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Has Anyone Read "Radical Homemakers"? - Page 2

post #21 of 79
Just got it from Amazon, and I'm liking it.
post #22 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by limette View Post
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.
I am about 50 pages in and I am agreeing. But as you said, maybe I dont need validation about my choices but 5 plus years ago, maybe this would have been a better choice for me since I needed a "hey this is right for my family" read.

Back then, we had already taken a NFL/simple living years before and feeling sometimes like having to explain our lifestyle choices to friends/family/ and medical providers etc. Now that our ways are making their way into mainstream media America, its more acceptable or admirable which razzles us to no end . I think after this economy hit so many months ago and we were more prepared for it, others around us want to know more about our choices.

Or maybe I have found more like minded people in our life instead of just at MDC which also helps.
post #23 of 79
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the interesting discussion. I'm finding it validating and interesting. I've read a bit about the evolution of our modern-day work ethic/schedule before, but I'm enjoying reading it in terms of how it affects the home and family.

I'm wondering if any of you have read any of Daniel Quinn's books? They're quite different, but speak about some of the same issues, just from a very different direction. I think they'd appeal to many of you.
post #24 of 79
Love Daniel Quinn. Ishmael is by far and away one of the best books I've ever read. Beyond Civilization is also a good read - I just stumbled across it in my bookshelves and want to read it again.

I liked Radical Homemakers, simply because it put a voice to the way I had been feeling even back in the early years of our marriage, but just couldnt articulate in a coherent way. Now that I'm a SAHM, this book speaks to me even more. I've actually taken to quoting from her book when people ask what I do for a living and get all "oh, I wish I could do that, but we couldn 't afford it" while chuggin down a $4 coffee. Sounds a bit preachy, but I think the point gets made.
post #25 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by triana1326 View Post
Love Daniel Quinn. Ishmael is by far and away one of the best books I've ever read. Beyond Civilization is also a good read - I just stumbled across it in my bookshelves and want to read it again.

I liked Radical Homemakers, simply because it put a voice to the way I had been feeling even back in the early years of our marriage, but just couldnt articulate in a coherent way. Now that I'm a SAHM, this book speaks to me even more. I've actually taken to quoting from her book when people ask what I do for a living and get all "oh, I wish I could do that, but we couldn 't afford it" while chuggin down a $4 coffee. Sounds a bit preachy, but I think the point gets made.
Well in all fairness, they are correct. They cannot afford to stay home if a $4 cup of coffee is the norm. I know plenty of families with double income and double debt along with it. We never carried large amounts of debt and have always lived quite simply so it was a no brainer for me to stay home 8 plus years ago. Honestly for me, the sacrifice would be not being around my girls and seeing them grow. When someone says that or something similar, I usually agree, they cannot afford it. I dont go into my paid for years ago car, cooking from scratch, DIY, making our own coffee on our own equipment at home etc.

Moving on.....
I am enjoying the book and I am just on the portion regarding carrying medical benefits. I see the points most people are making. But, the amount we shell out annually, (well its part of DH's income package at work) is several thousands of dollars to cover the 4 of us. 4 years ago I delivered a micro preemie via emergency c section. Maggie had an uneventful stay in the nicu for over 3 mos and is a very healthy 4 yr old today. I credit her good health to our healthy lifestyle as I do ours and her sister's. Her uneventful stay in the NICU was medical cost of 550K-the bills are in her scrapbook. All paid for by our medical benefits. We shelled out our medical benefit costs that year and $144.08 for one test that for whatever reason wasnt covered.
We will opt for benefits. That could ruin any family. That one year has more than anything convinced me I will always have this and pay for it. I doubt any NICUs are going to trade a side of beef for keeping my kid alive.
post #26 of 79
I really liked that the people and families she profiled represented a range of approaches on some of those bigger issues, like insurance, homeschooling, etc. If I remember correctly, she usually included in each of those discussions a quick takeaway, like "of the nine people I interviewed, three had employer-provided insurance, two went without ... " It was a nice reminder how thoughtful people can look at the same question and arrive at different solutions.
post #27 of 79
This looks like an interesting book and I've enjoyed reading everyone's responses to it. I'll take a look in our library system and put it on a wish list. (I prefer Barnes and Noble.)
post #28 of 79
Thank you to the OP for starting this thread. It sounds like a book I would really like to read. There are certain things I do that my husband thinks are evidence of my craziness - seeing me read this book would make him certain that I've lost it. I'm a little this way already. I've been poking around on this thread because I sooo want to be a SAHM in order to do some of the traditional things which for some reason I feel compelled to do - make bread, sew, garden, parent, maybe raise a few chickens.... DH isn't on board with all that, at least not totally - he lets me work part time. So I do all these things, but in a rather half-a$$ed kind of way. Maybe if I read the book I can be "crazy" in a more organized way!

