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Has Anyone Read "Radical Homemakers"? - Page 3

post #41 of 79

gave up on it

Hi there. I saw Shannon Hayes speak this winter at an organic farming conference. She was an excellent speaker and gave a great, inspiring presentation. 'twas accompanied by a very entertaining power point/pictures put together by her husband that would juxtapose funny things and have cows floating away and what not.

Though I liked parts of it (made it maybe 2/3 through), I found her annoying. First of all, people have been doing "radical homemaking" for a long time. It's called homesteading, lots of people do it (though they do it quietly so mainstream folks are totally unaware), and it is not new.

Her snarky judments of people who don't live like her or her subjects are just too much. Really. If it weren't for that I may have enjoyed the book, but I couldn't get past her obnoxious-ness, even though it wasn't on every page. Why did her editor leave that? Phrases like "these people..." do blahblahblah are just so condescending and rude, especially for someone who wants to inspire people to move on from the lifestyle she is judging. The funny part is that I don't disagree with many of her judgements, it's why I have chosen to live the pseudo-"radical homemaker" lifestyle that I do. But I can't stand that superior tone. Especially since I happen to live in a rather affluent area and am daily surprised, happily, by shared values and things in common with people who make our household's annnual income on a weekly basis.

If I wasn't an organic farmer and didn't know dozens of families who homesead (Radical Homemakers, as she seems to need to re-name them) this book might have interested me more. So I am glad it's out there. But I certainly don't need to spend time reading it myself...

There was a waiting list at the library and I was relieved to have an excuse not to finish it! But, again, I am glad it's there. Too bad she will surely turn off some readers with her snarkitude.
post #42 of 79
I'm about halfway through at this point, and while I agree that her arguments could be a lot more nuanced, I am for the most part enjoying the book.

I do take issue with the notion of poverty being "feeling poor," as I have been actually poor (we were one bad luck shot away from being totally homeless and living through a lot of the social effects of poverty, including abuse, neglect and addiction). And the arguments about health care...ugh, it's such a complicated mess. Even if my doc would like a side of beef, I am pretty sure the insurance company contracts would not allow it. And there did seem to be too many examples of inheritances and such, delivered in a way that might make an exasperated reader say, "forget it. I'll never win the lottery." kwim?

But most of the issues I have so far are things that a quality editor could have helped with. She could sell more on benefits and less on judgment. Of course, half her tirade is against marketers and, well...that is just the soul-sucking industry I work in. And I'm saying a marketing-based approach could help her sell her argument.

Is that ironic? Maybe, but Mom always said you catch more flies with honey or some such, right?

And, to answer the question about her editor, she self-published this book. Got a distributorship deal, I believe, but I think they did the publishing themselves. Given the copy and content editing quality, I am fairly confident this is the case.
post #43 of 79
What is really interesting to me is that I read this thread and the housekeeper thread back to back. Two different worlds. The world of a SAHM/radical homemaker/homesteader can vary widely. I do appreciate her enthusiasm for the homesteading lifestyle, and the slow money perspective, even if she is preachy. But she doesn't seem to get that the only way some of us will ever be able to afford our own homesteads is by saving money from our corporate/consuming jobs.
post #44 of 79

love it!

I loved this book! I felt it did a great job of validating some things I've thought for a long time, but couldn't quite articulate, and didn't feel there was any support out there for it. Esp. the "who is 'the economy' for?" subject.

I agree it does seem impossible to do what she suggests perfectly, but I wasn't too offended by it. (I am also reading Kingsolver's Animal, Veg, Miracle, and I have to say THAT book gets incredibly preachy and condescending!). Anyway... It does seem depressing sometimes always going against the grain/mainstream, but I feel this way with plenty of the books I read on this subject. I'm pretty sure she talks about 'moving in this direction' instead of taking an 'all or nothing' approach. I really appreciated all the real-life stories she gave, along with the amount of income each family had. It also does a good job of helping with the feeling of 'wasting' my education, and gives some good thoughts about our educational system in general. Very good food for thought.

