Thursday, November 14, 2013

monday thoughts (on a thursday): homeward bound

I'm reading Homeward Bound by Emily Matchar. It's a study—researched and annotated, but with a conversational, anecdotal tone—of, according to its subtitle, "why women are embracing the new domesticity." Matchar talks about her own ambivalence toward all things homey and retro, and she explores the cultural forces that led so many women to try a different path from our career-minded elders. Matchar knows this shift isn't only for women; men too are making artisanal pickles and tending backyard chicken coops. Progressive, blue-state hipsters and conservative home schoolers alike are part of this movement. And they all seem to read mommy blogs. (She also makes the case that the "new domesticity" isn't necessarily working; artists and craftspeople who truly support themselves with their work are extremely rare. And the blogs can present an unrealistically rosy and unattainable picture of home life. Is "domesticity" just another way for women to feel bad about themselves?)

I've thought about this cultural movement myself, if you'll forgive the term, and I relate to it: I'm a mother who left work to be with her kids, and now I'm an art consultant who embraces the accessibility and affordability of Etsy. I like supporting (and buying directly from) independent, small-scale artists. So the book (and responses to it, on Etsy and Amazon) is definitely making me think: about mass production versus handmade work, and the merits of each; about the overlap between environmentalism and traditionalism; about nothing less than women's life choices, including my own.

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