Radical homemakers vs. radical housewives

March 24th, 2015

This post was first published on May 20, 2010, but is relevant today because a search for MY book, “The Radical Housewife: Redefining Family Values for the 21st Century” might lead you down a different path. And we wouldn’t want that!


Book Kitchen

Here’s the cover you need to look for, kids! Just for fun, I took this picture in my messy kitchen. Told ya I’m a housewife, not a homemaker!


A note from one of the publishers at the Minnesota Women’s Press reminded me of my long-delayed intention of talking a bit about a fellow Radical Shannon out there: Shannon Hayes, she of the Radical Homemaking book and series of articles in Yes! magazine. I appreciate her ideas (for the world needs MORE radical Shannons in it, not fewer) but she and I have totally different practices and goals.

Hayes’s subtitle is “reclaiming domesticity from a consumer culture.” As a committed pinko, I like anything that questions the status quo. Capitalism exists to make us all desperately unhappy sheep. The short term consequences are increased L’Oreal and Bud Lite sales–long term consequences are entrenched classism, racism, and sexism.

Hayes’s book site states that “it is the story of pioneering men and women who are redefining feminism and the good life by adhering to simple principles of ecological sustainability, social justice, community engagement and family well-being.” Elsewhere, she writes: “in essence, the great work we face requires rekindling the home fires.”

And that’s where we part ways.

It starts with the word “homemaker,” one that I have always found problematic. How does one MAKE a home? I haven’t a clue. Is it by washing the floors? Baking from scratch? Quilting? Gardening? Reading bedtime stories? Nurturing relationships? I clean my home. In the interest of sustainability, I recycle and compost like a maniac, carry my cloth bags with me, bike it up, etc. etc. But I don’t think that keeping a coop of chickens or canning the beans from my garden is the way towards a more just world.

For one thing, “rekindling the home fires” implies turning inward, reaffirming the family as the basic unit of society, just like the folks at the Christian Coalition. Now, I don’t know if Shannon Hayes is religiously motivated. But once you start turning inwards, towards a unit that looks like you, talks like you and thinks like you, you start getting out of touch with the complex systems that conspire against the people who DON’T look like you!

Feminism is about fighting oppression in all its forms. That means we must work outward, not inward. This is why I must place Radical Homemaking on the Mommy Wars spectrum, despite its fine intentions. Examples of Radical Homemakers, the author included, have only been well-off, highly educated white women.  “The Opt-Out Revolution,” anyone?

A discussion on the subject at Bitch led me to the blogger Vegan Burnout, who wrote: “to frame the choice between working a soulless 9-to-5 or building a backyard chicken coop and learning to can tomatoes as the only feminist options is reductive and insulting.” It’s easy to choose your choice when you have so many choices to choose from that when you do choose, your choice is automatically THE BEST ONE! It’s the Opt-Out argument from 2003 all over again.

So why did I pick the Radical Housewife moniker, then? Because I find the word “housewife” really funny. That’s why. When I’m asked to fill in the box marked “occupation,” I say I’m a writer and an at-home parent. The damn home can make itself for all I care.

Sorry, Radical Shannon. I just don’t buy it (anti-capitalist pun intended).


If YOU’RE in the mood to buy, why not get a copy of The Radical Housewife from these fine retailers? 


Barnes & Noble


Your local indie store (via IndieBound)


A dream come true

February 3rd, 2015




Library book




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This is really, really great.

Doesn’t every nerdy little kid dream of this day?

I know I did.




2014 in bests and worsts

December 31st, 2014

2014 is over, long live 2014! Was it the BEST year I ever had? It couldn’t have been the WORST, but a lot of really crappy things happened.

In the BEST year file is the culmination of a lifelong dream and five years of hard work: the publication of my first book.



Too bad it had to happen when I was laid up with two additional, accidental firsts: my first broken bone and my first surgery.

2014-09-09 16.35.28


Those were such painful WORSTS that I had to wonder if the universe had a message for me. I mean, neither Ariel Gore nor Cheryl Strayed broke their dominant wrists seven weeks before a book signing! Maybe this was evidence that I needed to use the laptop not for writing but for reposting videos of my daughter playing drums with the girls from rock camp:


OMG, right? She is the BEST. As a frustrated drummer myself it is a thrill every day to hear her practice and to remember how much fun she had being part of a band. Gina Schock and Georgia Hubley should watch their backs.