Thanks to everyone for the other book suggestions as well. I'll check them out!
post #45 of 79
Did anyone recommend Depletion and Abundance by Sharon Astyk?

A wise and brilliant MDC mama lent it to me and I am about halfway through it. It is an engaging read that manages to speak in terms of moral values without condemning individuals. It's interspersed with steps everyone, regardless of where they life, should do now to prepare for the future that is coming.

Solutions don't just include planting a garden and getting rid of a car, learning how to get around without fuel. She's talking about making sure social groups, co-ops, etc. are being formed. Those networks will be lifesavers.

A suggestion, anyway, to those who liked parts of the book but found fault with the delivery. I gotta go milk my goats.
post #46 of 79
I haven't read the book and don't intend to. So many SAHMs feel a little overwhelmed and under-aprecited, I can't imagine the point of book listing even more things that we *should* be doing to be good little homemakers. It's a new twist on the 50's as far as I'm concerned.

It isn't enough to love on our family members, make sure they have healthy food and clean clothes, and keep the house livable, we must also Homestead or risk being one of those horrid, latte-drinking soccer moms.

Count me out. I live with enough *shoulds* in my head to last a lifetime. I don't need any more.
post #47 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by Realrellim View Post
I think I'm going to look into some urban homesteading stuff instead.
My friend loves "The urban homestead : your guide to self-sufficient living in the heart of the city" by Kelly Coyne & Erik Knutzen.
post #48 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by rightkindofme View Post
"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.
It's absurd to tie a specific number like that to the salary anyway. Some parts of the country, you literally could not make that salary, other parts of the country, many people are making that much and barely squeaking by.

<tongue in cheek> Come on, move to an area with a lower COL! Sure, you'll also get only half the growing season, not be able to grow nearly as many different types of crops, and will likely have to supplement with vitamin D just to make up for the difference in sunlight, but you can at least be poor enough to satisfy the author!</tongue in cheek>
post #49 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
I haven't read the book and don't intend to. So many SAHMs feel a little overwhelmed and under-aprecited, I can't imagine the point of book listing even more things that we *should* be doing to be good little homemakers. It's a new twist on the 50's as far as I'm concerned.

It isn't enough to love on our family members, make sure they have healthy food and clean clothes, and keep the house livable, we must also Homestead or risk being one of those horrid, latte-drinking soccer moms.

Count me out. I live with enough *shoulds* in my head to last a lifetime. I don't need any more.
This reminded me of a homemaking article I read once where the guy (yep, guy) advocated washing your carpets once a week because his grandma did and his mom did. Bad enough, right? But it gets better, he then clarified it should be done
Warning :: Spoiler Ahead! Highlight to read message!
with a bucket of water and a scrub brush one square foot at a time making sure to let each section dry thoroughly before continuing
post #50 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1jooj View Post
Did anyone recommend Depletion and Abundance by Sharon Astyk?

A wise and brilliant MDC mama lent it to me and I am about halfway through it. It is an engaging read that manages to speak in terms of moral values without condemning individuals. It's interspersed with steps everyone, regardless of where they life, should do now to prepare for the future that is coming.

Solutions don't just include planting a garden and getting rid of a car, learning how to get around without fuel. She's talking about making sure social groups, co-ops, etc. are being formed. Those networks will be lifesavers.

A suggestion, anyway, to those who liked parts of the book but found fault with the delivery. I gotta go milk my goats.
Thanks for the suggestion. We're headed to the library this morning and I put it on my list.

Quote:
I haven't read the book and don't intend to. So many SAHMs feel a little overwhelmed and under-aprecited, I can't imagine the point of book listing even more things that we *should* be doing to be good little homemakers. It's a new twist on the 50's as far as I'm concerned.
With all due respect, why comment on a book you haven't read? I didn't love this book but it is in no way "a new twist on the 50's." She spends a lot of time making the argument that you can be a feminist and a homemaker.
post #51 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
I haven't read the book and don't intend to. So many SAHMs feel a little overwhelmed and under-aprecited, I can't imagine the point of book listing even more things that we *should* be doing to be good little homemakers. It's a new twist on the 50's as far as I'm concerned.

