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post #21 of 33
I meant to say something else about the feminist angle in my post above. So much of the stuff out there about the philosophy of the modern homemaker seems targeted at women who identify with the religion-based "help meet" idea (or sometimes even blatant domination with no veneer of partnership) where the husband is the only one with the power to make major decisions and the woman's role is only to raise the children and do the type of household chores that have been considered the sphere of women in the recent past. You know, the man as head of the household, wage-earner, "boss", and the woman as baby-maker, cook and maid, submissive. That's my perception of it, anyway, which I realize may be a gross over-simplification. On the other hand, there's also a lot of stuff targeted at the affluent suburban or urban housewife whose main role in society is expected to be that of directing the family's consumption.

Both of those scenarios are so not how I want to live, or how I want my society structured. My household is egalitarian, my husband and I share the power to make decisions and share the responsibility of keeping things going, and we both strive to tip the balance of our lives farther towards production of our needs and wants and away from purchasing it all from the extractive economy (a work in progress, we are far from that ideal). There is division of labor, and it largely lines up with the "man provides money, woman tends home" scenario, but it's a truly equal partnership, there is no sense of submission or superiority and there is a great deal of flexibility. I do virtually all of the housecleaning and cooking, he's the only one earning cash income right now. Parenting is pretty equally divided, except that I usually spend more hours per day with the kids because he works in the business most weekdays. Most HSing happens during the middle of the day when he's working, but he does participate some in that as well. We share farm chores, with sometimes one of us doing more than the other to take up slack depending on what else is going on. It usually all shakes out to feel equitable to us, and if something feels out of balance we make adjustments based on our family's needs, not on any particular cultural expectations.

In general, I've felt our worldview didn't fit the outline of most of the stuff I've seen designed to inspire or define homemakers, but when I read Shannon's description of her perception of her family's differences from that "help meet" model, I thought, "Yes! That's us, too!" She says:

Quote:
Homemaking, like eating organic foods, seemed a luxury to be enjoyed only by those wives whose husbands garnered substantial earnings...At the other extreme, homemaking was seen as a realm of the ultra-religious, where women accepted their role of Biblical "help meets" to their husbands. They cooked, cleaned, toiled, served and remained silent and powerless. Bob and I fell into neither category. And I suspected there were more like us.
I actually know quite a few families who also fall into neither category, I think I'm lucky to have a number of friends who are in some sense Radical Homemakers, and lucky to live in an area where it's perhaps not so unusual. But I also find that society in general tends to fall more squarely into the categories she describes. Those of us who don't, tend to get a lot of blank looks and uncomfortable silences if our lifestyle comes up in conversation.

I don't appreciate the attitudes and assertions of some parts of the feminist cause that think I'm betraying the efforts of the women who came before me who fought for equality, by staying home to raise our children and tend our home rather than being employed by the currency economy, because it seems they want to remove choice from me just as much as those who believe I should seek only to cater to my husband, raise children and be a household servant (which is thankfully becoming a more archaic view) and good little consumer (which is unfortunately not archaic). Both of those images fall within the Empire model, and I think to a large extent that's at the root of what's wrong with human society now - it's based on domination rather than cooperation. The feminist view that women should choose only to work in the currency economy in order to express freedom is not more liberating than the prior alternative, IMO. Moving towards a cooperative model would give women and men more freedom for fulfillment.

I also have some thoughts about how same-sex couples seem to be excluded from more conventional homemaking support.

I don't really have time for this much typing, but these concepts weigh heavily on my mind.
post #22 of 33
I am reading this book right now and was excited to stumble across this post. Subbing.
post #23 of 33
Thread Starter 
Hi AJP, thanks for sending me a PM or I wouldn't have noticed the revival of the thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by AJP View Post
Reviving this thread to ask laohaire about this concept - did you start another thread about it somewhere? I have a huge philosophical objection to the way "health" coverage is implemented in our society now, it feeds on and promotes fear, and IMO does very little (to nothing, or possibly even worse than nothing) to promote prevention and true health. It makes it nearly impossible for families like mine to cover the what-ifs without buying into the whole twisted system hook, line and sinker. We're healthy, we have a healthy lifestyle, great diet, are proactive about using natural healthcare methods, and we don't go to doctors or use pharmaceuticals lightly. All we want is insurance as protection against financial devastation if one of us gets very seriously ill or injured. That kind of insurance doesn't seem to exist now. We're perfectly happy to pay out of pocket for routine stuff, and can currently handle a decent chunk of annual expense on health care, but something like a $100,000 hospital bill would be devastating. The "low cost" policies don't fit our life, they include things we don't care to pay for coverage on and exclude the things that are important to us. We don't qualify for any gov't coverage. Sorry, I'm getting myself all worked up here. Anyway, if you have another thread going for this, could I have a link? I'd like to know how others (if there are any) who have similar concerns in this area are handling it.
Here's the other thread, it's also old:
http://mothering.com/discussions/sho....php?t=1243358
It didn't really come to any solid conclusions, though.

