Category Archives: Culture Wars

What kind of mother would let her child read the local newspaper?



(You can’t see me, but I’m pointing at myself)

See, over in the upper right hand corner of the May 16 edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune is a commentary titled “Yes, a child might belong at a protest.” I wrote it in a rage on May 14 in response to news that a 10-year-old child at a evening protest in Minneapolis was maced by police and the person being blamed for this event was NOT, in fact, the officer with the mace can but the boy’s mother.

It’s always the mother’s fault, isn’t it? Think about it:

  • Sybrina Fulton killed Trayvon Martin–not George Zimmerman.
  • Samaria Rice killed Tamir Rice–not Officer Timothy Loehmann.
  • Lesley McSpadden killed Michael Brown–not  Officer Darren Wilson.

If these women were 100% PERFECT ALL-AMERICAN GOOD MOTHERS™, their children would be alive. Because in this country, bad things only happen to bad people.

(or to brown or black people, which to many are the same thing.)

As of this writing there are 192 online comments posted, and the vast majority are awful:


Far Left Loon

Some are hilarious:

radical left

Some are bewildering:

Caucasian males

But one made ALL of the crappy ones worthwhile:

Susan Responds
When I told my daughter, the newspaper reader, that the boy’s mom wrote in with a comment, she was very happy for me. “That is so cool,” my 10-year-old protest veteran said, and she hugged me.

I may not be 100% PERFECT but damn, that made me feel like a GOOD MOTHER™.


What kind of mother would take her children to a protest?


The mother in the YouTube still shot, on camera with her family at 4:10:



The mother in this photograph:




These mothers:




This mother:




The mother of these two darlings:







If you come for Susan Montgomery for taking her kid to a Black Lives Matter action, you better come for me, too.

Leave your nasty, judgy, self-righteous comments in the space below.

I can’t wait to read them.




When housewives and bridges collapse

Last Easter, while others were churching and/or brunching, Matt and I went to see a locally-made film called “The Public Domain.” We are acquainted with Patrick Coyle, the film’s writer-director, which gave us additional incentive to see it, above and beyond our civic duty as supporters of independent art–and it did not disappoint.

From the film’s website:

 August, 1, 2007, 6:05pm, the hottest day of the year in Minneapolis.  A bridge spanning the Mississippi River collapses during rush hour. Thirteen people die, 145 are injured, a U.S. Senator arrives on the scene and declares that “a bridge shouldn’t just fall down in the middle of America.”  Five years later, the lives of four people, impacted by the tragedy and on the run from their personal demons, intersect in a waterfront bar operating in the shadow of the bridge.  The name of the bar is THE PUBLIC DOMAIN.



An important point: “The Public Domain” is not a film about things that fall down. It is a film about how things, and people, rebuild.

After watching the film I was reminded of how deeply the bridge collapse affected the entire Twin Cities community, including one  housewife-columnist for the Minnesota Women’s Press. Like Coyle, I also used the fallen bridge as a way in to some pretty deep shit.

The housewife’s collapse
By Shannon Drury
August 23, 2007

I am an at-home parent. That’s how I identify, purposefully avoiding the popular, gender-coded acronym SAHM that implies all stay-at-home moms are the same. I’m not. Another label I created is The Radical Housewife, a moniker that seemed pretty funny when I set up a MySpace page. I’m just that kind of post-hipster, Gen-X irony-laden spouse and parent who wants to reclaim “housewife” from the June Cleavers and Barbara Bushes of American history.

Why the distinction? Why deem it necessary to create a goofball label at all? Not simply to declare my leftist leanings to the world, surely. No, my choice to differentiate myself runs deeper than my political beliefs-it’s about the long-suppressed secret of full-time motherhood.

Housewifery really sucks.

But it sucks no more or less than any other job, when evaluated critically. Kissing ass can be as soul draining as wiping ass, but the white-collar worker doing the former lacks the suffocating aura of love and devotion and all-consuming cultural sacrifice of the latter. Back when I slung lattes for a living, I didn’t have the world’s expectations upon me. I wasn’t molding the future, I wasn’t anyone’s savior, I wasn’t anyone’s model of goodness and purity. I made coffee people liked. People liked it enough to buy more. The corporate coffee gods rewarded me in turn. You don’t need a radical outlook to miss the simplicity of those capitalist days.

At times, I do like my job. At times I even love it. But lately, I hate it. I suppose this admission is as radical an action as any.

Strip housewifery of its pink aprons and banana bread scent and it’s a job like any other, with aggravation and burnout and depression or worse. And when we housewives finally implode, it can be spectacular.

