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Homeward Bound: Why Women are Embracing the New Domesticity

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  1,424 ratings  ·  320 reviews
Amid today’s rising anxieties—the economy, the scary state of the environment, the growing sense that the American Dream hasn’t turned out to be so dreamy after all—a groundswell of women (and more than a few men) are choosing to embrace an unusual rebellion: domesticity. A generation of smart, highly educated young people are spending their time knitting, canning jam, ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 7th 2013 by Simon Schuster (first published January 1st 2013)
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Apr 30, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013, abandoned
I was really into the idea of this book because it's all about trying to tie up the loose ends of why us young, modern folk are so into knitting, making pickles, gardening, keeping chickens, attachment parenting, homeschooling, etc. I'm as introspective and thoughtful as the next women's college feminist. I read the first several chapters and it bored the everloving shit out of me. The author seems to have huge blindspots when she recaps the "history" of these "domesticities," like her ...more
Lisa Kelsey
Apr 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
You might think, "what could be bad about young people being frugal, living lightly on the land, growing their own vegetables, sewing their own clothes, making their own laundry soap, and homeschooling their children?" On the surface it does seem idyllic, and I myself have fallen for many a blog describing such a romantic life in the country. But once Matchar runs this trend through the prism of gender and class, and puts it under a social and political lens, a more nuanced truth emerges. She ...more
Jul 07, 2013 rated it did not like it
I wanted to like this book, but ended up not being able to finish it because it's just a huge pile of insufferable yuppie bullshit.

The author obviously has never spoken to the people for whom these skills were never lost. In fact I'm not sure she's ever spoken to anyone outside her own affluent white demographic.

She buys into sheer idiocy without critique or reflection, such as referring to the anti-vaccination movement as "the wisdom of our grandmothers." I don't know about the author's
Dec 09, 2013 rated it did not like it
Instead of a review for this book, let me share the drinking game I made up for it while I read it:
-Every time the author uses the words "crunchy" or "jam", GOD HELP ME, "Blogher": do a shot.
-Every time the author quotes some twitty lifestyle blog: chug a beer.
-Every time the author or one of her lifestyle blogging subjects says something is empowering/disempowering: order a girly drink and throw it someone's face.
-And finally, whenever the author mentions a minority, anyone over the age of
Jul 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I was so excited read this book, and I was disappointed with it. Actually, annoyed is probably the more correct term.
Matchar is extremely critical of attachment parenting and it seems painful for her to admit that breastfeeding "can confer some important immunological benefits" (150).
She spends a great deal of time illustrating that women cannot get rich off blogging or selling homemade items on Etsy. She seems to miss the fact that making money isn't the point. The idea is to be more
Jun 15, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: feminism, mamalove
Decent and earnest exploration about the increasing amount of middle class folks (mostly Gen X & Y) who reject the corporate workforce, eschew consumerism, grow their own food, and choose to homeschool their children. Why opt out? It is to stand against all that is not working says Matchar. Mistrust of government, factory farming, lack of family-friendly work environments. All have led educated women to want a more family-centric life.

This is a book of anecdotes. And repetition. I wanted
Jul 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Another nonfiction book that was just a step above "OK" but a small step. The most enlightening thing I read was the revelation that neo-con, evangelical, right-wingers are mere inches away from eco-warrior, secular, left-wing hippies when it comes to the DIY culture and the motivations behind adopting that life style. Otherwise the book itself could have been a long magazine article (in, say, The Atlantic which has carried other major articles on this spectrum), because much of it is ...more
Apr 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a fairly brief, easily readable survey of what the author calls the "new domesticity"--the back to the home trend--and its impact on women.

I was already fairly familiar with a lot of the ideas--the cult of the natural, the romanticization of the past, and the "women leaving the workforce" idea. What makes the book work is that she ties it all together, as a manifestation of what is ultimately a pretty conservative, individualistic, DIY ethos. The new domesticity movement doesn't just
Holly Klump
Jul 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book brought up so much for me and really deserves a long, long post.

A few gripes: a lot of repeated facts throughout the book suggested poor editing. Very "quotes heavy", which is "distracting" to the reader.

