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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New Domesticity in China

HK rooftop farm

New Domesticity: it’s not just for Americans, or even just for Westerners.

In China, the wenyi qingnian (文艺青年), or wenqing for short – Chinese for “cultured youth” – are apparently rejecting the cash- and status-driven lifestyle of their peers in favor of baking, gardening, quilting, blogging, vintage attire, and hanging out with their friends.

As one wenqing, quoted in an Atlantic piece on the movement, describes herself:

“I’m a very typical wenyi qingnian. I like poetry, novels, indie music, European cinema, taking pictures, writing blogs, cats, gardening, quilting, making dessert and designing environmentally friendly bags.”

In Hong Kong, residents are turning to rooftop gardens and other kinds of urban micro-farming, in response to the fears of tainted imports from China. As the New York Times reports:

“Consumers are asking, will the food poison them?” said Jonathan Wong, a professor of biology and the director of the Hong Kong Organic Resource Center.  “They worry about the quality of the food. There is a lack of confidence in the food supply in China.”

It seems the same factors that drive New Domesticity – eco-consciousness, concern about food quality, disinterest in the corporate rat race, desire for a simpler life – aren’t unique to the West.

I’ve heard from readers in the UK, Canada, Australia and South Africa before, which is always fascinating – any other non-Americans out there with thoughts on the movement in their own home countries?

1 comment to New Domesticity in China

  • Another Aussie here. There seems to be a real resurrection of the backyard veggie patch and community gardens which can only be a good thing. Although, I wish this was something that people just did without having some sort of tag put on it. I would like everyone to get into the movement, not just people who are seem to fall into the vintage-wearing, knitting, IT worker group.

    But I’m really happy to hear that China and Hong Kong (which I have always viewed to be an extremely consumerist society, where it seems the most people’s hobby is to eat, shop and go to the movies) is actually taking an interest in things other than the next Gucci bag.