So, let's talk a little about this book; but, really, I'd love to chat about the larger topic at hand: the revival of all things domestic and what it means for women in our society.
Homeward Bound: Why Women are Embracing the New Domesticity by Emily Matchar (published in mid-2013) explores a cultural phenomenon that has come into the mainstream since the Great Recession: what Matchar identifies as "collective nostalgia and domesticity-mania" among her female Gen-Y peers.
Referencing friends and the occasional statistic, the author outlines the ways in which young, educated women are embracing the homemaking skills of early generations as a "revolutionary" response to a stagnated economy, growing concerns about the environment and the hamster-on-a-wheel American lifestyle.
(via Pinterest)New Domesticity, for Matchar, takes on many forms. Most chapters of the book examine (often extreme) themes like blogs, the rise of the Etsy economy, neo-homesteading and attachment parenting. Yet, the examples offered in these chapters read less like sociological analyses and more like hyperbolic anecdotes.
(via Tumblr)At times, the book commends trends like blogging, which Matchar describes as "hav[ing] created a frankly old-fashioned sense of community," a modern take on knitting circles of the past. At another turn, the book is didactic and disapproving. It suggests that a focus on the home--rather than on the corner office--is preventing young women from finally breaking the pervasive glass ceiling.
(via Flickr)As you can probably sense, some of this book resonated with me while much of it felt better suited to an article in a weekly magazine. Matchar takes justifiable aim at the "opt-out" myth, the limited prospects of living off blogging revenue, and the perilous anti-vaccine movement but manages to be measured in her critique. The author also strikes a funny, self-deprecating and self-aware tone, which I really enjoyed. Yet, I found myself wanting the book to be more journalistic in nature, like a modern study of female domestic life, an updated version of Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique (despite all of its flaws).
(via Pinterest)What is missing, for me, was the understanding that Second and Third Wave feminism bought women my age choices, the option to pursue an MBA or an 'MRS' degree free of judgment. And let's be honest here: the economy has been the factor limiting so many Millennial women. What's wrong with choosing to save money by baking bread or generating opportunities by selling handmade wares on Etsy?
So much of what my generation has experienced has been extreme. We've lived through a Dot Com boom and a sluggish post-2008 job market. We've voted in the first black president but have yet to see the first female president. We've adapted to a tech-centered world but still long for the unplugged comforts of home and family.
What do you make of the spike in DIY self-sufficiency, homemaking, sewing, knitting and the like?
What do you think women get from blogging and blog reading?
Do you see any relation between the economy and the revival of domestic skills/hobbies?
I know this post is a departure from my usual posts, but the book gave me a lot to consider as a young woman who values career goals and the pleasures of home. Can't we love both?
I'd love to hear your thoughts!