Householder Feminism

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householder feminism Driving meaningful change in the domestic sphere Kathryn Lukas-Damer & Erin Szuma

are feminist narratives out of touch with women? When Erin and I, individually, went looking for stories to help us make sense of feminine power in the 21st century, we found bits and pieces here and there, but no unified voice that sang to us. Even though we both work in the market economy and hail from two different generations, we found the current forms of feminism and their mandates heady, alienating and out of touch with the things we were each thinking about. It seems to us that many of these narratives are either still singing old tunes from our mother’s and grandmother’s generations or, worse, preaching deconstructionist theories that demean motherhood and disconnect women from their biological superpowers. We both came to the same conclusion: Feminist narrative are shockingly out of touch with women.

feminist narratives are out of alignment with human flourishing Jobs in the market economy are advertised as more mentally stimulating than the monotonous drudgery of housework and parenting. Yet many of us who have worked those jobs know that expense reports, problematic customers and demanding bosses can feel far less rewarding than watching a child take their first steps or managing a thriving household. We're expected to devote ourselves to our education and career in order to feel satisfied when in reality only a fraction of the 39% of women who have college degrees find longterm happiness and fulfillment in their jobs. The remaining 60% of women who don’t have college degrees are often stuck in retail, service, or factory jobs in order to make ends meet. We shoehorn our biology into the market economy, investing heavily in our education and careers during our most fertile years. Young women, out of touch with their fertility clocks, often delay having a family to focus on career until it’s too late, creating unprecedented rates of 'unplanned childlessness’. We’re told to be brave as we hand our babies over to day care centers way too early, so we don’t lose momentum in our careers – even though we know in our hearts that our children pay the price. Or, our hearts break when we’re forced to rush back to our jobs in the market economy because we can’t afford to stay home with our children. Forty years after feminists started fighting for new family leave policies, little if any progress has been made.

Cooking, cleaning, caring for children, partners and elders are labeled as 'unpaid labor' or the 'second shift' and are deemed less valuable than market economy work, even though we know we're doing the most important jobs in the world. Wages for work Feminists make demands that women should be paid for this unpaid labor in their homes but offer no pragmatic solutions on how this might be achieved or who should pay them. We thought the sexual revolution and the birth control pill, would free us from the ‘inconvenience’ of our biology but those of us who dare bring up possible unintended consequences or wonder who really benefited from this profound shift are shushed or labeled anti-woman. We’re told not to trust men – that they are part of the oppressive patriarchy. In reality, most men are our allies and are grappling with their own challenges as they seek to redefine what it means to be a man and/or father in the new era.

During the last 100 years, feminist activism has advanced the interests of professional women and focused largely on market economy issues in the public sphere. Sadly, second, third and fourth wave feminists seem to be at odds with their own biology and see the domestic sphere as as space to be avoided. It’s no wonder practical solutions that address real women’s issues have not surfaced.

feminists make no secret of their disdain for the domestic sphere “So long as every female, simply by virtue of her anatomy, is obliged, even forced, to be the sole or primary caretaker of childhood, she is prevented from being a free human being.” –Kate Millett, 2016

“Women who ‘adjust’ as housewives, who grow up wanting to be ‘just a housewife,’ are in as much danger as the millions who walked to their own death in the concentration camps… they are suffering a slow death of mind and spirit.” –Betty Friedan, 1963

“Marriage is “an arrangement for one and a half people.” –Gloria Steinem

Source: Why Feminism Wants to Dismantle the Family

“We can’t destroy the inequities between men and women until we destroy marriage.” –Robin Morgan, 1984

“the nuclear family must be destroyed… Whatever its ultimate meaning, the break-up of families now is an objectively revolutionary process.” – Linda Gordon, 2004

“In order to raise children with equality, we must take them away from families and communally raise them.” –Mary Jo Bane, 2013

“We must work to destroy [marriage]… The end of the institution of marriage is a necessary condition for the liberation of women. Therefore it is important for us to encourage women to leave their husbands and not to live individually with men… All of history must be rewritten in terms of oppression of women.” –Helen Sullinger, 1971

