chicks with chicks :: the femivore movement

| simple living

turns out, we're going to have a farm-forward day today!  a dear friend of mine, deidre, sent this article to me yesterday from the new york times and i immediately knew i wanted to share it with you.  it's uplifting, empowering & thought provoking, and though i encourage you to read the entire article, i'm going to highlight it for you here.

chicks with chicks :: the femivore movement

it discusses what they call the 'femivore's dilemma'- where highly educated women are turning away from the workforce and instead embracing a life of homemaking- without turning into betty draper.

"femivores expand those of another: feeding their families clean, flavorful food; reducing their carbon footprints; producing sustainably instead of consuming rampantly. What could be more vital, more gratifying, more morally defensible?"

now it seems that there is a new movement on the horizon.  in the past, many of us felt that we either had to prove ourselves by climbing the coorporate ladder, or that if we didn't, we were somehow giving in to old world standards (you know, barefoot and pregnant?).

chicks with chicks :: the femivore movement

this article is empowering us to think differently:

"Conventional feminist wisdom held that two incomes were necessary to provide a family’s basic needs — not to mention to guard against job loss, catastrophic illness, divorce or the death of a spouse. Femivores suggest that knowing how to feed and clothe yourself regardless of circumstance, to turn paucity into plenty, is an equal — possibly greater — safety net. After all, who is better equipped to weather this economy, the high-earning woman who loses her job or the frugal homemaker who can count her chickens?"

they encourage the idea that the femivore is transforming the definition of homemaker into one that is much more about soil than dirt, and fresh air than air freshener. a sustainable minded woman who stays at home not because she has to, but because she wants to take personal responsibility for supplying for their needs.  the promise that if everything in the world around us stopped, our household could simply keep on going gardening, collecting eggs and supplying clothes.

they leave us with a thought provoking question, "is my home the engine of materialism or a refuge from it?"

i encourage you to read the full article, the femivore's dilemma (its not very long).  i'll meet you in the comments section for some discussion-

what do you think of this?

{photos: bonnie forkner}


  • Loved this article. Thank you for introducing it. This is what I have wanted for a long time. My husband and I already grow a large portion of our food, but we are in the process of adding chickens and bees to the yard! I completely agree that being able to feed and clothe your family or even just yourself is a more important and more resilient ability than making a ton of money at a big business. To each their own, but bringing the focus back to the community is always a good idea. We have lost the sense of community in our fast paced lives and are witnessing the result. I love nothing more than being able to provide family and friends with homegrown, home-cooked meals and laughter. This femivore movement brings with it the hope of a return to community and caring for each other.

  • yes, yes YES!

    I could write for days on why this article, this movement, this transition our country is making is so important and so GOOD – it connects health, community, the family unit, good old American values – with a modern twist!

    off to post a link to your blog on my FB page – I know many of my friends will want to read this! thanks Bonnie :)

  • Chickens are mesmorizing! I hope that we can all turn to organics eventually. I cannot wait to get out of a homeowner association… one thing I cannot have IS chooks :(
    Great Article Bon!

  • Thank you for sharing this! As a very corperate climbing lady who also enjoys all things roosting and nesting, I find this article interesting. I’m glad to see more people thinking about these ideas and challenging the system. I wish there was a way to have both. I love my corperate job, but would like more time for garending, Growing and raising livestock! There has to be a way to balance both worlds. I’m not sure it has to be an either or. I can have both right? Lots of great things to think about here.

    • hi alisha! i think this article can mean so much to any woman, no matter what their current career status. yes, i think you can have parts of both and have a full appreciation and respect for both ‘worlds’ as well. it’s just so wonderful that this movement has begun and we’re all doing with it as much as we can. whether it’s a patio garden or a full fledged self-sustaining homestead, i feel like both are liberating and very important. being educated and educating those around us (especially our children) about the self-sustaining acts we can do is also beautiful, and you can do that no matter what career life you lead!

      what does everyone else think about balancing the corporate life with this femivore movement?

  • I wholeheartedly agree with this statement: “caretaking is undervalued in a society that measures success by a paycheck” and the sentiment of the article. I love the fact that today, as a woman, I can choose the balance between time and money and what to do with it. I’m so glad women are finding this sort of lifestyle liberating, too. Thanks for sharing this great article.