But as much as I love my daughter, her band wasn’t the BEST concert I saw this year. My sister and I got to relive our youth with the Replacements’ hometown reunion show in September.

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Paul Westerberg looks tiny because I was not going to twiddle with the settings on my phone’s camera while I was watching a performance by the band I’ve loved dearly for close to thirty years. The Replacements are the BEST band in the world.*

One of the WORST things in life is definitely air travel, but the end result can be spectacular. In October, still with a cast on my wrist, I traveled with my family to the Grand Canyon.



This is probably the BEST place on earth to have a nice hike and contemplate your tininess, your absolute meaninglessness in the presence of millions of years of geologic time. You think to yourself, “is it really the WORST thing ever to have just 14 reviews of the book up on Amazon? Will it matter a hundred, or hell, even a dozen years from now?”

That’s the tricky thing about achieving a lifelong goal–the day after, you still have to get up and brush your own teeth. Everything around you looks the same; the world didn’t shift off its axis like you thought it would. If you let that get inside your head, it can be the WORST.

I should know.

So I come back to this photograph, one of the BEST I think I’ve ever taken, with three of the BEST, most adorable people on the planet:




2014 is over, long live 2014–the best and the worst.







*Anyone who complains about the lack of Bob Stinson, Chris Mars and/or Slim Dunlap is the WORST. Let it go.




A Thanks Giveaway!

November 18th, 2014


Reasons I loathe Thanksgiving:

  1. The school holiday is unneccessarily long
  2. Christmas crap everywhere
  3. Start of six months of winter

Reasons I love Thanksgiving:

  1. Pie
  2. Pie
  3. Pie

And the winner is: PIE! So I LOVE Thanksgiving! 


I have a lot to be thankful for, especially this year, THE YEAR OF THE BOOK. I wrote a book and Medusa’s Muse published it. As a sweet friend reminded me, “it only took you five years of anguish and hard work!”




“Shannon!” you gasp, shocked to your liberal core. “You didn’t write a book to make money! You wrote a book to be FAMOUS!”


call me oprah


I kid, I kid.

I am VERY thankful that I had the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream. How many people can say that? And in nine days I’ll be a guest in the lovely home of very dear friends, eating massive amounts of pie. Life is pretty damn good.

So why not share that good fortune with you? Enter below to win one of two copies I’m giving away as a THANK YOU to everyone who’s been a part of this arduous but amazing process. Winners can get their copies personalized for themselves or for the winter holiday gift recipient of their choice! And who wouldn’t love seeing The Radical Housewife under their tree/menorah/Festivus pole? Well, maybe not the great-aunt who belongs to Concerned Women for America: she might not like all the swearing!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!


The Radical Housewife is officially launched!

October 10th, 2014

I have a long list of people to thank for making last night’s print launch of The Radical Housewife such a success.

1. My orthopedic surgeon, who promised that putting a steel plate and seven screws in my right radius would make it possible for me to sign books seven weeks after shattering my wrist. He was right!




2.  Magers & Quinn Booksellers for hosting the event. Signed copies are available at the store, so hurry to Uptown Minneapolis to get one!

3. Everyone who came out last night, especially my own private Artie Fufkin (and she knows who she is).
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4. Of course, none of this would be possible without the support of my family.




5. Finally, I have to thank YOU, my blog readers over the years, for supporting and/or flaming me. You’ve been a silent partner in this Radical Housewife biz since it began in 2006. Now get out there and buy the damn book!



I would go to jail to protect my daughter, but I won’t have to.

September 24th, 2014


Jennifer Whalen, a Pennsylvania mother of three, is currently serving a prison sentence for the “crime” of obtaining misoprostol and mifeprestone for her 16-year-old daughter, who used the drug to induce a miscarriage in the first trimester of an unplanned pregnancy.

In more SEO-worthy terms, this woman in in jail for helping her daughter have an abortion.



Like Whalen, I have a daughter. If she needed me to help her end an unwanted pregnancy, I would do it. Here are the steps we would take:

1. We would make an appointment at the Planned Parenthood clinic that is less than five miles from our home.

Jennifer Whalen’s nearest abortion clinic was 75 miles away.

2. As required by Minnesota law, my husband and I would provide written documentation that we were told of our daughter’s decision to terminate her pregnancy at least 48 hours before the procedure.

