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, raising chicks, 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.

The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv which broadcasts weekdays on satellite TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415 Free Speech TV) on cable, and online at and Follow GRITtv or GRITlaura on