By the way, I realize that my siggie shows me using a front-loading washer - haven't gotten away from that lovely convenience!
post #29 of 79
There's a nice discussion about the book and related issues going on at the homegrown.org site (http://www.homegrown.org/group/radicalhomemakers). I think you have to register to post but not to read. Shannon Hayes also has a facebook page with occasional updates and articles.
post #30 of 79
post #31 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by triana1326 View Post
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...
I'm sorry, that made me literally laugh out loud. Either he is a terrible cook or you all are really hungry

I've been waiting waiting waiting for this book to arrive. DH ordered it for me a few weeks ago but well, international shipping I guess. Reading all your reviews with great interest.
post #32 of 79
I'm reading it right now and I'm feeling... rather judged. My half of my marriage is rather 'radical homemaker'-ish but my husband is a computer programmer and makes a crap-ton of money. He has zero interest in quitting his job, it fulfills him in a way that working with his hands never ever would. She's made a few comments about how unless you are living with less you aren't really doing what she's talking about. We live with less than most people in our tax bracket but uhhh I don't consider us on level with the folks who are living on less than $30k/year.

I always feel kind of snarky about the people who preach really hard about living more simply while typing on the laptop and using the cell phone that my husband and his profession helped create. :P
post #33 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by bananahands View Post
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.
I am thrilled to see this response! I have been thinking about reading this book - it really appeals to me but yet I am a WOHM. I was afraid that it would just be too far from my reality. I have been plagued by the feeling that I am not remotely doing what I am supposed to be doing - professionally, personally, as a mother and wife. I KNOW that I need to make a change but have struggled with my vision. Bananahands - sounds like we are facing similar decisions. Thanks for your post!

I look forward to hearing more - this has been a great discussion to read.
post #34 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by rightkindofme View Post
I'm reading it right now and I'm feeling... rather judged. My half of my marriage is rather 'radical homemaker'-ish but my husband is a computer programmer .... He has zero interest in quitting his job, it fulfills him in a way that working with his hands never ever would. She's made a few comments about how unless you are living with less you aren't really doing what she's talking about. We live with less than most people in our tax bracket but uhhh I don't consider us on level with the folks who are living on less than $30k/year.

For starters, I keep wondering where she came by her world view. My family had a huge garden and fruit trees growing up, as did my grandparents and uncles (one uncle raised chickens and sold his eggs at his "homeside" stand; the other uncle has done that with his extra garden produce for years), and my mother was a SAHM who canned and froze the extra food and was frugal, etc. My father is a mechanic, which seems to be a profession she extols. He worked at a garbage transfer station for years, and he and most of the people who worked there weren't above picking good quality stuff out of the dumpster and bringing it home to use. We have some dishes and other things that we came by that way. It's hardly radical to have a garden or can in my family or in the midwestern community I grew up in--and I'm sure she wouldn't put them in that category because all of the men also worked jobs and often worked long hours, as one tends to do when paid by the hour and time-and-a-half is what makes or breaks the budget. By "budget," I do mean the kind of incomes she talked about in the book, and not some pie-in-the-sky six-figure number.

Also, I agree with her basic premise that consumerism is bad, but I was just reading a part where she talks about capitalizing on one's resources and amazed at how she glosses over the fact that in America, everyone has exploited someone or something at some time. She says
Quote:
those who achieve their wealth and success 'independently through the conventions of the extractive economy are ultimately reliant upon someone's labors or have exploited some other resource
(p206) and then goes on "by contrast" to extol the virtues of her "Radical Homemakers." That's a lovely myth, but the fact is that people who have accepted financial help from their families or have families with large plots of land to farm or whatever, were also ultimately reliant on someone's labors and/or have exploited another resource. That land once belonged to American Indians who were never fairly compensated for it, and it may have once been land that could have been a wildlife refuge, but was "exploited" in order for someone else to make a living. Ditto for the money: it had to come from somewhere, and employment is rarely the kind of thing that can be categorized as "good" and "bad." Should we spend less? Yes! Should we economize and reuse whenever we can? Yes! But there's more than one path to nirvana, yk? We grow a huge garden and make a lot of our food from scratch, etc, and I still have a part-time job during the academic year (SAHM summers and some semesters when there isn't any work for me) and DH works full-time. So what? Making some money (not six digits by any means--though I never knew anyone growing up who made that much money so it's not like I ever expected to either) doesn't mean that living frugally and sustainably can't happen.

