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.

Follow me on Twitter!

Is your marriage like your grandparents’?

At The Atlantic, Connor Friedersdorf asks whether his marriage is really that different than those of his grandparents. After all, he points out, for all our talk about how marriage is changing, the idea of marrying for love and friendship is not exactly new.

This got me to thinking: exactly how is my marriage different than those of MY grandparents?

The answer: in pretty much every way possible. Thank God.

My maternal grandmother had a college degree and worked as a teacher after graduation. But after getting married, my grandfather (by all accounts a sweet and loving guy) told her to stop working, because he wanted to “take care of her.” To keep herself busy, she helped out at his upholstery company, looking at fabric samples and planning dinner parties for employees.

When my grandfather died, suddenly, when my mom was 12, my grandmother had no idea what to do. Ignorant of how the company worked, she managed to run it into the ground within a few years. She was left broke, supported by her children for the rest of her life.

My paternal grandparents bickered their way through nearly 70 years of a marriage with extremely traditional gender roles before my grandmother died two years ago. My grandfather, God love him, never so much as got up to get himself a glass of water in his married life. That was my grandmother’s job. She, in turn, raised the kids and fussed over the food. She was so invested in feeding others she rarely sat down at the dinner table herself. Instead, she buzzed nervously in the doorway, asking again and again if everything was OK, darting back to the kitchen for more ketchup, more bagels, more milk.

So how is my marriage different? I wouldn’t even know where to start.

What about you? What similarities and differences do you see between your own marriage/partnership and that of your grandparents, especially when it comes to work and domestic roles?

3 comments to Is your marriage like your grandparents’?

  • Yeah, I would say that my grandparents fit this model, as well, except even messier and more traditional. Both my grandmothers ended up on their own after things happened to their husbands (heart attack, other stuff). One succeeded as a marketing person for Jansport in Latin America, the other just barely scraped by. Neither was prepared by the gender roles they assumed in marriage for any other state of life.

    (Switching to parenthetical for not very well thought out argument: This should be one of the key arguments against strict splits of paid work/domestic work (and I’m sure it is, but I’m not that familiar with the literature). A “fair” arrangement on a day-by-day basis becomes unfair with time as one partner becomes disproportionately more powerful.)

  • I’m not married, but I wouldn’t want a marriage even like my parents’ marriage. They were loving and worked as a team in many ways, but my mom still did the larger share of housework and childcare–even though she worked full time and took classes for her masters.

    I too find myself following that pattern sometimes with partners. It’s partly that hostess habit–I want to make everything is nice for the company–and partly a sense of wanting to do something myself to make sure it’s done right (“Here, let me finish up the dishes.”) It’s hard for me to draw and keep a boundary where domestic work is concerned.

  • Nuriddeen Knight

    I quite like this idea of comparison. Though I’m not married yet. I do think we should be careful of not rolling our eyes at the past of thinking “how silly”. If fussy over everyone makes a woman feel wanted and a sense of purpose that’s ok and if a husband likes to be served I thinks okay too. The problem comes in when their is a lack of choice. Think is one thing I think we can all say has improved in most marriages. The husband knows if the wife gets him a glass of water its by her mercy not obligation, so I think that’s an improvement. Thanks for writing :) .