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Radical Homemaking’s Relation to Feminism

Shannon Hayes proposes that a modern woman can and should be able to find fulfillment in a domestic role outside the traditional workplace—and that goes for the modern man, too. Corporate life is warping women’s sense of self just as surely as the oppressive role of 1950s housewife. Some, however, see the concept of radical homemaking as a giant step backwards for women. To those who equate “reclaiming domesticity” with “getting back in the kitchen,” Hayes says, you’re missing the point.

Shannon Hayes recently spoke to Julie Grant of the Environment Report. Here’s a partial transcript (courtesy of the Environment Report):

When Shannon Hayes was finishing her PhD, she made a list of all the female professors she’d ever had. There wasn’t one who had tenure who was also married with children. Hayes wanted a husband and family, and realized that if she wanted a big university job…

“I was not going to have these things. And they were as important to me as having a career. In fact, in truth they were more important to me.”

So, much to the dismay of her PhD committee members, she headed back to the northern foothills of the Appalachian mountains near the family farm where she grew up. She bought a teeny house with her husband. People whispered. What had gone wrong?

Once there, Hayes couldn’t even get a job interview. To make things worse, her husband lost his job two weeks after buying the house. So, they fell back on their domestic skills.

“Well, if something broke, we fixed it. If something ripped, we mended it. I was very good at canning, so any food we didn’t grow on the farm or didn’t grow in our gardens I wold go to the local farmers when it was in peak season and I would can it, freeze it, lacto-ferment it.”

Listen now.

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