  • I agree wholeheartedly! I sit between both worlds myself. As a teacher, I have the work too hard and too long for something I believe in passionately. I also have times throughout the year where I am at home with my kids. I have been researching these very things!

  • Thank you for posting this article! My family is slowly moving towards a more sustainable style of living. We bake our own bread, are planning out first vegetable garden & I’m learning to sew. These are just a few of the changes we’ve made lately. After our second child was born, we discovered that we had fallen into the two-income trap; a place we never wanted to be. We’re hoping that the changes we are making will pull us out of the trap and in return create a healthier & more creative family. It’s slow going, but we’re making baby steps.

    • i also love what each of you have said about the importance of this movement. that our success is not necessarily measured by a paycheck, but can be measured by how well our family is taken care of and the footprint we leave on the earth. and it’s so beautiful to see how this involves community, health and family. i’m feeling so inspired by each of you, and really appreciate being able to read your thoughts. :)

  • It was the last paragraph of the article that struck me, particularly the very last sentence: “It was an unnervingly familiar litany: if a woman is not careful, it seems, chicken wire can coop her up as surely as any gilded cage.” I kept questioning myself, reading through this article, whether this really was a revolt against the unequal distribution of household labor (the line about the egalitarian relationship nods to this) or rather a reification of it. I would love to know more fully about how an egalitarian relationship is thought of, how we can forms bonds of kinship in which entire families feel these connections to the land, to their own creativity, to their humanity.

  • You know Bonnie, I might have a little bit of a different opinion. You know that I love to garden, sew and create. I love to cook homemade, healthy meals and live a more sustainable way of life. Heres my thing though. I know of some that have become obsessed. Its almost like, if you are not living off of your own land or only buying Organic and handmade, then you are not good enough (thats only some). I think the Femivore movement is great as long as it does not become extreme.

    Other than that, I love that we are getting back to basics and enjoying a less material way of life. That is the positive from this economy. We are turning lemons into lemonade!

  • to Natalie – for every movement there are extremists…part of me feels happy for their passion, but most of me gets a bit annoyed…they tend to take away from the good that can come from any movement – so, with you, I agree…but, there will always be those who go too far…we just need to ignore them, like the naughty kid in grade school :)

    Bonnie, an answer to your question of balance – several years ago when I began my research into living a more sustainable life I came across an opinion (I can’t remember who it was, too bad I have never been able to give credit) – this person said that we should all start with one thing and if that is all you can ever do, at least you are doing SOMETHING! for those that choose to balance corporate with movements such as the femivore movement…try not to feel guilt…pick one thing, if you get comfortable, try to add another…but always feel good that you are doing SOMETHING!

    and, even as a stay at home momma I can’t do it all and I have to remind myself constantly of all the good things I AM doing (buying local, using my own bags when shopping, cooking my family’s dinners from scratch most of the time, growing veggies in the summer…) – there is always someone doing more than I am or you are…but, that’s ok…let it go.

    • @natalie & jes: yes, unfortunately, there are extremists in everything (education, religion, feminism etc) that will always exist. i believe that maintaining a healthy balance in life is the most important thing, i.e. be careful what you’re an extremist about, haha! the wonderful thing is that beautiful, fulfilling and liberating acts, opinions and discussions come out of every subject. i agree, that one small thing is a job well done. nobody expects that everyone should do this, where would we be without our fellow ladies in the corporate workforce? it takes everyone listening to their hearts and obeying their passions. the important thing is that no women feel that they have to do something in order to fit a mold or meet a standard. instead, follow your heart and support your neighbors. we women can be pretty hard on one another, and what we need to do is be each other’s biggest supporters!

      and hey, in my book, if you skip one happy meal or get one scraggly tomato from the pot on your front porch, you’ve done something wonderful!