The focus was nearly exclusively on white, middle class, heterosexual couples (namely, the female half the relationship) with kids who blog about their "natural" lifestyle. I know plenty of (white), middle to lower income women who may or may not have kids and embrace the new
Juli Anna
Mar 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
By far the worst-researched and cited book on the topic that I have read so far: statistics and quotations are very frequently not cited at all in the endnotes, and there is no bibliography; the endnotes are 90% blogs and websites, with seemingly little actual reading done for this book (with the exception of the chapter on the history of domesticity). Matchar tips her hand as a journalist with her casual, unacademic tone (she actually uses as a noun "fuck-you" in all legitimacy, in her own ...more
Christine Cato
Jul 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: didn-t-finish-it
This book is really annoying. I am on page 3.
Sep 11, 2013 rated it did not like it
Here’s what really gets me–we finally get to a point in history where most men acknowledge that women can have a voice in both their own lives and in the future of our country. And what happens? Women decide to take over the job of telling each other “yer doin’ it wrong.” Homeward Bound is yet another polemic against women who dare to decide that the corporate world is not for them. Leaving aside everything else in this book, what is the point of continually demonizing breastfeeding? Matchar is ...more
Morgan Schulman
May 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book was a relief and they should be giving this away to all pregnant ladies, instead of those Sears books everyone gives you and those magazines your OB-GYN signs you up for (I am particularly focusing on the chapters about the hard-core mommy stuff-I love Etsy and craft fairs like everyone else, please). Now, I'm a mother of a two year old with your basic credentials: long history of indie tastes; TWO worthless graduate degrees; non-profit job; intersectional third wave feminism; married ...more
Elizabeth Pettit
Jun 25, 2013 rated it liked it
First of all, if Ms Matchar had not used the words "homemade", "jam" and "crunchy" her book would have been much shorter. Speaking of jam I don't understand her obsession with the stuff. Making jam has very little to do with being healthy or becoming self sufficient, especially considering that one must purchase the refined sugar in order to make it.

That was perhaps my main objection. Extolling the praises of raising a few chickens and a vegetable garden and baking bread does little toward
Jul 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
I read this book while I was thinking about leaving my job to be a stay-at-home mom (because all of my life decisions require research!). And I liked it! It made me think! It brought discussions with friends and family. I especially liked Matchar's important point that this movement of focusing on the home is leading us away from a larger look at problems within our society, government, food industry, etc. (As in, that's great you want to have your own vegetable garden. Oh, it's because you ...more
Jun 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really wanted to read this book because I am so conflicted about what the author calls "The New Domesticity," and I think she was too when she set out to write this book. Emily Matchar goes into the lives of educated young women choosing to leave their usually pretty lucrative jobs to stay at home and keep house. These women find it empowering in a way to take back "women's work" or what for women is more "natural." And this is where I become so at war with myself. On the one hand, I totally ...more
Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
Apr 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
New Domesticity is what Emily Matchar calls the trend of young women embracing homey activities such as gardening, cooking from scratch, sewing, crafting, homeschooling, and extreme parenting. While it isn't a uniform trend that always encompasses all those aspects, in many cases it draws on elements of frugal living, voluntary simplicity, and attachment parenting. It attracts counterculture women as well as young Mormon mothers.

Matchar admits she finds many aspects of the movement enticing,
Jennifer W
Aug 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
I want to quit my job, garden, raise chickens, sew, make crafts, and bake. I'm not the only one. All over America, women are doing just that and more. What could be wrong with that? It sounds so wholesome. It sounds quaint. It sounds peaceful. In order to find out what's insidious about a turn back the clock mentality, one needs to look at why women are doing this. Could it be because we're not getting paid well? Could it be that we don't have sufficient maternity (never mind paternity) leave? ...more
Sep 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
I heard about this book from a writer of a knitting/lifestyle blog. She was very upset with the author over what she saw as a dig on the type of mothering she does (adoptive not "natural"). I have had concerns about the "new" generation of young women and the choices they are making in the world as it is today so I decided to read the book figuring that I wouldn't like what the author has to say.

My background is born in the late 50's, raised in the 60's, went to engineering school in the 70's
Sally Ewan
May 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
(I thought this was a clever title until I realized how many other books have the same one!)
This book is about women 'embracing the new domesticity', which involves home decorating, crafts, food/cooking, parenthood, and homesteading. The overarching theme seems to be women looking for meaning in their lives. Having thrown themselves into careers and finding them ultimately unsatisfying, these women are casting about for other things to pursue. And they are doing this with a passion that is
Jul 18, 2013 rated it liked it
I think this book has a lot going for it because it is so timely and really in tune (in my experience) with conversations that a lot of 30-something women are having as they negotiate career and family decisions. I definitely picked this up because it seemed like every chapter was dealing with yet another cultural trend that I find myself thinking about in ways that are both "what? This is so me!" And "what?? What is happening??" And the two are not mutually exclusive.

So here's the thing: I
Jun 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
At first I thought this book was a little "women's studies 101" in its approach. However, I stuck with it and thought that it was pretty darn good.

