In defense of homemakersPosted: August 22, 2012
The proprietor of the blog The Lazy Homesteader posted a link to facebook, which made a strong impression on me, enough that I decided to share it (and my response) here.
The article in question:
I don’t mind sending more traffic that way, because it is an interesting and relatively well-written piece.
The author makes some good points, including the division of labor and how there ought to be people who create intangible things, like ideas, as well as people who produce food and more practical goods. She is correct that women have typically been in the minority in the history of the art and literary world.
I encourage you to give it a read, or at least a skim, before continuing onto my response, which is as follows:
In Ms. Rechner’s mind, taking care of your family and yourself by being self-sufficient, instead of buying into a consumer culture, is feeding the status quo. I completely disagree – I think the radical homemakers, the women who are intentionally turning back to more traditional ways of living, are creating their own status quo. They are all the more admirable for standing up to the kind of criticism we see here and from plenty of other sources, for continuing to answer their calling no matter what society thinks.
The author is making the fundamental mistake of assuming her opinions and beliefs are universal. A woman and her family may find that a perfect jar of preserves or an exquisitely prepared meal can have the same (or better) effect on them as a Van Gogh or a Jane Austen novel has on someone else – a feeling of soul-satisfaction, an appreciation of subtle beauty, a gratitude for the love and effort that went into it.
The author is saying that these homey things are worth less than more cerebral things, because they are not her particular preference.
She is criticizing the way women judge each other on one hand, while performing the same judgment with the other. She cannot see how something that has no importance to her could possibly have importance or meaning to someone else.
If a woman chooses a certain path, it is not for others to project their own insecurities in explaining why she has chosen it. Because she worries so much about what others think of her, the author assumes that that also drives the women around her. She sells those women short with the assumption that they are not making these choices for themselves, but for appearance’s sake.
Ms. Rechner rightfully has her own priorities, but for some reason is incapable of respecting those of others. It is not for her to judge the worth of how another woman spends her days, just as she does not want to be judged for how she raises her own family.
What do you think? Here you have two rather different opinions. Reading the magazine article was thought-provoking for me, so my hope is to inspire the same in someone else. You know what they say about the unexamined life!