  • I agree that extremists can tend to ruin good things and I completely agree that ignoring them is the best plan!!! Balance is best and that is determined by individuals. I work 8-5, but love being in the garden when I can. This time of year is my favorite. With the days sticking around longer into the evenings I have time after work to unwind in the garden. To some, it may mean having just one pot of herbs and veggies on the deck and to others it could mean full-time food production and making clothes, but the idea of incorporating these self-sustaining aspects into our lives is the important part. It is totally true that doing even one small thing, that fits into your individual schedule, makes a difference.

  • I really enjoyed the article. I’m a young wife and new mother and a recent college graduate–I majored in Agribusiness and Studio Concentrated Fine Arts–odd combination I know, but I did it with a sound plan in mind. I always wanted to work from home in order to raise my child on the farm, so I started my own business. I currently raise a few calves for the freezer, a flock of chickens, some rabbits, and have a garden, but eventually I’d like to be less dependent on outside resources. I’m hoping to sell our excess produce and livestock at Farmer’s Markets and auctions as well as selling my art at local shows and on the internet. I’m working on self-sufficiency and I’m hoping to teach my daughter how important that truly is. Like Peggy said in the article, who is more prepared if something was to happen, a woman with an amazing career or somebody who can go in their backyard and pick up dinner? I write about this a lot, and it’s always brewing in my mind. I’m not a dooms-day-er, but I do think people are too trusting of things like grocery stores and fast food establishments for their meals. A flood or other natural disaster comes along and people are justifying looting stores because they are hungry. Makes you think. I intend on writing a blip about this article on my own blog and will definitely mention your post as well. Thanks so much!

  • Very thought provoking indeed! I’ve certainly embraced my role as a homemaker- but I too have experienced at times feelings of monotony, boredom, and “economic dependence,” {in terms of wishing I could contribute financially to our family’s budget}.

    For me, opening my Etsy shop a few months ago really broke that boredom away, gave me something to delve into that was keeping my mind fresh, creativity expressed, and even something to talk about beyond kids- not that I don’t still love to talk about them, but I felt as if I couldn’t even have adult conversations at times!

    I think it’s vastly important that housewives have some sort of indulgence- find your joy, passion, and where you can invest yourself & your abilities! For me, making money from it is just a perk.

    Beehives, chickens, organic gardens…those are dreams of mine! Our current housing situation wouldn’t allow it- but something I highly respect and look forward to enjoying someday! Not only for the fulfillment and healthier lifestyle- think of the money you’d save! I imagine it would also open up so many wonderful learning opportunities!
    for your children as well!

    Bonnie- love what you wrote about balancing vs. becoming an extremist, and women supporting one another! I wholeheartedly agree.

  • I agree that balance is important while working as hard as you can to keep your priorities in tact. My children are grown and I’ve learned that a willingness to learn along the way helps, too. I love learning from my children! Do as much as you can (even if it’s little) and feel good about it. Great post, Bonnie. The chickens are lovely.

  • what a great discussion today – I really enjoyed checking back throughout the day to see what folks had to say!

  • My husband and I were just winding down the night with chatter about our garden, which took a beating when we opened our retail shop last summer: this is one of the hardest parts of having strong ideals with limited time. It becomes even harder with limited resources. I know a lot of this trend is associated with the recession’s implications that we need to get back to basics–but, and I don’t want to offend anyone here, truly–it is hard not to feel like this movement is still primarily accessible by women in economic classes that are fairly comfortable. I would love to be able to garden more, stay home with my children, sew, cook–in fact, I do a lot of those things, but I honestly live beyond my means in an attempt to live according to my ideals. And there is actually no possible way for our family to survive on one income. Luckily, I own my own fledgling business, which allows me the flexibility to adapt to daily circumstances–but what about the millions of American women who have even less than me? I am sure I am being way too brief and vague as it is way too late at night to be posting (after a long day running the shop with my 4 year old in tow, and then preparing a late-evening meal of locally-raised organic chicken, putting the kids to bed, planning our garden–“back to basics” is simply exhausting!)…but I just wanted to throw these thoughts out there. I believe in everything this movement stands for, but it can be yet another overwhelming pressure on women, who continue to bear an incredible weight in this culture.

