Monday, March 15, 2010


Someone asked me at dinner on Saturday if I had seen this article on the New York Times website, entitled "The Femivore's Dilemma." From their description I was very excited to read it, as it was about young women and mothers who are returning to the idea of homesteading, raising their own food and chickens. When I found the article I first noticed the picture, a woman in a dress and shawl cradling a chicken amid climbing roses and fresh laundry on the line. It just all seemed so staged and so very different than my grandmother's gardening uniform of mud-covered, $2 knock-off Keds from Kmart, elastic-waist dungarees and an old cardigan of my grandfather's. Then I actually read the piece . . . and it still left me rather uncomfortable.

The thrust of the article is that the rising interest in local food production, or "the omnivore’s dilemma, has provided an unexpected out from the feminist predicament, a way for women to embrace homemaking without becoming Betty Draper." Intellectually, I get it. I get that women of my generation are making the conscious choice to becoming crafting, blogging, thrifting, gardening, homeschooling mommies to varying degrees. And I like that my life is moving slowly towards this, which has always felt like a very natural direction.

What I don't like is that the tone of the article veers towards treating this choice as a trend, as something kind of kooky and twee. At the same time that the article points to homesteading as an "out" in which domestic work is validated, by the end of it still seems to fall back on presenting the traditional and tired dichotomies of any feminist discussion--- the either/or of women at work or women at home.

Perhaps I'm on the defensive here, given that I hold the handmade and homegrown dear, but it's annoying that the term "femivore" has to be coined at all, that domestic interests have to be assigned as part of a "movement." I realize the political implications of handmade and homegrown, yes. A lot of my choices--- which, as a 21st century woman, I know I am lucky to have in the first place---- are because I want to live a economically and environmentally sustainable life, and I know it is easy to be cynical about both feminism and the green movement. But to me, none of this is a disingenuous trend. It's wholly part of who I am, from childhood up to now. Busy, dirty hands are what have made me feel alive and engaged in the world.

(I've been kicking this around for awhile and given my state of sleep deprivation these days, it's as coherent as I can make it. But there is also a great response on this blog worth reading, and I would really love this to be part of a longer conversation and to hear what others think.)

1 comment:

  1. Why can't people just BE instead of all these labels that change every five years? So sick of these catchy little generalized terms that get thrown around.

    And the either/or is just something that will continue to keep women fighting amongst each other.

    Also, the term femivore is terrible! It sounds like it refers to eating women to me.


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