Category Archives: Culture Wars

Lesley Gore approves this message!

Not many people know this, but I am a massive Lesley Gore fan and have been ever since I heard her wail on my mother’s scratchy old 45s.  I love her so much that I sat through all of the cheapie 1965 B-movie “The Girls on the Beach” to watch her star as the primmest Alpha Beta sorority sister.* She sang “Leave Me Alone” and she fucking KILLED it.

But who knew that her greatest performance was yet to come?  In a You Tube PSA for the 2012 elections, no less?



Says Lesley: “I recorded ‘You Don’t Own Me’ in 1964. It’s hard for me to believe but we’re still fighting for the same things we were then. Yes ladies, we’ve go to come together, get out there and vote, and protect our bodies. They’re ours. Please vote.”

I love it. And it gave me a brilliant idea.

Could 2016 be the year that we have a new and improved Clinton/Gore presidential ticket??  




*okay, okay, I also watched it for the Beach Boys.  You got me.


Surprise, surprise

So THIS just appeared across the street:


It’s the first VOTE YES marriage amendment sign I’ve seen anywhere, let alone in a deeply blue corner of the People’s Republic of South Minneapolis.  I don’t know the neighbors, who haven’t attended a National Night Out function in the nine years I’ve lived here and therefore haven’t clue about the many LGBT people living on our street and on streets nearby.

I think I’m supposed to feel rage or contempt, but mostly, I just feel sad.

Really sad.


To get your own ORANGE lawn sign for a donation of only $10, please contact Minnesotans United for All Families.





On August 1, the women of Crunk Feminist Collective wrote a perfect response to the whitewashing of the USA women’s gymnastics coverage that I cannot improve upon here, so I won’t try.  The post is called “UPDATE: Gabby Douglas leads Team USA to the gold” and very much deserving of your time and attention.  In this space, however, I would like to share what Gabby Douglas means to my daughter–my white, blonde, blue-eyed daughter.

Now, it shouldn’t matter that my daughter and Gabby don’t look alike, but this is America, and it does.  Not to Miriam, of course, and probably not to Gabby herself–but it seems to matter a hell of a lot to the people at NBC, who built their women’s gymnastics coverage around 2011 world champion Jordyn Weiber, a pale-skinned brunette.  Even when Weiber choked in the qualification rounds, NBC seemed determined that the story of Olympic gymnastics would be hers: would Weiber achieve her dream with the team gold? how does it feel for Weiber to see her dream go down in flames? et cetera.

Miriam, on the other hand, saw in Gabby Douglas a lovely, charming, and massively talented young woman and fell in love.

I am not some goopy hippie stereotype who likes to coo “my daughter doesn’t see color.”  My daughter sees color.  She’s not stupid.  She sees color with the literal eye of a young child who refers to her own skin as pink and Gabby’s as brown.

And as a child, she sees Gabby Douglas as a whole person, not a marketing gimmick.  This must be why the mainstream media has been so slow to catch on to what children of all colors understood the instant Gabby entered North Greenwich Arena.

Will that change now that Gabby is the all-around gold medalist?  Hey, everybody loves a winner.  I try to teach my kids to be gracious in victory as well as defeat, but I think if I were Natalie Hawkins I’d give my golden girl permission to say to NBC:





Guns, tears, and American manhood (again)

I wrote this essay for the Minnesota Women’s Press in April 2007, but they didn’t use it, so I published it on my old MySpace blog (remember MySpace?) on May 2, 2007.  I reprinted it on Blogger on January 11, 2011, after the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.  Now that our country is reeling from YET ANOTHER MASS SHOOTING, I figured it might be time to run it again.


by Shannon Drury

I am happy to admit it, totally honestly, without a trace of irony: I’m a Fanjaya. That is, an honest to goodness fan of Sanjaya Malakar, the 17-year-old American Idol contestant whose wacky hairdos and wobbly vocals made him a target for derision from the web to the grocery tabloids to network news. I participate in pop culture silliness as much as anyone (I still have my Spice Girls dolls, mint in their boxes!), but I genuinely love this kid. In fact, I’ve had a mom-crush on him ever since his first audition in Seattle, long before he shocked the nation with his pony-hawk.