Whalen “knew [her daughter’s father] would be upset,” so she didn’t tell him about the pregnancy.

3. 24 hours before the procedure, my daughter would be required to listen to a five minute phone call about fetal development, the medical risks of abortion, and the medical risks of continuing the pregnancy to term. This is part of Minnesota’s “Woman’s Right to Know” Act, which was passed in 2003 under the assumption that all sexually active women must be stupid.

I don’t know if Pennsylvania has a bullshit law like this, but it wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

4. At no point would I be concerned about the time this would take, because all of the work I do for pay is done at home.

A personal-care aide at an assisted-living center for the elderly, Whalen worried that taking time off for travel and waiting periods would endanger her job.

5. If I were unable to drive my daughter to the clinic on appointment day, we would take a bus to the light rail line that stops just two blocks away.

At the time of her daughter’s pregnancy, the Whalen family also had only one car, which both parents juggled to get to work. When my family’s second car crapped out in 2010, we realized that abundant local transit options made purchasing a replacement unnecessary.

6. The fee for my daughter’s first trimester abortion would be covered by the health insurance provided by my husband’s employer, a Fortune 500 company.

Emily Bazelon’s article about the family states that the pregnant daughter was uninsured. I’m guessing that Jennifer and her other two daughters weren’t insured, either.

7. If there were complications, I could take my daughter to the hospital without fear of being reported to child protective services.

Guess how the state of Pennsylvania learned about what Whalen did?


As I work on the promotional and marketing materials for my book The Radical Housewife, I find myself looking back to the very first days of my feminist reawakening, to the time when the birth of my children made real for me all of the feminist talking points I’d only read about or listened to on my old Free to Be…You and Me record. Having a kid not only puts your heart on the outside of your body, it puts your guts and soul out there too. It forces you to confront painful realities, one of which is the cold hard fact that when I put myself in Jennifer Whalen’s shoes, I can see myself doing the same thing for my daughter but never, EVER experiencing the same consequences.

That’s wrong. That’s why I can’t sit idly in my safe socioeconomic bubble and be content with the status quo.

This story illustrates perfectly why many abortion rights activists are no longer using the term “pro-choice.” What good does being “pro-choice” do to help women whose choices have been taken from them?

I stand for reproductive justice and for the release of Jennifer Whalen.




Why doesn’t she leave? Only she knows

September 9th, 2014

This post was originally published in 2012, but is being revised and reposted because not much has changed in the world of victim-blaming since then. My thoughts are with Janay Rice and her daughter Rayven, both of whom are in even graver danger today than they were a few months ago. If I were the praying kind, my knees would be worn out for them.


I love my feminist sisters and brothers, but they aren’t perfect.  Feminists can be power trippers, backstabbers, and my-shit-don’t-stinkers as much as any other segment of the human population.

That said, there are certain ground rules that are accepted when one claims membership in The Feminist Club.  They are so mind-numbingly obvious that I feel idiotic even replicating them, but here they are:

Feminists who’ve had abortions are not called “baby-killers.”

Feminists of color are not called racist slurs.

Feminists who are rape survivors are not called “sluts.”

Feminists who are LGBTQ are not called any homophobic/transphobic insults.

We gird ourselves daily against this disapprobation from the general population, so we should understand that when we are in a feminist space, we will be safe from this kind of garbage. It follows, then, that this is also a Feminist Club Ground Rule:

Feminists in abusive relationships are not called “weak,” and/or shamed publicly for what they are going through.

Yet it happens, and much more often than you’d think.  WHY?  Marie De Santos, director of the Women’s Justice Center, an advocacy group in Sonoma County California wrote this in a piece called “Why Doesn’t She Leave?”
why the glaring blind spot in regard to domestic violence victims? Why are women denied even the validation of the dangerous dynamics of her dilemma? Why do so many people still hold a view, as cloaked as it may be in paternal tones, that is more in sync with the perpetrator’s stance than with the victim’s? 

Why, indeed. There was a time, I admit, when I did think that the first thing an abused woman should do was leave. She should walk out, call the cops, get one of those restraining order thingies that I thought solved everything. There was also a time when I didn’t think that women could be raped by their boyfriends.

I also spent a portion of my life believing in Santa Claus.

What happened? I listened, I learned, I grew the fuck up. Despite our gut feeling that a woman in an abusive relationship “needs” to leave, she might have good reasons for not going anywhere.  Statistics tell us that the victim is actually in the MOST danger when she is in the process of leaving–and 76% of women killed by their abusers had been stalked prior to their murders.

