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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Is the domestic goddess blogger having enough sex?

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Over at New York Magazine, Lauren Sandler riffs on what she sees as the prudishness of the lifestyle blog world. Lifestyle bloggers, “the Internet’s most ostentatiously blissful women,” are more interested in food porn than real porn, get more turned on by throw pillow than by men, turn their beds into opportunities for cutesy morning newspaper n’ coffee Instagram pics, Sandler claims. As she writes:

[S]wapping out lingerie for an apron has become a symptom of an online world where “lifestyle” is something to be perfectly arranged and presented rather than lived…

Today, “lifestyle” is something to be curated online instead of indulged; not a lifestyle so much as the pixelated tyranny of the domestic goddess. Once-oppressive female chores are now framed as a dopamine delivery system; a bed exists to be dressed, rather than to be undressed upon.

I agree that there’s something curiously retro and infantile about some lifestyle blogs, what with the endless cupcake worship and cutesy pet names for “hubby” and elementary school-style craft projects. But while this may project a sexless image to the world, it doesn’t mean the bloggers aren’t getting it on plenty. Maybe they just keep their aprons on in bed? ;)

There is a wider societal shift here, one in which the glamorous, casual sex-filled Sex and the City-style lifestyle of the boom years has fallen out of favor as an aspirational ideal, replaced with the blissfully married Boho domestic goddess with her vegan cupcakes and Etsy shop and twin babies. Over-romanticizing domesticity is always problematic. But is an aspiring Boho domestic goddess having less sex? Only she knows.

Do you find the lack of sex in lifestyle blogs problematic?


12 comments to Is the domestic goddess blogger having enough sex?

  • i’m interested in what you say about the societal shift from SATC to “a beautiful mess” elsie larson, joanna goddard type women. i hadn’t considered that, and it’s interesting considering the economic downturn. i love SATC when i was a teenager (it was a good sex education, in a way, although i couldn’t relate with some of the work/marriage-y type stuff). but SATC feels impossibly out-of-touch to me now and lifestyle blogs, although they are out of touch in their own way (yes, i have the time to sit around and paint glitter on snowflakes and i have the money to afford $175 jeans) do not feel quite as offensive.

    i found the NY mag article to be a smart sendup of these types of blogs, but overall way too simplistic of a premise. i mean, assuming that these women don’t have sex is pretty ludicrous. (and her smugness in alluding to her own sex life weirded me out). the lack of sex in lifestyle blogs doesn’t both me at all..because that’s never wear i’d go for sex content. at the same time, though, i think anything that tries to pry off the pretty-pretty perfect veneer of lifestyle blogs is doing good work, so i can’t totally fault lauren sandler. c

  • and by “yes, i have the time to sit around and paint glitter on snowflakes and i have the money to afford $175 jeans” i meant NO i do not.

  • Cathy

    I always loathed SATC – it seemed so shallow and superficial. I think it sent completely the wrong message to women – esp young teenage girls – focus on your looks, spend all your money on clothes, and bag the right guy. I know SATC tried to do more than that but it always felt like they were doing it to prove they weren’t shallow & superficial.

    I don’t agree with the article at all. It’s not someone going to go in to Pottery Barn looking for sex therapy or Williams-Sonoma for sex toys. Why would you expect a cooking or decor blog to cover every aspect of life? The whole point of blogs is for people to write about what they want to write about. And any blog that tried to “cover it all” would be a mess.

    The twee world of lifestyle blogs may not be to your liking but then don’t read them. The Internet is vast and covers every whack-a-doo topic that anyone wants to indulge in.

    Maybe I’ll go write an article about Sci Fi blogs and how they need to start covering Country music more.

  • I think it’s the kitchen kitsch that people don’t like, and they try to find other reasons for it. The claim that the blogs tend toward a sort of infantilized domestic femininity reminded me of a critical essay I read in Gastronomica last season, which claimed that the new-domestic-goddess-type food blogs were regressing.