I have the same philosophical objections. But the PP who said she has a heart defect and is grateful for the insurance is right too. I'm a fan of the single payer system, as the reality is that some/most people need health care, and I don't think it's right for health care to drive some people broke and ruin their lives. I'm ok sharing the costs. But our private system is not working because it's a for-profit model. You can't provide good health care at a decent price when the bottom line is about profit.

DH and I considered moving to Canada but a little research revealed that my disabilities would probably preclude us being accepted. Which is too bad, since my disabilities have yet to cost my insurance companies more than maybe a couple hundred bucks at the max - for real. They don't cover my hearing aids, for example. They're "optional" and thus not covered. Of course I don't know how I would do my job without them, but anyway, if I want hearing aids, I have to scrape up thousands of dollars on my own. (And pray the cat doesn't eat them again - it's happened TWICE). And while I've seen an opthamologist twice for my vision problems (hence the few hundred bucks tops), I paid for a specialist out of pocket once (to learn more) and that's it. No doctor in the world follows me for my vision or hearing impairments. I'm not even certain my current PCP even has these disabilities listed on my chart.

Anyway, DH and I decided to keep playing the stupid insurance game for now, since it is covered by my employer anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AJP View Post
As for radical homemakers, I think I am one. I'm not into labels, and I understand some people have had very strong and emotional reactions to the book and feel judged or that the concept has fatal flaws or whatever. What really, really spoke to me about the book was the aspect of examining these choices from a feminist perspective. I have always felt very mis-served by how the feminist movement developed into something that only recognized the value of women working in the extractive, currency-based economy, while paying other people to do the necessary domestic work caring for homes and children (why do those people, usually women, matter less?), fulfilling one's "potential" through extensive, expensive (time-wise and money-wise) education obtained from the conventional university system (rather than real life), etc. I was expected to be "successful" by those standards because I was a high-performing student, but it really wasn't the kind of life I wanted, and I was lucky enough to slip out of that track before digging myself a hole of student loans or an entrenched conventional lifestyle. I also liked the examination in the book of the traditional roles of men at home, and the stuff about how, when and why men got pulled out of the home to "work", leaving women home alone, with that transition glorifying the away-from-home work as the important part and the at-home work as meaningless drudgery.
Yes, the historical roles of men and women have been misunderstood, I think, by modern culture and second wave feminists as well. In living memory (that is, even in the memories of our oldest citizens) we have been industrial - and thus, the old way was for the men to go out and work while the women stayed at home and tended to the children and the hearth. Of course men and women have always had roles, but we used to work in the same sphere, even if there were some differences. Women may have done the sewing/spinning of cotton, linen, silk and wool, but men did it for leather and suede. The term "farmer's wife" always made me scratch my head; I cannot imagine a woman being married to a farmer but not a farmer herself (unless maybe she gets in her car every morning and drives to the office perhaps).

I think feminism has acheived things that we needed, but I see it as a pendulum of sorts. In our mind-set, we had to prove that women could do what men do. And we can. We can be CEOs and make tons of money. We can be doctors. Lawyers. Even presidents, though we have not definitely proved that yet (though I think a majority of Americans believe it already anyway). We can be soldiers. Construction workers. Police officers.