It’s not too much of a stretch to call moms the neglected infrastructure of our society, taken for granted each and every day. My children certainly careen over me with abandon, caring little of the wear and tear they exact. Whining demands are like rust, intractable demands are hairline cracks, bellows of “I hate you!” are deep shudders. A child’s special needs diagnosis turns into a fracture that’s harder and harder to repair. But it’s supposed to be that way, isn’t it? We’re built to withstand the strain, right? Maybe. Some bridges and moms are built tougher than others. Unlike highway bridges, however, moms aren’t subjected to yearly inspections, no matter how flawed. How would anyone know if I were structurally deficient if I didn’t tell them so? And I’m not going to. It seems even radicals cling to outmoded ideals of motherly perfection, in spite of themselves.

Is it any wonder, then, that the horrific Aug. 1 bridge collapse affected everyone so deeply, and me so viscerally? To me, the fall was a tragedy not only for the people lost and for the survivors whose lives where irrevocably shaken, but for my entire city, and by extension, me. How else to explain the constant tears and the intense, almost physical discomfort at seeing my city on the front page of the New York Times?

I recoiled in disgust watching Matt Lauer’s handsome mug reporting from the riverbank. What in hell was he doing here? When the nation’s First Housewife and her husband flew in to witness the rubble for themselves, I’d finally had it. Get away! I shouted at the television. Leave us alone! We don’t need you! This was wrong, utterly wrong. This was not supposed to happen here. The despair twisting in my gut felt familiar, as it was the same churn I experienced only a week or so before, when my own mother told me, “You are falling apart from stress and you need help.”

How did I reply to her? To the woman over whom I ran roughshod in my own way, so many years ago? Get away! Leave me alone! Some things never change. Until they have to.

For when we are unsupported, we will fall. Cracks and fractures happen; they are part of life and as such are easy to ignore. If only our deeply held myths were as vulnerable. If a mother weren’t held up so high and trod upon so often, all the while supporting the desperate hopes of so many, maybe her collapse wouldn’t be so unavoidable. And maybe, just maybe, if a wounded community can accept the scrutiny of the entire world, one mom can too.

That would be radical.



35W Bridge Memorial

“The Public Domain” on Facebook and Twitter


Why this middle-class white mom is boycotting the Mall of America


As a white, middle class mom of two with a certain amount of disposable income, I can safely say that I’m the Mall of America’s target market.

2013-06-04 19.01.15

 I’m the dork in the glasses, with my goofball daughter by my side

I buy Converse at Foot Locker, jeans and hoodies at Old Navy, and birthday presents at American Girl and the Lego Store. I fork over my Visa card when my kids and their friends want to ride the Pepsi Orange Streak or Jimmy Neutron’s Atomic Collider at Nickelodeon Universe. The multiplex on the fourth floor is where I enjoy Pixar films and endure movies based on comic characters. When Elliott wants a Blizzard but Miriam wants a Philly cheesesteak, I give them the cash they need to navigate the food court, then I order myself lattes at Starbucks as my reward for a job well done.

At least, I USED to do these things.  I haven’t set foot in the Mall of America since 25 people were arrested by mall police in the infamous December demonstration by Black Lives Matter Minneapolis. This is the longest stretch without a megamall visit since I became a mother 15 years ago. My boycott was informal, but since the city of Bloomington has decided to file criminal charges against 11 of the protesters, including unprecedented demands for $40,000 in restitution fees, I joined BLMM’s nationwide call to boycott the Mall of America until these ridiculous charges are dropped.

I may pretend that I’m the trendy Shop Local type who wouldn’t dream of stepping foot in a 2.8 million square foot shrine to capitalism, but at my core I’m just another boring mom looking for a reliable way to entertain her kids. The megamall is an affordable getaway for us, a Cinnabon-scented playground for us to while away our minimal cares.


2013-12-26 15.41.24

You’re never too old for the Lego Store

And my cares are quite minimal, indeed: If I turn my pale complected son loose there, my greatest fear is that he will blow his entire allowance at the iCandy Sugar Shoppe. I need not fear that he will singled out for harassment by mall security and/or Bloomington Police. Racial profiling at the megamall was an issue long before Michael Brown was shot to death in Ferguson last August; the mall might not have been happy about a demonstration occurring on one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year, but it could have welcomed the activists and shown the world that commerce and cooperation need not be mutually exclusive.

Instead, Mall of America leadership overreacted, as did the city of Bloomington, looking like a group of spoiled brats who demanded a Death Star Lego set for Christmas and got stuck with another stupid X-Wing fighter. “But I told you what I wanted from you, Mom!” sobs the frustrated child, who stomps and cries and looks for someone, anyone to blame for this indignity.

