DAVINA RHINE: The inspiration to write the book was definitely a lack of examples of moms who were sharing the real story of motherhood and real womanhood with today’s struggles … the nitty gritty. All I kept hearing were the marketed voices of the perfect mom with a perfect life in some perfect place- and in the beginning you mistake that as the way it really is. Which of course makes you feel like you will never be good enough or there’s something wrong with you. Rebel Moms is a glorious, blazing, bold rejection of that. Secondly, as a mom with tattoos, strong political activism, and a huge participation in art and music, I needed women whom I could relate to.
Working Mother [magazine] glorified the corporate mom whom I wasn’t, but Tattoo magazine didn’t really seem to capture the mom role either. Hip Mama had the women’s voice in snippets that I identified with but not the whole story. Rebel Moms is the whole story for the mom in all stages of life and womanhood and gives a varied perspective on parenting and living righteously and with gusto. It’s a collection of 52 mentors baring it all for the punk mom, the hip hop mom, the activist mom, the feminist mom, the Wiccan mom, the Buddhist mom, the atheist mom, the artist mom, the political mom, the poet mom, the Christian mom, the rockabilly mom, the subculture mom, and the mainstream mom who wants off the wagon.
How did you track down all these mamas, especially the BIG gets, like Janis “The Female Elvis” Martin and Ariel “HipMama” Gore?
The interview process overall took 4 years, from 2002-2006. Luckily, at the time social media was available but not as wide blown as it is now. So I just reached out online with a proposal of the project, shared some of my published works thus far, and then followed up with additional online and phone interviews.
It was amazing not only how receptive all these amazing women were to the project, but also the fact that they were willing to share it all so that it could help another mom. You know, the story you don’t get otherwise.
I think if I was to due it today it would much more difficult to reach some of the more known moms-since social media is in everyone’s lives now. I was able to speak to Maya Angelou who had to decline because of her schedule. I also spoke to Angelina Jolie’s manager who promised to get my proposal to her, but I never heard back.
It’s true that the social media explosion has created more spaces for the non-June Cleaver mom. That being said, this is probably the only parenting book on the market with this many tattoos–or to feature an interview with a Suicide Girl. Talk to me about the decision to devote a full chapter to “ink slingers & piercers,” those who REALLY transgress what a mom “should” look like.
The decision for the.chapter types actually was defined more by the professions or defining hobbies or life stage of the women, which inadvertently there were enough for a stand alone chapter on the moms who work in the body art and mod field. And Rebel Moms of course was intentionally written for the mom whose voice was completely absent from the regular dialogue of parenthood and whom breaks the rules-the bad girl grown up smart, awesome, and a fighter, and a righteous parent. I like to joke that Rebel Moms used to be Riot Grrrls! But actually that is pretty close to the truth…even if their background isn’t Riot Grrrl ( like me ), their attitude and politics basically are.
The chapters definitely reflect the cursory look into the ‘bad girl’ gone mom transition … and looks at the question of ‘who is the subculture/counterculture mom’? And what can we learn from her to be better parents while making the world a better, and infinitely cooler, place for our kids?
These are moms you definitely know won’t shy away from the hard topics of life, of being female, of motherhood- and they wear their the heart on their sleeves, quite literally, and aren’t afraid to share their truth on parenting, and the world.
You’ve practically anticipated my next observation–that many of your subjects discuss parenting in the presence of deep trauma, including rape, domestic violence, addiction, poverty, etc. To what extent to you think those experiences turned them into rebel moms? And how have they reacted to seeing these difficult personal stories appear in print?
Well, many of the moms were tenaciously themselves and drawn to their particular subculture before experiencing a trauma … But I think if anything those interests then became supports in terms of local community (Dawna and her friends rejecting our society’s beauty standards which encourage/aggravate anorexia), musical and artistic expression (RM Selena addressing social political issues via her band Menstrual Tramps), and political action (post-rape: Natasha fighting for legal changes to criminalize westerners who exploit sex slaves overseas etc).
Now we know many moms endure rape, poverty, domestic violence, who are mainstream and yes there are much better supports than what were prior but they still tend to treat the symptoms vs addressing the causes. As a feminist mom that definitely puts you in the Rebel Mom camp.
THANK GAWD! I have no tattoos, so I wasn’t sure I would qualify. Heh.
The question is: are you naturally bold and not afraid to step up and out ? Or does your gravitation towards feminism empower you and thus free you to be bold and independent? It’s a tough question! Kind of like which came first, the chicken or the egg? But on the other hand, RM Kristen shares she was always drawn to beautiful women with boldly colored hair, and body art and modifications, even as a kid–and it was who she was. No trauma, no rebellion, just her-as she was always meant to be.
For the most part many of the moms have been thrilled to see their story in print including the hard parts. A couple have been less than thrilled because what they shared was deeply personal and sometimes that is hard to look back it especially when you have moved on to a different stage in your life. But overall the moms are very glad there is now a literal book of mentors to help women and mothers by example and within the real of life and resources or lack thereof. It’s a great tool belt!
AND NOW THE GIVEAWAY!
Behold the nifty raffle widget! Follow its instructions to enter (if your DSL is slow because someone in your house is re-streaming the fourth season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” it may take a sec to load. Don’t panic):
a Rafflecopter giveaway
This book is enormous (628 pages!), so I must limit the contest to residents of the USA only. I can’t afford to ship it to Brazil, sorry.
Good luck, rebels!