About homeculture

Culture is the stuff that gives our lives social meaning - language, cuisine, beliefs, knowledge, institutions, the arts, rituals and customs. We’re taught our culture through social learning. Lots of that learning happens before we even know what learning is. We know our culture before we know anything else, so it feels like a natural formation instead of a human construction. 

Culture creates our reality. But that doesn’t mean that reality is inevitable, eternal or natural. The American Home (™) is a cultural artifact crafted by ancient Greek philosophy, medieval Christian eschatology, industrial capitalism, white supremacy and thousands of other movements and ideas over thousands of years. Each of those movements and ideas is similarly constructed. 

I use reporting, research, and narrative to deconstruct Home and understand the inspired ideas, fraught decisions, deliberate oppression and economically valuable work that builds it.

I’m a home unmaker.

homeculture is a title that moves both ways. Home is built by culture, but the work of the home also deserves to be seen as culturally significant. 

People who’ve read through the classic western canon are often called “cultured.” We don’t call people with wide-ranging home knowledge cultured. Why? Because our concept of culture comes from an Ancient Roman (Cicero!) who read Ancient Greek philosophy. And most Ancient Greek philosophers weren’t that into women or the home. Take Aristotle. He created a disempowered domestic sphere and then put women in it.

Aristotle said women could not have in rational, philosophical discourse. It was simply not in their nature. The home could not host rational discourse because its work was inferior. Men, on the other hand, could have rational, philosophical discourse. It was simply part of their superior nature. All rational discourse belonged in the public sphere, which held politics, religion and men.

The separate spheres didn’t exist then or now. But we try to reinforce their non-existent boundaries with our language and ideas all the time. We only call people with knowledge assigned to the public sphere “cultured.” We’re still treating people who perform care work as uncultured. Every time a lean in white feminist denigrates the work of the home as nonintellectual, they’re just retelling Aristotle’s myth.

I explore the home as a rational and spiritual institution. And I seek, in my own small way, to help reclaim the rational, spiritual authority of the people who traditionally work in the home. Aristotle didn’t think philosophy belonged in the home. But women had been philosophizing around cooking fires for thousands of years before Aristotle shit his pants the first time. They’re still doing it thousands of years after him - around kitchen tables, in between zoom meetings, and during playdates.

I’m a home maker. 

What do I get when I subscribe?

Every subscriber gets the weekly essay for free. These essays are a mix of reporting, research, memoir, odd home-based fixations, and home history narratives. When you read my work and share my work, you are supporting me. Thank you. 

Paid subscribers get: 

A second weekly essay with recommended links, book reviews, recipes, and my thoughts that are too messy or vulnerable to just send out to just anyone. Rants, raves, reviews and recommendations.

Full access to the archive

Monthly Q+A I'll use reporting and research to answer your most random, earnest, wandering wonderings about the objects, tradition, science, history, and stories of home. And yeah, you can ask questions about me too…if that’s something you want to do. I’ll always be as frank as I can be.

Community in the form of weekly discussion threads and the ability to comment on posts.

It’s this community building that matters the most to me. I have large communities on social media. But the people who follow me on social media platforms are vulnerable to biased algorithms while being mined for behavioral predictive products. I can’t write about the systemic extractive exploitation of home while making my readers vulnerable to algorithmic extractive exploitation in their homes. 

As this letter community grows, I’ll be able to become less dependent on social media platforms. Every subscription - paid and unpaid - gets me closer to being able to get off social media altogether. 

I can’t wait to talk with you in this space. I want homeculture to be a place where you find one another, not just me. I can’t wait to see what you make and unmake together.

If you cannot afford to be a paid subscriber because you are an unpaid or underpaid care worker, gig worker, or student? It’d be my pleasure to gift a paid subscription to you. Just email me and we’ll get you set up. You can find me at meg@megconley.com

If you’d like to gift a paid subscription to someone you know, click here. To donate a paid subscription to to one of my readers experiencing economic insecurity, click here. Thank you.

Why go paid?

Work in the home and work about the home has value. But our culture teaches us that both should be underpaid or unpaid labors of love. I love the work I do here. And. I need to pay for the childcare, housing, food, utilities, and mental health support that makes my work possible. When you decide to become a monthly or yearly paid subscriber, you make my work possible. I promise to keep working to make your work - in and out of the home - possible too. 

This platform isn’t perfect. But I’ve searched for the past two years and can finally report there is no perfect place for my work to exist. This is a place where I can publish and you can form community less harm than other places. It’s not enough. And it’s what there is. The inevitability of imperfection is no excuse to not work for something better. Every month, 10% of my Substack income will be donated to locally run organizations helping marginalized groups. I’ll share the group’s name and mission in a newsletter at the beginning of each month.

I know some of you may want to financially support my work without financially supporting the platform. I get it. You can buy me 9 minutes of childcare instead. However you support me, thank you.

Hi, I’m Meg. It’s so lovely to get to be your host.

My work has appeared in places like Harper’s Bazaar, Slate, and The Guardian. I also get talk on shows like NPR’s It’s Been a Minute with Sam Sanders and in documentaries like The Rise and Fall of LulaRoe. It’s kind of more than I ever dared to hope.

I was raised in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It’s a religion with eternalized versions of the separate spheres. As a little Mormon girl, I was taught I belonged in the domestic sphere.  A woman’s work was the same on earth as it was in heaven. Women were supposed to perform the maintenance of creation. I was never sure what that meant for my afterlife, but I understood what it meant for my life - I’d make dinner, I’d make babies, I’d make beds, I’d make home a heaven on earth. 

I became a homemaker at 24 when I had my first baby. After years of work in the domestic sphere, I became disillusioned. I felt disempowered and disconnected. I thought maybe the lean in feminists were right. Maybe the domestic sphere was oppressive, maybe liberation could only be found through the market sphere. When my family moved to the Bay Area, I was anxious to see how a world built by a nearly unfettered tech market liberated the home and the people within it. 

Instead, I saw the market extract value from home while denying people within homes the rights of a stakeholder. People who were not white people in tech suffered the most. As lean in white feminists preached the saving grace of the market, they underpaid their nannies and voted to protect their own compound interests. I finally realized that my religion and the market were selling me the same exploited version of Home. I’m done consuming it, I’m done being consumed by it.

It’s kind of funny, I guess. I was raised to do house work and I do. I write to make and unmake the home every day. 

Need to get in touch? Email me at meg@megconley.com