It isn't enough to love on our family members, make sure they have healthy food and clean clothes, and keep the house livable, we must also Homestead or risk being one of those horrid, latte-drinking soccer moms.

Count me out. I live with enough *shoulds* in my head to last a lifetime. I don't need any more.
I agree with sunny*pa*mom...I'd encourage a reading before assuming it's a throwback book. In some ways it is, but absolutely not to the 50s. In fact, there's some glaring looks at the 50s and how many developments of that period stripped homemaking of dignity and value.

And it's definitely not about being a good little homemaker.
post #52 of 79
I think that most SAHMs need to be told that their best is good enough, it's OK that all they did today was hold their baby who is fussy, and that it's fine to leave the kids with their dad one night a week to go do something they enjoy, like a book club or a yoga class.

I don't think SAHMs need longer list of things they should be doing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sunny*pa*mom View Post
With all due respect, why comment on a book you haven't read?
Several people have commented on it who haven't read it. The only difference is that I said something negative.

Quote:
I didn't love this book but it is in no way "a new twist on the 50's." She spends a lot of time making the argument that you can be a feminist and a homemaker.
I went from what the people who've read it said.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hikingmommy View Post
... more "domestic" - baking, cheesemaking, soap-making, etc.,
To me, it doesn't matter how someone spins it, telling women that they *should* spend more time doing repetitive unpaid task is the opposite of feminism.

Sure, making cheese is really interesting the first time you do. But year after year of doing EVERYTHING? Because if you don't you are bad?

Quote:
she seems to put down "soccer moms" - mothers who just take care of their kids, shop,
When shopping is buying things like soap and cheese, I just don't see it as something to put down.

If some other woman wants her life to revolve around doing tasks that I don't enjoy, good for her. But to cross the line into putting down people who *god forbid* buy soap, is just silly.
post #53 of 79
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Several people have commented on it who haven't read it. The only difference is that I said something negative.
Fair enough, but you are misinterpreting the book. Not everyone who hasn't read it is doing that.

Quote:
To me, it doesn't matter how someone spins it, telling women that they *should* spend more time doing repetitive unpaid task is the opposite of feminism.

Sure, making cheese is really interesting the first time you do. But year after year of doing EVERYTHING? Because if you don't you are bad?
She isn't saying that. Is spending your day taking care of your children "the opposite of feminism"? That can really be a "repetitive unpaid task"!


Quote:
When shopping is buying things like soap and cheese, I just don't see it as something to put down.

If some other woman wants her life to revolve around doing tasks that I don't enjoy, good for her. But to cross the line into putting down people who *god forbid* buy soap, is just silly.
Her point is that the more self-sufficient people are, AND the more people have a community to help them out, the better off they are. So, yes, if you can be at home with your family and make your own soap and cheese, rather than at work all day so you can buy "soap" made from synthetic detergents and perfumes and "cheese" made from hormone and antibiotic-filled milk from unhealthy cows then you're better off.

The baby just woke up, so I can't finish my thoughts. I'll try to come back later and conclude.
post #54 of 79
***
post #55 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by kittywitty View Post
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.
One of my kids has autism and health insurance pays for therapies for her which will help her lead a more full life. My DH's job pays well, so we are switching the kids to a private alternative school next year that will be wonderful for them. Both my kids need braces.

DH and I have been poor, and neither of us cared for it.

