Reviews of Homeward Bound

“3.5 out of 4 stars” - People Magazine                                                               “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                                                       "[P]rovocatively explores what the movement says about the role of women in society today.” – The New Yorker                                                                       "I unreservedly loved it…It’s empathetic and funny and thoughtful and smart, and I encourage all of you to read it."– The Hairpin                                                         “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                                                               “[I]ntelligent and insightful...essential reading.” - Christianity Today                                                       “A lively and perceptive reporter… a valuable and astute assessment.”—Publishers Weekly                                                         “A well-researched look at the resurgence of home life…. Offers intriguing insight into the renaissance of old-fashioned home traditions.”— Kirkus Reviews

What is New Domesticity?

This blog is a look at the social movement I call ‘New Domesticity’ – the fascination with reviving “lost” domestic arts like canning, bread-baking, knitting, chicken-raising, etc. Why are women of my generation, the daughters of post-Betty Friedan feminists, embracing the domestic tasks that our mothers and grandmothers so eagerly shrugged off? Why has the image of the blissfully domestic supermom overtaken the Sex & the City-style single urban careerist as the media’s feminine ideal? Where does this movement come from? What does it mean for women? For families? For society?                                                                                     My book, Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity, which explores New Domesticity in greater depth, will be published by Simon & Schuster in May 2013.

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“the paradox of the modern DIY movement”

old-fashioned apple butter-making/via

Just read an interesting Slate piece contrasting 1970s-style back-to-the-landism and today’s DIY culture. Basically, the author claims that DIY-ism (urban chickens, grind-your-own flour, Brooklyn rooftop farms, etc.) is great in that it brings new enthusiasm to farming and food culture, but that it doesn’t really address the bigger problems surrounding food supply and the real issues facing the farmers who grow the vast majority of America’s food:

“because it fosters false nostalgia for an imagined self-sufficient rural life, it may mask some of the real problems facing the dwindling number of people who actually live that life.”

I’m currently writing my chapter about neo-homesteaders, so I’m particularly interested in the topic. What do you think?

3 comments to “the paradox of the modern DIY movement”

  • I understand the author’s concerns but, it seems as if they are more upset that the neo-homesteading movement is becoming mainstream than they are about the ‘urgent issues’ actual farmers are facing.

    In my opinion, the fact that articles like this are being written and read draws attention to the plight of the American farmer. Not to mention, most of the references given only strengthened the arguement that the romanticized image of raising your own animals is starting to tarnish.

    The reality of what it takes to be a farmer is not being lost it is being realized and, at least in this home, appreciated.

  • grace

    I think the part about squeamishness in slaughtering animals is so true. It might even be a primary distinction between neo-homesteaders and the truly country. In response to a comment I made about the wild animals set loose in Zanesville and how sad it was that so many were euthanized, a cousin of mine who lives on a farm replied simply: “People are more important than animals.” It’s a totally different mindset.

  • Alexandra

    I think the farm bill is very important. it aught to be called the Food Bill. It is the federal force that determines the security of hungry poor, and of farmers- certainly an important part of our economy and society. It unfairly favors corporations based in New York and promotes monoculture, and practices that degrade the earth and take a way from our ability to feed our selves as a nation.

    Engagement with local farmers, and conversations with people who have left brooklyn to farm have opened my eyes to farm policy and its importance.
    I strongly disagree that “DIYism has fosters false nostalgia for an imagined self-sufficient rural life, it may mask some of the real problems facing the dwindling number of people who actually live that life.”

    Geesus. this blog misses the mark in so many ways, I’m finding. – Its those DIYers who opened my eyes to the realities of rural life, and the necesities of good farm bills. Yes farming is hard. Got that. you aren’t the only one who realizes this. Try encouraging people a bit instead of sounding so god dammned snide. Thanks.