Overall, I'm disappointed with the book. I'd hoped it might be something along the lines of Living Simply with Children with ideas and lots of positive information, but overall I've found the book too reactive and dismissive of anyone who isn't living exactly like her. I think I'm going to look into some urban homesteading stuff instead.
post #35 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by Realrellim View Post
Also, I agree with her basic premise that consumerism is bad, but I was just reading a part where she talks about capitalizing on one's resources and amazed at how she glosses over the fact that in America, everyone has exploited someone or something at some time. She says

(p206) and then goes on "by contrast" to extol the virtues of her "Radical Homemakers." That's a lovely myth, but the fact is that people who have accepted financial help from their families or have families with large plots of land to farm or whatever, were also ultimately reliant on someone's labors and/or have exploited another resource. That land once belonged to American Indians who were never fairly compensated for it, and it may have once been land that could have been a wildlife refuge, but was "exploited" in order for someone else to make a living. Ditto for the money: it had to come from somewhere, and employment is rarely the kind of thing that can be categorized as "good" and "bad." Should we spend less? Yes! Should we economize and reuse whenever we can? Yes! But there's more than one path to nirvana, yk? We grow a huge garden and make a lot of our food from scratch, etc, and I still have a part-time job during the academic year (SAHM summers and some semesters when there isn't any work for me) and DH works full-time. So what? Making some money (not six digits by any means--though I never knew anyone growing up who made that much money so it's not like I ever expected to either) doesn't mean that living frugally and sustainably can't happen.

Overall, I'm disappointed with the book. I'd hoped it might be something along the lines of Living Simply with Children with ideas and lots of positive information, but overall I've found the book too reactive and dismissive of anyone who isn't living exactly like her. I think I'm going to look into some urban homesteading stuff instead.
I just read that page about 10 minutes ago. It pissed me off to a rather extreme degree. I am the product of generations of poverty. Not the kind of genteel poverty she is advocating in this book, actual honest-to-God poverty. If you have family members with money who can help you out you don't flippin get to judge people who have to go out and earn a living to afford a place to live and I'm getting rather pissy. My family is extremely toxic and destructive and trying to team up with them would make my life miserable as they would (literally) steal money from me for drugs. No thanks. She gave a brief nod to chosen family if your bio family sucks, but my chosen family is mostly full of people in the same boat as me. We have to pay for where we live and that costs money. We live in a very expensive place and none of us particularly want to move somewhere super cheap because this is where our community is, thanks. I realize that for this board my husband makes a pretty obscene amount of money but we live in a place where a rather modest (less than 1k sq ft on a super small piece of land and it's not in great shape) house costs at least $400k. Yes, we could rent forever and have slightly lower housing costs, but not much and not for long because rent around here is pretty freakin psycho.

The people she is profiling by and large have a kind of privilege I don't freakin have and I'm getting really angry that she seems to feel that they have some sort of moral standing I don't have because my husband earns a lot of money. My husband earns a lot of money because he worked his ass off through college and went into a lucrative field. How is that bloody exploitive?

And the other gem that makes me furious with this book (so far) on page 99 "A study of affluent suburban families found that the dogged pursuit of status and material wealth beyond a $120,000-per-year family income starts adversely affecting children... The researchers found that isolation from adults played a major part in the problem." Uhm, not everyone who makes more than $120k/year is obsessed with their job and ignoring their kids, thanks. My husband works M-F, 9-5. He is with his family the rest of the time. I am a SAHM and we plan to homeschool. I feel like she has some serious grudge against anyone who can make a lot of money. Working as a mechanic M-f, 9-5 is not inherently morally superior. And given that I grew up well below the poverty line in a severely neglectful family I'm kind of sick of her constant insinuation that anyone who earns money neglects their kids and people who are poor are better parents.

