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Homeward Bound: Why Women are Embracing the New Domesticity

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Amid today’s rising anxieties—the economy, the scary state of the environment, the growing sense that the American Dream hasn’t turned out to be so dreamy after all—a groundswell of women (and more than a few men) are choosing to embrace an unusual rebellion: domesticity. A generation of smart, highly educated young people are spending their time knitting, canning jam, Amid today’s rising anxieties—the economy, the scary state of the environment, the growing sense that the American Dream hasn’t turned out to be so dreamy after all—a groundswell of women (and more than a few men) are choosing to embrace an unusual rebellion: domesticity. A generation of smart, highly educated young people are spending their time knitting, canning jam, baking cupcakes, gardening, and more (and blogging about it, of course), embracing the labor-intensive domestic tasks their mothers and grandmothers eagerly shrugged off. They’re questioning whether regular jobs are truly fulfilling and whether it’s okay to turn away from the ambitions of their parents’ generation. How did this happen? And what does it all mean? In Homeward Bound, acclaimed journalist Emily Matchar takes a long, hard look at both the inspiring appeal and the potential dangers of this trend she calls the New Domesticity, exploring how it could be reshaping the role of women in society and what the consequences may be for all of us. This groundbreaking reporting on the New Domesticity is guaranteed to transform our notions of women in today’s society and add a new layer to the ongoing discussion of whether women can—or should—have it all.


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Amid today’s rising anxieties—the economy, the scary state of the environment, the growing sense that the American Dream hasn’t turned out to be so dreamy after all—a groundswell of women (and more than a few men) are choosing to embrace an unusual rebellion: domesticity. A generation of smart, highly educated young people are spending their time knitting, canning jam, Amid today’s rising anxieties—the economy, the scary state of the environment, the growing sense that the American Dream hasn’t turned out to be so dreamy after all—a groundswell of women (and more than a few men) are choosing to embrace an unusual rebellion: domesticity. A generation of smart, highly educated young people are spending their time knitting, canning jam, baking cupcakes, gardening, and more (and blogging about it, of course), embracing the labor-intensive domestic tasks their mothers and grandmothers eagerly shrugged off. They’re questioning whether regular jobs are truly fulfilling and whether it’s okay to turn away from the ambitions of their parents’ generation. How did this happen? And what does it all mean? In Homeward Bound, acclaimed journalist Emily Matchar takes a long, hard look at both the inspiring appeal and the potential dangers of this trend she calls the New Domesticity, exploring how it could be reshaping the role of women in society and what the consequences may be for all of us. This groundbreaking reporting on the New Domesticity is guaranteed to transform our notions of women in today’s society and add a new layer to the ongoing discussion of whether women can—or should—have it all.

30 review for Homeward Bound: Why Women are Embracing the New Domesticity

  1. 5 out of 5

    jess

    I was really into the idea of this book because it's all about trying to tie up the loose ends of why us young, modern folk are so into knitting, making pickles, gardening, keeping chickens, attachment parenting, homeschooling, etc. I'm as introspective and thoughtful as the next women's college feminist. I read the first several chapters and it bored the everloving shit out of me. The author seems to have huge blindspots when she recaps the "history" of these "domesticities," like her I was really into the idea of this book because it's all about trying to tie up the loose ends of why us young, modern folk are so into knitting, making pickles, gardening, keeping chickens, attachment parenting, homeschooling, etc. I'm as introspective and thoughtful as the next women's college feminist. I read the first several chapters and it bored the everloving shit out of me. The author seems to have huge blindspots when she recaps the "history" of these "domesticities," like her references to sub/urban vegetable gardens that seem ignorant of both WWII victory gardens AND immigrant populations who have always gardened. It was not well-researched or complete enough to hold my interest or add anything to what I already know about this so-called "New Domesticity." It felt like a grasping outsider effort, and not a good one, to rationalize why people would want to make their own lives so difficult. This book would probably be a lot more interesting to someone who hadn't read anything like, say, Farm City by Novella Carpenter (which - say what you will about Novella's book - that book has real, interesting information about traditions of food production in urban areas). So, no, I didn't finish this book and barring an unforeseen academic career in which I have to write about modern domesticity, I never plan to. I'll be too busy making jam to worry about this hole in my knowledge base.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Kelsey

