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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Artisan Brooklyn & the appeal of making stuff

via nymag.com

Warning: don’t read this New York Magazine cover story if you’re hungry. Too much talk about artisanal chocolate and handmade olive oil granola and small-batch lemon-hibiscus jam is dangerous before lunch.

The story is about Brooklyn’s booming artisan food culture, which has become a cliche over the past few years (chocolatiers with lumberjack beards! Liberal arts grads obsessed with canning!). The author riffs, slightly snarkily, on Brooklynites desire for “authenticity” and the supposedly simpler times of a bygone past:

Area code 718 romantics love to see their hometown’s name every time they pull something out of the fridge, to pretend a borough of 2.5 million people is a small English village, to partake of a Shop Class As Soulcraft authenticity that’s missing in their Twitter-addled, ­cubicle-drone lives, and to reassure themselves that Brooklyn is more “real” than Manhattan and not just an annex with shorter buildings.

The thing I find interesting about artisan food culture – and crafty/handmade culture in general – is how much of it is driven by our current climate of financial and social anxiety. In a world where solid, well-paid careers seem almost hilariously hard to obtain, “making stuff” begins to seem like a legitimate career path. In a world where people don’t trust Big Business – from factory farms to Wal-Mart – small and locally made goods seem increasingly appealing.

I’ve lately been interviewing lots of female “makers” – Etsy vendors, artisan jam producers, etc. – and it seems like for women, there’s often the additional appeal of having a flexible job where you can work from home while taking care of kids. Of course, when an artisan becomes really successful, flexibility often flies out the window and home craft workshops become mini assembly lines: call it the ‘Etsy paradox’!

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