Shall I break for another pop culture definition? A mom-crush occurs when an adorable kid provokes a powerful desire to pinch the object’s cute cheeks and serve him or her homemade cookies. In common usage, one might say: “I hope they never recast the stars of the Harry Potter movies. I have a mom-crush on all three of them.” And Sanjaya definitely had the toothy grin and the goofball charm to win over the stoniest mom in America. When he wept openly after his older sister was cut from the competition, I felt a bit teary myself. Who sees a boy cry on television at all, much less out of genuine tenderness and emotion? I loved it. He was my Idol pick, no matter how he styled his hair.

But fellow moms and Idol geeks like my friends Pam and Liz thought I was nuts when I confessed that I was dialing for Sanjaya. “Are you serious?” Pam squawked. He was terrible! Liz e-mailed. These are sensitive, loving women who are both capable of serious mom-crushing. But eventually, I realized what made them immune to Sanjaya’s charms.

Neither were mothers of sons.

Now someone else’s son is in the news, and for something far more disturbing than off-key singing: on April 16, 2007 Seung-Hui Cho opened fire on his university campus in Virginia and killed 32 people before turning the gun on himself. Media coverage after the massacre followed a predictable pattern, with a parade of pundits expounding on gun control laws, why students ought to own guns, pervasive mental illness, the civil rights of mentally ill persons, violence on television, violence in video games, the logistics of campus lockdowns, and more. All that changed the day NBC announced it had received a package from the killer himself, containing videos and photographs of himself decked out in his murderous finery.

In one image, Cho brandishes two firearms, holding them from his ammo-clad body at right angles, his face glowering with rage. It’s too perfect. It could have easily come from any grindhouse movie; hell, it could have come from the movie Grindhouse. This is not to blame Hollywood, but to recognize the image’s brutal allure. In America, we love power. We need it; we feed on it. The power that comes from violence is the cheapest and easiest available to those who are the weakest among us.

I was pregnant with my first child when the home video footage made by the two Columbine killers was made public, to be shown 24/7 by news outlets in a desperate attempt to understand what these boys had done.

Not long before, a fuzzy black and white ultrasound revealed that I was going to have a little boy of my own. Two television screens, showing two separate images of boys in America. My typical first-time mom jitters gave way to full-blown panic. There was no chapter in What to Expect When You’re Expecting about this. What on earth was I going to do with my American boy?

Fast forward seven years and I still don’t know. No one else seems to either. Seung-Hui Cho, despite a youth spent in South Korea, idolized the Columbine killers as “martyrs.” I adore my boy, but I fear for him. No talk show or how-to book is going to sort this mess out. But maybe one boy’s spontaneous tears on the country’s most popular television show will help.

I know I had best not pin all my hopes on this one American boy, a reality TV star at that. Of all media icons they tend to have the shortest shelf lives. I have a lot of difficult, ugly parenting work ahead of me, and Sanjaya will be busy just growing up. I thank him for the courage he displayed on the show week after week—and I’m not talking about the spectacularly funny hairdos. It takes guts to be yourself in America these days. It takes strength to take chances, to stand up to criticism, and to cry when it’s all over. That’s a kind of power that is neither easy nor cheap, but it will last him a lifetime.

I hope his mother is proud.


After I posted this piece to Blogger in 2011, I received the following comment:

I am Sanjayas mother and I am very proud of him. To raise a sensitive, compassionate, grounded young man in our culture was not easy. It made me cry to hear another woman facing the same challenges to raise a boy within a culture that glorifies violent,macho images of young men. Sure Sanjaya was called gay and teased for his love of baking and knitting. One day,
I’m sure he will make a woman very happy, and most likely will raise his own son,the next generation of conscious, balanced and sensitive men.

Was it the real deal?  I sure hope so.  In the meantime, I’m gonna check in with the rest of the Fanjayas over at  He’s even selling Team Sanjaya t-shirts, bless his heart!!