    I disagreed, mainly because the brush was too broad. But seriously: the internet is a big place, and there are certainly sexed-up food blogs in it too. If they were ALL like that, we’d get articles complaining that food blogs are oversexualized. The fact is that female domesticity is so weighted with the baggage of the past that there isn’t a way to do it “right.” A lady who wants to do it at all must simply make her peace with all the conflicting signs of femininity–as we do when we work, dress, leave the house, or anything.

    This was my lengthier response to that article I mentioned:

  • Juli Anna Janis

    I don’t necessarily think that women lifestyle bloggers aren’t having sex–they’ve just figured out that isn’t necessarily fun or satisfying to be public about their sex lives. I think that the New Domesticity (which I am currently doing academic research on as well, but under a different title) is related to a growing sense of modesty among the twenty-something generation. Some women (myself included) are fed up with having to be Bad Girls in order to be feminists. Some of us are naturally Good Girls, and uncomfortable with being loose-lipped about our sex lives. I think that the New Domesticity goes hand-in-hand with being a Good Girl, being wholesome, striving for peace and a sense of ethics and aesthetic in is one’s life. I think that women should have the choice to say, “No, I AM a Good Girl at heart, and it makes me mad that society thinks that the only way for me to be liberated is to be Bad.” These women bloggers are, in effect, making this statement, which in many ways is brave and difficult in postmodern America.

    • Emily

      That’s a really interesting thought, Juli. I’d never thought of it in terms of rebellion against “Bad Girl” culture. It reminds me of this:

    • I do have to ask, is writing about sex equal to being “a bad girl”? A lot of these women are married and writing about sex isn’t a bad thing. It’s a part of a healthy relationship with your partner and is a universal part of everyones life. I, for one, would LOVE to have an adult, intelligent conversation about sex and it role in our modern lifestyle. I think the article did indeed point out that most of these sites don’t even touch the subject, which is fine, but I’m not sure implying that it’s a “bad girl” subject is accurate. I think more than anything, it’s not a part of the life these women want to project. These are edit portraits of life that are built around the “brand” a blogger wants to show off, adding sex in there would take some of the shiny off of that brand. However, having an intelligent talk about the subject would be refreshing, I should think.

  • Christina

    I find it a bit odd that we as a people have come to believe that we should be talking about sex nearly ALL THE TIME. Sure, it’s a fun thing to do, but since when was it the be all, end all that it has become??? And please, don’t answer Freud. Even Freud, I suspect, would be sick of hearing about sex by now. I’m not trying to say I’m a prude…far from it! But I just believe that there’s more to life than sex, and we should be talking about it without all the time making references to sex or sexual thins.

  • I’ve totally had this conversation before! I’m so glad someone else is thinking about it as well!

    I absolutely agree about the infantile air that seems to be put on my 99% of these lifestyle blogs. Pet names, cupcakes, table settings and cats- that’s all I seem to see! The only way one knows that these ladies are getting some is the kiddies in the photos. It remindes me of that thing children say about their parents: ” For all I know is they had sex (insert number of children he) times!”.

    It does seem unnescary to assume that these ladies aren’t getting ANY, but I do agree that it’s kind of a big blank hole in the whole “lifestyle” part of their lifestyle. I wonder if these people operate with the same assumptions as regular conversation- keeping what’s in the bedroom in the bedroom. But at the same time, it’s something they totally gloss over as if it ISN’T part of their lifestyle. Perhaps it goes back to other conversations about how these people edit themselves into a picture perfect catalog life where storks being babies in handmade swaddling?

    I do have to say, there is something on the subject that bothers me. I’ve seen a recent rash of bloggers writing “confessional” posts about their “infertility”. Wile I know infertility is a serious issue with many, the “infertility” I’ve seen written about isn’t infertility at all, it’s not getting pregnant on the timetable these ladies have planned out. I feel like it’s something that makes couples who are ACTUALLY grappling with infertility upset and makes their struggle seem trivial. Perhaps I’m alone in this one, but I do have friends who are in IVF treatments and are going years without getting pregnant and then seeing someone write about how they haven’t gotten pregnant after 9 months is really upsetting. I find this let an issue of infertility as an issue of not getting that “perfect home lifestyle” that they want, when they want.

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