I’m not a kid, I’m an adult; I know the letter of the law states that the Mall of America is private property. I also know that the letter of the law states every citizen’s right to equal protection, whether they shop at Nordstrom or not, but all you need is an open heart and an open mind to know that isn’t reality in America today.

If the Mall of America has enough pull with Bloomington to have these charges filed, it can also ensure that they are dropped. Dare I suggest that the mall invite Black Lives Matter activists back for a public forum, perhaps in the Rotunda where the initial protests began?

I would be there, with a Starbucks coffee in my hand, an Old Navy hoodie on my back, and a Visa card burning a hole in my wallet.


Ten things I don’t want my insurance money to pay for




1. Your insulin

After all, it was your choice to eat a jelly donut every morning. Now it’s my choice not to stabilize your blood sugar.

2. Your statin drugs

See above. When you weren’t eating donuts, you were eating bacon! Sometimes you had both at one sitting! YOUR choice, not mine.

3. Your heart stents

See above, fatty! You shoulda been eating bran flakes.

4. Your kid’s stimulants

I think little Tommy’s just got an attitude problem. Discipline is what he needs, not money from my pocket.

5. Your mole removal

You got to go to the beach every year for spring break? Well, I had to go to a museum. Who’s pissed off now?

6. Your painkillers

I hear that street heroin is easily and cheaply available on the street. As a capitalist, I believe the free market is preferable to the artificial price controls of the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. Go chase that dragon on your own!

7. Your infertility treatments

God made you barren for a reason.

8. Your cesarean section

God gave you a stretchy vagina for a reason.

9. Your Viagra

God gave you a limp dick for a reason.

10. Your sad, pathetic life

Enough of this “civil society” crap. My money is MINE, and I want to spend it on plastic flowers, yarn and glitter glue at:





Twelve Myths in the Hobby Lobby Case, as Clarified by Jodi Jacobson

What Sandra Fluke Knows About Hobby Lobby: a Case Beyond “Religious Liberty”

The Hobby Lobby Case is About Spreading Lies About Contraception

Five Reasons Contraceptive Care Is Essential

Here’s What the Christian Right Hopes to Gain From the Hobby Lobby Case






Seven alternatives to Miley Cyrus


As the parent of a 13-year-old son and an 8-year-old daughter, I have an interest in the ongoing pop culture debates over art vs. raunch, nakedness vs. maturity, empowerment vs. exploitation.

But I am also an admitted fan of pop music, and in my considered opinion, the stuff Miley Cyrus is putting out is just boring.

I could spend hours discussing the impact of Rihanna, Ke$ha and Britney on impressionable children, because “We Found Love,” “Tik Tok,” and “Toxic” are kickass singles.  I tried “We Can’t Stop,” but I don’t get it.  I don’t even think it would be a good Rihanna record.

As a result, Miley’s antics with foam fingers, teddy bears, and cultural appropriation are not even on my kids’ radar–but they might be on yours. If that true, then I’m here to help!  Below is a Radical Housewife-approved list of hip-hop/pop gems by women that I guarantee inspiring mad twerking that you can feel good about.


Your kids might be surprised to learn that this talk show host used to be cool:


Mary’s groove is as fierce as her clothes are hideous:


Everyone in my house loves M.I.A.–and the family that galangs together, stays together:


Miley DREAMS of being as hot as Neneh Cherry:


Amanda Blank is Brooklyn’s answer to Ke$ha (and that’s a good thing):


One of my closest college pals went to high school with Santigold, a totally pointless factoid I trot out to seem “hip”:


And Le Tigre, of course:


If you disagree with these selections, please refrain from writing me an open letter.  I’d prefer you just leave me a comment.




Corporate food sensitivity


If you’re a certain kind of hippy-dippy, über-crunchy, lefty pinko mom of particular socioeconomic status, you probably ingest (and perhaps most importantly, serve to your children) some kind of organic food product.

You don’t go the full Paltrow, of course, but you try, and you try because you care: about your family’s health, about Big Ag, about the environment, about everything.  This is why liberals are called bleeding hearts–we care.  We are sensitive not only to the lactose in cow’s milk, but also to the myriad injustices of the world.  We don’t just care, we ache, dammit!  We so want to do the Right Thing, especially at the breakfast table.