Cheerleading turtle-burners against women

This weekend, a truly astounding anti-feminist  letter was published by the newspaper of record in glamorous Fargo, North Dakota.*  Its author, one Michael A. Ross of Hawley, Minnesota, believes he not only knows the root of our societal suffering, but he also has the cure for what ails us all.

It’s cheerleaders.


No, really!  Sit down, pour yourself another cup of coffee, and prepare to have your mind blown!

Mr. Ross begins:

Men have ruled every civilization since the beginning of time and always will. That is not the question. The question is, will a civilization be ruled by good men or evil men?

“Always will” is your clue that you have left the 21st century and are descending into Schlaflyland,™ a pale pink universe that, in a twist of delicious irony, would require its leader, the venerable Mrs. John Schlafly Jr, to stop her traitorous habit of speaking in public, let alone allow anyone to refer to her as “Phyllis.”

Schlaflyland™ is a familiar enough place to my readers, but Mr. Ross isn’t content to linger there–after all, such a place is run by a woman, and that’s a Bad Thing.  Read on:

Historically, evil men have ruled. Evil men rule today. When good men rule, it’s ordinary men exercising leadership in their homes, local churches, local civil government, local business and commerce.

So if I understand correctly, in the thousands of years of modern civilization, only evil men have ruled–but for the brief spell in which Eisenhower was president.  Gotcha.

When evil men rule, it is a handful of political, corporate, and monetary elitists that control nearly all the wealth in the economy. They rule from corporate boardrooms, Washington and Wall Street. It is their strategy to attack ordinary men as the heads of their families and other traditional institutions. They do this by pushing women out of their homes and into the workforce by creating an economy that requires both parents to work.

What?  You mean this FEMINISM thing can’t be blamed on WOMEN?  It’s all a conspiracy by a cabal of evil men?   Gloria Steinem must be so relieved.

Also, by pushing them into jobs traditionally reserved for men: soldier, police officer, firefighter, physician, truck driver, etc. And by pushing schoolgirls into highly competitive varsity athletics traditionally reserved for boys, just to name a few. 

Only “highly competitive” sports, sir?  Does that mean ladies are welcome at gentle games?  Like badminton or varsity cupcake baking?

Any wife who is contentious with her husband’s leadership, any woman who takes a man’s pulpit, or seeks employment that has been traditionally reserved for men, has played into the elitists’ hands.

DID YOU HEAR THAT, MRS. MARCUS BACHMANN?? Get out of the federal House and back into your house!   When Marcus does his own laundry, the elitists win!!

Traditional male leadership is no guarantee of a decent and just society, but it is a prerequisite. A truly free and just society will be one that promotes women as homemakers and mothers, nurses, teachers, secretaries and cheerleaders.

That’s the darling Mrs. Bachmann (née Michele Amble) on the right.  What a cutie.  All this Wall Street corruption is so obviously her fault.

Not being content with a good chuckle at Mr. Ross’s expense, I took the additional step of Googling his name and location.  Why not?  He might be the author of more amusing editorials that would appeal to my blog readers.  I have a duty to keep all two of you amused and entertained, especially on days when writing satire myself would be too exhausting (I am a married lady, after all).

To  my surprise, I found something even more bizarre–this headline:


It seems that several years ago, an 18-year-old named Joel Charles Ross filmed himself and two friends lighting a snapping turtle on fire.  The idiots then uploaded their torture of the poor reptile, which was forwarded to local authorities.  The young Mr. Ross was sentenced to community service, a $500 fine, and five days in the clink for pleading guilty to misdemeanor animal cruelty.

Here is a photo I found of Mr. Ross the elder, and his lovely wife Vicky.  It appeared in another Fargo Forum article, this time in celebration of the couple’s 25th wedding anniversary:

How could such an adorable couple spawn a child capable of such a stupid and senseless act?  Setting a turtle on fire for kicks is something only an evil man would do.

It’s the cheerleaders’ fault.



*It is easy for outsiders to mock Fargo, yes, but I come by my scorn honestly–a good half of the relatives I have spent my adulthood avoiding are North Dakotans.  This my one perk.