“Being a housewife is an illegitimate profession… The choice to serve and be protected and plan towards being a family maker is a choice that shouldn’t be. The heart of radical feminism is to change that.” – Vivian Gornick, 2001

we must find our way home When our mothers and grandmothers left home to fight for equality and gain access to market economy resources, they didn’t do it for themselves – they did it for us. We appreciate and acknowledge that our freedom today is a direct result of their hard work, and for this we are eternally grateful. But we also know they didn’t have crystal balls and couldn’t see some of the problems we would inadvertently make for ourselves on this epic journey. Their actions, which took enormous courage, provided us with the education, wealth, and influence to come up with the next part of the plan. We think they would expect nothing less from the incredible women we’ve become.


HOUSEHOLDER FEMINISM Householder Feminism champions householders and drives meaningful change in the domestic sphere.

Inspired by early feminists who viewed home as a sanctuary that required loving and skilled leadership, and the roles of homemakers/householders as essential to human well-being, our goal is to reintroduce and amplify this perspective in our cultural consciousness. Like early proponents of the home economics movement who guided families through the challenges of the then-new industrialized society, we too seek solutions that will help women and their families navigate the complexities of the 21st century. We believe there is an urgent need to upgrade old feminist narratives that no longer serve us in the information age. Our movement recognizes and valorizes householders for their vital contribution to human flourishing.

why householder? We think the word ‘homemaker’ carries too much industrial era baggage and doesn’t imply the leadership skills required to run a home and care for a family in the information age. We looked back in time to find a word that we think more accurately describes the ‘manager’ of the domestic sphere and we thought Householder fit the bill. In Old English, the term was used for the head of a household, usually a man, however, in ancient Greece, the term was more egalitarian, and used interchangeably to describe both men and women in similar roles. In some spiritual and philosophical traditions, especially in Hinduism, the term "householder" ("grihastha" in Sanskrit) denotes one of the four stages of life, wherein an individual takes on the responsibilities of marriage, raising a family, and contributing to society. In this context, the term not only signifies a domestic role but also a distinct phase of moral and spiritual duties to one’s family.

householder feminist Value Householders: We challenge outdated norms that undervalue the 1. We critical importance of care given and received in our homes, asserting its profound impact on our society at large. While we appreciate the convenience of market made goods and services, we place a higher value on the homemade care and nourishment provided by householders. Innovate Pragmatic Solutions for Householders: We recognize the 2. We economic vulnerability and low societal status of full-time mothers and householders. We seek to empower them with innovative solutions and new models that increase their financial security and social status. Believe in the Power of Partnership: We believe that couples, united in 3. We purpose and resources, inherently amplify each other's strengths. Together, they navigate challenges more resiliently and co-create environments that are conducive to human flourishing. We initiate dialogue about the evolving roles and responsibilities of both men and women in the new era and promote innovative new partnership agreements designed to strengthen collaboration. Partnerships, built on trust and mutual respect are crucial for a harmonious and stable society. We Celebrate Informed Choice: We advocate for freedom of choice in selecting

4. partners, without bounds of sex, race, or religion. We uphold a woman's right to decide if, and when, she becomes a mother. We believe in every individual's right to choose their work realm, be it domestic, public, or a blend of both. Believe in the Family Unit: We recognize the family as society's most 5. We organic and foundational unit. Numerous studies underscore the benefits children gain from being raised in two-parent households. Our initiatives seek to help families stay together while adapting to the complexities of the information age. Support Single Mothers: While we celebrate the strength of family, we are 6. We acutely aware of the challenges single mothers face. We are committed to being a source of strength, loving support and pragmatic solutions for all single parents. Our initiatives are especially beneficial for single mothers.

manifesto Prioritize Early Childhood Bonds: We support mothers who choose to be at 7. We home with their children, especially during the early foundational years, and likewise recognize the essential role fathers play in a child’s development. Promote Education and Respect Legacy: We hope to innovate education 8. We models that equip householders as well as our youth with the knowledge and wisdom of the hearth. We advocate for models that help increase the moral and emotional maturity young people need to become self-reliant, happy individuals who are able to contribute to the betterment of society. We honor the legacy of early feminists and home economists who were committed to making the world a better place through the thriving household.

