The first wave of feminism did us all a disservice in some ways. The first wave of feminism told us to get out of the kitchens, get out of our aprons, and into the working world. Dishes, diapers and vacuuming weren’t worth our time and energy.
First, this message completely ignored the reality of women of color who, for the most part, had always had to be in the working world— usually doing the dishes, diapers and vacuuming for white women AND for themselves. Second, this message told us to leave the domestic sphere behind because there was no value in it, instead of teaching us to demand that the domestic sphere have value.
The domestic sphere, including foraging, farming, dishes, child rearing, sewing, cooking, cleaning, etc., has been the realm of womxn for . . . forever. In every culture there was a time when this sphere was the hub of community life and it was a respected and revered part of the life. (This does not mean it was always easy, fun or enjoyed. I have no idea if it was.) Most cultures have also experience a point in their history, for some it’s been several thousands of years ago, others more recently, when the realm of womxn became a convenient source of slave labor for the patriarchy. This could be literal slave labor or slave labor in all but name. Women have been confined to thankless hard labor in repeatedly bearing and raising children, doing all of the cooking and the cleaning, tending the vegetable garden, washing clothes (and for most of history this has been without the aid of washing machines) and were expected to selflessly tend to the emotional and physical needs of their men and their children. For many many womxn the domestic sphere also became a place of violence. A place where they were unsafe and even abused.
While having the option to enter the “Working world” is important and valuable, it’s also important and valuable to not dismiss the domestic sphere altogether. Yes, it has been abused and used as a place to define and confine womxn. Yes, it has been an unsafe place. AND. It has also been the place where women’s magic has been born and can still be accessed.
I am by no means suggesting that womxn get back into the kitchen. That they stay home to raise their babies themselves. Not. At. All. I’m a house and farm wife and half the time it drives me bananas. The other half of the time I’m grateful for the internet and the outlet it provides me to socialize, learn and to express myself.
I AM suggesting that we begin to value the domestic sphere. That we begin to consider what a world might look like where womxn are compensated for staying home to raise healthy and stable families— if they want to. That we begin to think about what sort of social and personal support systems would need to be in place for womxn to thrive in the domestic sphere.
I AM suggesting that we remember the magic, ceremony, ritual and blessings born from this sphere. The hearth magic. The alchemical transformation of food into medicine and story. The safe space to pass on womxn’s mysteries and wisdom. The household spirits (elves, brownies, pixies, etc.) that women conjured for protection and aide.
My new offering, Rooted Here, is going to help us do just that. The program runs May through October. Half of that time, June, July and August, we will be exploring and remembering the magic of the domestic sphere. In June we will learn how to connect and work with the spirit of your house as well as household spirits, if you want to take it that far. July is all about the alchemy of food and ritualized cooking and in August we’ll talk about The Sacred Table and how hospitality laws and taboos have shaped modern society and spirituality— plus how to bring more sacred hospitality into your own home.
You can learn more and register for the course here. We begin this Sunday, May 6th, and the course will not be offered again until next May.