We also read in large numbers.  I know I’m not the only mom who gagged on her chocolate soymilk & coffee yesterday morning when she read this headline from the site:  ORGANIC EDEN FOODS’ QUIET RIGHT WING AGENDA



Irin Carmon writes that Eden Foods is on the list of companies suing the Obama Administration for the contraceptive coverage requirements in the Afforable Care Act–quite surprising for a biz that started as a hippy-dippy, über-crunchy co-op 45 years ago in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  I mean, it’s no shocker that an Oklahoma-based craft supply store might raise a fuss such things, but would you ever imagine phrases like THESE:

  • “The Affordable Care Act…attacks and desecrates a foremost tenet of the Catholic Church”
  • “The Affordable Care Act’s contraception, abortion, and abortifacient mandate violates the rights of Plaintiffs”
  • “Plaintiff has never offered insurance which included coverage for contraception and abortifacients”
  • “Plaintiffs believe and teach that ‘any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation, whether as an end or as a means’—including contraception, abortifacients, and abortion—is immoral and unnatural”

…coming from a hippy-dippy, über-crunchy organic foods company?!   That started in the late ’60s in a college town?  One imagines their original clientele had more problems with the immorality of deodorant than with non-procreative sex.

Just who does Eden Foods CEO Michael Potter think his customer base is?  Let me give him a hint.  It looks less like this:



…than this:



…and Gwyneth, for all of her annoying organic macrobiotic gluten-free GOOPiness, is a loud and proud supporter of Planned Parenthood.

Happily, I do not drink Edensoy in my coffee, preferring the creamy deliciousness of Silk Light Chocolate Soymilk every morning.  Instructed not to buy it from Whole Foods, I get it from the co-op we joined a year ago, or when I’m in a hurry, from my local Cub, which has a fully unionized workforce.  I CARE.

Just to be on the safe side, though, I thought I’d give Silk a Google to see what came up.



I guess I’ll be taking my (shade-grown, fair trade) coffee black from now on.




Answering the abortion rights question

While we’re reminiscing today, the fortieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade, let’s take a moment to remember what I looked like on Good Friday, 2005, just one of the many days I have honored my commitment to speak out for reproductive rights:



Back then, my son was a five-year-old preschooler, obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine and the Hardy Boys.  Today my son is almost thirteen, a fan of Katniss Everdeen and dubstep music that makes my head hurt.  He has always been a very curious kid, and now that he is older he is very interested in what I call The Big Questions: life, death, and the tools we use to make sense of what lies in between.

Not long ago he asked me how I felt about abortion. “I think whether or not to have an abortion is a woman’s business and no one else’s,” I replied.

“But don’t you think it’s killing a baby?”


Of course this discussion had to happen in the car, so I wasn’t able to whip out the smartphone to add visuals to our conversation.  It took much longer while driving to explain that THIS:



…or even THIS:



…is not the same thing as THIS:



…which is what his sister looked like six months OUTSIDE of my body.

“Some people think that a two-celled zygote is a human life,” I told Elliott.  “Some people think that a four-week zygote is, too.  I saw you on a sonogram only nine weeks after conception, and I saw your little heart fluttering.”

“You did?”  He was impressed.  I was too, back in the summer of 1999, and I wrote about the experience in my book The Radical Housewife.  I shared the excerpt here on Blog For Choice Day 2011:

Lacking the framework of faith, I seek not perfection, but balance. When I looked my blob, I understood him as the culmination of countless events and choices, the sum total of my years on the earth. My years, and no one else’s. I also saw a creature that drew sustenance from me and me alone. He lived on my blood, my nutrients, my oxygen, my energy: all of it mine. If I died, so did he. His tail could not wiggle outside the safety of my womb.

I gave him life. I also gave him meaning.

When does life begin? I suspect it is a process requiring a complex engagement between both the being and its world, much like a story requires a reader. Otherwise, the words remain only a series of unintelligible scratches on a page. If we accept that a story has different meaning for a different reader, we may understand that no person will approach either their soul, or a zygote’s, identically.

The above language is a little fancy for the average 13-year-old, even one as brilliant and handsome as my son, so I tried to craft my feelings about abortion, and life, so that he could understand.

“A woman must have the right to decide what happens to her body.  How I feel about pregnancy, or how you feel, or how the lady next door feels, or the President feels or the Pope feels, can never be more important than the feelings of the woman going through it.  No one can decide but her.”

The backseat was quiet for a moment–a rare thing.  Then he said:

“I get it.”




In circles about abortion


It’s no secret that reproductive rights activists and the anti-choice crowd read each others’ websites and Twitter feeds.  And by read, I mean parse in ever more minute detail.   Aside from providing insight into the other side’s strategies and tactics, it’s fun!  The circle-jerk that gets going after a blog post responds to a Twitter war kicked off by a online news report is a great way to waste a quiet afternoon.

I’m not going to link you to the site that inspired this post, because I think you should have your own moment of bliss when you are forced to Google “Gloria Steinem abort Erin Matson.”