This book is an approach to current trends in domesticity and feminism and lends a sometimes historical and sometimes academic eye towards current trends that I haven't seen touched in such a hip and informative way. Topics covered include: the history of domesticity, non-paid labor, and the woman's sphere; blogging's influence on feminism; urban
Lorri Steinbacher
Jul 16, 2013 rated it liked it
The whole book kind of depressed me. I guess I understand the appeal of exploring your roots, simplifying your lifestyle, feeling cozily at home in your home. I've certainly has those days when I indulged in housefrau daydreams. I like a nice apron as much as the next girl. Except that ultimately I could not imagine ceding my (financial/social/intellectual) independence to live out those daydreams. But that's me. It is very likely that a woman can get all of her needs for independence filled in ...more
Mar 12, 2014 rated it liked it
I read this for my book club, and I wouldn't have picked it up on my own. While the author tried to show both sides, I found some examples of "embracing domesticity" to be extremely irritating and counter to the fight for equality. Especially those who thought "biology is destiny" and who put others at risk by not vaccinating their children based on debunked studies. Women's history was glossed over. This is definitely more of a book focusing on "Lean Out" than "Lean In." However, in the final ...more
Jul 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was a really interesting book that explores the rise in new domesticity with women. The author explores the history of "women's work", how blogs have contributed to the the glorification of the new domesticity, the explosion of handmade via Etsy, the resurgence of the from-scratch food culture, parenting, new domesticity as an alternative to the workforce, homesteading, and how all this brings together people from polar-opposite ends of the political/religious/etc. spectrums. There are ...more
I found this to be an interesting, but definitely ... er ... challenging read. Interesting in the discussion of the role of the "new domesticity" in our current economy and current attitudes towards feminism. Challenging because the home-cooking, sewing, gardening people she's talking about, often with a tone of not-so-subtle condescension, sound a whole lot like me! No one likes to be told that their favorite activities are just the latest fad, and I'm no exception! So I found myself squirming ...more
Jul 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Alright, I didn't love this book as much as I loved the 2nd chapter, but I let it keep its 5th star. The chapter on DIY crafting and the Etsy culture was written FOR me, I loved it. I'm sure the other chapters were just as enlightening, but I've never had a desire to cook, garden, or farm so I couldn't relate to them in the same way.

This book tracks the rise in 'new domesticity' through DIY crafts, gardening/cooking, farming, and 'homemaking'/mothering. Mostly I appreciated Matchar's balance
Jul 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book explores one of the most interesting societal trends : the New Domesticity. That term refers to young women (and a few men) who actively pursue a home-focused lifestyle. These are not your average stay-at-home moms : these women cook from scratch, raise their own chickens, sew their own clothes, grow their own vegetables and homeschool their children. The author points out that this philosophy can unite both the extreme Right (religious fundamentalists who believe God made women to ...more
Jul 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm very conflicted about this book. I enjoyed reading it and I found it fascinating. Probably because I am one of those "lifestyle-mommy bloggers" Matchar talks about. I'm even one of those "Mormon mommy bloggers" that she devotes a section to. I was often telling my sister, "Listen to this..." and then telling some part of the book.

She write about the dramatic increase in things like: home birth, homeschooling, caring about where your food comes from, rejecting immunizations, baking, sewing,
May 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was written for and about (and by a) middle class white, educated, white women. It discusses the prevalent "diy lifestyle" or what the author literally calls the "Portlandification" effect, where "people all seem to work only part-time, ride bikes, and spend all their money buying friends' homemade organic chocolate bars". While much of the focus was on modern day housewives and stay-at-home/work-at-home moms, the book as whole focused on those that truly see a choice in whether they ...more
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FABClub (Female A...: Homeward Bound Discussion (January/February 2014) 5 21 Feb 28, 2014 11:55AM  

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After a childhood of books, boredom and minor delinquency in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, I studied English and Spanish at Harvard University. Upon graduation I hightailed it back down South to spend the next couple years as a reporter with Raleigh’s News & Observer, followed by a stint at Outside magazine, before going freelance. I now write about culture, food, women’s issues, travel and ...more
“Sweden had paternity-leave policies in place for years but found that few men were taking advantage of the benefit. While women felt comfortable taking time off to be with baby, men worried that they would look less dedicated to their careers if they did the same. So the Swedish government implemented a “use it or lose it” policy, mandating that the country’s thirteen-month parental leave cannot only be used by one parent – the other parent must use at least two months of the leave, or both lose those months entirely. Today 85% of Swedish fathers take paternity leave. The policy has helped redefine notions of masculinity and femininity in the already-egalitarian country.” 4 likes
“If women cut back on their ambitions en masse, institutional change will never happen and the glass ceiling will lower. We need to be there to demand equal pay, mandatory maternity leave, more human hours. Leaving the “dirty work” of working to the men is a way of muffling our own voices.” 3 likes
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