Radical Homemakers

Radical Homemakers

Reclaiming Domesticity From A Consumer Culture

Book - 2010
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'Radical Homemakers is about men and women across the U.S. who focus on home and hearth as a political and ecological act; who center their lives around family and community for personal fulfillment and cultural change."--cover.
Publisher: Richmondville, NY : Left to Write Press, c2010.
ISBN: 9780979439117
Branch Call Number: 640 Hayes 03/2010
640 22
Characteristics: xiv, 300 p. ;,23 cm.


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Feb 04, 2018

After beginning this with high hopes, I was disappointed when I read the first part of this book and shocked by how incorrect much of it was. Hayes ascribes to the theory of an egalitarian Neolithic agricultural society. Much of what I have read indicates that this is not true, but since we are talking about an era before accurate written records, it's open for debate. However, I think it's still kind of odd that she would imply that this was our "true" cultural heritage, but the war-making, nomadic peoples who conquered the agricultural societies somehow weren't?

What's really not excusable is making it seem as if "the housewife" was a dominant reality pre-1960. The reality is that since World War 2, more women worked than didn't. The jobs may not have been the kind that invited aspirations in the 50s, but over 50 percent of women in the States were working them. Please don't take my word for it; see Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women. The image of the housewife dominated popular media precisely because she was such a rarity.

Little things, like getting the Boston Tea Party wrong; American housewives wanted to use domestic alternatives to tea? What domestic alternatives? Bigger things, like her connection to higher reports of depression to a more mechanized civilization. While I agreed with the evidence she cited that showed that technology could be alienating, I can't help but think of all of the people I know who have family histories of depression and other mental illnesses going back to when their forbears were farmers in the early part of the 20th century. Maybe one of the benefits of modern civilization is the potential that someone will listen to those things- and care. Her larger point about health insurance I find to be very controversial. While I understand her objections to a corporate health insurance and care system that finds financial incentives in illness, as a mother of four children, two of whom have asthma, it's not something I'm willing to give up. I also, frankly, resented her implication that children's health problems are a result of the stresses created in the home. Maybe, but I think some of those things are also due to genetic predisposition.

I agreed with much of what she said about our educational system. If anything, I feel like she didn't go far enough and close the loop that connects consumerism to public schools. I also found it hard to argue with what she said about our food system and how it impacts personal health and environmental well-being. And I am onboard with her overall point: if we want to change the destructive, consumerist path our civilization is on, we need to start with our habits and home, and if we want to do that, we have to reclaim (or learn for the first time) skills our ancestors depended on for survival.

Jul 01, 2013

Well-written and researched. A thoughtful piece on shifting our idea of home from a consumption centre back to a production centre. Liked it so much I bought my own copy.

Dec 29, 2011

This book, written when the economic crisis was occurring, proposes that we would be happier, healthier, and create less damage to the earth if we focussed less on earning more cash to spend it on more stuff and paying for people to do things to make our food convenient and fast. Shannon uses the first part of her book to show why men and women must free themselves from the imprisonment that the cash economy puts on our lives, and the second part looks at how people are learning and using skills to grow and preserve their own food in the city, or buy from local farmers, drive less, rebuild local communities wherever you are, and make all kinds of homes empowering for women, men, and kids.

Aug 04, 2010

Not really a how-to, but a wonderful and inspiring book full of stories of how other people have found an alternative path in life to the normal, soul-sucking 9-5 grind. Loved it!


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