Celebrating "New Domesticity"

"The ordinary arts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest." ~ Thomas Moore

Although I often dread thankless daily household tasks like laundry and dishes, completing such chores is uniquely grounding.

Clutter has the power to level me, leaving me emotionally and physically drained. On the flip side, tackling huge cleaning efforts (like my growing mound of outgrown and unneeded "baby" stuff) gives me the motivation to start other organizational projects that offer a sense of accomplishment. 

And cleaning isn't the only "chore" with meditative qualities. Baking, scrapbooking, knitting, canning and sewing also have unique power to calm the spirit.

In a society plagued by widespread health crisis, economic downturn and rapid technological advancement, it's no surprise that there has been a resurgence in the old-school domestic arts. There is even a name for this new social movement: New Domesticity (a phrase first used by Jean Railla, founder of GetCrafty.com).

On her website newdomesticity.com, Emily Matchar defines New Domesticity as, "the fascination with reviving 'lost' domestic arts," particularly among, "the daughters of post-Betty Friedan feminists."

Although the word "domestic" has a negative connotation to many feminists, it is empowering to knit a scarf, feed your family traditional foods, tackle a home improvement or repair DIY project, decorate your home in a creative and original way or make your own soap.

And isn't that what our ancestors fought for--the opportunity for women to choose how and where to use their unique skills?

Although I staunchly defended my decision to work outside the home for my first seven years as a mother, I recognized late last year that I would make more of an impact by staying home. And while I miss earning a paycheck for my efforts, I am eternally grateful to for the opportunity to support my family in a more meaningful way... by unleashing my inner domestic goddess.

My new lifestyle is not as easy to define: I am too restless to fit the confines of a traditional stay-at-home mom, but I also don't desire a corporate career. Perhaps that is what this New Domesticity is all about... practicing meaningful work, rejecting labels,  and somehow coming to peace with the contradictions.

Where do you fall on the scale between feminist and domestic diva? Do you feel that celebrating home economics is somehow rejecting feminism? Are you proud to have choices or feel like you have too many options available as a woman/mother (and exhaust yourself by trying to maintain some sort of balance)?

Jana Christian

I am a health nut, passionate communicator, perfectionist and HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) who rarely respects my own limitations. I blog about my experiences at http://writeonjana.com.

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Volume 8, Issue 12, Posted 9:10 PM, 06.12.2012