Shannon Hayes’s book, Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture was a good read and contains an important message as our society continually marches toward more and more consumerism. WHY BUY? Hayes argues that we have all become consumers instead of producers and when I look around me, I see ample evidence that this is true.
Because I teach I meet a lot of people of varying ages, and I’m always shocked when many, many of these people (especially the women) claim that their #1 hobby or interest is “shopping.” What does that mean? That they spend hours wandering around the mall looking at stuff? That they buy stuff they don’t need because . . . ? That they fill their spare time with going to Bed, Bath, and Beyond?
This is such a foreign concept to me that it’s not surprising that I was drawn to Hayes’s message: Produce, do not consume. I’m a producer–I cook, most often from scratch, I sew, garden, crochet, repair clothes, do all our home repairs, write books, make art. It’s not that I do all of these well or competently, but I do them. I find value in them, and I enjoy most of them (not the plumbing, God help me, but I do it anyway).
Soon I’ll be adding to my production. When we move to the farm, we will expand our garden, trying to raise the majority of our vegetables and fruit. We plan on getting chickens and ducks and a couple of goats for milking. And all being well, within a year or two, we will likely get a couple of cows so that we are producing a significant portion of all the food we eat. It’s not that I want to get up at 5 to feed chickens or milk goats but I do feel compelled to know my food and to labor toward something meaningful. Right now, I trade my time for money and then I shop for what I need, whether that’s apples or a new sweater. What if I kept my time and did without or grew my own apples and knitted my own sweater? I might never get to the point where I was shearing sheep and spinning my yarn but it is possible–and I plan on at least learning how to do it. Unlike “stuff,” knowledge can’t be taken from me or lost.
If you’re feeling this yearning too–to get away from all the consumerism, check out Shannon Hayes’s book. You’ll find a persuasive argument as to why we should all–men and women–return to the home and become producers.
And just for those out there not feeling the Radical Homemaker thing, read how this lady is a failure at it! It’s the anti-perspective and a funny read, where ever you sit in regard to our consumer culture.