The Radical Housewife gets awesome!

It has come to my attention that my recent blogs have been using the category “Idiots” far more often than the category “Awesome.”

Perhaps that explains why I am so far behind in the 2012 Circle of Moms Top Political Mom Blogs contest.  As of this writing, I am #23 in the rankings.  Though I don’t mind losing to The Mamafesto, Blue Milk, PunditMom and current leader Monologues of Dissent, I MIND VERY MUCH that I’m 12 places behind Pamela Geller, a racist so virulent she’s being watched by the Southern Poverty Law Center.


I hereby vow to be more proactive about sharing all that is awesome with my readers.  I’ll start with an heartfelt appreciation of my representative in Congress, Keith Ellison, shown here at the 2011 Minnesota State Fair with two adorable constituents and their dorky mom*:


Rep. Ellison issued the following statement yesterday, after previously confidential reports showed that the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is using a race-based strategy to pursue its decidedly non-awesome agenda:

The exposed documents reveal that NOM’s ‘strategic goal’ is to ‘drive a wedge between gays and blacks – two key Democratic constituencies.’

Our nation was founded on the principle of liberty and justice for all people—regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. NOM is clearly opposed to these basic ideals that so many Americans hold dear.

I call on people from all backgrounds to speak out against NOM’s agenda and vote NO on the anti-marriage amendment this November.

Isn’t that awesome?  I bet you’re jealous that Rep. Ellison doesn’t represent you.  

But there’s more!  Check out this video from the House floor, taken only hours ago:



Damn!  I wish Rep. Ellison had done that, and I’m so glad Rep. Rush did.  But since no one can vote for either of them until November, please make sure you vote for me, NOW!



*Confidential to Ms. Geller: yes, I did let a practicing Muslim near my children.  Shortly after this photo was taken, my children and I were killed in a terrorist attack.**

**Just kidding!  Pamela Geller is a racist idiot!  Please don’t let her win!  Vote for ME!  



Calling it “rape,” or: the pearl-clutchers of convenience

You want a trigger warning?  You got one.

Surf away if you don’t want to read the word “rape,” think about the act rape, or get a taste of my wrath directed at pearl-clutchers of convenience who gleefully report about rape all day long in the name of news, but are shocked, SHOCKED that rape might be mentioned in a comic strip.

No, not reruns of Peanuts, silly.  Doonesbury!



Good old Garry Trudeau is wading into the forced ultrasound wars with a series this week featuring the trials of a woman seeking an abortion in a conservative wonderland (or the early stages of the Republic of Gilead).  Trudeau told the Washington Post that to ignore the issue would be “comedy malpractice.”  Bless his feminist heart!

Above is today’s strip, cut from the print editions of the two dailies in my area, the Minneapolis StarTribune and the St Paul Pioneer Press.  I haven’t subscribed to either for many years, due in part to cost-cutting measures that sacrificed journalism in favor of really big type and the kind of salacious reporting that belongs in the pages of In Touch Weekly, not a newspaper (remember when the PiPress’s reporting on SlutWalk Minneapolis appeared in the shape of a woman’s sexy legs?  I sure do).  Thursday’s strip promises to feature a doctor annoucing “by the power invested in me by the GOP base, I thee rape.”


But when the papers themselves can’t control the narrative (rape=kinda sexy), the issue is suddenly controversial, too hot for print.  When Garry Trudeau likens a transvaginal ultrasound to rape, it’s “inappropriate.”  As David Brauer of MinnPost (an online news source staffed by canned Strib & PiPress employees) so astutely observes, children reading their parents’ papers are already being exposed to stories that detail rapes of kids their own age.  

But that’s news, the editorial boards would argue.  People have a right to know.  Following that logic, then, it can’t be controversial that readers have a right to know that transvaginal ultrasounds look like this:




…and that these ultrasound laws coming up for debate would require that women seeking abortions would be forced to endure this vaginal probing without their consent.

Sure sounds like rape to me.