    You might think, "what could be bad about young people being frugal, living lightly on the land, growing their own vegetables, sewing their own clothes, making their own laundry soap, and homeschooling their children?" On the surface it does seem idyllic, and I myself have fallen for many a blog describing such a romantic life in the country. But once Matchar runs this trend through the prism of gender and class, and puts it under a social and political lens, a more nuanced truth emerges. She You might think, "what could be bad about young people being frugal, living lightly on the land, growing their own vegetables, sewing their own clothes, making their own laundry soap, and homeschooling their children?" On the surface it does seem idyllic, and I myself have fallen for many a blog describing such a romantic life in the country. But once Matchar runs this trend through the prism of gender and class, and puts it under a social and political lens, a more nuanced truth emerges. She gives the DIY (or New Domesticity) movement props for valuing creativity over consumption, for having a concern for the environment and putting an emphasis on family, but she makes a very convincing argument that there can be a downside if we aren't careful to put things in perspective. The dangers include that of hyper individualism which can lead to problems such as the anti-vaccine movement has caused, as well a neglecting of collective political action. If you are homeschooling your children, why fight for better public schools? What then happens to those who can't afford to stay home and educate their children? If you don't trust the government to keep the food supply safe and you eat only local and organic foods that's great, but what about those who can't? And the fact that the movement is overwhelmingly female threatens to reinforce old gender stereotypes, disenfranchise men and potentially leave women vulnerable later in their lives. How will these young women, who are now content to knit sweaters for their toddlers, feel when their children are grown? And if they are dependant on a husband's salary, what will happen if he dies unexpectedly or they get divorced? Rejecting and demonizing the entire workforce may demoralize women who do have careers and it's not going to help make it a more hospitable place for mothers who have no choice but to work. When faced with the increasing stress of modern life wanting to return to a simpler life is completely understandable, but there is a danger in romanticizing the past. Women learning the crafts of running a home should not underestimate the importance of financial independence. Being able to make jam and sew your children's clothes is no replacement for the ability to financially support your family if you should need to. I'm sure many people will take offense at this book and that's too bad, because I think it's very evenhanded and fair and it is a book that needed to be written. Young women disillusioned with the workforce that are thinking of choosing this path should do so with their eyes wide open--read this book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    I wanted to like this book, but ended up not being able to finish it because it's just a huge pile of insufferable yuppie bullshit. The author obviously has never spoken to the people for whom these skills were never lost. In fact I'm not sure she's ever spoken to anyone outside her own affluent white demographic. She buys into sheer idiocy without critique or reflection, such as referring to the anti-vaccination movement as "the wisdom of our grandmothers." I don't know about the author's I wanted to like this book, but ended up not being able to finish it because it's just a huge pile of insufferable yuppie bullshit. The author obviously has never spoken to the people for whom these skills were never lost. In fact I'm not sure she's ever spoken to anyone outside her own affluent white demographic. She buys into sheer idiocy without critique or reflection, such as referring to the anti-vaccination movement as "the wisdom of our grandmothers." I don't know about the author's ancestors, but mine were poor southerners who saw a lot of babies die due to preventable disease and welcomed the vaccines. In short, the author and her book typify everything that is wrong with the current "homesteading" trend as practiced by people with more money than sense.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Instead of a review for this book, let me share the drinking game I made up for it while I read it: -Every time the author uses the words "crunchy" or "jam", GOD HELP ME, "Blogher": do a shot. -Every time the author quotes some twitty lifestyle blog: chug a beer. -Every time the author or one of her lifestyle blogging subjects says something is empowering/disempowering: order a girly drink and throw it someone's face. -And finally, whenever the author mentions a minority, anyone over the age of Instead of a review for this book, let me share the drinking game I made up for it while I read it: -Every time the author uses the words "crunchy" or "jam", GOD HELP ME, "Blogher": do a shot. -Every time the author quotes some twitty lifestyle blog: chug a beer. -Every time the author or one of her lifestyle blogging subjects says something is empowering/disempowering: order a girly drink and throw it someone's face. -And finally, whenever the author mentions a minority, anyone over the age of forty or describes a real-life child instead of a child who is clearly not real and/or starring in a Gap ad, hit yourself in the face with a hammer.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    I was so excited read this book, and I was disappointed with it. Actually, annoyed is probably the more correct term. Matchar is extremely critical of attachment parenting and it seems painful for her to admit that breastfeeding "can confer some important immunological benefits" (150). She spends a great deal of time illustrating that women cannot get rich off blogging or selling homemade items on Etsy. She seems to miss the fact that making money isn't the point. The idea is to be more I was so excited read this book, and I was disappointed with it. Actually, annoyed is probably the more correct term. Matchar is extremely critical of attachment parenting and it seems painful for her to admit that breastfeeding "can confer some important immunological benefits" (150). She spends a great deal of time illustrating that women cannot get rich off blogging or selling homemade items on Etsy. She seems to miss the fact that making money isn't the point. The idea is to be more self-sufficient. Yes, making money can lead to self-sufficiency, but it isn't the only way. It also comes from a realization that other things are more important. Family, time, and a different kind of independence are worth more. She also criticizes the people who practice this lifestyle as being selfish. Yes, it's raised as a question but it seems to be her conclusion. Instead of these people working for social reform, they are focusing only on their families. If it is seen as judgmental to question a woman who puts her infant in daycare to go back to work, without it being an absolute necessity, then it should be seen as equally judgmental to say that women who homeschool, grow their own food, and make their own clothes are selfish. I don't see people who practice this new domesticity as running away from life. Indeed, they are living a more authentic version. Matchar not only misses the point, she also doesn't validate it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Decent and earnest exploration about the increasing amount of middle class folks (mostly Gen X & Y) who reject the corporate workforce, eschew consumerism, grow their own food, and choose to homeschool their children. Why opt out? It is to stand against all that is not working says Matchar. Mistrust of government, factory farming, lack of family-friendly work environments. All have led educated women to want a more family-centric life. This is a book of anecdotes. And repetition. I wanted Decent and earnest exploration about the increasing amount of middle class folks (mostly Gen X & Y) who reject the corporate workforce, eschew consumerism, grow their own food, and choose to homeschool their children. Why opt out? It is to stand against all that is not working says Matchar. Mistrust of government, factory farming, lack of family-friendly work environments. All have led educated women to want a more family-centric life. This is a book of anecdotes. And repetition. I wanted more depth. What does it mean that young, educated women put their domestic life above other societal concerns? What about gender equality? And, would it be better to take to the streets and demand affordable day care instead of rejecting society? I dunno, I wish there was a chapter about that.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    Another nonfiction book that was just a step above "OK" but a small step. The most enlightening thing I read was the revelation that neo-con, evangelical, right-wingers are mere inches away from eco-warrior, secular, left-wing hippies when it comes to the DIY culture and the motivations behind adopting that life style. Otherwise the book itself could have been a long magazine article (in, say, The Atlantic which has carried other major articles on this spectrum), because much of it is Another nonfiction book that was just a step above "OK" but a small step. The most enlightening thing I read was the revelation that neo-con, evangelical, right-wingers are mere inches away from eco-warrior, secular, left-wing hippies when it comes to the DIY culture and the motivations behind adopting that life style. Otherwise the book itself could have been a long magazine article (in, say, The Atlantic which has carried other major articles on this spectrum), because much of it is repetitious--constantly reintroducing us to stay-at-home moms we have already met. The most helpful tip given to those who are thinking about corporate life is that it is only a minuscule portion of the mommy bloggers and the etsy sellers who make any considerable money off of their home businesses. It's not that I don't support the idea of moms being with their kids full time -- after all I gave up a legal career to do so -- but one shouldn't make that decision thinking that you can make up a good portion of your lost income via e-commerce. I love my children dearly, but it was best for all of us that I not engage in home-schooling -- we all needed a break from each other. Being a different kind of woman, I supplemented my need for engagement with others through continuing education in philosophy and literature rather than in meet-ups at the farmers' market and soap-making. But to each her own -- let's live and let live. Women should make their choices and others should not criticize. Only be aware that it takes a good deal of standing in the middle class to be able to choose the DIY lifestyle; those living in poverty do it because they don't have a choice.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alexis

    This is a fairly brief, easily readable survey of what the author calls the "new domesticity"--the back to the home trend--and its impact on women. I was already fairly familiar with a lot of the ideas--the cult of the natural, the romanticization of the past, and the "women leaving the workforce" idea. What makes the book work is that she ties it all together, as a manifestation of what is ultimately a pretty conservative, individualistic, DIY ethos. The new domesticity movement doesn't just This is a fairly brief, easily readable survey of what the author calls the "new domesticity"--the back to the home trend--and its impact on women. I was already fairly familiar with a lot of the ideas--the cult of the natural, the romanticization of the past, and the "women leaving the workforce" idea. What makes the book work is that she ties it all together, as a manifestation of what is ultimately a pretty conservative, individualistic, DIY ethos. The new domesticity movement doesn't just place a burden on women to be nurturers: it places that burden on individual women to find their way and make their solutions. Whether it's questioning doctors about vaccines, homeschooling their kids, growing their own food, or quitting their job, the solutions are personal. Ultimately, as Matchar says (but could argue a little more forcefully) we need more collective, socially based solutions fo the problems women face. The New Domesticity is seductive--and there is creative satisfaction to be found in it--but it will not solve the problems women face today.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Holly Klump

