A return to hearth and home — New domesticity

Jun. 01, 2013 @ 04:49 AM

Have you heard about the “new domesticity” craze — the movement that’s all about a renewed interest in home arts like canning, sewing, and gardening, and often accompanied by the decision to drop out of the workforce and stay at home with the kids?

If so, it’s probably been in the context of the eternal debate over What Constitutes True Feminism. At first glance, the movement does appear to turn its back on the longstanding feminist belief that unless a woman holds a career outside her home, she’s neglecting to achieve her full potential.

But I think critics who make this accusation are overlooking an important factor driving the new domesticity movement. Take a closer look at the skills its adherents are passionately taking up, and you’ll see a common thread in what’s really being rejected.

It’s growing your own food versus filling your fridge with questionably processed convenience products.

It’s knitting or sewing your child’s clothes versus purchasing apparel that was likely made by other children in an overseas sweatshop.

For many parents, it’s also opting to educate your child at home instead of enrolling him in one of the countless schools, both private and public, that is currently mired in the joyless mission of “preparing our children to compete in the 21st century economy.

No, the new domesticity adherents aren’t rejecting feminism. They’re rejecting corporate domination over our culture, plain and simple.

They aren’t all women, either.

Many men are working side-by-side with their wives at “homesteading.” Some are even volunteering to be the stay-at-home partner while their wife goes out into the workplace. Men, just as much as women, are likewise growing uneasy with the corporatized influence on so many aspects of our modern lives.

I think what’s really happening here is an almost biological backlash to a decades-long period of instant gratification. By reviving manual dexterity and other dormant traits, the domestic do-it-yourselfers could very well be acting on an instinct to save humanity from going dangerously soft.

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If you’re like me, you admire the new domesticity tribe, but are somewhat daunted by the idea of becoming a full-on member.

Personally, I suspect it requires a level of initiative I just don’t possess. And despite my skepticism of certain trends in education, I have far more confidence in the Rutherford County schools than I do in my ability to be my child’s primary educator.

Still, we can weave at least some of the elements of this way of self-sufficient living into our own daily lives. And I can’t think of a more pleasant way of doing so than learning to make by hand something we would normally purchase at a store.

Last Saturday I did just that at the Good Earth Pottery Studio in Forest City. Thanks to the encouraging

guidance of owner and master potter Kiowa Cilone, I am now the proud owner of a clay tumbler beautifully embossed with the image of a mother and child, and suitable for holding tea, coffee, juice, or even a smoothie.

Actually, I plan to drink everything out if it. I’m that proud of having made it myself.

If you’ve never been to the studio, it’s one of the most mentally healthy ways to spend your time that you could imagine. Working on a ceramic project naturally lends itself to prolonged and unbroken concentration, making it a highly therapeutic experience in this age of constant email checking and texting. It felt like a short circuit in my brain was at long last being properly connected.

Good Earth offers classes and workshops for all ages and ability. For the current calendar visit www.goodearthpotterystudio.com or call 828-245-9374.

 

Stephanie Janard is a mother and full-time copywriter. She lives in Spindale. To reach Stephanie, email sjanard@msn.com.