I'm only finishing this book because I want to be able to give a full report on my issues with it on Amazon.
post #36 of 79
I have to admit I’m surprised by the passionate objections to this book. It makes me wish I still had the copy to go back through to see what I might have missed. Please know that I’m not disputing the validity of these responses, I just wanted to say that my reaction was so, very different. I thought she took special care (not just in the book, but also in the blog postings I’ve read on her site) to be nonjudgmental. Like with the income issue. I recall her making a very clear distinction between poverty and self-chosen minimalism. Does she romanticize frugality? Sure, I’d agree with that (your use of “genteel” captures that sentiment perfectly), and I’d bet we’d all agree that the operative factor here is choice. Similarly with issues relating to technology and modernity. That’s always been an area where I’ve had trouble reconciling my simplicity goals with the reality of my suburban and professional life. So I appreciated that she didn’t go the Luddite route and instead focused on staying mindful about making do with what we already have or choosing the lowest impact version (versus buying into the notion that we must always be upgrading and choosing top of the line). It would be hard for her to claim otherwise, since she’s clearly online and actively participating in this dimension of contemporary culture. Nor did I feel unilaterally judged by the references to income and the effects on children; I think the issue is less about where you draw that magic line in the sand (in the case of the study she references, it was $120K), and more about the other part of that quote: “the dogged pursuit of status.” Many families (mine included, and yours, too, it sounds like) work hard to balance our earning capacity with our family goals. But some don’t. Or can’t. Nowhere did I find any universal condemnation of any income bracket or profession. In fact I remember being surprised in reading the profiles that one of the couples had an investment/financial planner among them; after all the discussion about retirement savings I found that fact to be a nice example of her interest in creating as broad a conversation as possible.

All said, I’m *really* enjoying this dialog. I wish I had such a wide circle of readers and thinkers in my real life universe.
post #37 of 79
I haven't read this book, but I'd like to know how she addresses the fact that in order to be a homemaker of any sort (radical or not) a woman pretty much has to depend on her partner's income.

I don't know any independently wealthy homemakers. Or any couples with land, working together on a farm, though that's a possible option. For the majority of us sahms, it's a man's income that allows us to live this life (and yeah, lifestyle choices, no fancy vacations, yada yada, but that's all secondary to having an income and the health benefits that generally accompany it.)

As I said, I haven't read the book, but I don't see where the "radical" comes into it. We can sew, can, live frugally, cloth diaper, go by bike etc. all we want to. But at the end of the day, the paradigm is still the same. Sahms are just as financially dependent and vulnerable as we ever were.

Don't get me wrong: I enjoy being a homemaker and doing all that stuff. But I see my situation for what it is, and it's not radical at all.
post #38 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by bananahands View Post
I have to admit I’m surprised by the passionate objections to this book. It makes me wish I still had the copy to go back through to see what I might have missed. Please know that I’m not disputing the validity of these responses, I just wanted to say that my reaction was so, very different. I thought she took special care (not just in the book, but also in the blog postings I’ve read on her site) to be nonjudgmental. Like with the income issue. I recall her making a very clear distinction between poverty and self-chosen minimalism. Does she romanticize frugality? Sure, I’d agree with that (your use of “genteel” captures that sentiment perfectly), and I’d bet we’d all agree that the operative factor here is choice. Similarly with issues relating to technology and modernity. That’s always been an area where I’ve had trouble reconciling my simplicity goals with the reality of my suburban and professional life. So I appreciated that she didn’t go the Luddite route and instead focused on staying mindful about making do with what we already have or choosing the lowest impact version (versus buying into the notion that we must always be upgrading and choosing top of the line). It would be hard for her to claim otherwise, since she’s clearly online and actively participating in this dimension of contemporary culture. Nor did I feel unilaterally judged by the references to income and the effects on children; I think the issue is less about where you draw that magic line in the sand (in the case of the study she references, it was $120K), and more about the other part of that quote: “the dogged pursuit of status.” Many families (mine included, and yours, too, it sounds like) work hard to balance our earning capacity with our family goals. But some don’t. Or can’t. Nowhere did I find any universal condemnation of any income bracket or profession. In fact I remember being surprised in reading the profiles that one of the couples had an investment/financial planner among them; after all the discussion about retirement savings I found that fact to be a nice example of her interest in creating as broad a conversation as possible.

All said, I’m *really* enjoying this dialog. I wish I had such a wide circle of readers and thinkers in my real life universe.
I'm all good with friendly debate.

