Tuesday, May 31, 2011

home makeover: alt hippy edition

i've decided that if i'm genuinely concerned about toxic chemicals in the environment and in contact with my family, the only truly meaningful and effective thing i can do about it is to change how i live. for years i've complained about the ineffectiveness of the EPA while continuing to use nasty, harmful chemicals every day. in fact, the principle of changing my own life seems to work across the board for the issues i care about. so this year i've been begun making a conscious effort to live in a more sustainable, intentional way. it's a slow process, but i'm making steady baby steps.
so far i have started:

using cloth diapers
making my own, biodegradable laundry soap
no longer using dryer sheets
making and using cloth feminine products
using a water filter and camelback instead of buying water bottles
using only sunlight to light the house during the day
using organic and/or biodegradable body care and cosmetic products
cooking more meals from scratch to cut down on packaging
cutting eggs and dairy out of my diet (did it for haven's allergy reasons, but i'm considering continuing even once she is no longer nursing because of the environmental impact)

by the end of the year, i hope to also be:

using cloth baby wipes
recycling glass and metal
growing my own herbs
using only recycled paper goods
using cleaning cloths instead of paper towels
cutting out red meat consumption
meditating daily

next year, my goals are to:

learn to make soap and start making my own
learn to make bread and bake my own
find a farmer's market and buy all produce locally when it is running (if i can find local, free range, organic eggs i might add them back into my diet then)
have a small veggie garden and expanded herb garden
learn to make basic herbal remedies
only buy used or fair trade clothing
dry on a clothes line

eventually i'd like to live as off-the-grid as possible. hubby and i dream about a house on some land, with a big garden and tool shed and chicken coop and functional kitchen. here in our little, military apartment there is a limited amount that i/we can do, but someday.....and for now i will keep taking my baby steps, and doing what i can in the life that i have now, while i dream of the life i will have then. the EPA will likely always be hogtied by politics. large companies will likely never pay their workers a fair wage, or treat them humanely. but my life and my home can change, and will change. i don't know who said it, but i love the quote that "you cannot change the world, you can only change yourself".

my very favorite blog, about radical housewifery and intentional living, is Apron Stringz. you should read it. she always seems to say exactly what i wish i was eloquent and experienced enough to say.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

feminism is housework

i am a radical feminist. i am also a housewife. those two things are not at odds.

it makes me angry and sad when women buy into the idea that homemaking is only something that women do if they are subordinate, un-inspired, and weak, or only something one does if one has put "real" dreams and a "real" career on hold, or even that homemaking is only something women do.

by choosing to make a career of being a mother and wife and manager of my home, i am choosing to see those things as inherently valuable and worthwhile. i work 18 hours a day at the most demanding, but also most rewarding job i have ever had. it is a job that allows me opportunity to explore my own resourcefulness and creativity, and to show my daughter and husband that they are the absolute most important things in my life. i cannot even fathom the sacrifices i would have to make to get a job outside the home. i would have to put my real dreams and real career on hold to do that.

currently, whenever i'm not tending to haven's needs, i can do whatever i want with my time. i have time to crochet, and sew, and read blogs, and write blogs, and spend time outdoors, and cook fancy foods, and make cosmetics and soaps, and watch movies. i spend time each day doing housework, but usually by the time haven goes to bed at night, i have several hours totally free. when tony is not on deployment, i can be there for him when he gets home from work and needs to talk and de-stress. i can cook dinner at my own pace, with real food. if i were to get another job, i would lose all that. when i got home from work stressed and tired, i would have to spend my entire evening rushing through all the housework, baby care, cooking, etc. i would sleep less. i would feel ragged and trapped. homemaking means more sleep, more freedom, more creativity, more fulfillment, more time with loved ones, more time for myself. i can't imaging giving all that up for anything other than an absolute financial crisis.

a lot of feminists have bought into the oppressive, patriarchal idea that the work women have traditionally done is somehow less important than the work men have traditionally done. virginia wolfe and mary woolstonecraft would be rolling in their graves if they knew what had become of feminism, and that modern feminism has become the greatest perpetuator of the idea that women are inferior. i think it is really degrading to women to say that being a mother is not enough of a "career". the work of the home is still done primarily by women, only now women also feel like they have to have a "real job" too. so they run themselves ragged trying to have two careers, because society, and many feminists, make them feel inferior if they don't. telling a woman that working in the home is not "real work" is as limiting and oppressive as telling her that she can only work in the home. society went from oppressing women in one way, to oppressing them in an opposite way. only now women are oppressed with twice as much work to do.

i don't get a "real job" because i see working outside the home as a less important and less valuable way to spend my time and energy, not the other way around. i am so grateful to tony for having a job that brings in money, and putting up with all the bullshit that entails, so that i can have a fulfilling, inspiring, important job taking care of the non-monetary needs of our family. rather than feeling repressed or subjugated, i feel really selfish that i get to work at something so fulfilling while he is stuck working for money.

i am by no means saying that every woman should be a homemaker or get married or raise children. women and men should have the career that they find most fulfilling, and for many women that means a career outside the home. but women who find that the career that is most fulfilling to them is homemaking should not be looked down on for it, especially by other women. the whole point of feminism is supposed to be to recognize that women and men have equal value, and should have equal opportunities and choices. my choice is to be a homemaker, and saying that it is a poor choice or an inferior choice is about as un-feminist as it gets.
in the same vein, men should also have the choice to work in the home if that is the career that they find most fulfilling. stay-at-home dads are made the butt of jokes in our society, which degrades men in the same way that looking down on stay-at-home moms degrades women. patriarchy doesn't actually give men more choices. it limits and degrades everyone. and, sadly, much of modern feminism has become a tool of patriarchy.

i don't raise my baby, cook for my family, and run my house because i can't do anything else. i do it because you couldn't pay me to give those things up to do anything else. the work that i do as a housewife is real and valuable work.
so as a radical feminist, i will continue to nurture, nourish and teach my daughter, take care of my husband, make our home a place of comfort and acceptance, live consciously and sustainably, and develop my creative interests. feminism means i have the right to make that choice, to follow my own dreams and my own path rather than a path proscribed for me by anyone else, including other "feminists".
and that is my rant.