It's not often that I come to my blog incensed and with a desire to put the world to rights. But on occasion I am moved to do so. Jane's book was the subject of an opinion piece that tried to pigeon hole the ladies of this precious corner of blogland that I like to call home.
A piece of writing that suggests that those of who enjoy the domestic arts as Jane has termed them are somehow shamed into doing so by the pressure of today's society. I can't speak for everyone but I can speak for myself when I say that I have never felt that way. Quite the opposite in fact. I sought out this community and it awes and inspires me everyday. No one in my family or circle of friends knits or crafts. In fact by doing these things I am a non-conformist and an oddity. Pointedly strange and estranged at times because of it.
I enjoy the satisfaction of sleeping under my crocheted blanket or pulling on a pair of socks I've knitted. I love hearing G's exclamation that wearing a scarf I've knitted feels like being continually wrapped in a hug from me. I relish the fact that when my Brother comes round for tea he requests home baked goodies and puts his order in for his Winter hat as early as August
You don't have to be a hausfrau with acres of time and pots of cash to be a part of this world or to create with your own two hands. I certainly don't have either. Would I like to never have to work again and not worry about money? Of course I would! But that isn't an aspiration that is limited to the crafting/domestic minded person. It's one shared by many women. Many of whom would never dream of picking up a knitting needle and aspire only to shop and be ladies that lunch. And if that is what will make them happy then good for them.
I chose not to pursue a high powered career that I once thought I wanted. I chose not to because this way of life is better for me emotionally and mentally. G and I chose for him to become a teacher knowing that it would never make us rich because it is a job that makes him happy and because it is what is best for us and hopefully one day for our family.
I would never presume to articulate that all women who do pursue a career or high profile job are embittered feminists so why should I be tarred with a brush that states that I am a wannabe slave to a media driven concept of domestic perfection? Surely we as women have a better sense of self than that?
Just because I aspire to a way of life where all I eat is organic and homemade, where everything I wear is ethical and pure and a house that is spotless and still cozy does not mean that my actual life is thus. An oft discussed topic in blogland is how true to life your postings are. I'll say it now and proudly that mine is edited and at times heavily. My house, rented because I can't afford to buy, is more often than not a tip. My knickers are probably on the bedroom floor as we speak and I haven't dusted my tat collection since I can't remember when. Saturday night I had takeaway pizza and last night I enjoyed a "chocolate mousse" that probably owed more to a laboratory than the cocoa bean. No one wants to see pictures of last night's dinner dish still sitting on the coffee table or hear about the heated conversation G and I had on Thursday about whose turn it was to pay for the supermarket shop. I read people's blogs and "gastro porn" and "domestic porn" to escape from all that. So I assume that the few readers I have here don't really want to read about that sort of thing either.
I enjoy reading blogs like Jane's because I want to learn and be inspired. I enjoy icing my sunken dry fairy cakes and making disastrous lemon curd not because Jane, Nigella and their like have told me to do so, or because I feel I have to in order to be a good person, but because I enjoy it. The day I stop enjoying it or feel beholden to do it will be the day I give my knitting needles to the nearest charity shop and chuck my fairy cake tin in the bin. Why are women so quick to turn on one another? Why can't we be who want to be without tearing each other down? I'm not a feminist and don't pretend to be or to truly understand it but surely the principle of it was that women should be able and allowed to do whatever they want. Be that a judge, a lawyer, a doctor, an author or a house wife. Why does the guise of feminism and sisterhood allow us to spew vitriol and attempt to belittle each other? Surely we've all grown up a bit since the school playground.
Does wanting to quilt whilst eschewing the hoovering make me a bad person? Does doing something I enjoy over things I feel I have to or should do mean I am shackled to the cooker? If I stick a ready meal in the microwave rather than cooking a "proper meal" so that I can finish making a present mean I am slavishly following an ideal? I don't think it does. It makes me normal, well as normal as blogland gets anyway I think. As far as I am concerned life is too short to dust because I would rather be icing a fairy cake or knitting a sock.