I’ve discovered a phrase (and a concept, a momentum, a lifestyle) that describes perfectly the journey I am on. I recently read the book Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes and it hit me like a punch to the stomach. I had a stirring in my soul for a number of days after I started reading it – it resonates so soundly with me.
This book appeals to so many facets of who I am: an eco-geek, a baking queen, an educated housewife, a global citizen, a spiritual child, and an attachment parent. It appeals to who I want to be: a minimalist, an urban homesteader, a community cusader, a tomato-canning feminist. It validates (not that we need validation) the life Informed Papa and I are creating, and confirms that there are many others out there like us, choosing to reject the mainstream for the betterment of all.
A major point that hit home and will echo in my mind for the rest of time, of this I am sure, is the idea of transforming the family home from being a unit of consumption to one of production. Take a breath and read that again. This is underpinned by an understanding that it is not how much money we make that matters, but how much money we don’t have to spend.
The book boldly presents the possibility of learning to ‘live on less in order to take the time to nourish your family and the planet through home cooking, engaged citizenship, responsible consumption and creative living’. Modern housewives do not need to be reduced to simply chauffeurs, shoppers and house primpers who are amply busy, but still feeling empty, marginalized and unfulfilled. Radical Homemakers wield great power for reforming our society.
Some of my favourite passages from the book are as follows:
“In the old paradigm, women chose the gilded cage or the glass ceiling. If they chose the gilded cage and stayed home, they became slave to the marketplace image of the happy (shopping) homemaker. If they opted for the glass ceiling, they entered the workforce, where they became enslaved to their employers and hoped that they could fulfill their family dreams without getting tossed out like a used Kleenex. In the paradigm of the Earth Community, Radical Homemakers have chosen to stop investing their life energy in any employment that does not honor the four tenets of family, community, social justice and ecological balance. Instead, they invest themselves in the support of family, community, and environmental stewardwhip so that those things, in return, will pay them lifelong dividends.”
“We have lost the innate knowledge and traditional crafts essential to countless functions for our daily survival, with the end result being a disconnection from our communities and our natural world. So complete is this detachment that we are unaware of the ecological and social damage created by mass production for our daily needs”…”For each daily need that we re-learn to provide within our homes and communities, we strengthen our independence from an extractive and parasitic economy. As we realise the impact of each choice we make, we discover ways to simplify our demands and rebuild our domestic culture.”
The first half of the book critiques our current cultural and economic systems while looking at the history of domesticity and feminism. The second half of the book is made up of the findings from interviews with real practicing Radical Homemakers. This book came into my life at exactly the right time. I was ready for it, and now I am ready to continue my charge into creating myself as a Radical Homemaker.