Home Consumerism

In her exploration of feminism v. domesticity, Miki observes “work no longer underwrites our identities–consumption does”. Like many of us who are feminists, yet love home life as well, Miki is asking if the two are mutually exclusive. Are we victims of another media blitz to convince women that the home is where they belong, ala post-WWII? Are those pesky feminists being sold a vision of domesticity in hopes they’ll leave the workplace alone?

While I certainly do see a media slant pushing women toward the “home lifestyle”, I do not believe home and feminism are in conflict. While mainstream feminism was indeed very much about work, I always considered it to be about choice, preferably for both sexes. This expansion of choice is something I strive for in my personal life, and the products of my home (see below) are created in equal portions by me and my husband.

Regarding consumerism, another interesting question is asked: if advertising has made us believe that our home is the result of the things we buy for it, then “how do we make the home a site of production, rather than commodification?”

First, we must decide on the product of the home. Miki says, beautifully: “here is love, whether you’ve earned it or not. Here are pleasures that have no price. And here is an identity you produce rather than purchase.” To please my analytical mind, I prefer tangibles: yet the only tangible I can come up with is health, though the intangibles of safety and comfort are very important as well. From that point, seeing the home from the perspective of production is easy. Health is provided through cleanliness and good food. Comfort and safety are also about cleanliness, in addition to decor, and the activities that occur within the home. Of all these aspects, only one–decor–is clearly tied with consumerism. Yes, you can buy the newest gadget to dust with greater ease, and you can squirrel away six sets of dishes for entertaining, but these are hardly necessary. Any consumerism is clearly an individual choice.

Perhaps, then, domestic feminism is about making conscious choices about what and how we consume lifestyle items, and who participates in creating the products of the home.

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