Emily Matchar's column in the Washington Post suggests a conflict between feminism and "domesticity." Such a conflict is artificial.
Matchar's column is personal. It begins with a listing of her plans for the holiday season:
I’m planning on canning homemade jam this holiday season, swept up in the same do-it-yourself zeitgeist that seems to have carried off half my female friends. I picked and froze the berries this summer, and I’ve been squirreling away flats of Ball jars under my kitchen sink for months. For recipes, I’m poring over my favorite food and homemaking blogs — the ones with pictures of young women in handmade vintage-style aprons and charmingly overexposed photos of steamy pies on windowsills.Matchar contends that her personal story defines a new generation of women, who subscribe to the "New Domesticity":
Around the country, women my age (I’m 29), the daughters and granddaughters of the post-Betty Friedan feminists, are embracing the very homemaking activities our mothers and grandmothers so eagerly shucked off. We’re heading back to jam-canning and knitting needles, both for fun and for a greater sense of control over what we eat and wear.Matchar then explores whether this development is a positive step for women or whether it spells a defeat for women's equality. Matchar asserts that the New Domesticity is a positive move that allows women to make decisions about their lives, such as choosing the ingredients for the foods they eat.
Although I enjoyed reading the article, I believe the question it seeks to answer presents an artificial conflict. Feminism was never meant to extricate women against their will from "domestic" life. Instead, feminism seeks to empower women to make choices that benefit them and their families.
Furthermore, I quarrel with the description of some of the activities in the article as signs of "domesticity." Choosing to can food, sew buttons on shirts, or cook meals does not relegate an individual to a life of domesticity. Indeed, feminists were not concerned with domestic activities as such but with the unquestioned assumption that domesticity was the natural place for women. The women in Matchar's article clearly have choices.
Well, now I am going to watch football and finish the last slice of White Chocolate-Dried Cherry-Toasted Pecan Bread Pudding (along with a cream sauce) that I made for Thanksgiving (pictured above). Just call me Mr. Domestic.