    This book brought up so much for me and really deserves a long, long post. A few gripes: a lot of repeated facts throughout the book suggested poor editing. Very "quotes heavy", which is "distracting" to the reader. The focus was nearly exclusively on white, middle class, heterosexual couples (namely, the female half the relationship) with kids who blog about their "natural" lifestyle. I know plenty of (white), middle to lower income women who may or may not have kids and embrace the new This book brought up so much for me and really deserves a long, long post. A few gripes: a lot of repeated facts throughout the book suggested poor editing. Very "quotes heavy", which is "distracting" to the reader. The focus was nearly exclusively on white, middle class, heterosexual couples (namely, the female half the relationship) with kids who blog about their "natural" lifestyle. I know plenty of (white), middle to lower income women who may or may not have kids and embrace the new domesticity...myself included. I also know plenty of people who have embraced this lifestyle long before it became cool or mainstream, and long before there were outlets like Facebook to post a picture of the perfect from scratch blueberry pie (guilty!). The author is extremely urban-centric, though I realize that NEW domesticity is the focus of the book. 10 years ago, the simple lifestyle was not being scrutinized so harshly through a so-called feminist lens...we were simply uncool or hippies. In certain circles, composting or keeping chickens has never been a trend or the green thing to do...it is simply the way we have always lived. I loved the author's comparison of super lefty liberals to conservative right wingers, and think her comparisons are fair. (pretty much the same if you switch out the word god and natural). Why are we such a black and white society? Is there no place in this world for organic eggs AND cheese nips? Do our individual choices REALLY make a difference in the world? The author makes valid points, and I appreciate the last chapter of the book, which is a wrap up of observations and suggestions. The main takeaway is that we as a society need to focus on the betterment of us all, not just on the betterment of our own families under the guise of personal choice and the bootstraps mentality. And the mommy wars thing really has got to go. Are we so insecure that we must judge others on choosing cable TV over spending their last pennies on free range, biodynamically grown arugula? Perfection is impossible. We are full of contradictions. What are we trying to prove by demanding it from ourselves? I can't wait to discuss this book with my crafty friends.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Juli Anna

    By far the worst-researched and cited book on the topic that I have read so far: statistics and quotations are very frequently not cited at all in the endnotes, and there is no bibliography; the endnotes are 90% blogs and websites, with seemingly little actual reading done for this book (with the exception of the chapter on the history of domesticity). Matchar tips her hand as a journalist with her casual, unacademic tone (she actually uses as a noun "fuck-you" in all legitimacy, in her own By far the worst-researched and cited book on the topic that I have read so far: statistics and quotations are very frequently not cited at all in the endnotes, and there is no bibliography; the endnotes are 90% blogs and websites, with seemingly little actual reading done for this book (with the exception of the chapter on the history of domesticity). Matchar tips her hand as a journalist with her casual, unacademic tone (she actually uses as a noun "fuck-you" in all legitimacy, in her own voice). That being said, she did offer a (slightly) different perspective on this cultural movement than I've heard before. However, she could benefit from a lot more research and a little less smugness and cheekiness.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Christine Cato

    This book is really annoying. I am on page 3.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Schulman

    This book was a relief and they should be giving this away to all pregnant ladies, instead of those Sears books everyone gives you and those magazines your OB-GYN signs you up for (I am particularly focusing on the chapters about the hard-core mommy stuff-I love Etsy and craft fairs like everyone else, please). Now, I'm a mother of a two year old with your basic credentials: long history of indie tastes; TWO worthless graduate degrees; non-profit job; intersectional third wave feminism; married This book was a relief and they should be giving this away to all pregnant ladies, instead of those Sears books everyone gives you and those magazines your OB-GYN signs you up for (I am particularly focusing on the chapters about the hard-core mommy stuff-I love Etsy and craft fairs like everyone else, please). Now, I'm a mother of a two year old with your basic credentials: long history of indie tastes; TWO worthless graduate degrees; non-profit job; intersectional third wave feminism; married to a guy who SAHD'ed for 3 months (until he almost lost his mind)-yeah. I was supposed to be embracing all of this stuff, but I hated it. I mean, some of it IS nice when it makes life easier for you-breast-feeding and baby-wearing were super-convenient when my son was teeny and I could just zip around the city with him in the Moby. Co-sleeping was great when I had a nursing infant who could nurse at night without waking me up. Being home was amazing when all the kid does is nurse and nap on the Boppy and I could read and watch Hulu all day. But infants become less infanty, and I needed a life (and money, to be real). I needed to be able to go to a doctor's appointment without panicked phone calls because my baby could not be without Mommy and the boob for two hours. I was getting negative feedback at work because pumping was affecting my productivity, and the lack of sleep from co-sleeping and refusing to sleep-train was making me a little... dramatic. And I had no interest in sex, and the baby weight was just sitting there. And I felt like a horrible mother just for being alive, because I could never do it "right". But all the other moms I knew who were, like me, educated progressive types, were reallly into it---I am glad that this book said for me what I could never say out loud-this is an elitist class thing, like feeling pressured to listen to NPR when you just want to listen to trashy dance-pop, or eat Taco Bell instead of "local" restaurants that cost 3x as much and don't have nachos. Because people can be really harsh to women who can't/won't breast feed, who sleep-train right away, and who let their baby watch a DVD so they can go to the bathroom. And who work and put their kids in day-care. And who are open about not loving being a mom 24/7. And it's snooty bullying. So there. I'm glad this book is starting a conversation. Anyhow, the book is well written, but as a caveat, it's writing by a child-free 20-something grad student and it was obviously her thesis. Some of the optimism of youth and inexperience shines through in meh ways-she really does not get how much working for someone else can suck, how hard it really is to be a working mom (if child-free feminists want us to work so bad why do they get so pissed when we have to leave to pick up our sick kid at daycare), and how seductive a life of making crafts for "pin money" at home can be when you never have enough sleep, time, or energy. And yeah, some of it, like the knitting parts, felt like a stretch, which is what made it obvious that it was a thesis. But it's a good, important book, and a breath of fresh air.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    Here’s what really gets me–we finally get to a point in history where most men acknowledge that women can have a voice in both their own lives and in the future of our country. And what happens? Women decide to take over the job of telling each other “yer doin’ it wrong.” Homeward Bound is yet another polemic against women who dare to decide that the corporate world is not for them. Leaving aside everything else in this book, what is the point of continually demonizing breastfeeding? Matchar is Here’s what really gets me–we finally get to a point in history where most men acknowledge that women can have a voice in both their own lives and in the future of our country. And what happens? Women decide to take over the job of telling each other “yer doin’ it wrong.” Homeward Bound is yet another polemic against women who dare to decide that the corporate world is not for them. Leaving aside everything else in this book, what is the point of continually demonizing breastfeeding? Matchar is so reductionist on the topic that she actually says that since working women are going to quit breastfeeding after three weeks, the huge corporations that own formula manufacturers should get prime product placement in their hospital rooms. It’s like saying that since it’s really hard to cook for yourself when you’re working all the time, that you might as well remove people’s kitchens and replace them with giant freezers to store convenience foods. What is the point of trying anything you’d like to try when it’s only going to be a giant failure and make other people miserable watching? Or worse–what’s the point of succeeding at something difficult when it’s only going to make people like Emily Matchar argue that success is an even bigger problem than failure because then other people might try it too!!! And that’s basically how the book goes. She presents what seem to me to be inspirational stories of people who are carving out lives outside of the mainstream, focusing on making things by hand and recovering lost domestic arts. And then she says that these are pointless endeavors because nobody succeeds (except the ones who succeed) and if you do it’s at the expense of the poor people who need hipsters to decide what’s best for the whole world. It reminds me of a homeschooling debate I read on an infamous message board for moms, a spinoff of Mothering.com where members castigate anyone who takes the (s)Mothering woo too seriously. A debate on homeschooling kicked off when a member said that she would only respect a homeschooling family if they were also involved in their local public school system. When a homeschooler said that her family pays their taxes as required by law, the response was they were not doing enough, that they should be voting in school board elections and volunteering at fundraisers for the PTA. And then someone else suggested that her time would be better spent–for the good of the world–if she would put her kids in school and then use her homeschooling time to volunteer 20 hours/week at the school. Best of both worlds, she was told–be involved in your kids’ education while helping the poor wretches whose parents are just using school as daycare while they work. Being a stay-at-home mom, she’s got the time and the energy to be the surrogate mom to a whole classroom. The homeschooling mom shut it down by saying that she doesn’t spend 20 hours/week homeschooling and she isn’t looking for an unpaid internship. What is the point of calling another woman’s life choices into question? Matchar and Rosin and others like them think they know what’s best for all of the rest of us, and when other women decide to rewrite the rules because we have a vision of a better world, we’re called traitors and stupid and Nazis. Breastfeeding Nazis, of course, because there’s nothing more like genocide than wanting to do things like lower infant mortality rates throughout the world or protect women against breast cancer. Ugh.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Pettit

