Emily Matchar, a journalist and writer based in Chapel Hill for at least part of the year, published a book, Homeward Bound, on the movement toward reclaiming the domestic arts for women among twenty- and thirtysomethings, which she coins as “the New Domesticity.” When she sought reviewers (meaning my copy was free), I jumped at the chance because I’ve been fascinated by the do-it-yourself attitude of our generation: chicken raising, canning everything, and covering every body part in some form of cable knit. I often feel like I’m the only person I know who doesn’t want to sew her own dresses or make radish pickles. I admit to being amused at the misadventures my friends have trying to keep chickens alive. I get the appeal of gardening and the pride of wearing something you’ve made yourself, but it all takes so much work. And time. And I manage to fill up all my time with work as it is. Why would I want to add more?
Which is what Matcher’s books asks: Why are more and more people spending their time making their own vinegar or sewing their own cloth diapers? Is this a trend backward or forward? What are its roots? Matchar interviewed many women, and some men, who are partaking in the more extreme ends of this movement by taking themselves off the grid, committing to attachment parenting, and/or blogging all about the experience and making careers out of making homes. There’s no judgment in the book, and Matchar deftly handles the irony of a generation of people returning to what their feminist forbears fought to get away from. In fact, many of the women in the book frame reclaiming the domestic arts as an act of feminism, as having the right to choose whether to have a career or a life in the home and to relearn the skills that were taken from them due to being deemed oppressive.by