farmer's daughter brand

Ode to Housewives

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I am constantly asked why I chose to pursue this business.  The reasons are many and complex, but I know that I grew up in an environment that deeply respected the many skills of country farmhouse women.  The skills of my grandmother, mother, and my Aunt Pat inspired me at a young age.  I was eager to learn everything I could, and I took advantage of their wisdom.   Later when I moved away to graduate school and into the modern suburban world, what amazed me most was that people couldn't actually do anything.  I wasn't schooled in rejecting the so-called drudgery of cooking and preserving the harvest until I had already fallen in love with it.  I found my academic work boring and disconnected in contrast.  Luckily for me, I had an encouraging boyfriend (who of course I then married) who saw my skill and encouraged me to follow my instinct.  The following is an excerpt from an essay by Wendell Berry that captures quite eloquently much of my feelings on the subject.  Thanks to all the amazing women who have taught me their craft.


"What are we to say of the diversely skilled country housewife who now bores the same six holes day after day on an assembly line? What higher form of womanhood or humanity is she evolving toward?

How, I am asking, can women improve themselves by submitting to the same specialization, degradation, trivialization, and tyrannization of work that men have submitted to? And that question is made legitimate by another: How have men improved themselves by submitting to it? The answer is that men have not, and women cannot, improve themselves by submitting to it.

Women have complained, justly about the behaviour of "macho" men. But despite their he-man pretensions and their captivation by masculine heroes of sports, war, and the Old West, most men are now entirely accustomed to obeying and currying the favour of their bosses. They are more compliant than most housewives have been. Their characters combine feudal submissiveness with modern helplessness. They have submitted to the destruction of the household economy and thus of the household, to the loss of home employment and self-employment, to the disintegration of their families and communities, to the desecration and pillage of their country, and they have continued abjectly to believe, obey, and vote for the people who have most eagerly abetted this ruin and who have most profited from it. These men, moreover, are helpless to do anything for themselves or anyone else without money, and so for money they do whatever they are told. They  know that their ability to be useful is precisely defined by their willingness to be somebody else's tool. Is it any wonder that they talk tough and worship athletes and cowboys? Is it any wonder that some of them are violent?

It is clear that women cannot justly be excluded from the daily fracas by which the industrial economy divides the spoils of society and nature, but their inclusion is a poor justice and no reason for applause. The enterprise is as devastating with women in it as it was before. There is no sign that women are exerting a "civilizing influence" upon it. To have an equal part in our juggernaut of national vandalism is to be a vandal. To call this vandalism "liberation" is to prolong, and even ratify, a dangerous confusion that was once principally masculine.

A broader, deeper criticism is necessary. The problem is not just the exploitation of women by men. A greater problem is that women and men alike are consenting to an economy that exploits women and men and everything else."

- excerpt from Wendell Berry's essay, "Feminism, the Body, and the Machine.

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This page contains a single entry by April McGreger published on March 23, 2009 12:21 PM.

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Farmer's Daughter Brand ♦ 96 Pine Hill Dr. ♦ Carrboro, NC 27510 ♦ (919) 259-3946