    First of all, if Ms Matchar had not used the words "homemade", "jam" and "crunchy" her book would have been much shorter. Speaking of jam I don't understand her obsession with the stuff. Making jam has very little to do with being healthy or becoming self sufficient, especially considering that one must purchase the refined sugar in order to make it. That was perhaps my main objection. Extolling the praises of raising a few chickens and a vegetable garden and baking bread does little toward First of all, if Ms Matchar had not used the words "homemade", "jam" and "crunchy" her book would have been much shorter. Speaking of jam I don't understand her obsession with the stuff. Making jam has very little to do with being healthy or becoming self sufficient, especially considering that one must purchase the refined sugar in order to make it. That was perhaps my main objection. Extolling the praises of raising a few chickens and a vegetable garden and baking bread does little toward getting us off the grid unless that is all we eat. I noted that many of the women she interviewed had husbands or boyfriends with full time jobs to support their experiments. I was born in 1940. Until I was ten our only toilet was an outhouse a long way from our house and our bathtub was a tin tub on the kitchen floor that my mother filled with warm water that she heated on our wood range, which was our only cooking source. We raised and butchered our own farm animals, grew our own vegetables and got our fruit from our own trees. My parents did it from necessity, not choice, and I would not willingly return that way of life. It may be fun to dabble in hobbies such as spinning your own wool and raising exotic chickens, but those of us who have lived that "simple" life appreciate the conveniences of 2013.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I read this book while I was thinking about leaving my job to be a stay-at-home mom (because all of my life decisions require research!). And I liked it! It made me think! It brought discussions with friends and family. I especially liked Matchar's important point that this movement of focusing on the home is leading us away from a larger look at problems within our society, government, food industry, etc. (As in, that's great you want to have your own vegetable garden. Oh, it's because you I read this book while I was thinking about leaving my job to be a stay-at-home mom (because all of my life decisions require research!). And I liked it! It made me think! It brought discussions with friends and family. I especially liked Matchar's important point that this movement of focusing on the home is leading us away from a larger look at problems within our society, government, food industry, etc. (As in, that's great you want to have your own vegetable garden. Oh, it's because you think there's poison in all of our food?...Maybe we should rise up together and demand stronger food standards! Especially for those that don't have the time, money, etc., to grow their own gardens.) I also liked how fair Matchar was. Example: blogs, especially those darn mommy blogs. We all love them! But they make us feel bad sometimes as readers because we're not so perfect. But the writers feel great--they're not just staying at home, etc., they're finding a community to support their actions, they're getting positive feedback, and it makes staying at home more fulfilling because of those reasons. And sometimes they can make money! But not usually, so be warned. And readers, know that bloggers' lives aren't always so perfect. Etc., etc. But in the end, I was exhausted (maybe because of all this back-and-forth to get the full, fair picture). Good grief, did we need a whole book about this? No, a lengthy magazine article (or shorter book?) would have sufficed. Here's the final message, kids, of why women (and men) are embracing the new domesticity: Because some people like it. Some people want to stay at home with the kids and knit and can their own vegetables from their gardens. Some people like to do that, but just on the weekends. Some people never want to do it. And that's okay. Do we need to analyze everything?

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nina

    I really wanted to read this book because I am so conflicted about what the author calls "The New Domesticity," and I think she was too when she set out to write this book. Emily Matchar goes into the lives of educated young women choosing to leave their usually pretty lucrative jobs to stay at home and keep house. These women find it empowering in a way to take back "women's work" or what for women is more "natural." And this is where I become so at war with myself. On the one hand, I totally I really wanted to read this book because I am so conflicted about what the author calls "The New Domesticity," and I think she was too when she set out to write this book. Emily Matchar goes into the lives of educated young women choosing to leave their usually pretty lucrative jobs to stay at home and keep house. These women find it empowering in a way to take back "women's work" or what for women is more "natural." And this is where I become so at war with myself. On the one hand, I totally of course see the appeal to leaving the corporate work world behind and concentrating on yourself and your family, especially if you have young children. As this book points out, it's not as isolating as it used to be with all the blogs, mom groups and other activities you can do with your kids. Plus the DIY culture has the pull of creativity, making something with your own hands. Forget playing politics at work all day, getting home late only to have to find something to eat, maybe a couple of hours of leisure time and then going back to bed. But then, on the other hand, this new culture is deeply concerning to me. As some of the critics of this New Domesticity point out in the book, women still have a ways to go to gaining equality in the workplace, and it feels like this is all a step in the wrong direction. I'm a librarian, so my workplace happens to be 95% female, but you can easily see that women are horribly under-represented in so many career paths. I can't ever judge someone for wanting to stay home with their kids, I don't know that I wouldn't make the same decision if I could afford it, but it's still hard to see educated women taking their places by the stove. Although Matchar did talk about more and more men joining the DIY movement, there weren't very many men in the book. In fact, there were hardly any comments from the women she interviewed about what their husbands do at home. My mother recently told me when I voiced my concern about my husband's problems with "icky" things that it was just her job to change diapers and clean up pet messes when we were growing, because my dad didn't do that. And that seemed to be okay with her. I don't think I'm really okay with that. Even if I was staying home and my husband was working, I would expect help with parenting when he was there. Some of these women (especially the attachment parenting followers) seem like single mothers aside from the fact that they don't work. I think one of my main issues with this whole thing is the loss of a woman's identity. I realize that being "mom" is an identity, but I will never believe that it should be your only one. And as is clearly stated in the book, I do believe that some kind financial independence is always a good thing. You can't always just jump right into a career if something were to happen with your husband or his job. I guess I just mostly agree with Ms. Matchar's opinions on the matter, which of course made the book more likable to me despite her over-use of the term "crunchy." While it seems very nice to stay at home making money on Etsy while DIY decorating and baking bread from scratch, that's not always really realistic, and some of us don't even LIKE to cook that much! The homemaker blogs may just show us the sunny sides without getting "real" with us, and not everyone can make a bunch of side money on Etsy or even have a significant other's income high enough to allow us to stay home. The fact is that there is more pressure than ever on women to not only be the perfect nurturing mother, but also to have a house that looks like Martha Stewart's. I feel like while our fight for equality lays stagnant, or maybe is even slipping, and we are under growing scrutiny for our "natural women's" skills. And as always, screw the United States's lack of maternity leave and complete disinterest in ever even entertaining the possibility of public day care for young children. I totally understand why women are giving up on "having it all." Although I feel like we are judged less for our choice, I feel sometimes like it is a choice between being a mom and staying home or having a career and no kids. It eats at me sometimes. Can I be a good mother if I'm working? Can I even afford to have kids either way? Okay, I'm going to stop ranting now before I rewrite the whole book. But I definitely recommend this book. As women, we have to continue to stand up for each other and fight for each other, for equality both in the workplace AND at home. We are not there yet.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Biblio Files (takingadayoff)

