A lot has changed in the way things are done in the average household in our advanced societies, but perhaps not the way most of us think about it, or at least that is one of Shannon Hayes' main points in this book. Thus, we tell ourselves thatA lot has changed in the way things are done in the average household in our advanced societies, but perhaps not the way most of us think about it, or at least that is one of Shannon Hayes' main points in this book. Thus, we tell ourselves that women always played a secondary role in society, their activity being confined to the household. Yet, it is far from clear that this is indeed historically accurate. Not only did women during the Middle Ages played a far more active role than we usually imagine, but also the relationship between men and women at home was not always as unequal as it is usually portrayed
So, when did all this change? Surprisingly enough, the change happened not so long ago. For the most part, it happened in the 20th century. More to the point, a good part of these changes did not happen until the second half of that century, starting in the 1950s in plenty of cases. That is where we can place the birth of the two-income family and the commercialization of the family home. Where the households were the center of people's lives in the old society, the action now moved towards the factory. A rapid process of industrialization led to an increase in commercialization which, in turn seriously eroded the role of women in the household. Men were now gone and had not role to play at home whatsoever. As for women, what could they do if modernization had done away with home gardens, chicken coops and even the need to sew and cook?
In opposition to all this, Hayes proposes to live an alternative lifestyle here and now. A lifestyle centered around the home, the family and small communities, and also one where we produce a good part of what we consume, avoiding the pitfalls of industrialization and consumerism.