She repeatedly stresses her 'four tenets' and pushes how each family unit should be net producers, fair enough. I don't have a problem with that. But she rather narrowly defines how one can serve her four tenets. She is very very anti-corporate jobs and she never addresses the hypocricy in her approach. She admits that everyone will have to buy stuff because no household can be self supporting. And she's definitely not a luddite. But the thing is, those people who work corporate jobs are producing things she needs in her life, as she roundly decries them. And as she talks about how it is not exploitive to live off your family's help/wealth but working a corporate job is exploitive, uhm... how do you think your family got enough wealth to pass down?! They were exploitive at some point so get off your high horse. When she is pushing people to give up having high paying jobs and instead stay home and accept government assistance I desperately want to smack her and say, "If very many people listen to you there will be no government assistance because it has to come from somewhere!!!" Folks like my husband pay through the nose for taxes. I don't begrudge that money in the slightest. I like living in a country where we have a government to pay for stuff. It's a good thing. My husband actually pays something like $40k/year in taxes. That's a lot of freakin money for us to be paying into the system. If folks like us chose to back off and earn less money just on principle then all of a sudden that is $40k less that the government would have to spend. If very many people like us did that... uhm, that's a problem. Seriously. I don't expect thanks or to be revered (although I am pretty awesome) but I don't appreciate being talked about as if my husband is a sell out because he makes a lot of money.

Overall I'm seeing the book be long on judgment and short on advice. I am absolutely all for less consumerism and frugality and learning how to be productive instead of just consumptive. I think those are all wonderful things. I don't need to be preached at about how anyone who makes a lot of money is a bad parent. I don't need to be told over and over how evil all corporations are and people should avoid them at all costs. (You know that internet everyone is happily talking on? See what flippin happens if there are fewer people working to support that network. All of a sudden there might an awful lot more appreciation for corporations thankyouverymuch.)

There are many things that simply can't be done on a local level. There are many things that have to be done by national/international corporations. Yes, people should drive less--but you still aren't going to be able to have gasoline at all without national/international corporations. You simply cannot produce and refine your gas locally. (Ok, a few very specific places in the world can but they are rare.) You cannot have all computer/internet stuff be created and supported locally. You run into problems with different standards very quickly and it would collapse nearly overnight if you tried to make it no longer a national system. I could continue on for quite a while.

I don't think that people who work corporate jobs need to be vilified. I don't think they need to be condemned as just being 'consumers' who need to radically change every single part of their life in order to be redeemed. Good way to look like a nutjob with a completely unattainable goal. My family does not qualify by her standards because we are not 'net producers' (although my husband points out that he is actually producing a shitload, she just doesn't value it much because she doesn't consider the software that powers her phone to be valuable the way making a chair is valuable). That said, I am more and more heavily gardening. We are off-grid for power due to solar panels on our roof (and we live in the suburbs). We use ridiculously little water according to the water company (did you know they will basically send nice letters patting you on the back if you use little enough water? That was random and cool). We produce about three bags of garbage a month. We compost. etc etc etc. But we eat out a lot. We actually consider that a really good thing because we patronize small local mom and pops and we are helping to support our community. I feel like she is setting the bar in such a way as to make it unrealistic. And she really is judgy about people having jobs she doesn't like.


As for the being dependent on a man thing... A lot of the families in her study neither parent 'worked' outside the home in a conventional job. Both parents did random stuff to support the house in turns. This is way more possible when you have family money to fall back on. And there were a few stay at home dads. Basically she admits that there is a certain degree of risk in being a stay at home parent with no income, but she thinks that it is a noble pursuit and people should have trust in their partner. She doesn't think that folks should be valued/not valued based on their earning potential. I don't argue with that point.
post #39 of 79
Interesting thread! I just ordered the book from our library and I'm hoping to be able to read it next week.
post #40 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amys1st View Post
We will opt for benefits. That could ruin any family. That one year has more than anything convinced me I will always have this and pay for it. I doubt any NICUs are going to trade a side of beef for keeping my kid alive.
I agree with this. Medical costs here in the US are so outrageous that if you can get medical benefits-even medicaid, I think it's best to do so. You never know when something may happen. I would not go without benefits-we've even moved to another state to get medical before. My dh is diabetic and I am accident prone, so to me, it's non-negotiable. I just wish we had universal healthcare!

I am thinking of buying this book, but this part and Realrellim's post are making me rethink the purchase. I can't get it from a library and hate shelling out that much for a book. But the judgemental tones people are finding are making me nervous. There's no WAY dh will quit working to make just enough for us to get by. At the very least, he's a teacher who basically works part time on full time pay and isn't into the whole homemaking/self-sufficiency thing. I can get what the author is trying to say, but I was raised dirt poor-literally some of my family still have actual dirt floors. I can't imagine voluntarily giving up jobs to get us by on the minimum. I want money to save just in case and maybe someday put my kids in college or go on a decent vacation. Dh has switched good paying jobs in the past to be home more, but I can't see us ever doing what is implied should be done in the book.
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