    New Domesticity is what Emily Matchar calls the trend of young women embracing homey activities such as gardening, cooking from scratch, sewing, crafting, homeschooling, and extreme parenting. While it isn't a uniform trend that always encompasses all those aspects, in many cases it draws on elements of frugal living, voluntary simplicity, and attachment parenting. It attracts counterculture women as well as young Mormon mothers. Matchar admits she finds many aspects of the movement enticing, New Domesticity is what Emily Matchar calls the trend of young women embracing homey activities such as gardening, cooking from scratch, sewing, crafting, homeschooling, and extreme parenting. While it isn't a uniform trend that always encompasses all those aspects, in many cases it draws on elements of frugal living, voluntary simplicity, and attachment parenting. It attracts counterculture women as well as young Mormon mothers. Matchar admits she finds many aspects of the movement enticing, such as the creative side, in which many of the participants are selling their crafts on Etsy. Other elements she finds distressing, such as the increase of parents who homeschool. Throughout the book, the question is why are these women, most of whom are university educated, rejecting professional careers to stay at home? Of course, there are many reasons, and the discussions bring up topics such as the lousy economy, is there still a glass ceiling, can women have it all, and are there biological reasons some women like to make a nest rather than compete in the workplace? Matchar guides the conversation in a skillful manner, without stooping to easy answers. She adds the voices of writers who've covered this territory in the past. This book had me thinking and discussing with others and re-evaluating. I loved it!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer W

    I want to quit my job, garden, raise chickens, sew, make crafts, and bake. I'm not the only one. All over America, women are doing just that and more. What could be wrong with that? It sounds so wholesome. It sounds quaint. It sounds peaceful. In order to find out what's insidious about a turn back the clock mentality, one needs to look at why women are doing this. Could it be because we're not getting paid well? Could it be that we don't have sufficient maternity (never mind paternity) leave? I want to quit my job, garden, raise chickens, sew, make crafts, and bake. I'm not the only one. All over America, women are doing just that and more. What could be wrong with that? It sounds so wholesome. It sounds quaint. It sounds peaceful. In order to find out what's insidious about a turn back the clock mentality, one needs to look at why women are doing this. Could it be because we're not getting paid well? Could it be that we don't have sufficient maternity (never mind paternity) leave? Could it be because jobs are expecting us to do more with less? Some blame feminists for this, and some think they are feminists for abandoning school and careers to stay at home. Some claim that feminists forced women out of the home when it's "natural" for women to want to be there. Many women choosing to make this lifestyle change say that it's precisely because they are choosing it that it is still in line with their feminist ideals. Oddly enough, they've swung so far left that those thoughts and ideals are lining up with the far right: women who say their place is in the home, or that the government is sending us into a socialist nightmare and people need to be able to fend for themselves when society falls. The chapters on child-rearing, home schooling, and vaccine refusing were the most disturbing. Women are removing their children from society and it's just scary! They fear that schools don't know how best to educate children, that doctors don't know how to keep people healthy, and that strangers aren't to be trusted to watch or feed their precious babies. It's ridiculous! These educated, employable women are sequestering themselves and their kids. What are these people going to be like as teenagers? As adults? What is mom going to do when the babies go off to college? Assuming they make it that far and don't die of measles or whooping cough first! I'm certainly not saying to assume school will teach a kid everything, or that you should blindly trust the medical professionals, but good grief! Public school didn't destroy me. While I may have some minor medical concerns, annual check ups and vaccines seem to have done me more good than harm. I had *fun* being supervised by people other than my parents! My grandparents, my cousins, friends of the family, friends' parents all had a hand in raising me. I would say society's biggest ills right now stem from lack of community. For humanity's sake people: let your kids live!! OK, OK, breathe. The author repeatedly points out that these choices are typically being made by white, educated, middle class women who have the time to want to bake or sew or garden for fun and enjoyment. Who can afford to stay home and keep their kids out of school. Who typically have working partners who bring in the money to keep this lifestyle going. As the breadwinner in my household at the moment, I certainly couldn't cash it all in and keep bees (though I want to!). As someone who likes my independence, I can't risk my financial future to someone else. Plus, I'd go batty staying home all day every day! All in all, a very thought-provoking book. I initially read it because I do in many ways want to be "Homeward bound", but in many others, it's just not realistic. I hope these ladies that have made these choices are happy, and I hope that their lifestyles are sustainable. For me, those just aren't chances I can take at this time in my life.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    I heard about this book from a writer of a knitting/lifestyle blog. She was very upset with the author over what she saw as a dig on the type of mothering she does (adoptive not "natural"). I have had concerns about the "new" generation of young women and the choices they are making in the world as it is today so I decided to read the book figuring that I wouldn't like what the author has to say. My background is born in the late 50's, raised in the 60's, went to engineering school in the 70's I heard about this book from a writer of a knitting/lifestyle blog. She was very upset with the author over what she saw as a dig on the type of mothering she does (adoptive not "natural"). I have had concerns about the "new" generation of young women and the choices they are making in the world as it is today so I decided to read the book figuring that I wouldn't like what the author has to say. My background is born in the late 50's, raised in the 60's, went to engineering school in the 70's (man/woman ratio was 15/1). I have done my share of fighting for equality and being upset about how, as a woman, I was treated. But, I also believe that feminism and the fight for equality was not to make all of us corporate drones but to give us all the right to choose the career path we wanted to (this includes choosing to stay home). As I read the book I was not insulted by what the author said, I felt that she was doing a fairly evenhanded investigation of a new trend. It was interesting to hear about why these young, talented people are choosing to opt out of the mainstream. It worries me a lot that they are choosing to opt out rather than to take the fight further. Woman are not equal yet in most of society and we will go backward if the fight isn't carried on. I finished this book a couple of days ago and this evening I listened to another podcast (knitting related) where the podcasters discussed the book. Again young women, again woman who weren't happy with the author. They thought she dissed crafters, they look on their craft as a political statement as much as an interesting occupation. I have homeschooled my children, raised gardens full of food, made our clothes and curtains, preserved foods and all the other things the woman in this book are doing in the name of New Domesticity but I have been doing them since I was born - it is not a political statement, it is a lifestyle. I am now in the workworld due to the one thing these woman are not considering - my husband walked. And everything I have done in the past didn't help my financial life when he did. The woman who are opting out will pay for their choices at some point in their lives - The other scary thing about this new trend is how close in ideas it is with the most conservative of the old guys. Is this new trend engineered by the conservatives to remake our liberated world back into their worldview?

