The New Domesticity: Women Who Trade Careers for Crochet

Carrie Sloan

homeward boundAccording to Emily Matchar, author of the new book “Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity,” Sex and the City and its plot lines may as well have played out on a different planet Earth.

Today, she argues, the men and women of Gen Y are disdaining Manolos and Big Careers—and instead embracing a return to home and hearth. Often, literally.

And if you live in certain pockets of America today, you know the generation of which she speaks: They’re those attachment parents frequenting the farmer’s market. You might befriend them at a weekend workshop on crocheting/beekeeping/canning yams. Or you may well be one of them.

If so, you’re part of a quaint scene Matchar calls the new domesticity. However, she says, it’s not just a fervent love of retro hobbies, but a deeper desire that’s driving the movement—in some cases, even a distrust of society as we know it.

LearnVest spoke to Matchar to get a sense of how followers of the new domesticity feel about the movement’s 2.0 approach to balancing work, money and family … and not necessarily in that order.

LearnVest: How did you first stumble on the idea of the new domesticity?

emily matcharEmily Matchar (shown right): As a writer I covered a lot of stuff relating to food and women’s issues. I kept meeting people over and over again who were really into canning and urban homesteading, or mothers who were doing attachment parenting. I was meeting them for different stories, and it started to form a bigger picture.

RELATED: Why Old-Fashioned Homesteading Is the New Feminist Career 

How do you define the new domesticity?

It’s the embrace of old-fashioned domestic skills and practices, and the embracing of a more home-focused lifestyle by people who have the means and the education to do otherwise.

I’m not talking about people who have to stay at home and make jam because they can’t afford to buy it. I’m talking about people who are making these lifestyle choices—they’re middle class, not super-privileged housewives living off their banker husbands.

  • agnes

    When I married I was in a very high position which I loved , several years later I became pregnant had always mentioned I would leave my job, and raise my child. I had six wonderful years bringing up my child, once my child was in school. returned to workplace but in those six years discovered I loved being a housewife, cooking, keeping house in order the best years of my life, I am now retired and love every minute of my life, My child is an adult , educated , married with a child I am so happy I devoted the first six years as I now can see how important the stay at home years were. Money, can always be made, teaching child the importance of home ls most important. I learned it is not necessary to have the best material things in life.

    • tammy

      I left my job a year ago and am living the housewife life with a 4 & 2 yr old and 7 month old. it was quite an adjustment but I know I’ll have no regrets.

  • Caitlin

    I’d just like to point out that these women are still contributing to society – what’s more critical than raising good citizens? Additionally these women may also be starting small businesses, nonprofits, etc. Even having your own blog is a way of communicating your unique views and experiences to the greater public. I am having a really hard time finding a job in the field I went to graduate school for and am fed up (but I am tied to a very small town to be near friends and family). I am now seeking a nontraditional path so I can still use my passion and skills to contribute to society – I don’t consider it bowing out.

  • disembodiedprose

    This article says it’s not about class or privilege, but it absolutely is. It assumes, essentially, that you have a partner who will bring in the bread while you stay at home and crotchet. It is literally impossible otherwise, unless you are living off family money, which would still put you at the top of the privilege spectrum. It seems very odd to me to suggest otherwise.

    • Marie

      I also wonder how sustainable this is…it sounds lovely and romantic in certain ways, but I don’t see how it is a workable long-term situation.

  • anonymous

    This is the most unprofessional biased article I have seen on here. If this topic was actually researched that would be a great start. Some valid points were made, but overall this was a close-minded and condescending article.

    • H

      Women should have the ability to be a homemaker without being treated as 2nd class. Society has all but forced a two earner household to keep up with expectations. If a big house and new cars mean are not important to you, by all means be a homemaker. Maybe if there were more homemakers there would be fewer shootings, because children would feel connected to family and learn the value of human life. I do not mean this to criticize those who feel a sense of fulfillment from an outside career or for those who have no choice. We should all be free to pursue happiness and personal fulfillment. While I’m at it, one can be a homemaker and not have kids, there is always plenty to do and many ways to contribute. Best to you all.