One upon a time, the phrase “domestic diva” referred to Martha Stewart and stereotypes of 1950′s housewives. But you may have noticed recently that all your friends are knitting and growing their own kale. Your cousin is raising chickens in her backyard. Your mom is making her own pickles and selling them on Etsy. And everyone is wondering why you aren’t baking your own bread yet. (“It’s so easy!”) Congratulations, you have been hit by New Domesticity, an aughties phenomenon in which traditional homemaking tasks experience a revival in the hopes of saving money, eating fresher, improving health, and cutting the government out of your personal life.
Journalist Emily Matchar always loved reading blogs, especially the do-it-yourself (DIY) and homesteading genres. She was surprised to see a lot of middle-class professionals, including Third and Forth Wave feminists (not the likeliest group to embrace washing their laundry by hand), taking on pioneer woman-style chores and calling it a feminist choice. Matchar got curious what was going on. Why would people milk their own cows if they could just buy milk at the store? Why would parents refuse to vaccinate their children? Were women who quit their jobs to devote themselves full-time to growing nearly all their family’s food could really be serious? Quickly Matchar fell down a rabbit hole where answers only lead to more questions. There are liberal Earth mamas, conservative Mormon housewives and even some pioneering dudes who read the same blogs about DIY homemaking tips — and they are everywhere. In her new book, Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing The New Domesticity speaks to a bunch of these folks and paints a fascinating portrait of this new twisty-turn in feminism.
I spoke with Matchar over the phone in Hong Kong, where she is currently living about New Domesticity, traditional gender roles, and the pleasures of breaking your bed. (Apparently, it really is so easy.) Our conversation, after the jump: