still, I got a couple of nice skeins of yarn finished before that happened, so it wasn’t a total bust. 🙂

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