9. We Embrace the Information Age: We believe the potential of modern

technologies to improve our homes and lives is vast. We advocate for informed use, especially to protect our children, ensuring our homes remain nurturing sanctuaries in the digital age.

Build Global Community: We are committed to growing a global 10. We community that shares resources, knowledge, and support, ensuring that householders, mothers and families worldwide are celebrated for their pivotal roles in ensuring our human family’s survival well into the future.

wise feminists who value the domestic sphere “The care and nurture of childhood is…a vital concern of the nation.” –Florence Kelley, Ethical Gains

“For most of history, men and women worked together in a productive household, and this is the model [...] feminism should aim to retrieve.” – Mary Harrington, Feminism Against Progress

“The home is the center and circumference, the start and the finish, of most of our lives.” – Charlotte Perkins Gillman, Author of Women and Economics

.”..home is the organic unit of society, that to raise the standard of living and of life in the home is to elevate the whole social system." –Ellen Swallow Richards, Home Economics movement founder

"The future of humanity literally depends on the preservation of the [mother-child] relationship.” – Louise Perry, Author of The Case Against the Sexual Revolution

"When you keep house, you use your head, your heart, and your hands together to create a home – the place where you live the most important parts of your private life." – Cheryl Mendelson, Home Comforts

“Making the world home-like.” – Frances Willard on the mission of the Women’s Temperance Movement

we actively shape the role technology plays in our lives Throughout history, for better and for worse, technology has profoundly shaped women’s lives and societal roles (see Hearthstory). New technologies like AI and Biotech will dramatically change our lives in ways we can only begin to imagine. Some say that when AI replaces most of our work, two activities will remain for humans: creativity and care. Wouldn’t that be a beautiful outcome? These powerful ‘god like’ technologies hold vast potential to shape our lives for the better – but for all their promise, they also carry massive risk for disruption and harm to our species. In sharp contrast to the past, when men made important societal decisions often without the benefit of the other half of the species, this time around women will play an important role in shaping our collective future. Working together with the brilliant women who have expertise in the market economy we will join forces with the skilled women in the domestic sphere who power humanity with their embodied and essential care. United as allies, we will face this techno-social evolution together by actively engaging with tech leaders to ensure their technologies remain benevolent tools that propel, not destroy, our human family. In the spirit of true partnership, our collaborative efforts hold the promise of shepherding in a future where our human family doesn't just survive, but truly flourishes.

and embrace the future in partnership.

a message Right after I met Erin, a soon-to-be mother and the younger half of Hearth Matters, I was thinking about the advice our grandmothers and early feminists might give her today if they were still with us. What would they say if they could see the impressive progress we've made - but also the mess the we've inadvertently created for ourselves. As if they were speaking to me from the beyond, the following words came pouring through my fingertips. After reading what I had written, I realized that I had needed this advice just as much as Erin did.

Kathryn and Erin at the Hearth Matters founding retreat, Santa Cruz Mountains, CA – April 2023

in a bottle Time is short and the stakes are high. Don’t let this moment in time when women have more power ever before, slip away. Let go of your anger about the past. The bitter seed of resentment hurts you more than anyone else. Most men are your allies and many are as confused as you are. They will support you in your efforts to find solutions that realign cultural values with what really matters to our species well-being. You must work together. To the Elders, the old narrative is dying, and your young people are struggling to make meaning of their lives. Don’t abandon them. They need your wisdom now more than ever to help them find new narratives -whether they know it or not. And speaking of wisdom. Cultivate it relentlessly. It lives in your belly and needs constant attention and upgrading. You know exactly what this means. Do it. Do no harm, take no shit. Be strong, but don’t be a bitch except when absolutely necessary. A soft front, and a strong back will not only make the journey more pleasant for all passengers, it will also get you to the destination much faster. Heal your sister and mother wounds and work together to figure out the next steps. Make sure your daughters are well loved and prepared to create the next part of the story for their daughters and so on. Find each other. Start the necessary conversations that will help you build bridges to the future - the one where we leave this place, and its inhabitants better than we found it. This is within our reach. This is our birthright. This is real feminine power.