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sally Ewan

    (I thought this was a clever title until I realized how many other books have the same one!) This book is about women 'embracing the new domesticity', which involves home decorating, crafts, food/cooking, parenthood, and homesteading. The overarching theme seems to be women looking for meaning in their lives. Having thrown themselves into careers and finding them ultimately unsatisfying, these women are casting about for other things to pursue. And they are doing this with a passion that is (I thought this was a clever title until I realized how many other books have the same one!) This book is about women 'embracing the new domesticity', which involves home decorating, crafts, food/cooking, parenthood, and homesteading. The overarching theme seems to be women looking for meaning in their lives. Having thrown themselves into careers and finding them ultimately unsatisfying, these women are casting about for other things to pursue. And they are doing this with a passion that is downright religious. Food, if chosen and prepared correctly, can be a saving force, both in terms of health and also spiritual wellness. Parents can oversee every detail of their child's life and control the outcome. (This seemed pretty selfish to me, by the way. The pressure on these poor kids to make it all worthwhile for their moms! And the parenting is indulgent in the extreme, guided by the child's whims, which can only result in spoiled adults.) These women have demanded workplace accommodations for moms--childcare, sick days, etc--and wondered why women aren't hired as readily as men. And therein lies my problem with the whole book. Though the author says it is obvious that women can't have it all, she wants it all. She wants women to be the same as men. She never realizes that our 'traditional gender roles' aren't a product of society; they are created by God for the good of ALL of us. So she gets upset when women talk about wanting to be 'taken care of', and frets that if women do turn homeward, they are sacrificing 'financial independence'. I am grateful that I am content to be a homemaker, recognizing its value, and grateful that my husband is able and willing to support us financially and encourage me in this role. I know that women have struggled with oppression and discontent, but that doesn't negate the essential meaningfulness of being a wife and mother as God designed it. The trouble has come through our rejection of God, which has played itself out in broken homes and damaged families, troubled relationships and the promotion of self. Until we are able to understand this, we are all prone to casting about for something to fulfill us, always failing in our search.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    I think this book has a lot going for it because it is so timely and really in tune (in my experience) with conversations that a lot of 30-something women are having as they negotiate career and family decisions. I definitely picked this up because it seemed like every chapter was dealing with yet another cultural trend that I find myself thinking about in ways that are both "what? This is so me!" And "what?? What is happening??" And the two are not mutually exclusive. So here's the thing: I I think this book has a lot going for it because it is so timely and really in tune (in my experience) with conversations that a lot of 30-something women are having as they negotiate career and family decisions. I definitely picked this up because it seemed like every chapter was dealing with yet another cultural trend that I find myself thinking about in ways that are both "what? This is so me!" And "what?? What is happening??" And the two are not mutually exclusive. So here's the thing: I needed this to be really good and it just wasn't. It was a lot to take on. But some important decisions needed to be made. Is this academic writing or popular no fiction? It kind of did both simultaneously and poorly. Is this writer making an argument or just surveying cultural trends? I think she couldn't decide. And! For everything this book took on, it missed the important race/class intersections piece about how most of what she's writing primarily applies to (and is based on) white people from pretty privileged backgrounds. So that weirdly made her scope way too broad and also way too narrow in different ways. All that said, I do appreciate the thought and effort that went into this. The trends and ideas in this book are definitely worth more thought. Also, I found the last chapter really redeeming because the writer drops many of her pretenses and her own voice comes through much more clearly. In the end, I recommend this book if it sounds relevant to you. I just wish it was better.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    At first I thought this book was a little "women's studies 101" in its approach. However, I stuck with it and thought that it was pretty darn good. This book is an approach to current trends in domesticity and feminism and lends a sometimes historical and sometimes academic eye towards current trends that I haven't seen touched in such a hip and informative way. Topics covered include: the history of domesticity, non-paid labor, and the woman's sphere; blogging's influence on feminism; urban At first I thought this book was a little "women's studies 101" in its approach. However, I stuck with it and thought that it was pretty darn good. This book is an approach to current trends in domesticity and feminism and lends a sometimes historical and sometimes academic eye towards current trends that I haven't seen touched in such a hip and informative way. Topics covered include: the history of domesticity, non-paid labor, and the woman's sphere; blogging's influence on feminism; urban foodies; DIY parenting; the similarities between right-wing Christian mothers and hipster homesteading mama's, and the list goes on. Like other reviewers said, this is a white, middle-class look at current trends. It lacks any themes of intersectionality that would have given the book a little more "edge". Additionally, I found the book a tad redundant at times. However, if you know that going in to it, the absence of these items won't detract too much from it being a nice little primer on feminism and domesticity.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lorri Steinbacher

