One book, two descriptions…

Here’s how The Globe and Mail starts off their article, “Meet the Radical Homemaker”:

A new breed of stay-at-home men and women is rejecting consumer-focused lives in favour of looking after their families and communities.It can get a little awkward when people ask Rick Juliusson what he does for a living.

“I – I’m a stay-at-home dad,” is his standard reply.

Mr. Juliusson notes he’s also many other things – an independent farmer, a writer and a contract consultant for non-profit organizations. But since he quit his job as an executive director of a Vancouver-based international development agency a year and a half ago and moved his family to a five-acre farm in Duncan, B.C., Mr. Juliusson considers his main role as a father to his two young boys…”

The New York Times article, The Femivore’s Dilemma, takes a different approach:

Four women I know — none of whom know one another — are building chicken coops in their backyards. It goes without saying that they already raise organic produce: my town, Berkeley, Calif., is the Vatican of locavorism, the high church of Alice Waters. Kitchen gardens are as much a given here as indoor plumbing. But chickens? That ups the ante. Apparently it is no longer enough to know the name of the farm your eggs came from; now you need to know the name of the actual bird.

All of these gals — these chicks with chicks — are stay-at-home moms, highly educated women who left the work force to care for kith and kin. I don’t think that’s a coincidence: the omnivore’s dilemma has provided an unexpected out from the feminist predicament, a way for women to embrace homemaking without becoming Betty Draper.

One fascinating feature of the juxtaposition is that the NY Times article really plays up the feminism, explicitly mentioning it several times*– while at the same time framing the movement as all about a new, even more labour-intensive sort of housewifery (albeit an environmentally superior one). The Globe and Mail article, which doesn’t mention feminism, actually describes something that sounds much more feminist– since it’s not assuming that it’s all “chicks with chicks”.

*And, as far as I can tell, coining the really ill-conceived term ‘femivore’. I mean, shouldn’t that mean one who eats women?

(Thanks, Frog, for your help on this one!)

4 thoughts on “Femivore?

  1. Carnivore, herbivore, omnivore, “femivore”? Yup, Jender, (in my humble opinion)….femivore would be one who eats females, although species is not specified….

    Interesting post!

  2. Yes, interesting. There seems to be a disturbing different. The Canadian story starts with people asking “What can I do for my family and community,” whereas the US women are presented as looking for what they can do with themselves.

    Since I’ve known some of the people going in this sort of direction, I suspect the difference is less in them and more in the narrator’s assumption that individual actions should be explained in what the individual gets out of them.

    That assumption, which seems to me endemic in the States, actually really annoys me.

    Anyway, that might account for why one seems more feminist than the other.

  3. As if we need a synonym for ‘gynophage’!

    A better headline would have been ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma Comes Home to Roost.’

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