An interview with Davina Rhine, author of “Rebel Moms” (including a giveaway!)


THIS IS IT, MAMAS!  My first-ever reader giveaway.  I’m playin’ in the big leagues now, so Dooce had better watch her skinny back.  Read the following delightful interview with Davina Rhine, then follow the instructions for the chance to win an autographed copy of her book Rebel Moms: The Off Road Map for the Off Road Mom.  It just received a positive review from the hipstress bible of record (that would be BUST magazine, natch), so you know you want it…..

Photos are courtesy of Rhine’s Rebel Moms Facebook page.

THE RADICAL HOUSEWIFE: The first question is obvious, but necessary: what inspired you to create the book and to publish it yourself?

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!

I agree!


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!

15 thoughts on “An interview with Davina Rhine, author of “Rebel Moms” (including a giveaway!)

  1. PikaPikaChick

    I guess I’m a rebel mom because I’ve got tattoos (and old piercing holes) and I used to play roller derby and I have a mohawk and I like punk rock and stuff.

  2. Davina Rhine

    PikaPikaChick: Rock on! I think you and I may be kindred spirits. I was heavily recruited for derby 2005-2008 but had to decline due to this book, no time for both and a JOB+parenting. I’ve got the itch now. Momma Cherry from Seattle’s Rat City Rollers is a featured mom in the book. Wink. Wink.

    Shannon: Thanks so much for the phone interview and giving me a platform to articulate my thoughts on this big baby I had. Pun intended-writing a book is like a long pregnancy followed by a painful birth—which you are in the throes of now, lol. Thanks for being a rockin’ radical and doing us fems, moms, and fams proud! In short, YOU RULE!

  3. lamesha

    i’m a rebel mom because i polish my son’s toenails with glitter green nail polish and teach him the lyrics to all my favorite songs by santigold, MIA, and lady gaga.

  4. Maehemsez (TMae)

    I’m a rebel mom because I let my penis-having kid lead the way. Yesterday he picked out pink and blue tennis shoes that light up when he stomps that were in the “girl” section of the store. I didn’t bat an eye – even when the salesperson wondered who they were for WHILE HE WAS WEARING THEM. I have tattoos, I dye my hair crazy colors. I don’t think there is any one ‘right’ way to raise a kid. ROCK ON REBEL MOMS!!!

  5. deb

    i suppose i’m a rebel because we really try to live according to our beliefs instead of according to others’ expectations–which (as i’m sure everyone else knows as well) is hard. i’ve encouraged my kids to live outside gender stereotypes (son took ballet for a while, daughter cut off all her barbies’ hair and dressed them in old socks). proactively taught sexuality as open – explaining they would grow up to love who they love rather than assume their heterosexuality. we also eat differently than most families: no junk, all whole foods, live purposefully in a small house, no dishwasher, seldom use AC, ride my bike to the store, mostly unshaven…a bunch of little things that prompt my tween and teen to affectionately call me a “wierd hippie mom.”

    1. Davina Rhine

      Hey Deb! Know that your not alone in your efforts to raise a righteous family in a world of marketing gloss and the Joneses. I battle the pressure frequently and deflect it by tuning out, since its not a real reality ( majority vs minority). You will really like Rebel Mom Sarah Jane’s story who kept truckin in her quest to raise kids holisitically while butting the system and getting objections from her family and her inlaws.

  6. Davina Rhine

    Lamesha & Tmae: For sure! Its so tough just letting kids be kids when the world wants to push gender expectations on kids. My spouse is bety masculine and that has resulted in several meshings-inc a once wished for baby doll that went missing! My son is older and I am always trying to have healthy conversations with him on the subject since he wants to adhere to the general machismo roles – becuase he is trying to fit in with his peers at school. Good times.

  7. Nicole Reimers

    I am a Rebel Mom because I make my own parenting rules. I let my 7 year old dye her hair bright pink (because my mom would have never let me to that!) I have tattoo and a nose ring. I am mostly a Rebel Mom because I started my own Facebook page called Rebel Mom. In six months, I now I have 11,235 Fans. And I love it.

    1. Davina Rhine

      Nicole-you rule! And I love your FB page which I found yesterday. Thanks so much for checking this out! Moms with alternative parenting styles and tats dont get no where near as much flack as when I started this book project(2002) …. But breaking taboos and lines when it comes to parenting, or womanhood, is still a tough road to travel. I went head-up against class barriers, perfect motherhood images and of course being the political activist mom with tats and docs-caused quite a stir. Keep rocking & rebeling!

  8. Lauren

    I’m a rebel Mom because I don’t ever make a decision automatically or without thinking it through. I refuse to accept the status quo or follow blindly. I am also unflinchingly honest with my children and refuse to treat them like little morons – that probably seems unremarkable to other rebel moms, but I get a lot of flack for it from mainstream parents. And I’m getting a tattoo for my Mother’s Day gift!

    1. Davina Rhine

      You rule Lauren! And that is what Rebel Moms is all about! Making our decisions and knowing why we are making them! And parenting in this style too! My proudest mommy moment was when my son aged 4 asked, “what came first the spartans or the Greeks?” that didnt happen on just a Barney diet (although i love Barney and dinos period!) its due to real dialogue, discovery-immersion learning, being real and also following your kids lead and running with it! Congrats on your M Day tat! You will live Pam’s story, who is a prof piercer, as she shares an abuse victims healing through reclaiming her body as her own via nipple piercings.

  9. Darbie

    Outwardly I’m a rebel mama because of tattoos and piercings, short hair and vintage glasses. I look nothing like the other moms at the park. What I think makes me a real rebal mama is my commitment to giving my child the best world possible (started w/home birth for us!). Educating myself about all of the choices that we make for our son (birth, breadtfeeding, vaccinatons, shool, media, etc…) and not just going with what the doctor says, what was done to me as a child, or what other parents are doing. I can also echo what most of the other moms have said here. We are open about sexual and gender issues. We follow our own path of parenting and family life. We let of son (he says he’s a boy) be a child. Not a gender. Wanna play soccer? Great! Wanna wear the pink hello kitty knee highs while doing it? Even better!
    Huge props to all the rebal mama out there! Wanna have a play date??


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