    • hi alex! yes, i know how you feel! by no means does this mean every woman should or could do this. most simply can’t survive on one income. i think the more important issue is for woman not to feel like they have to do anything other than follow their heart. if their passion is in the workforce, by all means, that’s where they should be! and if it’s at home, my hope is that one day women will feel like they can do that without being held to social criticism. though, some won’t be able to do what their heart desires for financial reasons. it’s all part of it and it is all ok.

      i know some who read this are feeling like it’s yet another standard that the woman should uphold and add to her to-do list. but, doing what we can is (in my book) what’s important. not necessarily quitting your day job to head to the farm. small things like teaching our children that vegetables grow from the earth, eating local when we can, and using reusable grocery bags. everyone’s small acts combine to make a huge difference.

      aren’t we lucky to be able to do both? to own shops, (brick & mortar or etsy) or be in the workforce, and still be able to do some things that bring awareness to getting ‘back to the basics’. i think where everyone is in this movement and in their lives is beautiful. if what this article stands for is important to us, we have to mold it to fit our modern lives, however much that may be- by a little or a lot.

      thank you alex for the thought provoking conversation!

  • Thank you SO much Bonnie for finding and posting this link. The article could have been written about me – uncannily so. I am a fairly highly educated woman who gave up my career totally after the birth of my 2nd child – there was alot of eye-rolling from my colleagues. I have embraced my new role but it does present the exact challenges mentioned in the article. I have really struggled with the concept of relying on my husband’s salary and that was part of the reason for starting my own business. But I take pride in my work at home – and it is so satisfying knowing that I can provide for my family from our backyard. Often it is hard work and more often it is tedious as well. But I take delight in feeling the sun on my face, hands in the dirt, the smell of washing on the clothes line and maybe a little just a little bit of chicken poo!
    mel x

  • Bonnie, as ever, I appreciate the things you bring to light here!

    As an artist all the way (but well educated, just to put that out there too ;) I’ve worked a slew of unfulfilling jobs to scrape by. About three years ago my husband and I decided to step back from the rat race and commit to living a life that fulfilled us (we had been living just outside San Francisco, working 3.5 jobs, making very decent money and seeing each other a total of 10 hours a week). We cut our funds by more than half and while we have had our fair share of financial stress, it’s also PROVIDED / NECESSITATED a need to learn how to provide for yourself.

    My thought in all this is related to HelloBluebird’s comment: when we decided to cut down to 1.5 jobs, we suddenly no longer had the means to purchase all the food stuffs / organics / sustainable goods we had supported before. We have to tread a delicate balance between holding our ideals of life quality AND supporting our ideals of quality food and products. It’s NOT easy, but it is good.

    For me, it has absolutely been the “right” choice, and the satisfaction I have knowing that I can NOT buy certain items and learn just how much I can make, create, grow with my own two hands. Growing up in suburbia and then living in densely populated areas, learning small things like baking my own bread has giving me an opportunity to experience a visceral connection to centuries of womanhood.

    I think it all goes back to making the best choices that you and ONLY you can make for your life and your earth.

    (gosh, sorry this is sooooo long – getting off the soap box now)

  • Thanks so much for sharing this article. This is something my friends and I have talked about a lot lately and this offers some great insights.

  • Bonnie, thank you SO much for linking this article. Although at first read, I was really annoyed with it, upon further reflection, it is a great piece – BECAUSE it gets you thinking.

    I guess I was annoyed because she kind of stereotypes all OTHER stay-at-home moms/homemakers as the “Betty Draper/Lysol” using type. Ironically, I think it was the shift to the 2paycheck lifestyle/feminist corporate movement that LED families to rely on things like Lysol and tv-dinners to make ends meet.
    The “Betty Draper” homemaker represents a very small portion of women, for a short period of history — I know many MORE women who have always led a fully ‘feminist’ lifestyle by utilizing their talents & gifts for the betterment of their families, i.e. my mom, my grandma, etc. Is it weird that I grew up in a family where growing your own veggies and makings clothes was the norm?

    But I really do rejoice that so many women are being empowered to make intentional decisions to stay-at-home, to farm, to homeschool (!!), etc. And some dads too.
    All the better for women who truly LOVE their jobs/careers and use that to serve/support their families on top of being awesome moms, etc.

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