A Pap smear is not rape, despite the suggestion of Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America.  Just like Janice, I schedule Pap smears with licensed, trained professionals whom I trust.  Janice and I consent to the procedure, following the guidelines recommended by our doctors.  It’s not against the law to skip ’em, though.  We have a choice in the matter.  When we get Paps, we say yes.*

But back to the pearl-clutchers of convenience populating the editorial boards of Twin Cities newspapers, suddenly so nervous about children.  THE CHILDREN!  MY GOD, THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

Give me a break.

The word “rape” should make people uncomfortable.  How are we going to stop it without talking about it?  How are we going to debate the politics of mandated vaginal ultrasounds without considering that, yes, the procedure looks and sounds an awful lot like rape?

A credible newspaper cannot reasonably claim that news articles on the rape of children (reported in much larger type than appears on the comics page) are somehow less damaging than a comic strip satire.  Pearls cannot be clutched only when it suits….The Suits.

The whole thing almost makes me want to start a subscription so I can cancel it in a huff.  Almost, but not quite!  Happily, these papers are dwindling into insignificance all on their own, due in large part to dumb decisions like this one.

You can keep up with Doonesbury online here:


* can you believe I’m still explaining this yes-means-yes, no-means-no shit?  I can’t, either. 

Diary of a mad birth control mom

One year ago, Skirt! magazine published an essay of mine entitled “Love in the Time of Contraception.”  In the piece, I laid bare (pun intended) many sordid details from my love life to make the point that there is no sexual blunder more embarrassing than ignorance….and that includes having to ask your boyfriend to retrieve a Today sponge gone rogue in your lady parts.

Rereading the essay, I find myself cringing once more at the stubborn persistence of America’s Puritanical values.  I wish my European forebears had thought to resettle in the British colony settled by criminals, not uptight prudes.  Fleeing famine and/or conscription leaves one with limited choices, I realize, but I have to believe that my great-great-greats would have preferred their descendants to spend Good Friday frolicking on sandy beach instead of heading out to show solidarity for a legal, but beleaguered and threatened, facility that performs legal procedures and dispenses legal medications.

This picture was taken on Good Friday seven years ago, not long before I gave birth to my daughter.  Yep, I’ve been involved in pro-choice activism for a long time, and I’m committed to it.  I’m a realist, and I know that the anti-choicers won’t go away.  I didn’t assume that one day I wouldn’t have to show up–I assumed that one day I’d be out in St. Paul with a pair of teenagers, demonstrating our support for safe, legal abortion, on demand and without apology.

But here we are in 2012, and I cannot believe I just might have to fight for their right to contraception!

Remember contraception?  The stuff that makes controversial procedures like abortions unnecessary? (Duhhh.)

Isn’t it our right as Americans to be embarrassed by slimy sponges?  To go soft at the crinkling sound of the condom wrapper?  To take a pill that makes you a hysterical, bloated mess, so on edge that no one wants to have sex with you anyway (or is that just me?)….?!

But it’s come to that.  And now, millions of moms who wouldn’t have dragged their kids to Planned Parenthood in the past are being jolted into action.

Of course, none other than reknowned slut (four wives) and prostitute (uses his big fucking mouth for money) Rush Limbaugh doesn’t believe that there are such things as Birth Control Moms.  Sayeth he:

Isn’t that kind of contradictory? A birth control mom? How do you become a mom if you’re into birth control?

Well, duh.  You use condoms so you don’t become a 19-year-old parent with a boyfriend who is a manipulative asshole.  Or you use sponges AND condoms so you don’t become a 22-year-old parent with a boyfriend who is much nicer than the old one, but who still has a few mental health issues to clear up.  Et cetera.

Get the idea?  The clinic is called PLANNED Parenthood for a reason.  Parenting is a job too important to leave either to chance or to anyone too young to run for Congress.*

(Rush also said some not-very-nice things about a contraceptive fan named Sandra Fluke, but you know that already.)

