“Femivore” is such an unfortunate term…

…because, as FeministPhilosophers points out, doesn’t it technically mean “someone who eats women”? Hmm.

I was poking around on EcoYogini’s blog yesterday, and followed her to VeganBurnout, who made me laugh and also think…and followed her to the New York Times op ed piece that started the whole thing: The Femivore’s Dilemma. (For those who don’t feel like following the link, it’s essentially about all these back-to-the-land chicken-raising stay-at-home women, and it has a disturbing edge of implying that while just staying at home taking care of a house and kids may not be feminist enough, staying at home building chicken coops and hoeing veggies and canning tomatoes is not only feminist enough but maybe even more feminist than, say, having a job and a paycheck and benefits and all.) (For the record, IMNSHO: feminism isn’t about a list of things women can or can’t do. Feminism is about equality and partnership and being able to choose what’s best for one and one’s family based on one’s character, skills, talents, and choices, rather than on whether one has a penis.)

I find the article disturbing on many levels. Mostly because I’ve never heard an article paint my own brand of feminism in such an unfeminist light. And because it assumes that any person doing these things is probably a woman–it feels like someone’s trying to redefine what is “women’s work” as opposed to letting whatever work gets done be done by whoever will do it best.

Contrast the Times’ approach with the one taken by Globe And Mail in their article Meet the Radical Homemaker: Good-Bye Rat Race, Hello Vegetable Garden. For starters, the first line refers to a “new breed of stay-at-home men and women” who’ve made the choice to create more and more of their own resources rather than making more money to buy them from someone else.  It interviews men and women who take this role in the family, and it’s a much more well-rounded article in general.  Put it this way: here’s the photo heading up the article in the Times:

And here’s the one for the GlobeAndMail:

A little contrast, no? (I mean, a calico dress and shawl? Come on…I mean, it’s very pretty and all, but it’s so Laura Ingalls…)

Which brings us to Shannon Hayes’ book Radical Homemakers, about this very topic. Anyone read it? Anyone have any reviews or advice to offer?  I’m about to order it for my Kindle…


Posted on March 31, 2010, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I actually really enjoyed the article, though I hate the term. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt looked down on or snubbed because I’m a stay at home mom. Like when I meet someone new and they ask what I do for a living, when I say I stay home with my kids, that’s the end of the conversation. It doesn’t matter how intelligent or knowledgable I am, if I say I’m a SAHM, they assume I sit around munching on junk food and watching oprah. Saying that I’m working on our urban homestead unfortunately validates the job I do, as if taking care of my kids wasn’t worthy enough.

    I didn’t feel like the article was excluding men, just pointing out that some women try the office route and discover that they’d rather stay home, which is certainly true for me, and that maybe so many years after the feminist revolution, we’re finally at the point where we can accept choice. Which could be said of men who choose to stay home also, but this article happened to focus on women.

  2. greenmomintheburbs

    I may have been slanted before I even read it since I read Vegan Burnout before I got to the article…and I loved the second article, the one that approached it from a “men and women” standpoint.

    And yeah, that attitude some people have about being a SAHM is the pits and a load of crap to boot. I think we should be able to accept choice–but articles like this, IMO, put a lot of “whatever people say we all know these are traditionally women’s roles” subtext into the mix. And if we had really won the feminist revolution (yet), that wouldn’t be happening. We’ll get there, but I don’t think we are yet…

  3. i’m glad Vegan Burnouts article made you laugh- she is so passionate and I thought she articulated why the article made me uncomfortable quite well.

    How interesting the contrast between NYTimes and Globe and Mail!

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