Monday, March 15, 2010

Women and the backyard chicken-keeping phenomenon

According to Peggy Orenstein's essay in yesterday's New York Times magazine, The Femivore's Dilemma, women--mostly stay-at-home moms--comprise the majority of folks who have become urban chicken keepers (at least in Berkeley, California, where Orenstein lives). Orenstein observes that the locavore movement has provided an alternative for well-educated women--an alternative, that is, to the standard "break the glass ceiling" or "accept the gilded cage." Here is how she sums up what she calls "femivorism."
Femivorism is grounded in the very principles of self-sufficiency, autonomy and personal fulfillment that drove women into the work force in the first place. Given how conscious (not to say obsessive) everyone has become about the source of their food — who these days can’t wax poetic about compost? — it also confers instant legitimacy. Rather than embodying the limits of one movement, femivores expand those of another: feeding their families clean, flavorful food; reducing their carbon footprints; producing sustainably instead of consuming rampantly.
An interesting perspective--very idealized, I'd say. Maybe Orenstein is correct that this is a "good" option for women who have left paid work, but I am reminded of this earlier post regarding the added burdens that locavorism and the slow food movement have put on many women, including those working outside the home and already burdened by the second shift.

Indeed, at the end of her essay, Orenstein comes around to a similar point, concluding "if a woman is not careful, it seems, chicken wire can coop her up as surely as any gilded cage." Be sure to read the rest of the essay to see how she gets to that conclusion.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Thought Provoking Interview with Former Dominatrix on NPR

On Monday night I listened to this interview on NPR:

At first I was just listening to the charming voice of Melissa Febos, and her brand of warm and psychological take on the four years she spent as a professional dominatrix, while she put herself through college, used and then quit using heroin. But then it got me thinking about how much she dared to open up and risk her now-professional career as a creative writing professor. Certainly, I have my own emotionally charged issues with pornography and sex for sale, which are probably grounded in my own insecurities about my body and image thereof. The interview, on the other hand, made me admire Ms. Febos, at the very least for her kudos and for being able to use her experiences and talk about them publicly, even write a memoir about them. Which is altogether problematic for me, because as a feminist, I should take a definite stance against the exploitation of women in any form whatsoever. I suspect there is a difference between the rejection of all forms of prostitution and the acceptance of individuals' extraordinary life stories, but the line, I fear, is a thin one to draw here.