Yesterday, the newsletter from MOTHERS (Mothers Ought To Have Equal Rights) came. Worth signing up for, BTW. They pointed to a blog post on radical homemaking that was part of a recent Work-Life Blog Carnival (remember blog carnivals?).
The author, Kelly Coyle DiNorcia, discusses a new book by Shannon Hayes, entitled Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity From a Consumer Culture (I couldn't find it on Amazon). Hayes advocates opting-out not only from the workforce, but from the entire capitalistic culture. And the guy drops out, too, and they jointly raise the kids and tend the farm and avoid spending money on stuff.
In these Radical Homemaking families, carework generally is shared among
the adults in the family (as well as the children), sometimes along
traditional gender lines but not necessarily, and if so only because
that is where the members’ inclinations lie. Hayes, for example, has a
Ph.D. from Cornell University and supports her family as an author
while her husband does most of the house- and care-work. Her family
also has a farm which they tend with her parents, the products of which
they sell for additional income. For these "radical" families,
concentrating on the home and family instead of a career outside the
home is a political statement. Hayes says, "He who has the gold makes
the rules, but if you don’t need the gold you can change the rules." In
other words, these people are choosing to protest against against a
workplace culture that frequently forces them to put money-earning
above all else by simply opting out of the whole capitalist system to
the extent that is possible for them. They are deliberately,
explicitly, and thoroughly choosing to make caretaking their priority.
Yes, I do have my occasional fantasy about moving to upstate New York and raising the kids and chickens, but my fantasy always involves Internet access and my Cuisinart coffee maker and a subscription to the New York Times.
It's funny how rural life is being glamorized by myself and Hayes and the stream of BMWs heading upstate out of NYC every Friday afternoon. I went to college in Binghamton and I remember the poor slobs drinking $5 pitchers of Matt's beer in the bars on Telegraph Street. Egan talks about the meth problem and how Obama had it right. (I think Obama got it right, too, but that's for another day.)
Still, Hayes makes some good points. Work and life can be be balanced more easily, if work doesn't eat up the lion share of the day in a office 40 minutes away, if there aren't stressful deadlines, and if there isn't a huge panic to pay off crazy credit card bills every month. There is absolutely no reason that feminism should mean a devotion to capitalism.