On December 28, 2011, the author, entrepreneur & blogger Penelope Trunk posted a photo of the bruise her husband gave her.  Naturally, it went viral.  Four days later, she responded: “I’m absolutely shocked by the collective hatred and disdain for women who are in violent relationships….for some reason, people feel it is honorable to rip a woman to shreds if she is living with domestic violence.”  She also declared, in no uncertain terms, that she is staying with her husband. A cursory glance at her blog in 2014 shows that she hasn’t changed her mind.

I think I wouldn’t…..but I don’t know for sure. If I were Penelope’s friend, though, I’d let her know that she had my support whenever and wherever she needed it. If she showed interest, I’d help her create a detailed and thorough safety plan. Penelope isn’t keeping her abuse a secret, obviously, but other women might want to, so I would be absolutely certain that I didn’t expose my friend’s situation without her permission. After all, the consequences of breaking the silence would be borne by my friend, not me.

Reality check: 30% of women homicide victims were killed by their intimate partners.  

If you aren’t sure about how to react to a person’s story of domestic violence,  don’t judge. Listen. Answers will reveal themselves, one story at a time.



F YOU NEED HELP: The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)


10 things this feminist is afraid of (and one she’s not)

September 4th, 2014


1. Heights

2. Centipedes, or as they’re known in our house, “creepy crawlies”

3. Elliott starts college in four years and our measly savings will only pay for his first calculus textbook

4. Cancer

5. Smiling with coffee grounds in my teeth

6. Holding a book event on October 9 in Minneapolis that no one attends but my mother

7. The check engine light

8. Any suggestion that “General Hospital” might be canceled

9. The steady erosion of reproductive health care access around the country

10. My children enduring physical and/or emotional harm



One thing I am NOT, repeat NOT afraid of is…..


Afraid to be SAHMS


….being a stay-at-home mom. I’ve been one for 14 years. I’ve been a feminist even longer. Of course I write a little, including a new book that is now available in print from Powell’s or Amazon , but my primary gig since the year 2000 has been stay-at-home momming.

Feminism didn’t scare me away from anything.

I await the opportunity to appear on Fox & Friends to provide a thoughtful and only slightly vitriolic rebuttal. Booking agents should write theradicalhousewife at gmail dot com.


I guess I’m lucky no one wants a signed ebook…

August 22nd, 2014

…which is available at these fine outlets, if you don’t have yours already:

So this happened:

WIN_20140820_141820 (2)



I had my State Fair tickets, my kids’ school supplies, a bitchin’ book press release–I thought I had My. Shit. TOGETHER!

Then I stumbled in the dark and broke my right wrist. Yep, my dominant hand. I told the ER doc that I was signing books in about seven weeks and received a very pitying look. I plan on proving him wrong.

But to do that I need to cut waaaay back on my social media and marketing plans so I can heal. Will you help me out by talking up the book to your friends? By Tweeting about the book with the hashtag #RadicalHousewife? By pitching the book to your book club? By asking your favorite media outlet to review it?

Thanks fans, friends, feminists! I love you all (and that ain’t just the Vicodin talkin’).



This book thing is actually happening

August 4th, 2014


You’d think after five years of work I wouldn’t be surprised that I wrote a book, and yet….


…I guess I am.

The copy I’m reading is merely a proof, the kind of thing that authors parse for EVERY TINY LITTLE ERROR until it makes their publishers want to murder them, even from a thousand miles away. So far I’ve only found a couple, a few more glaring than others. I’m trying not to lie awake at night obsessing about them, instead reminding myself that to do so would be missing the forest for the trees, and in this case the forest is MY GODDAMN BOOK.

While print copies are not yet available, the ebook is ready for downloading on KindleKobo, and Nook. And I’m already getting some reviews, including this absolutely bananas post from Renia Carsillo that includes her favorite quotes:





And NO we are not related–in fact, we have never met. That will change in the virtual realm when I join Renia and her readers in a Google hangout to talk about the book on August 22. I hope you’ll join us to dish on the book and all things feminist parenting.

Those who join my mailing list will be the first to get the scoop on when print copies are available, as well as where I’ll be doing my first signing. BIG HINT: it’s in Minneapolis, but it’s not at my house (thank gawd).

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a book to write edit read.