With Love, Kathryn

how you can take action together we are strong

out more: Read/listen/watch the thinkers who inform and 1. Find inspire us in our resource library HERE. And be sure to read our full chapbook series HERE and share our nonprofit: Help us spread the word and 2. Support ignite a movement by subscribing to our Substack or making a donation. See our Case for Support for more information about our fundraising effort. tuned: More chapbooks are on the way and new episodes 3. Stay of our Hearth Matters podcast debut weekly. Stay in the know by following us on social media.


Join our movement: Does our vision spark you? Do you have skills or resources that could help us accelerate positive change for the future? Now is the time to build your voice into our mission and platform. Thanks so much for your time! We’re interested in connecting with researchers, householders, media and anyone interested in our work. With love, Kathryn & Erin Online: Email: On Social:




We envision a world where mothers and householders are empowered with the respect, knowledge and resources necessary to create nurturing homes, and every child is given the essential care they need to thrive.

We are on a mission to improve the social and economic status of mothers and householders by reuniting home and work.

OUR INITIATIVES REVIVE HOME & HEARTH CHAMPION THE DOMESTIC SPHERE We embrace the philosophy of early feminists who viewed home as a sanctuary that required loving and skilled leadership, and saw the roles of householders as essential to human well-being. Our goal is to reintroduce and amplify this perspective in our cultural consciousness through our podcast, social media, speaking engagements, strategic partnerships, and a forthcoming book. We also actively engage with tech leaders to ensure their technologies are aligned with human flourishing.

REUNITE WORK & HOME WITH A DOMESTECONOMY Our Neighbor-to-Neighbor Network model reimagines and upgrades our ancestors’ cottage economy by uniting producers and consumers in a homebased "sharing" economy model. This model prioritizes human flourishing and makes financial sense. Multiple NTN Networks form a Domesteconomy that coexists with the Market Economy.

REIGNITE THE ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT OF HOME Our business training program for home-based ‘cottage’ businesses provides a viable route for those trying to escape the ‘two-income trap,’ and significantly reduces the economic vulnerability of full and part-time householders and mothers.

TEACH HUMAN FLOURISHING The skills and knowledge required to manage a household, find a mate, start a family and successfully navigate the complexities of our new era are now largely absent in our academic institutions. Taking inspiration from both the practical skills taught in early Home Economics and the ‘whole person’ educational philosophy of the 19th century Scandinavian ‘Bildung’ movement, our 21st century version will aggregate online classes from best-inclass thinkers from around the world and blend them with our own courses to create a ‘Hearthology‘ curricula that teaches human flourishing.

householder feminist resources Please visit The Hearth Forum for more resources. meet a few of our favorite thinkers: Mary Harrington – Author, Feminism Against Progress Louise Perry – Author, The Case Against The Sexual Revolution Mary Eberstadt – Author, Adam & Eve After The Pill Revisited Erika Bachiochi – Author, The Rights of Women Lene Rachel Andersen – Author, The Nordic Secret, Bildung, Metamodernity

explore our past and future: The History of Home Economics, by Danielle Dreillinger The World We Create: From God to Market, by Thomas Bjorkman Birthgap, a documentary by Dr. Stephen Shaw The Alphabet vs. The Goddess and Book -and - Sex, Time and Power: How Women’s Sexuality Shaped Human Evolution, Both books and Lectures by Dr. Leonard Shlain

listen, watch and learn Maiden, Mother, Matriach with Louise Perry Modern Wisdom with Chris Williamson High Noon with The Independent Women’s Forum





domesteconomy The 21st century cottage economy model that reunites work and home.


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