06 June 2013

choice means choice, dammit. respect it.

I just read a critique, by Juliet Gorman of Etsy, of a new book that I have not read: Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity, by Emily Matchar.. Remember: I have not read the book. Nonetheless, I shall state my piece about what I've read, and support the rebuttal..

Matchar also wrote an article for The Atlantic last year: "Think Twice Before Quitting Your Job to Sell Homemade Jam." Here is a part of her argument:

"Small business" has always been embraced by politicians, the phrase a lazy stand-in for "good, hard-working, salt-of-the-earth Americans." 
But now, in many progressive communities (Austin, Brooklyn, Portland, my hometown of Chapel Hill, NC ), small—very small—businesses have gained a new, distinctly groovy luster. In these parts, people speak of an "artisan economy" of "hyper-local" businesses selling "handmade" goods. In this new artisan economy, running a teeny-tiny business is not just fulfilling, it's morally good. Not only are you pursuing your creative goals and rejecting the rat race, you're also striking a blow against corporate behemoths and all they represent—greed, environmental destruction, the homogenization of culture.

I've heard this since the feminism of the late sixties and seventies; I've also **rejected** defining entrepreneurism as false or flawed ambition. 

No one gets to define "ambition" for me, or for any other person, male or female. No one gets to tell me what I should do, what should or should not be fulfilling. No one can tell me that making useful or decorative items is less, somehow, than being an accountant or (as I was), a librarian. If there's anything that feminism should have given all of us, it's respect for individual choice.

This, quoted by Gorman from Matchar's book, is particularly irksome:
"If women cut back on their ambitions en masse, institutional change will never happen and the glass ceiling will lower. We need to be [in the workplace] to demand the equal pay, mandatory maternity leave, more humane hours.”

Yes: Those are worthy goals. BUT- they will be accomplished by society as a whole, not only by those in the larger workplace. Wherever we work - or don't - inside or outside of the house - we can choose which goods to buy, which businesses to support, and which leaders to vote for. That's how change will occur: step by step, person by person.

As I said, I don't plan to read the book. Really, I've read enough...


Nicole said...

Grr. I think that book would just make me mad. After all - it's not just women embracing the "new domesticity." Grrr.

Donna Lee said...

So, how old is this woman? Is she old enough to remember when women "weren't allowed" to be in certain professions? And it was OK to say "I won't hire you because you're a woman"? I am. While we have a way to go for true equality, we have come a long way in my lifetime. It isn't women who are responsible for breaking down barriers, it's society as a whole (I absolutely agree with you).