I'm all for living a sensible life style. Some children amaze me with what they don't know (such as the little fact that is is possible to make pancakes without a mix), but you can take a good thing too far. Deciding that spending 24/7 together as a family is more important than being able to provide proper health care or education for your children would be on that list for me.
post #56 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1jooj View Post
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.
My DH just requested a vacation day for next Monday. When his employer asked why, he told her the truth "My wife and I are picking black raspberries on Sunday and making jam on Monday." Like your employer, DH's boss understands that family time is important to us and thankfully has no problem when DH takes a day off for things like berry picking. But hey, time is of the essence. And have you seen the cost of store-bought jams? Yikes! And they aren't even as good. We have a fixed budget for food and are on food stamps. Gardening and preserving are very important for us and help us get more healthy food into our diets.
post #57 of 79
I am about halfway through, and I have to say, I love this book!
I appreciate the discussion of feminism within. That discussion I haven't been able to articulate or frame until reading the author's take on 3rd wave and the Feminine Mystique.
I found truth in what she has to say about how a higher income increases material needs to sustain it. I didn't find it preachy or snarky, as some pp's suggested.
Much of what the author is extolling we've already discovered on our own, but it makes me feel good to know that other people are living the same way. It makes me feel as though another world is actually possible, and personally, I need to focus on that, and people who are working to build lives outside of capitalism, rather than on out-of-control oil spills for my own sanity right now. The author places emphasis on community building, too. However, one of my criticisms of the book (and maybe it's because I've not gotten to anything covering this yet) is that there seems to be lacking examples or illustrations of the interactions between the interviewees and their communities. But, you know, it's a start.
We as a family made the decision to have dh stay home while I work. I like reading about that being more common these days. The -- yes-- validation that what we're doing is anticapitalist is especially soothing to me, but then again, i tend to see everything through that lens.
I have recommended this book to everyone- to the point of my dh telling me he WASN'T going to read it next if i didn't stop talking about it.

I'm a little confused about why people are posting when they haven't actually read or are currently reading the book. I'd wonder whether it will be counter to preconceived ideas about it, if those mamas do read it. I know I wasn't that excited about it until I actually READ the thing.
post #58 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
Deciding that spending 24/7 together as a family is more important than being able to provide proper health care or education for your children would be on that list for me.
I actually think one of the premises of the book is empowering families to do things like question what an education really means, and why you might believe that you cannot provide that yourself. At least that's what I get from it.
post #59 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by Realrellim View Post

For starters, I keep wondering where she came by her world view.
Shannon Hayes states in the introduction that she grew up in Cobleskill, NY, and grew up in a farming community. She speaks extensively about how her parents grow food for farmer's markets and why she and her partner made the choice to take on the lifestyle she describes in the book, rather than pursue a more lucrative career path.
post #60 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by hikingmommy View Post
She isn't saying that. Is spending your day taking care of your children "the opposite of feminism"? That can really be a "repetitive unpaid task"!
Raising kids has many repetitive aspects, but I love my children dearly and they are worth it. They are also growing up and it really is just a few short years that we can do these things for them. Some days, knowing that they will eventually grow up is VERY helpful!

I don't have any desire to add more repetitive unpaid task to my life, esp. ones that will never end. I love to bake, but if I felt I *had* to bake all our bread and that I *had* to do that forever in order to be a good person, I wouldn't enjoy it.

When my kids were small and we had less money, we did what we needed to to ensure that I could stay home. That was a priority for us and it required some sacrifices. We gladly made them because we wanted what was best for our kids.

However, I've no interest in living that way forever. As some point (which is most likely very different for different people) it's no longer about simplicity, its just more chores.

Quote:
Her point is that the more self-sufficient people are, AND the more people have a community to help them out, the better off they are.
I agree with about community, but as far as self-sufficiency, I only agree up to a point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hildare View Post
I actually think one of the premises of the book is empowering families to do things like question what an education really means, and why you might believe that you cannot provide that yourself.
My kids homeschooled in a relaxed way until they were 10 and 12, so this is a topic that we've explored a great deal. There are probably a lot of things that I would agree with in the book, but I differ radically in her belief that there is one right answer.

We have on going decisions about what a good education really means, but I believe that I can no longer provide what my kids need at home because they need more opportunities to interact with the same peers over and over than they got through homeschooling, and they need the energy of doing the bulk of their learning in a group rather than alone. They need more independence from me at their stage of their lives than they were getting by homeschooling. I'm not saying that any of these things would be true about any body else's kids at any particular age, just sharing our experience.

I also want my kids to have real options with their lives, and having the money for them to attend college if they want to is part of that. I'm not saying that everyone needs a BA, but if my kids want one, I'll work to help make that possible for them.
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