Saturday, August 23, 2008

feminism vs domesticity

I read this in the Guardian the other day, and felt the need to write some thoughts.

Baking, sewing, knitting - all of these things are "female", they are done by women, by housewives. Or is that simply a gender role ascribed to women in their idealized role as mother and housewife? I do think these acts can be feminist - but they can also be distinctly unfeminist as well. The key to them being feminist acts is one of choice;

"what makes this modern domesticity very different to the old-fashioned kind is that it is done out of choice"
women do not need to sew, to bake, to make and mend clothes in this day and age. It is much, much easier to go down to the shops and buy your clothes and your cakes and your ready meals. I think because cookery has now been associated with craft, we have the question about the "feminist-friendliness" (for want of a better word) of modern domesticity. When we still have the Daily hateMail spewing its message that women belong in the kitchen and that we are failing if we don't cook all our meals from scratch every day we can see that the housewifely ideal has never gone away.

That said, unlike the image we feminists have of the 1950s housewife - baking and sewing because she is expected to, out of duty, not love - the modern, mildly subversive domesticity of websites The AntiCraft, Craftermath and Cut Out + Keep shows that people (not just women) use their hands and minds to create beauty and usefulness and whimsy out of joy and pleasure - because they enjoy it, because they can, because they have the time to.

Yes, I enjoy my domesticity. I choose my hobbies; I know that nobody requires, nobody expects me to make a fresh cake for tea, to darn socks or make my own curtains. I do it because I want to, and because if I don't feel like it, I can head to the supermarket and buy some cake, or a skirt, or a cardigan. Yes, I enjoy cooking for others; for me it is something I do out of love, the same as when I make Gareth socks, or my grandfather a hat, or my mother a cushion, or myself a jumper. It's something I do out of choice, and that, ultimately, is feminist.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

it's been a week

I love how the BBC's latest round of nature programmes are all "the most dangerous expedition ever" to "unexplored lands". But I can't really mock them, they're fucking brilliant, mostly.

It's been a week. Or it will have been a week, tomorrow. I still miss him horribly, look for his grumpy face when I head downstairs in the morning and find myself collecting loo-rolls for his amusement (Dorris was never as interested as he was in knocking things over). The house isn't empty without him, but it does feel... less full. There's a Pete-shaped gap that I know won't be filled, but will merely become less sharp.

I hope he went happy, and I hope that he and Daphne are back together - there is a strange consolation in him leaving almost two years to the day after she did.

Monday, August 04, 2008

preserved for... thingumy

Yes, a lot of (magazine) porn portrays women as sexual objects - more so than as willing participants - but perhaps a part of staking a claim in women as sexual participants with their own ideas about sex is porn for women, through which women can say "yes, I like to look at naked men". Women have always been seen as objects and property, I think trying to give women a voice in their own sexuality is a step to reversing this.

On women's porn, when playboy did a female version (playgirl, I believe, I don't know if it still sells) the main readership was gay men. However, there have been some good women's porn out there (Sweet Action was brilliant, although I believe it's no longer in circulation); the problem seems to be that "porn for women" aims to emulate "porn for men" - the waxed-chest brigade doesn't sell for most women. I know it's interpreted as "women are just as bad", but there is a lot to be said for being more open about sexuality - and that includes porn.

Friday, August 01, 2008

yarn and landlords

So, yes, I did some crochet.

First up, and finished a fair while ago, is Angela Best's Short and Sweet which was nice and easy to make (although a few parts of the pattern seemed a little off) and I think it turned out ok:

(more pictures here)

Megan Nieve's Luna Lovegood Crocheted Cardigan:

This one was really easy to do, and I'm really happy how it worked out.

In further landlord fun... the house I wrote about a few weeks ago fell through, but now I've found somewhere else, close to rowing and with a garden - which I'm really happy about. I got home today though to find that my current landlord has been served notice because he failed to get planning permission to convert this place from a house to flats, and apparently I have to supply all sorts of information that I don't know the answer too. Oh, the roffles I have.