Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity
By Emily Matchar
(Simon & Schuster, Hardcover, 9781451665444, 288pp.)
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
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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, baking cupcakes, gardening, and more (and blogging about it, of course), embracing the labor-intensive domestic tasks their mothers and grandmothers eagerly shrugged off. Some are even turning away from traditional careers and corporate culture for slower, more home-centric lifestyles that involve “urban homesteading,” homeschooling their kids, or starting Etsy businesses. 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? What happens to American culture as a whole when our best and brightest put home and hearth above other concerns? Does this sudden fascination with traditional homemaking bode ill for gender equality? What role have the media and blog culture played in making domesticity look so darn appealing?
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. In riveting interviews with all kinds of people from coast to coast, Matchar examines the motivations of those who have embraced this movement, from Southern food bloggers to chicken-keeping “radical homemakers” on the East Coast to Etsy entrepreneurs in Provo, Utah, to attachment parenting devotees in Chicago, and many more. 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.
Emily Matchar writes about culture, women's issues, work, food and more for places such as The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Salon, The Hairpin, Gourmet, Men's Journal, Outside, and many others. She lives in Hong Kong and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with her husband.
“This book heralds a revolution in the attitudes and values of our society and will certainly divide public opinion in general and women in particular.”
“Divakaruni is a poet as well as a novelist—a fact on display in this mystery, which unfold like a time-lapsed lotus. . . . [She] weaves the issues of the caste system, Hindu and Muslim differences, modern Indian women balancing love and duty, and prejudice into the fabric of her story. It’s the smell and feel of Kolkata that resonates long after the book is finished.”
“[Matchar] places women at the center of the budding movement to challenge industrial food. . . . A nuanced, sympathetic critique. . . she defends feminism against the charge that it drove women out of the kitchen and led to the decline in cooking.”
“A lively and perceptive reporter… [Matchar] offers a valuable and astute assessment of the factors that led to the current embracing of domesticity and the consequences of this movement.”
“A well-researched look at the resurgence of home life…. Offers intriguing insight into the renaissance of old-fashioned home traditions.”
“The book is an insightful, fascinating read. While Matchar is nonjudgmental, she also provides a refreshing dose of analysis and skepticism.”
"An entertaining and well-structured book."
“The brilliance of Emily Matchar’s new book is that it exhaustively describes what disillusioned workers are opting into: a slower, more sustainable, and more self-sufficient lifestyle that’s focused on the home. Matchar synthesizes dozens of trend stories… into a single, compelling narrative about the resurgence of domesticity….Refreshing”
“Matchar captures the appeal of the new domesticity — from its ‘cozy vintage aesthetic’ to its embrace of healthier foods and recycling. At the same time, she raises sharp and timely questions about whether the army of new-style happy homemakers aren’t ‘glossing over some of the harder realities of women, work, and equality.’”
"Cogently argues that choosing a more hands-on, DIY lifestyle family farming, canning, crafting-can, without sacrificing feminism's hard-won gains, improve on an earlier time when 'people lived more lightly on the earth and relied less on corporations, and family and community came first.'"
"Very informative and eye opening…. The book is a must for mothers, old, young, and in between. …well worth reading and discussing.”