I am beginning this series of posts on domesticity anew in the midst of five related global responses to five related global crises: the Black Lives Matters movement that responds to systemic racism, and especially police assaults and murders of people of color; the movement to contain and limit the spread of COVID-19; the MeToo movement that responds to systemic sexism, and especially the harassment, assault, and rape of women; the movements to respond to the current economic and political crises that expose the injustice and cruelty of dominant political and economic systems; and the movements that respond the climate and extinction crises that are already extinguishing vast numbers of species and threaten to make our earth uninhabitable for vast numbers more, as well as for most of our descendants.
These crises and responses to them reveal an underlying struggle between the ways we actually find and make a home in the world for ourselves, our families, and communities and inherently destructive ways of treating each other, other beings, and the world that have seemingly come, over the past ten to thirteen millennia, to dominate our lives. I say “seemingly” because, if the destructive ways actually wholly dominated, we would not have continued to exist as sentient social beings.
A single word for what lies at the heart of this struggle is domesticity. The definition of domesticity is “home or family life” (Apple Dictionary, version 2.2.2, 2005-2017). This definition calls explicit attention to three human universals. (1) We are living beings. (2) We only live to the extent we find and make homes in the world. (3) We only live to the extent that we sustain each other in families. Implicit in these three explicit universals are two more. (4) We live only as bodies. (5) As bodies and families who live in homes, we are communities of communities that only exist in relation to and as participants in multiple other communities.
In future posts, I will describe how struggles between sustainable and destructive domesticities lie at the heart of the crises we are facing. I will analyze how destructive domesticities grow out of ways we seek to defend our lives, bodies, homes, families, and communities against existential threats. And I will identify how we can strengthen and amplify the ways we and all the other beings in the world actually make homes together and sustain each other.