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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Homemaker? Housewife? Stay-at-home parent?

I’ve written before about the comeback of the word ‘homemaker:’

..lately, ‘homemaker’ is having a re-birth, both as a word and a lifestyle. I keep coming across women (and a very small handful of men) who describe themselves as ‘hipster homemakers’ or ‘radical homemakers’ or ‘new homemakers.’ They seem to be interested in claiming social and environmental value for the task of caring for one’s home, enlarging the concept of “homemaker” to mean more than just “chief vacuumer.” …Other people I’ve talked to see claiming the label of ‘homemaker’ as a ‘screw you’ to a world that only values career and financial success. Some of these people do have outside jobs, but choose to identify themselves by their relationship to their home rather than their career. Others simply see the word as having been de-valued as women entered the workforce in large numbers in the 20th century, and are pushing to reclaim it in a positive way. After all, it is (theoretically) a gender-neutral word, which – unlike housewife – doesn’t define the person by their relationship to a spouse.

Now, over in Slate, Jessica Grose bemoans the rise of the term “stay-at-home mom,” which is apparently quite new – the New York Times didn’t even use the phrase until 1992. Grose, who dislikes “stay-at-home mom” because “[i]t connotes “shut in” to me, as if mothers who don’t do paid work are too fragile to handle the outside world,” suggests “primary caretaker” as an alternative, though admits that sounds a bit formal and odd.

Thoughts? For those of you who stay at home with kids, what term do you prefer?

2 comments to Homemaker? Housewife? Stay-at-home parent?

  • Alicia

    I can’t help but think that the recession has a lot to do with this “revival”, as no matter which term you use, they all sound better than “unemployed.”

  • Mackenzie

    I’ve found myself many times using the word “homemaker” as a portmanteau of “home made” and “maker” (someone who makes things, whether from string or diodes): a maker who makes things at home not at a makerspace. I keep being frustrated that that’s not what it means when I Google! It seems like it should be the word for anyone who sells on Etsy.