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Is the ‘New Domesticity’ Bad for Women?


Feminism may be the radical notion that women are people, but when it comes to women and work, it’s more specifically the idea that women are people with financial power. What, then, should we make of the fact that women are increasingly “leaning out” and choosing to stay at home?


(Photo Credit: James Vaughn/Flickr)

The obvious answer is that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to the problem of raising children, running a household, having a fulfilling life, and making enough money to keep the wolves from the door. To suggest otherwise would be to ignore the fact that in the current climate in the U.S., no one’s career trajectory is certain, maternity leave is nonexistent, and all workers are, to a certain extent, making this up as they go along.

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Returning to the more traditional mode has its appeal. In an interview with The Hairpin, Emily Matchar, author of “Homeward Bound: Women Embracing the New Domesticity” explains the current enthusiasm for domestic arts like canning and crafting by noting that DIY is attractive in times when there’s very little else we can do, ourselves, to affect our circumstances.

But it would be a mistake to think that Matchar doesn’t see the potential pitfalls of this return to hearth and home — or that women in general shouldn’t consider them. For one thing, it’s harder to build your 401k when only one person in the household is earning money. But on a larger scale, it’s frightening to think of how much more un-woman-friendly the work world could become, if women continue to opt out.

“The danger is that we want to have women in public life as much as we have men in public life, and if women are retreating, pulling back their participation in the workforce because the workforce is not meeting their needs, then the workforce needs to meet women’s needs,” Matchar says.

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More from PayScale

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5 Ways to Include Under-Privileged Women in the Lean In Discussion

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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