A comment I posted in response to this review in the Daily Telegraph about Jane Brocket (yarnstorm)’s new book, The Gentle Art of Domesticity:

Ridiculous. If you feel insecure about your own choices in life, don’t pin the blame on Jane Brocket/Nigella Lawson/Martha Stewart. “Impossible standards”? Blame yourself for wanting to live up to them, or, if you’re getting flack from your husband, blame him. Don’t complain about how someone else is spoiling everything for you just because they take pleasure in something you don’t. I think Jane Brocket’s blog (http://yarnstorm.blogs.com/knitblog/) is a real pleasure, and I’m looking forward to reading her book once I can find it in the States. It’s a real shame you were able to see only your own bitterness and discontent in its pages.

My house is a mess, a jumble of mismatched thrift-store and Ikea furniture, because I don’t choose to spend my energy on that part of my domestic life. But I do find a great deal of pleasure in cooking lovely, elaborate meals every now and then, and hand-knitting clothing for myself and my loved ones, and I grew my own vegetables when I had a garden. “Why should we when we can buy it?” Sure, I could buy cheap machine-knit sweaters at Wal-Mart for a fraction of the time and cost it would take to make them by hand, but it’s a wonderful, relaxing feeling to feel the yarn passing through my fingers, and as fulfilling as anything I’ve known to look at my beautiful finished pieces and know that I made them from scratch. I don’t see any of this as a chore, and, in fact, it’s a worse mindset in my opinion to think that the key to feeling better about yourself is to go out and buy stuff. (And just where do you think those hand-knitted bed socks come from?) The enjoyment, for me, comes more from the process of creation than from just owning another cardigan.

If you don’t enjoy doing any of this, fine. Don’t. Go enjoy doing whatever it is you like doing better. Just don’t imply that Jane Brocket is a self-absorbed, terrible person unthinkingly ruining everything for the rest of us, and don’t imply that anyone who does enjoy the “domestic arts” is doing so in a frantic attempt to live up to someone else’s impossibly high standards, or because they’re backwards, deluded slaves stuck in a pre-feminist era.

Are you just jealous that she has the means to stay at home with her kids?

Should she go back to doing an office job she doesn’t like and doesn’t need just because it’s considered more “worthwhile” than working in the home?

Should she stop doing the domestic things she enjoys, or stop sharing them with the world, because it’s making you feel bad about yourself?

I have to admit I do have a certain degree of insecurity about this myself–I’d feel deeply ambivalent, at this point in my life, about quitting work and becoming a housewife, I think mainly because the societal pressures in the circles I run in hold up fulfillment of intellectual/career-oriented potential above domestic duty, and I’ve internalized these expectations. But I have dreams of a life where I can spend my days spinning and knitting, growing organic vegetables, gathering fresh eggs from my backyard chicken coop, cooking fresh and lovely locally grown meals, sewing my own quilts and clothing. Oh well–I’m not going to blame this disconnect on the Domestic Goddesses.

Advertisements