So we proved that rather than proving that what we do is every bit as valid and crucial and important than the men's work. Probably because it was easier. Maybe now we can reclaim our women's work with more pride, because it's been proven that we are capable of doing the men's work. And now maybe we're seeing the proof that our work was critical as well: as our children grow diabetic from being fed by Betty Crocker and Kraft instead of Mama, we can see that our work in the kitchen was important, really important. And our work raising our children, and making a home, and so on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AJP View Post
I got married young, and fortunately my husband and I have grown in the same direction, towards something very much resembling a lot of the radical homemakers described in the book. We have both at times worked outside the home or been employed by other people, but for the past 12 years or so all of our monetary income has come from our own home-based business. We bought property with a little bit of help from family (a relatively small cash gift and short-term co-sign on mortgage). We're always moving in the direction of more food production, keep chickens for eggs, a milk cow, garden sporadically (we live in an area where it's very easy to get good produce, so in busy or stressful periods it's easy to let the garden go without sacrificing food quality), keep honey bees, cook nearly everything from scratch, don't spend much money on entertainment or eating out or professional wardrobes, homeschool, don't commute for employment and try to combine trips when we do "go to town", rarely buy new stuff like furniture, buy used clothes when possible. Whew.
That all sounds wonderful. We, too, started a business together in our early years, but it didn't quite pan out. (We sold it for a little bit of money, though, it wasn't a total loss). We're working on buying a property now (our current home, which we love, has no sunlight). We homeschool. I want to garden and keep chickens (no honeybees for me, though!). We buy very little other than food (though I admit I have to still fight the clutter fight - thanks to extended family, sigh).

Quote:
Originally Posted by AJP View Post
We got to this point by an intentional choice to be home together, even before we had kids, seeking ways to live in alignment with our values and move towards our goals outside of conventional employment. It has taken a lot of planning and A LOT of hard work, but work on our own terms is less of a burden.
We too wanted to be home together, even before kids. We've sacrificed in terms of money, I think. (We pay all the bills without stress, so it's not a sacrifice on that level, but I suspect I could be making six figures if I had gone a different route).

Quote:
Originally Posted by AJP View Post
I also read Depletion and Abundance, but I don't quite buy her version of what peak oil and peak everything will look like, so some of her assertions about the correct preparations to make and the reasons for these kind of choices didn't resonate with me as much.
I didn't read that yet. Currently reading Eaarth by Bill McKibben. I am interested in trying to picture what "peak everything" will look like, but it's difficult to envision. We look to our past to predict our future, but this is all new.
post #24 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AJP View Post
I meant to say something else about the feminist angle in my post above. So much of the stuff out there about the philosophy of the modern homemaker seems targeted at women who identify with the religion-based "help meet" idea (or sometimes even blatant domination with no veneer of partnership) where the husband is the only one with the power to make major decisions and the woman's role is only to raise the children and do the type of household chores that have been considered the sphere of women in the recent past. You know, the man as head of the household, wage-earner, "boss", and the woman as baby-maker, cook and maid, submissive. That's my perception of it, anyway, which I realize may be a gross over-simplification. On the other hand, there's also a lot of stuff targeted at the affluent suburban or urban housewife whose main role in society is expected to be that of directing the family's consumption.

Both of those scenarios are so not how I want to live, or how I want my society structured. My household is egalitarian, my husband and I share the power to make decisions and share the responsibility of keeping things going, and we both strive to tip the balance of our lives farther towards production of our needs and wants and away from purchasing it all from the extractive economy (a work in progress, we are far from that ideal). There is division of labor, and it largely lines up with the "man provides money, woman tends home" scenario, but it's a truly equal partnership, there is no sense of submission or superiority and there is a great deal of flexibility. I do virtually all of the housecleaning and cooking, he's the only one earning cash income right now. Parenting is pretty equally divided, except that I usually spend more hours per day with the kids because he works in the business most weekdays. Most HSing happens during the middle of the day when he's working, but he does participate some in that as well. We share farm chores, with sometimes one of us doing more than the other to take up slack depending on what else is going on. It usually all shakes out to feel equitable to us, and if something feels out of balance we make adjustments based on our family's needs, not on any particular cultural expectations.
We too are egalitarian, though I've made a sincere effort to consider the helpmeet point of view. I'm all right with roles and such (though would never want them to be graven in stone; not everyone is the same, and being flexible is a huge key to survival). I do wonder whether we've gone astray; I see so many men these days who are not functional, productive members of society. Oh, sure, women too but I can think of about 6 nonfunctional men for every woman. It's easy to just blame the men as lazy or whatever, but I just wonder if they feel kind of shut down or left out. Anyway, I digress. I'm not allergic to traditional roles, but I insist that they be mindful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AJP View Post
I don't appreciate the attitudes and assertions of some parts of the feminist cause that think I'm betraying the efforts of the women who came before me who fought for equality, by staying home to raise our children and tend our home rather than being employed by the currency economy, because it seems they want to remove choice from me just as much as those who believe I should seek only to cater to my husband, raise children and be a household servant (which is thankfully becoming a more archaic view) and good little consumer (which is unfortunately not archaic). Both of those images fall within the Empire model, and I think to a large extent that's at the root of what's wrong with human society now - it's based on domination rather than cooperation. The feminist view that women should choose only to work in the currency economy in order to express freedom is not more liberating than the prior alternative, IMO. Moving towards a cooperative model would give women and men more freedom for fulfillment.
I have hope that the second wave feminists were just a step along the way, a process that we for whatever reason needed to follow.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AJP View Post
I also have some thoughts about how same-sex couples seem to be excluded from more conventional homemaking support.
Indeed, RH (rather than so-called "traditional homemaking" so to speak) includes same-sex couples.
post #25 of 33
I must admit, I'm confused about the "radical homemaker" concept. From the discussions of the book and reviews I've read, it sounds as if it's about:

- living off the grid
- bartering whenever possible
- not working for "the Man" (thereby eschewing health insurance)
- growing your own food
- homeschooling
- cloth diapers
- homemade herbal remedies
- homesewn clothing
- preserving
(and more that I can't call to mind)

I'm having a hard time seeing how this is anything new or different from what the counterculture types in the US have always done and held as ideals.

I understand that Hayes has written a book about how to incorporate some of these ideas into typical American lifestyles. But again, how is that different than what most women here do, anyway? I mean, most people I know try to leave as little environmental impact as they can. We patronize the farmer's market, garden, put up food, etc. But without going off to homestead somewhere, I fail to see what is "radical" about any of this.

And for me, it's completely unrealistic (not to mention unappealing) to abandon my current life (health insurance, excellent public school, ability to save for retirement, neighborhood where I can walk or bike everywhere) for some idealized notion of living in the country, cut off from my support system, with no income and only "herbal remedies" to turn to when Pa accidentally stabs his foot while pitchforking manure.

I don't mind calling myself a homemaker. But I'm having a hard time understanding why I'd want to be a "radical" one.
post #26 of 33
zinemama, the book doesn't focus so much on the things you mentioned above, IMO. I think a lot of the reviews and discussion online have focused on those things, but in the book she documents the life choices of a wide variety of people, they aren't only off-grid, ultra-hippies. Several live in urban areas and engage in things like connecting city people to backyard food production (or guerilla gardening, on vacant city lots). Many of them have some kind of employment with "the Man". Only a few choose to forego health insurance entirely. It looks like you can read the entire preface and most of the introduction with the "search inside" feature at Amazon.

You're right that it bears a lot of similarity to the self-sufficiency type of counterculture movement, but it focuses on what the subtitle says, "reclaiming domesticity from a consumer culture". It's not about politics, nor is it about separating oneself from the community at large (to the contrary, community is important). Most of the reviews and critiques and rants I've read about it online seem to fixate on one or two particular aspects that the author examines as activities that some of these "radical" homemakers she interviewed engaged in, but don't take the big picture she's trying to convey into consideration.

I think she chose the word "radical" because it is so very unusual these days to have a home-focused life, with domestic skills regardless of gender providing some of the things that most people in our society purchase or obtain from other sources (food, education, clothing, entertainment are just some examples). It's "radical" also in the respect that she wanted to differentiate it from the help-meet model of "traditional" homemaking espoused by certain religious communities, and from the consumption-based homemaking portrayed in glossy magazines and daytime how-to TV. She doesn't give a list of requirements for someone to be a "radical homemaker", she gives examples of things people do who have, as her original request for interviewees stated:

Quote:
...learned to live on less in order to take the time to nourish your family and the planet through home cooking, engaged citizenship, responsible consumption and creative living, whether you are male, female, or two people sharing the role, with or without children, full or part-time...
I'll have to come back to this later. Thanks for your reply laohaire, I'll check out the other thread about health care also.
post #27 of 33
I think I'm headed in that direction, of being a RH, but maybe not 100%. DH is in the military, so we move around enough that the "community and investment in place" concept is a bit difficult to come by. Also, he loves his job, it pays very well, gives us amazing health insurance, and we're very happy with it.

