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Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity Hardcover – May 7, 2013
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“Matchar maintains a chatty tone that makes for easy reading. … She’s funny and self-deprecating… [Her] work left me with a better understanding of other women’s motivations.” (Washington Post)
“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” (The New Republic)
“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.’” (Boston Globe)
"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.'" (Elle)
"Very informative and eye opening…. The book is a must for mothers, old, young, and in between. …well worth reading and discussing.” (The Orange Leader)
"An entertaining and well-structured book." (New York Journal of Books)
“The book is an insightful, fascinating read. While Matchar is nonjudgmental, she also provides a refreshing dose of analysis and skepticism.” (The Independent Weekly (Triangle Area, NC))
“[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.” (MotherJones.com)
“A well-researched look at the resurgence of home life…. Offers intriguing insight into the renaissance of old-fashioned home traditions.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“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.” (Publishers Weekly)
“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.” (Elisabeth Badinter bestselling author of The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women)
About the Author
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
The first couple of chapters is a bit disappointing. The author talks about a "New Domesticity" that is on the rise across the nation. However, much of the evidence that she presents is anecdotal, claiming there is a trend because her and her well-educated, white, liberal, upper middle class, female friends have started spending their free time on Pinterest and Etsy rather than in the boardroom. The book was shaping up to be a hipster polemic about the quality of food in America and the dangers of working for "the Man."
I almost put the book in the giveaway pile, but I am glad that chose to continue. After a brief discussion about the history of "women's work" Matchar moves past the trends of self-absorbed hipsters and talks about how the ideas of the left-wing, self-sufficiency movement are beginning to sound very similar to the right-wing, homeschooling conservatives. Most of the people in the book that the author interviews claim that they chose to embrace the New Domesticity because of difficulties in finding work/life balance, concerns about the environment, and an overall dissatisfaction with modern life. However, as Matchar drills down further, it becomes clear that the return-to-the-home attitudes disproportionately affect young women packaged with the same old rhetoric of the 1950s; women are just naturally better at nurturing.
Perhaps the best argument that Matchar makes is that while this lifestyle is appealing to many of us and many good virtues are being fostered with this movement, there may be inherent dangers of the hyper-individualism that it promotes. Instead of dropping out, Matchar suggests that the upper middle-class adherents to this movement are the best candidates for changing our communities into ones that support women and their families, particularly for those that stay home because they simply cannot afford child care or for working class women for whom going to work has never been a luxury.
My one criticism of this book is that the author only briefly mentions how this trend is related to class and race differences in the United States. Working class families, while they also enjoy crafting and gardening as hobbies often do these things out of necessity. It is a luxury of the white, upper middle class that women (and men) can drop out of society and pursue activities that they enjoy. The working class and minorities have been employed outside of the home well before second-wave feminism liberated their richer sisters from the kitchen.
HOMEWARD BOUND + LEANING IN would be a remarkable ride, indeed.
My only criticism is that the author repeated phrases over and over to fill space. If I heard "homemade bread" one more time, I would have screamed.
Oddly enough this book was recommended by my father (Thanks Dad!). And sadly, my mother would not like it at all. She was one who ran from the "housewife" label and all that went with it.