Thinking about the way housekeeping, home economics, domestic science, is the lineage of the matriarchy and many other pagan practices. Martha Stewart unapologetically credits the Polish peasant in her late mother, Martha Kostyra, for teaching her everything she knows about celebrating the seasons with appropriate house cleaning activities. Stewart dedicated one of her major philanthropic contributions, a hospital wing, to her mother, Big Martha.

There’s a good amount of control freak in it too, of the kind Mark Twain fulminates against in his misogynist materialism, objecting to the moralistic nit picking of women in his famous excoriating essay on the founder of Christian Science,  Mary Baker Eddy. Today’s equivalent of Huck Finn’s repellent, canting Miss Watson might well be the germophobe former professor and author of a 400 page book on laundry, Cheryl Mendelson. The laundry book was an excerpt expanded from her nearly 900-page 1999 best seller on cleaning house, Home Comforts.

The rise of Martha, Cheryl and what the Brits call pinny porn appears to be related to post-feminist backlash against the baby boomer mothers who did not keep house because, first, they chose to work, and second, because they then had to work as single parents. Home. Comforts. Speaks of mother love, and in Mendelson’s case, of scary tiger mom love with enemas and starched pajamas.

Not for nothing did the Brits, who do so love their nannies and what in the case of Dr. Johnson was called “cupboard love”, of the cozy and sometimes painful kind nannies dish out, perceive the erotic infantilism in all of this, and coin the immortal term pinny porn. The best book I know about the empowerment of domestic science is Laura Shapiro’s classic, Perfection Saladnewly reissued in a Modern Library edition. It deserves a place next to Anne Higonnet’s equally fascinating and dispiriting book on how — among other things — female art students were tracked into commercial art at the turn of the 20th century, and were much responsible for the development of — well, baby flesh porn. Maude Humphrey Bogart is said to have sketched her baby as the first Gerber baby.

The new edition of the Shapiro classic.

I’m for it. But scrubbing the boxspring for dust mites? Not so much.

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