Most ridiculous word I heard this week: "femivore." The concept seems to be that you keep a backyard garden and chickens, but you're rich and don't have to so it's a big hairy deal.
So why is "fem" in the name? My grandfather had a beautiful and extremely functional urban garden. He taught me how to garden there, and every time I visited we'd go and kneel in the dirt and pull weeds and fix bird nets and harvest what was ready. There were rows of tomatoes in the backyard, string beans crawling up the side of the house, berries in the summer and squash in the fall. My grandfather loved good food and was not rich, and he gained both pride and practical benefit from that garden. My grandfather was also a man.
"Fem" is in the name, as far as I can tell, because this isn't just food gardening; this is food gardening as practiced by housewives. And it's assumed like some law of goddamn nature that the stay-at-home parent will be the woman, and women have no choice and just have to come up with ways to cope with that. (There's a woman in the article expressly bemoaning the fact that mean people think being a housewife is a "choice.") It's also "fem" because somehow this is considered the feminine separate-but-equal replacement for work, where the ladies will tend the garden and household while the men take care of the real money job, but it was phrased in some way that made it sound totally novel and feminist.
There's a lot of talk too about how these women are supermothers, because mothers who just raise the kids and keep the house clearly aren't doing enough. Femivores are enriching their children's education and their diets in ways that show what losers plain old moms are.
I never thought I'd see the day when "he goes to work, I raise his children and also some chickens" was seen as a feminist narrative.
My other question is more like boggled amazement that something can be a "trend" article and get a cutesy name when it describes the way 90% of the human race has fed themselves for the last 11,000 years. Billions of people raise chickens, but most of them don't do it for the green revolution or to convince themselves of their feminine worth; they do it for protein.
And why did people stop raising chickens in their backyard? Because they didn't have to. Chickens are noisy and dirty and take a lot of work. When people realized they could have someone else raise their chickens so they could devote their time to something more interesting and just buy eggs, this was pretty much the beginning of civilization. And me, I'm a big ol' fan of civilization. Getting my eggs in nice rows in cardboard containers isn't a degradation of "natural" egg-gathering, it's a goddamn blessing. You can pay 20 minutes' wages for a two-week supply and get on with your life.
Hayes would consider my friends’ efforts admirable if transitional. Her goal is larger: a renunciation of consumer culture, a return (or maybe an advance) to a kind of modern preindustrialism in which the home is self-sustaining, the center of labor and livelihood for both sexes.
Will we still be allowed to use metal tools?
And more to the point, who will make those metal tools? Presumably the class of people who don't get to play pioneer lady for fun. People who never had to whine about not having enough chores. People who don't have a big empty fertile backyard. People who do the math about what it would really take to support their family entirely from the backyard all year (It's pretty clear the "femivores" still go to the supermarket) and realize they have to get a real job.
Living in a deliberately inefficient manner, and being all self-righteous about it, is kind of a "fuck you" to people who are living as efficiently as they fucking can just to get by.
Not that the femivores should be living off freezer-pizza out of sympathy or something; if you want a food garden and can afford it, hey, it's fun and it'll make delicious food. Just don't kid yourself that it's something more than a hobby. What bothers me here is not the actions but the justifications, the attempt to make gardening somehow more righteous than jogging or Book Club. You're not a "femivore," you're not changing the world, and you're sure as fuck not liberating women. You're just a gardener.
Raising your own food: lovely, either as a hobby or a necessity. Writing insanely sexist and privileged "trend" articles about how it's news when rich housewives do it: bleh.