I haven't worked for real since we got married, and we both love that, too. I clean the house with homemade cleaners. Use a laundry line. I'm going to try a garden this fall. We'll be using CD and exclusively BFing (God willing) when the baby comes. I love making yogurt and bread, and I sew some of my own clothes, but most I buy at Salvation Army or a consignment shop. DH does almost all of our home repairs, and we're installing our own new windows this fall.

I totally ascribe to the smaller eco footprint, and so does DH. We don't own paper towels or paper plates. He has a Prius. We use recycled water on the lawn and keep our AC set to 81 during the day.

I'd say that we are becoming self-reliant, but maybe not realy self-sufficient. We live in total suburbia with a small yard, so chickens are out of the question, and we have no interest in raising goats or cows or anything. We love watching movies together, although we dont' own a TV.

I think the point of this, for us, is finding a balance that keeps us happy and fulfilled but at the same time reduces are impact on the Earth and will help us out when we reach peak oil. Almost all of our decisions, from whether we really need new socks yet to what we eat is based on environmental factors. That is the really the crux behind my motivation; and I'm thrilled that I am excited and fulfilled by making our life more in tune with our environmental ideals.
post #28 of 33
Subbing...
Almost finished reading the book, loving it and agree with most of it...not all, but most. Definitely trying (DH and I) to move from consumption to production, but presently overwhelmed, will write more later when I have time and after I have read all previous posts.
post #29 of 33
I've been meaning to read this thread. I bought the RH book brand new (so rare for me) and to be honest, I haven't finished reading it yet. I feel like it really isn't anything new, I've read all this stuff online. I did like the part about feminism etc, that was interesting. The second part of the book I found a little confusing. I could never keep the people straight and they way she'd bounce around between them left me confused. I almost would have preferred each persons story being it's own chapter.

That said, I do like the way she names this new group that comes between the traditional homemaking and glossy magazine/soccer mom group.

I feel like we're on our way to becoming RH. We finally bought our house so we can really get into it all. We only have 1/3 of an acre (with few neighbours) but I'm finding that enough right now. We try to go as small and as cheap as possible without making life too difficult.

Someday he/we might have our own home business. I can see him doing welding etc while I run an in home daycare.

DH DOES work away from home while I stay at home. Even though we have no kids yet. So I'm weird that way. I can't really see us reversing our roles but that's only because 1) DH has the ability to make DOUBLE what I would. 2)he's really a people person and would get bored staying close to home day in and day out. (although we are homebodies in his off hours).

I feel like we live a pretty relaxed life. Even though DH works, he's on evenings and just wakes up when he feels like it. The occasional weeks when he's switched to days are hell! Alarm clocks are very, very wrong!

I spend my days in the garden (which turned out awesome for a first timer!) that measures roughly 40x50', I do regular housework, cook from scratch, bake, whatever. I do simple work on our fixer upper house and we work on it together on weekends. We plan on having some fruit trees, I want a couple chickens, we'll have kids eventually, you know, that whole thing.

I can't see us getting along anytime soon without DH's income. We're just starting out and the house needs a lot of work. But because we're working at keeping our costs down and we bought a cheaper house, we only had a 15 year mortgage. (14 to go! woohoo!) We expect DH to retire earlier or maybe he'd start a business once the mortgage is paid off.

I like that our healthcare isn't tied up with his job (although the insurance DH has through work is way better than universal hc for our income level). That takes a load of pressure off.

Something I wanted to point out: I don't think we need to MAKE everything ourselves the 'old fashioned' way. Yes it's useful to know how to make everything from scratch, but there are plenty of second hand goods floating around out there. (Clothes, furniture, dishes etc). I think it makes more sense to use what's already there, waiting to be claimed than to use new raw materials to make your own.
post #30 of 33
Thought y'all might find this article by the author interesting:
http://www.yesmagazine.org/blogs/sha...acing-judgment
post #31 of 33
post #32 of 33

subbing

 

Just started reading this book and it resonates really strongly with me.  I started reading it just a few days ago and we also just started raising our little chicks that we brought home from the farm yesterday.  We'll be raising them for eggs and maybe some meat so we're on the right path but have a long way to go.

post #33 of 33

I really enjoyed Radial Homemakers, as well as some of the other books you all have mentioned. I just love that there are others out there who feel ok to make their own ways at home, at work and in life with out feeling like "society's" expectations have to be met. Its nice to be validated!

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