Friday, March 5, 2010

Radical Homemakers

There is a new book which has peaked my interest. The title is intriguing to my rather rebellious strong side :)

Here is an excerpt from an article written by the author, Shannon Hayes, which you can read the entire article here:

The Origins of Homemaking: A vocation for both sexes

Housewives and husbands were free people, who owned their own homes and lived off their land.

Upon further investigation, I learned that the household did not become the “woman’s sphere” until the Industrial Revolution. A search for the origin of the word housewifetraces it back to the thirteenth century, as the feudal period was coming to an end in Europe and the first signs of a middle class were popping up. Historian Ruth Schwartz Cowan explains that housewives were wedded to husbands, whose name came from hus, an old spelling of house, and bonded. Husbands were bonded to houses, rather than to lords. Housewives and husbands were free people, who owned their own homes and lived off their land. While there was a division of labor among the sexes in these early households, there was also an equal distribution of domestic work. Once the Industrial Revolution happened, however, things changed. Men left the household to work for wages, which were then used to purchase goods and services that they were no longer home to provide. Indeed, the men were the first to lose their domestic skills as successive generations forgot how to butcher the family hog, how to sew leather, how to chop firewood.

As the Industrial Revolution forged on and crossed the ocean to America, men and women eventually stopped working together to provide for their household sustenance. They developed their separate spheres—man in the factory, woman in the home. The more a man worked outside the home, the more the household would have to buy in order to have needs met. Soon the factories were able to fabricate products to supplant the housewives’ duties as well. The housewife’s primary function ultimately became chauffeur and consumer. The household was no longer a unit of production. It was a unit of consumption.

1 comment:

Molly said...

Hmmm. Interesting article. Sounds like the antithesis of San Diego, where everyone drives a BMW and has a big house. Let me know if you end up reading the book. I'd be interested in hearing about the city dwelling folks who managed to pull it off. That seems like it would be much more challenging with the higher costs of living.

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