    The whole book kind of depressed me. I guess I understand the appeal of exploring your roots, simplifying your lifestyle, feeling cozily at home in your home. I've certainly has those days when I indulged in housefrau daydreams. I like a nice apron as much as the next girl. Except that ultimately I could not imagine ceding my (financial/social/intellectual) independence to live out those daydreams. But that's me. It is very likely that a woman can get all of her needs for independence filled in The whole book kind of depressed me. I guess I understand the appeal of exploring your roots, simplifying your lifestyle, feeling cozily at home in your home. I've certainly has those days when I indulged in housefrau daydreams. I like a nice apron as much as the next girl. Except that ultimately I could not imagine ceding my (financial/social/intellectual) independence to live out those daydreams. But that's me. It is very likely that a woman can get all of her needs for independence filled in the home. Assuming you are fairly stable financially and have a safety net of friends and family to support you in your endeavor. There are social and class issues that Matchar only glosses over. I respect any woman making a thoughtful choice about how to live her own life. What I don't understand is the holier-than-thou attitude that seems to go along with the lifestyle. Cocooning is OK, but contributing beyond your own domestic sphere is important too. One choice is not necessarily better than another, just different.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    I read this for my book club, and I wouldn't have picked it up on my own. While the author tried to show both sides, I found some examples of "embracing domesticity" to be extremely irritating and counter to the fight for equality. Especially those who thought "biology is destiny" and who put others at risk by not vaccinating their children based on debunked studies. Women's history was glossed over. This is definitely more of a book focusing on "Lean Out" than "Lean In." However, in the final I read this for my book club, and I wouldn't have picked it up on my own. While the author tried to show both sides, I found some examples of "embracing domesticity" to be extremely irritating and counter to the fight for equality. Especially those who thought "biology is destiny" and who put others at risk by not vaccinating their children based on debunked studies. Women's history was glossed over. This is definitely more of a book focusing on "Lean Out" than "Lean In." However, in the final chapter the author makes some surprising conclusions that made it my favorite chapter in the book. I say do what you want, stay home or go to work, like I prefer to. No one choice is right for a whole gender. We should support each other in our decisions, and be less judgmental as long as your decisions don't infringe on others rights.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    This was a really interesting book that explores the rise in new domesticity with women. The author explores the history of "women's work", how blogs have contributed to the the glorification of the new domesticity, the explosion of handmade via Etsy, the resurgence of the from-scratch food culture, parenting, new domesticity as an alternative to the workforce, homesteading, and how all this brings together people from polar-opposite ends of the political/religious/etc. spectrums. There are This was a really interesting book that explores the rise in new domesticity with women. The author explores the history of "women's work", how blogs have contributed to the the glorification of the new domesticity, the explosion of handmade via Etsy, the resurgence of the from-scratch food culture, parenting, new domesticity as an alternative to the workforce, homesteading, and how all this brings together people from polar-opposite ends of the political/religious/etc. spectrums. There are aspects of this issue that I do agree with, but overall I feel like it can be used as a way for women to judge other women for not being as "committed" or "natural" or whatever as other women. I liked the way the author explored each of the aspects of this issue, but I do feel like she was somewhat repetitive and in each chapter she seemed to mention some of the same things over and over again. But, overall I liked the book and I think it's definitely an issue worth exploring for women. Here are some quotes I particularly enjoyed: "For those that say feminism turned women against full-time homemaking, well, it's clear that women were already unhappy with it. In fact, by the 1950's, 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 just chronicled it." (p. 43) "But the million-dollar question is this: how many lifestyle bloggers are really making money? The answer, it turns out, is 'very few'...only 18 percent of bloggers make any nonsalary money off their blogs. And of those, the average yearly earnings are less than $10,000...'Women say, 'Oh, I'll go do that - lots of people have had a lucrative career blogging from home.' But a lot of these big, impressive blogs take ten years to get off the ground,' [Mitra Parineh, a research fellow at King's College London] says." (p. 62) "It's easy to be lulled by glossy photos of apple pies and hand-sewn curtains. All the rest of the work that went into it - the sink full of dishes, the stench of dirty diapers, the tedious hours spent sewing those gorgeous curtains - well, that's not really blog fodder, is it?...Frequently, bloggers are deliberately painting a highly controlled picture of their lives in order to make money, sell products, or promote certain lifestyles or political agendas. Readers, who look to these blogs for community, are often getting an unintended dose of marketing and commercialism as well." (p. 69) "Some might see Emily as part of the much-ballyhooed 'opt-out revolution' of highly educated young women quitting prestigious jobs to stay home with their children. But Emily sees herself as part of a very different revolution: people rejecting an all-consuming work culture in favor of a slower-paced, DIY-infused stay-at-home lives. 'I was thinking critically about how much of my health and finances are really in the hands of the large corporate forces that don't give a shit about me,' she says...'I wanted to remove myself from the corporate culture at large.' " (p. 159-60) "The problem is that the media rarely discusses the real reasons behind why women leave their jobs. We hear a lot about the desire to be closer to the children, the love of crafting and gardening and making food from scratch. But reasons like lack of maternity leave, lack of affordable day care, lack of job training, and unhappiness with the 24/7 work culture - well, those aren't getting much airtime." (p. 179) "Leslie Bennetts, the prominent former Vanity Fair and Newsweek writer who started a firestorm with the 2007 publication of The Feminine Mistake, a polemic against mothers opting out of the workplace...Bennetts thinks young women aren't concerned enough about financial independence and that today's desire for slowed-down/downsized/part-time work will come back to bite us in the butt...'If the husband gets run over by a truck or says, 'I don't love you, I'm leaving,' or whatever, what is the woman who's been focusing on making jams going to do?' she asks...'There are aspects of New Domesticity that are lovely, but it is no substitute for being able to support your family,' she concludes." (p. 241-3)

  26. 5 out of 5

    Inder

    I found this to be an interesting, but definitely ... er ... challenging read. Interesting in the discussion of the role of the "new domesticity" in our current economy and current attitudes towards feminism. Challenging because the home-cooking, sewing, gardening people she's talking about, often with a tone of not-so-subtle condescension, sound a whole lot like me! No one likes to be told that their favorite activities are just the latest fad, and I'm no exception! So I found myself squirming I found this to be an interesting, but definitely ... er ... challenging read. Interesting in the discussion of the role of the "new domesticity" in our current economy and current attitudes towards feminism. Challenging because the home-cooking, sewing, gardening people she's talking about, often with a tone of not-so-subtle condescension, sound a whole lot like me! No one likes to be told that their favorite activities are just the latest fad, and I'm no exception! So I found myself squirming and feeling defensive and put-off quite a lot while reading this. Nonetheless, it is definitely a thought-provoking discussion of a major movement, and I appreciated the feminist and economic analysis of this cultural trend. It's true that bad economies have historically brought "back-to-the-home" movements - the 30s, the 70s, today. It's also true that many young and young-ish people these days are pretty discouraged and disheartened with their career opportunities, and domesticity can be a respite from a crappy economy and crappy opportunities. It is further absolutely important to note that while feminism is all about "choice," the choice to be a homemaker may often be influenced by the fact that the economy is craptastic, good jobs are impossible to find, and daycare is insanely expensive. To some extent, therefore, it's not a real "choice" - it's parents making the best of their situations. Which isn't to say it's not awesome in many respects for many women - but the fact is, it's mostly women staying home, and not having earning power does put women at a disadvantage in their partnerships, no matter how unpleasant it is to acknowledge or discuss this out loud. So the forces that are sending women back to the home are not all "celebrating and reclaiming the home" - there may be some darker ramifications too. So the author has some really really good points. I did find it unfortunate that her examples of the "new domesticity" were fairly stereotyped, and there was little discussion of folks like me, who were raised in a more "DIY/back-to-the-land" culture and thus see much of our cooking/sewing/gardening as more of a continuation than a reaction against our parents. There is also precious little discussion of folks (also like me) who are full time professionals but really enjoy doing these things in our spare time, not for money. I know you can't cover everyone, but it would have been nice to see a bit more breadth. Overall, thought-provoking, even if she did make me feel like I'm a slave to fashion!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lani

