February 5, 2012

Tomato-Canning Feminists

"I don't know why I'm doing this." -Shannon Hayes, Radical Homemakers : Reclaiming Domesticity From a Consumer Culture, p. 1

     Those feelings jumped across the page and into my heart as I read them. There have been many times that I have felt those doubts in my heart and mind about my choice of being a housewife. When one thinks of a housewife, the image of a 1950's mother and wife, primped to perfection, cleaning the home and being the 'perfect' wife for her husband normally comes to mind.

    Not quite so. In my household, we share the responsibility of creating a social just, healthy, communicating family and home. For instance, I do the dishes, while M does the laundry. M scrubs the tub and I vacum. We both participate in cooking and folding the clothes. We consider ourselves equals and instead of assigning roles by gender and sex, we work equally together on creating a home that will benefit our community, both local and worldwide. 

It was important to me to understand the history behind the word housewife and what it meant to me and what it meant to others. With this, I picked up the book Radical Homemakers : Reclaiming Domesticity From a Consumer Culture by Shannon Hayes. In this book she discusses the history behind the word housewife.

"A search for the origin of the word housewife traces it back to the thirteenth century as the fedual period was coming to an end in Europe and the first signs of a middle class were popping up. Historian Ruth Schwartz Cowan explains that housewives were wedded to husbands who name came from hus, an old spelling of house, and bondedHusbands were bonded to houses, rather than to lords. Housewives and husbands were free people who owned their own homes and lived off their land. While there was a division of labor among sexes in these early households, there was also an equal distribution of domestic work" (Hayes 14).

For the longest time, I couldn't figure out why I was drawn to being a housewife. Being from a former faith that put an *intense* emphasis on being a 'stay-at-home' mom and a 'homemaker' I have been wanting to run from that word for a long time. Since I have left, I felt that if I chose this lifestyle, I would be returning to that faith that I did not want to return to.

Internally, I battled with my heart and mind about this decision until I round a reason that made sense to me. A radical homemaker are men and women who are

 "...pursuing homemaking as a vocation for saving family, community and the planet" (Hayes 1). 

This was it for me. This was the definition that let myself be okay with what my heart wanted to do. I don't have to conform to any religion to be a homemaker. I don't need to proclaim a faith or be part of a religion to be a radical homemaker. 

This is why I am choosing homemaking as a life-calling and vocation. It will be my work, it will be my life, it is my choice. 


Works Cited

Hayes, Shannon. Radical Homemaking : Politics, Ecology and Domestic Arts. 1st. Richmondville:      Left to Write Press, 2010. 14. Print.


  1. I agree! And that book is next on my to read list!

  2. Thank you Ashley! This book is incredible and it really helps me to understand my own journey as a homemaker.


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