Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gardening as a "Status Symbol"

I heard Laura Flanders saying this on GritTV about a week ago - and it still bugs me - the premise that she supports the idea that gardening is done as a "status symbol". The people that I know in the green movement (and that would include eco-feminists) are more about sustainability and such than status. Arrggg. Not only that - I know a lot of men who are equally into having gardens.

Maybe it's also the suggestion that work only counts when your getting paid - otherwise it has to demeaned? What's up with that?

Gardening - esp. organic type gardening - avoiding pesticides, avoiding shipping produce all over, getting your hands dirty is not about status in Indiana (the high status people pay others to garden for them).

It may be that intellectuals/environmentalists are more likely to take it up than people who watch sports or Nascar, etc. Personally - I think it would great if more people saw it as the cool thing to do.

Flander's piece:
The latest women's movement story from the New York Times Magazine has a farming theme. "The Femivore's Dilemma" by Peggy Orenstein describes how somewhere between the workforce and the housework some women are raising chickens, growing vegetables, and tending gardens. Sounds lovely? Maybe. but As Orenstein unpacks the story, it's clear that the only women who are actually happy in this picture have husbands who pay the bills...The backyard garden's nice, but it's mostly a status symbol. Those women who actually try to live off their farming find the whole enterprise frustrated by lack of credit and cash. In other hands that would have been the perfect segue to talk about most of the world's farmers - also women. You know, the ones who produce half the world's food with near to no access to credit...or power...Those women, in the Magazine's story, are inexplicably invisible. If the Times really wanted to talk dilemmas, there is no shortage. But the one we need to be talking about isn't what will it take to make status symbol farming satisfying, it's how do we empower the world's women farmers. Raising chickens isn't the key to feminist liberation. But women's security just might be key to ending hunger.

Plus - there are those around here who have turned their gardening into successful enterprises - like the Chile Woman. Though part of her success is shipping her plants all over the place - and not just selling them around the local area.

I just don't get how gardening is bad - any way you look at it - esp. low-impact, organic gardening.

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