    Alright, I didn't love this book as much as I loved the 2nd chapter, but I let it keep its 5th star. The chapter on DIY crafting and the Etsy culture was written FOR me, I loved it. I'm sure the other chapters were just as enlightening, but I've never had a desire to cook, garden, or farm so I couldn't relate to them in the same way. This book tracks the rise in 'new domesticity' through DIY crafts, gardening/cooking, farming, and 'homemaking'/mothering. Mostly I appreciated Matchar's balance Alright, I didn't love this book as much as I loved the 2nd chapter, but I let it keep its 5th star. The chapter on DIY crafting and the Etsy culture was written FOR me, I loved it. I'm sure the other chapters were just as enlightening, but I've never had a desire to cook, garden, or farm so I couldn't relate to them in the same way. This book tracks the rise in 'new domesticity' through DIY crafts, gardening/cooking, farming, and 'homemaking'/mothering. Mostly I appreciated Matchar's balance approach. She acknowledges the appeal of the ideas, but challenges the utopian view so many people espouse. Other than the crafting chapter, the chapters on motherhood and parenting were pretty thought-provoking for me. My mother didn't work when I was a kid (though she provided in-home daycare briefly), and I have personally always felt that I wanted to raise my kids at home until they were school-aged. And some of the values and parenting approaches that I belive in (as someone without kids) are in line with some of the families profiled. However, I don't have kids, nor does it seem likely that if I were to have children that the economy or the workforce would allow me to be a stay-at-home parent. The book also compares the theoretically diverse views from neo-con Mormons to crunchy liberal that are starting to converge into one mess of off-the-grid libertarians. I appreciate that the book goes beyond just telling the stories of different people, and delves into the societal aspects of the movement. Matchar addresses class privilege (and within that, white privilege) and particular the risks associated with taking the educated upper middle class 'off grid' and focussed rather than agitating for greater societal change. People are making the decision to step back from corporate America in many ways, but they are the people who have the resources to do so, and ALSO the resources to make a real change for EVERYONE including those less-privileged. Very interesting point that is shown throughout the different chapters as she discusses herd immunity, workplace benefits, and food safety. Awesome book, I am wishing I had bought a physical copy so I could share it with friends!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    This book explores one of the most interesting societal trends : the New Domesticity. That term refers to young women (and a few men) who actively pursue a home-focused lifestyle. These are not your average stay-at-home moms : these women cook from scratch, raise their own chickens, sew their own clothes, grow their own vegetables and homeschool their children. The author points out that this philosophy can unite both the extreme Right (religious fundamentalists who believe God made women to This book explores one of the most interesting societal trends : the New Domesticity. That term refers to young women (and a few men) who actively pursue a home-focused lifestyle. These are not your average stay-at-home moms : these women cook from scratch, raise their own chickens, sew their own clothes, grow their own vegetables and homeschool their children. The author points out that this philosophy can unite both the extreme Right (religious fundamentalists who believe God made women to take care of their families) and the Left (liberals who believe that nature just made women better nurturers). The author explores the motives that drive these gen Y folks to choose such a different path from their baby boomer parents. Some blame feminism for having promised women they can have it all (something every working mother- or father, for that matter- knows is nonsense!). Some had no other choice after losing a job. Some feel a mystical connection with the earth and want to connect with it. The author does a balanced job of acknowledging the appeal of such a lifestyle, especially as shown on the many "happy housewife blogs", while also discussing the economic pitfalls that potentially await a woman who becomes completely financially dependent on a man. She points out unmercifully how very few women can actually make a living selling their crafts on Etsy, or by maintaining a blog. She paints a chilling picture of the extreme "do-it-yourself and decide-it-yourself" mentality, especially with regards to health care and vaccinations and proposes a couple of solutions for a happy middle ground between mindless consumerism and extreme homesteading. The book is generally snappy, but there are some irritating repeats of facts ("78 % of dinners are made by women", "food-vetting is the hottest new trend")that seem to indicate that some editor or other was not paying attention.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sanz

    I'm very conflicted about this book. I enjoyed reading it and I found it fascinating. Probably because I am one of those "lifestyle-mommy bloggers" Matchar talks about. I'm even one of those "Mormon mommy bloggers" that she devotes a section to. I was often telling my sister, "Listen to this..." and then telling some part of the book. She write about the dramatic increase in things like: home birth, homeschooling, caring about where your food comes from, rejecting immunizations, baking, sewing, I'm very conflicted about this book. I enjoyed reading it and I found it fascinating. Probably because I am one of those "lifestyle-mommy bloggers" Matchar talks about. I'm even one of those "Mormon mommy bloggers" that she devotes a section to. I was often telling my sister, "Listen to this..." and then telling some part of the book. She write about the dramatic increase in things like: home birth, homeschooling, caring about where your food comes from, rejecting immunizations, baking, sewing, keeping chickens (and other animals), farming, homesteading, and the DIY revolution. Matchar is a very talented author and I think I would read something by her again. As long as I don't have to read about why I'm naive and uniformed because I'm relying on my husband to care for my family financially and how I'm going to be sorry when my husband comes home one day and says he has another secret family somewhere and ditches me. Or when he is struck by lightning, dies and I'm screwed. Yes, those were actual examples of how I'm gonna regret my decision, along with using the word screwed. The word 'kitsch' was used so many times I finally decided I ought to look it up. So I learned a new word, that's always a good thing, right? I will recommend this book to my blogging friends and mommy friends because I think they too, will find it fascinating. I could have done without the last ten pages where the author gives her opinion. She did a fairly good job of leaving out her personal opinion in the main part of the book. But I suppose it's her book and she can do what she wants. Matchar was also crass and vulgar in a few spots that I found unappealing. I think any Gen Y woman would find this book thought provoking and interesting.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Micah

    This book was written for and about (and by a) middle class white, educated, white women. It discusses the prevalent "diy lifestyle" or what the author literally calls the "Portlandification" effect, where "people all seem to work only part-time, ride bikes, and spend all their money buying friends' homemade organic chocolate bars". While much of the focus was on modern day housewives and stay-at-home/work-at-home moms, the book as whole focused on those that truly see a choice in whether they This book was written for and about (and by a) middle class white, educated, white women. It discusses the prevalent "diy lifestyle" or what the author literally calls the "Portlandification" effect, where "people all seem to work only part-time, ride bikes, and spend all their money buying friends' homemade organic chocolate bars". While much of the focus was on modern day housewives and stay-at-home/work-at-home moms, the book as whole focused on those that truly see a choice in whether they work or not - something specific to to middle/upper class. I only wish she would have touched more on the impact this lifestyle has both on minorities and lower class individuals (and btw was it just me or did she tend to make such groups synonymous?!)Perhaps that is why my favorite (albeit the shortest) chapter of the book focused on how such a movement crosses boundaries of political/religious/ geographical borders. At least there was mention of different groups of people, even if they all seem to be white, middle class, educated women. I did appreciate that the author does point to the reasons people (read women) are choosing such alternative lifestyles; and perhaps the affectation that both led such people there and keeps them there: We all want to have a happy and fulfilled life; and if we can't have a happy and fulfilled life we at least want people to think we do.

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