Hi again, folks (when it rains, it pours, apparently).

So, further to my New Domesticity post (which garnered an unpresedented number of hits – serious. Over Fifty is unheard-of around here – so thanks for stopping by!), I’ve been thinking:

See, just as Cat’s post talks about New Domesticity as an attempt to reclaim “those parts [of “home making”] that provided connection and community and occupation”, other folks – like Emily Matchar – are wondering if “in an era when women still do the majority of the housework and earn far less of the money, […] could this ‘new domesticity’ start to look like old-fashioned obligation”.

So let’s talk about that.
I mean, yes, if you look at Urban Meliad (my other blog), it’s pretty obivious that I’m in the “reclaiming” (hahaha) camp, but I’m also a queer chick in a lesbian relationship with another femme. Even ignoring our D/s dynamic, it’s always a woman (a feminine one, no less) doing the domestic stuff.
But I can see how others would read it differently.

Emily and Cat are right when they recognize that this is primarily – almost exclusively – a movement made up of women (more later on what sub-section of women, but bear with me for now) and – with centuries of “women’s place is in the home (and ONLY in the home – no voting for you!)” oppression not exactly far behind us, it’s easy to see how a movement for greater self-reliance and valuing of “traditional women’s work” could easily be re-cast as a call for women to add extra hours to their Second Shift (or give up the “first shift” all together).

I remember reading (years ago, in a newspaper, so I have no idea what my source for this was) about a couple who did a SLOW (or SOLE, depending on your acronym of choice) food challenge wherein everything they ate for a month (or something) had to be as locally-sourced, organically/ethrically/sustainably produced, and in-season as possible. A good goal, to be sure, but the author – the woman member of the couple – noted that it was her, rather than him (or, more to the point, an even division of the two of them) putting in the (numerous) extra hours of sourcing, prepping, and cooking the food in question.

Ernessa, over at XOJane, has an interesting article – itself a response to Emily Matchar’s piece – talking about the role(s) of men in The New Domesticity as well as the difference between a movement exclusive to women and movement spearheaded by us. I think it’s also worth a read.

All that said: Emily quotes Erin Bried, author of How to Sew a Button: And Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew, as wondering when it was that she “lost the ability to take care of [her]self”, upon making a “rhubarb” pie using (savoury) swiss chard by mistake.

And I think that’s a big part of what’s at the heart of this.
I remember one “career day” in highschool, at the workshop I’d gone to, the facilitator asked the group of us “How many of you know how to grow food?” I think maybe three of us put up our hands. Out of thirty.
Look. In a couple of weeks, I’m participating in a blog-carnival about food security. It’ll most-likely be on the other blog, but it might well be here, too. A lot of food “security” doesn’t come from the availability of food (a really important part of it does, don’t get me wrong) so much as the level of skill you have when it comes to which substances can be rendered into FOOD without external help.
To take Emily’s food anxiety example a step further: When Peak Oil (or the Zombie Apocalypse) hits, I don’t want to be stuck only knowing how to cook frozen dinners. Canning may, at the moment, be a “hobby”. But it’s a skill-set that meant to keep you and yours in vitamin C and other veggie-based essentials over the 5-7 months of “no fresh veggies” in, for example, my part of the world (rather like how yoghurt and cheese were developed because dairy goes off stupidly fast anyway, so why not control its “off-ness” so that it’s still something that’s safe to eat and, oh hey, also lasts longer than an hour or two in the heat).
More realistically: I don’t want to be stuck with low/no income (again) and not have a clue how to cut my food-budget down to $12/week or less. I don’t want to be stuck with low/no income (again) and have nothing in the way of non-perishibles (everything from dry beans and dried fruit and flour, to home-canned peaches, pasta sauce, and soup) squirreled away to rely on.

That’s where this sits for me. I take pride in my skills, and the fact that, by and large, they have been women’s skills, femme skills, for generations, definitely. But I also find hope in them. I may never (or not… you never know) end up raising goats for milk (Nigerian Dwarf) and fibre (Pygora), but I love that my head and hands are warm in -30 celceus because I made something to solve the problem of heat-loss. I may never (though I hope that’s not the case) have a huge garden full of perenial and annual food plants, but I love that I can eat (right now!) cherries, grapes, and apples grown in my own neighbourhood because I had the forethought, and the skill, the find, collect, and preserve them over the summer and fall.

More on New Domesticity and Class Statification coming up…

Ms Syren.