Are YOU a pissed-off Birth Control Mom?  Are you looking to do more than spread Santorum jokes and bemoan our country’s flight back to the Bad Old Days?  Good Friday is April 6, right around the corner–there’s probably a family planning clinic in your neighborhood that could use your voice for reproductive freedom.  If you’re in the Twin Cities, please say hi to me at the event in St. Paul.  I’ll be accompanied by my two PLANNED children, and I’ll be saying this:


If your clinic isn’t planning a solidarity action, why not send them a bouquet of flowers (with your donation check, natch) to thank them for the fine work they’re doing?  Find a location at


*Dear younger readers: please don’t bother writing with the admonition that you are doing a better job than say, Bristol Palin, Snooki, or my own parental units, who spawned me at the tender age of 21.  I think we all can agree that it would be preferable for children to be raised by grownups who’ve been slutty, had their hearts broken a few times, visited New York City, etc. and have the acquired wisdom that such experience implies.



Against Daddy Dearests, biological or mythological

On February 3, George F. Will published a column called “Lifting Up the Fatherless,” which at first glance looks like so many other “boo hoo, poor boys without fathers” handwringers until you get to the fifth paragraph.

Born to an unmarried, mentally ill prostitute, [Robert Lewis “Sugar Bear” Jackson] acquired his interest in driving from his grandfather, who would drive around the block with Sugar Bear in his lap. Not until Sugar Bear was 25 did he learn that his grandfather was his father, too, having had a sexual relationship with Sugar Bear’s mother.

Don’t you love the nimble use of the euphemism “sexual relationship” to define incest, an act that rarely occurs between consenting adults?  Especially not when one of them is already identified as having a mental illness?  I suppose the word “RAPE” is too unsettling for a guy who wears a bow tie.

Sugar Bear grew up mostly on the streets, episodically drifting into and out of the care, such as it was, of various female relatives.

Will doesn’t state that Sugar Bear would have been better off in the care of his rapist father/grandfather instead of “female relatives,” but I felt the correlation was strong enough to say so on my Facebook page.  A couple of readers thought I went a bit far in chastizing Ol’ Bow Tie, and perhaps they’re right.  I’m just very sensitive to the assumption that children suffer without a dude in their lives, for that assumption leads us down this stupid path:

Rick Santorum Dwells on Gay Marriage: he suggests to a New Hampshire audience that an imprisoned father is preferable to a same-sex parent (Los Angeles Times, January 6, 2012).

!!!  Emphasis mine!!!  Because any time I get even the faintest whiff of the suggestion that my friends Morgan, Mia, and Margaret are somehow not being loved adequately because neither of their parents has a dick, I want to scream!!!!!  And explode into a fiery ball of exclamation points!!!!!!!

Happily, a Facebook reader recognized that the fault lies neither with Will, the editor who crafted his column’s headline, or with Frothy Mix, for that matter.  We remain such a grossly sexist society that whenever something goes wrong, we’re quick to assume that a MAN ought to be able to fix it–in the case of Will’s column, a closer reading reveals that MAN not to be Sugar Bear’s bio-dad after all, but MAN some folks believe is The Good Lord Himself™.  As this reader so brilliantly wrote on my FB wall: “I object to the insinuation that biological or mythological fathers are the only options for good role models.

Right on!  Sugar Bear was failed by much more than his father/grandfather/heavenly father.  Social problems as tough as entrenched poverty and mental illness aren’t going to be fixed with a Dad shaped band-aid.

(Confidential to the rad mom formerly known as Spike Laird: please don’t start a blog.  I have enough competition already.)

Interested in the thoughts of an actual honest-to-gosh cis-fella, I turned to the Radical Hubby.  “Oh whatever,” he huffed.  “People tell themselves that crap all the time.  I’m a good father, so I’m the reason that my kids aren’t in prison.*  When the truth is we are all a mess of nature versus nurture versus all the other bullshit the world throws at us.  Kids need people who love them.  Period.”




*Matt is a wonderful parent, by the way.  He’s a great believer in quantity time as well as quality time.  Still, when my son was old enough to realize that his best buddy had two moms, he whined: “WHAT? Mo has two moms but I only get ONE? That’s not fair!”**

**True story!