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Has Anyone Read "Radical Homemakers"?

post #1 of 79
Thread Starter 
It's by Shannon Hayes. I'm reading it now and finding it interesting and validating. Like many of you said on a thread about not wanting to go back to a paying job, I'm quite happy being home, and I'm enjoying becoming more "domestic" - baking, cheesemaking, soap-making, etc., and less dependent on commercial junk. The book speaks to me on that level, but she seems to put down "soccer moms" - mothers who just take care of their kids, shop, and are more stereotypical modern-day SAHMs. I'm only about a third of the way in, but those are my impressions so far.

I was curious if any of you have read it, and if so, what do you think?
post #2 of 79
That book sounds interesting. I enjoy being a homemaker for those reasons. I would probably not be able to cook from scratch, homeschool, garden, etc, if I had to take on a job outside the home.
post #3 of 79
I just ordered the book from the library. She spoke at a conference I attended last winter and was very interesting and engaging.

My fear in reading the book is that I'll feel inadequate. My husband is an organic farmer (I used to be too), and we do more homestead-y type stuff than other families in our NYC-commuter-community. But I don't put by enough food for the whole winter or chop wood or anything.

Anyway, I should save my impressions for once I've read the book. I'm a fast reader so I'll be sure to check in soon.

Cheers!
post #4 of 79
My library bought the book after I requested it (yay, library!) and I tore through it over a long weekend. I feel a bit overzealous in my enthusiasm for it, but it came at the exact right moment for me and I can't stop recommending it. To the OP point, I can understand your point about it not being soccer mom friendly (to use "soccer mom," fairly or unfairly, as shorthand for one type of stay-at-home lifestyle). I didn't read it as a judgment of that kind of lifestyle, but I think it's written for moms and dads who are looking for a different kind of home-centered experience. As the subtitle (Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture) suggests, it's about turning away from a lot that defines modern culture in this country, especially modern parenting, and embracing self sufficiency, family, and community. For me it's been an inspiration because it tackled several of the loose ends that I couldn't quite fit into the vision for how I'd like to realign my life (I'm a full-time WOHM right now who is trying to get her family to a new, lower COL location so our family isn't held hostage financially by the mortgage and suburban expenses). For example, what to do with the conflicted feelings about "wasting" my education, worries about feeling stuck or bored with domesticity, and the very real concerns about how reducing the family income will affect what are very often considered non-negotiable expenses (retirement savings, education costs, and health care).

If you've ever read Walden, or Your Money or Your Life, or Voluntary Simplicity, but just felt like those are things other people do (in some other place or some other time), I'd give it a try. For the first time in my life I am moved to act in big, bold strokes, feeling certain that I can do this and that joy will follow.
post #5 of 79
I just put it on my Amazon wish list!

In December, I read Staying Home: From fulltime professional to fulltime parent, which is in a similar vein but probably much more aimed at "soccer moms" than Radical Homemakers. Staying Home was a great book, and helped me get over my identity/ role issues about "not using my degree to the fullest", but the examples in the book were def more mainstream families than DH and I.

I work very part-time, and I am very excited to be transitioning to a weekend position at work so I can be home during the week, but I would love to be able to eventually fully SAHM. I look forward to reading this book!
post #6 of 79
I am reading Radical Homemaker right now. I am LOVING it. It has made so much so clear to me. And validated my choices... which I guess sometimes I need because the rest of the world knocks it.

I've been discussing it with my DH and we are looking to do SOME more homestead type things as described in the book. Anything to keep expenses down. We want out from under our mortgage ASAP so we can both enjoy a different way of life. So it has worked well for me in that corner of my world too.
post #7 of 79
Our library has just ordered it and I placed a hold on it. I read the NYT article about it, which I found was pretty shallow in its coverage of the topic. I felt the article focused again on the "stuff," things that serve as symbols to some, such as chickens in the backyard, aprons and homeschooling, rather than the reasons behind these activities. There seems to be a need by large segments of society to "distill" any lifestyle choice down to a definable movement that can be made into a consumer opportunity/new niche mass market. (Think the green movement.)

In my household, I do these things first for their effect on our quality of life. We eat homemade, healthy food that is as close as we can to our house. Milk from the goats, eggs from the chickens, meat we raise, vegetables we grow, honey from our bees. But I also think inside myself, I do these traditional things to prove that they do not belong only to a certain kind of person. I consider myself a person living in the modern world. I have my own values and standards and I feel like I make choices consciously. We don't have to abandon the work and sacrifice of women before us to embrace these ways of being productive inside providers to our families.