You all know Erin, right? The former Action Vice President for NOW who spoke to Time magazine for their January 14, 2013 cover story on the reproductive justice movement 40 years after Roe v. Wade?  The woman in the article with the staple in her face?

Photo credit: my crummy Samsung Galaxy

Erin should also be familiar to my regular readers as a longtime friend, one so dear that I would trek from Cub Foods to Walgreens to Rainbow to find a damned copy of the very prominent national magazine with her picture in it AND be pissed to find that there’s a fucking STAPLE in the photo I was going to hang up by my desk!  I didn’t pay five bucks to have a clear picture of Nancy Keenan, I’ll tell you that!

Ooooh, did you catch that thinly veiled jab at the soon-to-be-former president of NARAL?  Look for it to be headline news in the blogosphere tomorrow.

If you performed the aforementioned Google as directed, you went to a site that had a rather snide take on the concerns of Erin, Steph Herold, and other young women in the reproductive rights movement.  If you read closely (as I do whenever I see a piece with Erin’s picture attached), you noticed that the post’s author believes that intergenerational tension is due in no small part to our elders’ subconscious desire to have aborted us.

(Well, not ME.  I was born in 1971, and everyone knows that no abortions occurred before January 22, 1973.)

Yes, folks, it’s true: Gloria Steinem wants to abort Erin.  When Erin told me the story of why she felt she had to leave her job at National NOW, she failed to add that Terry O’Neill, a 60-year-old Second Waver, kept chasing her around the office with a coat hanger.

I realize, of course, that writing a blog post about a blog post about a magazine article (and a blog post) is contributing yet another jerk to this particular circle, but I can’t help myself.  It’s too, too funny!

If I don’t see a response to this post from Lila Rose or the New Wave “Feminists” that in turn inspires a snarky rebuttal from Amanda Marcotte, I will be very disappointed.



Voting NO for the children we love



I’m voting NO on Minnesota’s ballot question on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, of course.  For a while I was convinced that regular readers of my blog didn’t need me to itemize the reasons, including but not limited to the appalling notion of discrimination being enshrined into state law.  Yuck.

My heterosexual hubby, Matt, and I even had a depressing conversation about how the totally symbolic nature of the amendment fight (for Minnesota already has a state statute banning same-sex marriage) is draining untold millions of dollars from actual, honest-to-gawd, on the ground work that both sides could be doing to achieve a more just society.  Catholics and other religious groups are NOT feeding the hungry and healing the sick; lefties like yours truly are NOT fully funding Lambda Legal, the group working on the LGBT rights movement’s version of Brown v. Board of Education.  

Instead, an estimated FIFTEEN MILLION SMACKEROOS is going to ad agencies, television studios, lawn sign assemblers, radio announcers, t-shirt printers, leaflet copiers, et cetera.  I’ve mentioned that I’m burned out, yes?  Cynical, exhausted, ornery, drained, annoyed, jaded, the works?

Last weekend my hardened heart opened up again, and I remembered why I got into this business in the first place: because I love children and care desperately about their physical and mental well-being.



To be specific, I love and care for a child that my regular readers know as Mia.  This little girl is as dear to me as my own daughter. I met her only hours after she was born, and I’ll never forget the joy of nuzzling her squishy pink nose and telling her how happy I was to be a part of her life.  Nothing activates the protective instinct more than a vulnerable newborn, so tiny and dependent upon loving grown-ups to nurture and protect her.

Mia is a third-grader now, and her vulnerability is different: her parents revealed to me that she has been driven to tears by the barrage of advertising by those who call this a marriage “protection” amendment.  Mia cried when she saw strangers on the television tell her that:

  • Her family structure is inappropriate at best, aberrant at worst
  • Her parents are selfish egotists who shouldn’t have had her in the first place
  • Her family is a threat to society

Imagine all of that crap entering your head when YOU were only nine years old.  What would YOU do?

You’d probably cry.

This post has been pinging around in my own head for two days, moving from brain to fingers to webpage with great difficulty, for every time I imagine Mia crying, I start welling up.  There are fat tear splotches on my keyboard right now, so please forgive any egregious spelling and/or grammar mistakes.

The vote on the amendment tomorrow won’t change any laws.  It is symbolic–but what a symbol it would be to a little girl like Mia, a kid being raised by two loving and committed parents who just happen to be women.  What a symbol a resounding rejection of this amendment would be to the thousands of Minnesota children who wonder where they fit, not only on the rainbow of queer identity, but in the fabric of our community.

Is there another symbol that could so powerfully represent a cultural shift away from fear and towards love?

I can’t think of one.