Just last night, dh and I were discussing the productivity of women in his (Third World) country of origin. He said himself, women carry their families there and are constantly productive, whereas their men (who do the actual earning) produce very little by comparison. And it is these activities that the women are doing. They are keeping small livestock, milking and making dairy products, baking the bread, gleaning and wildcrafting, spinning and weaving the family's blankets, raising small children.

I am coming on the season of the year when I have to reduce my work hours so that I can do better at home. It is a humbling conversation to have with my employer, and a lot to ask of them in terms of understanding. But it is an empowering conversation with dh, as he expresses his value of my "domestic" contribution.

We continue learning.
post #8 of 79
I put a hold on it at the library last week. They are still waiting for it to be delivered.
post #9 of 79
Well said, Jo. I suspect you'll really enjoy the book. The author does a remarkable job of writing about the issues in the modern context, planting a stake on the continuum of both the consumerism and feminism. I've always had a hard time articulating a vision of family life that does justice to the elements of modern life that I actually enjoy and embrace, and this book opened the discussion in ways I could have done on my own. I wish I were as skilled a researcher and a clear a thinker as she is.
post #10 of 79
While I wait on the book, I am having fun reading articles on the book's site.

articles
post #11 of 79
Does she explain why she uses the term "Radical"? The word makes it seem as though the ideas presented in the book can not or would not be followed by the mainstream, only the "radical" would chose to live this way. I think if we are ever going to normalize homesteading we should stay away from words like radical...just my thought. I haven't read the book and I would like to. I just have a problem with the word, it seems to be a new buzz word.
post #12 of 79
I think "radical" is a nod to the way self-sufficiency is perceived by so many in the mainstream. The people she profiles, though, are decidedly ordinary -- and I mean that as a high compliment. I think the author does justice to this contrast, and I think this book does exactly what you allude to: normalizing the home-centered lifestyle and the kinds of communities that support it. Whether mainstream culture will follow ... that's another question. Based on the resistance I get within my own extended family regarding choices that question the value of buying, spending, owning, etc., I tend to doubt it.
post #13 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by ambersrose View Post
Does she explain why she uses the term "Radical"? The word makes it seem as though the ideas presented in the book can not or would not be followed by the mainstream, only the "radical" would chose to live this way. I think if we are ever going to normalize homesteading we should stay away from words like radical...just my thought. I haven't read the book and I would like to. I just have a problem with the word, it seems to be a new buzz word.
Well, the word 'radical' in the title of this thread made me look. I imagine the editors or whomever gets to decide what the title of the book is (if not the author) are fully cognizant of that, too.

This book sounds beautiful and inspiring. I could have used it 12 years ago when I quit my job to stay home with our first born. It sounds like the brand of domesticity I've been aspiring to since I was a teenager.
post #14 of 79
By the way, this is the author's web site: http://sapbush.com/
post #15 of 79
I've been on the waiting list for this at the library for AGES. I really want to check it out.
post #16 of 79
My two SAHM friends and I have all got it for our book club. I've already finished it (speed reader), and I LOVE IT!! It explains how I feel so much of the time. I struggle each day with trying to find a place of my own between having such a strong feminist-WOHM mentality and trying to be a 1950's June Cleaver housewife for my husband and child. And failing miserably at both. It gave me a boost to realize that I don't need to be June Cleaver nor does staying at home make me any less of a feminist.

I am so glad someone finally wrote a book that spoke up for the women that feel the way I do. And didn't make me feel like a failure because the dishes were still in the sink and that my husband has to cook dinner a couple times each night...
post #17 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by bananahands View Post
To the OP point, I can understand your point about it not being soccer mom friendly (to use "soccer mom," fairly or unfairly, as shorthand for one type of stay-at-home lifestyle).
Homemaking, particularly radical homemaking like in the book, is a different activity and different role than stay-at-home parenting.

They can be done simultaneously, but they are different and distinct.
post #18 of 79
I ordered it from amazon, should have it tomorrow. Will be back to report.

FWIW, my dd2 is in soccer. I guess we will have to stop that to be radical?
post #19 of 79
I read it the other day and found it boring. There wasn't anything really new in it for me.

If you need validation for you choices, this is probably a great book and hopefully will motivate others to take the same path.
post #20 of 79
I would love to read this. I just requested that my library get it, we'll see if they do!
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