Archive for the ‘Feminism’ Category

Seven alternatives to Miley Cyrus

Monday, October 7th, 2013


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.




Away from the numbers

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013


(If you don’t know the song the above title refers to, allow me to introduce you to the Jam.  You can thank me later.)


It’s back to school time, dear readers, so you get a quiz: what is the gender of the child in the 44 shirt below?



The August 2013 issue of the Minnesota Women’s Press featured the theme “What She Wore,” which is your big clue that the child in the photograph is yours truly in 1972.

I write about my “Free to Be…You and Me”  childhood a lot, not so much to idealize it as to wonder what the hell happened to that period in American culture when gender neutrality was a viable fashion option for people of all ages.  I’m not saying that gender neutrality is perfect, but hell, it’s got to be better than today’s compulsory superhero vs. princess gender binary coding–as well as its opposite, the mad ping-ponging from one end of the spectrum to the other.  Mommy blogger Katie Vyktoriah knew she would get mileage out of a story called “What Happened When My Son Wore a Pink Headband to Walmart,” including a coveted repost on HuffPo and the sympathy of millions when the story when viral.

Too bad it was fake.


When my first child was born in 2000, I searched high and low for number shirts, naively expecting that such things would be available at Target and other fine purveyors of children’s wear.  Instead I found aisles of blue Thomas the Tank Engine onesies and pink Cinderella tops and nothing, I repeat, NOTHING, in between.

It’s hard out here for a mama.  Just imagine how hard it is for kids!  And when it’s hard for kids, mamas do things they ordinarily wouldn’t.  As I write in my column for the aformentioned MWP issue, my own mother shocked the hell out of me when she dragged me (and I mean that literally) into the Southdale Dayton’s in 1984.

My mother steered me toward the juniors department, where she yanked Guess tops off the racks. “These shoulder pads will make you look fantastic,” she announced happily.  They didn’t. My mother howled with frustration every time she fished a pair of puffy ovals out of the trash. I didn’t want to disappoint her (or my junior high friends; we were a heavily padded bunch), but the sudden insistence on feminine performance didn’t sit well with me. I was a girl, but I didn’t want to be girly, for girly style was not only fussy and impractical, it was weak. It was wimpy. It was dumb. 



Fortunately, as I write in the piece, a li’l book called Whipping Girl helped to straighten (pun very much intended) me out, as did parenting, a job that is too complicated and messy to fit in an either/or box.  I remained resentful of my mother for those horrific Dayton’s trips for years until I realized a disturbing truth:

If I knew of a product that would armor my children against social condemnation, I would put it on my Visa card in a hurry. 




Speaking of numbers, this time of year always shocks me into realizing that my kids are really and truly growing up.  As the saying goes, the years are short but the days are soooooooo looooooong.  Every year I snap first day pictures of the dynamic duo on the front stoop, and after the bus pulls away, I load the pictures up and compare them to years past.

Damn.  Remember when they were six and one?  Eight and three?  Twelve and seven?  I do.

Parents are routinely cautioned about sleepless nights and dirty diapers, but they aren’t warned about how much crazier things get when we realize that OUR BABIES are going to be vulnerable in the stupidest, most meaningless ways.

And that we will do stupid things as we attempt to protect them.

Elliott and Miriam of the future, if you are reading these words in a Google cache somewhere in the mid-21st century, know this: to me, you are both number one.  I love you no matter what.  Please forgive me.






Gender essentialism and the feminist housewife

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013


Hi there!  My name is Shannon, and I am a feminist housewife.


This is me in my kitchen.  Behind my arm is –NO JOKE–a loaf of homemade gluten-free bread.  I am a housewife, and a damn good one!

Do you like my apron?  it’s from the HOTDISH Militia, a group that fundraises for abortion clinics with tasty casseroles–the acronym stands for Hand Over The Decision It Should (be) Hers.  I support affordable access to the full spectrum of women’s reproductive health services, including abortion on demand, without apology.  That’s feminist, baby!

Combine my job with my passion, et voilà: you get me, a feminist housewife!

I didn’t aspire to be a feminist housewife when I grew up.  As a child, I wanted to write books.  As a child, I assumed that writing books would magically make money appear.

Ha, ha.

Six-year-old Shannon can be blamed for her ignorance, but what excuse does Kelly Makino, a self-identified feminist, have?  From New York Magazine’s March 17, 2013 cover story “The Retro Wife”:

The maternal instinct is a real thing, Kelly argues: Girls play with dolls from childhood, so “women are raised from the get-go to raise children successfully. When we are moms, we have a better toolbox.” Women, she believes, are conditioned to be more patient with children, to be better multitaskers, to be more tolerant of the quotidian grind of playdates and temper tantrums; “women,” she says, “keep it together better than guys do.”

Oh Mrs. Makino!  You retrograde goofball, you.  In case you missed this lecture in Women’s Studies 101, let me break it down for you. Choosing your choice is feminist, sure!  But GENDER ESSENTIALISM IS NOT FEMINIST.

I can’t pick on only Kelly, though, for the author of the piece, Lisa Miller, makes some mind-boggling observations of her own:

I prepare our daughter’s lunch box every morning with ritualistic care, as if sending her off to school with a bologna sandwich made by me can work as an amulet against all the pain of my irregular, inevitable absences. I believe that I have a special gift for arranging playdates, pediatrician appointments, and piano lessons….



“The feminist revolution started in the workplace, and now it’s happening at home,” says Makino. “I feel like in today’s society, women who don’t work are bucking the convention we were raised with … Why can’t we just be girls? Why do we have to be boys and girls at the same time?”

Again, I must ask: what makes a girl a GIRL?  Is it a baby?  An apron?  A kickass banana bread recipe?  A Pinterest account?

What makes a boy a BOY?  A wife?

I made a choice to be my kids’ caregiver, but that choice wasn’t made in a vacuum.  My hubby and I had to weigh some very harsh realities.  Who made more money?  Who would probably ALWAYS make more money?  Who could count on consistent work for the next two decades?  If you guessed the BOY, you’re right!  You win a wife.*

Understanding how patriarchal capitalism works is feminist. GENDER ESSENTIALISM IS NOT FEMINIST.

For the record, I am terrible at arranging playdates.  My vag has nothing to do with it–I am not only forgetful, I hate using the telephone.  I’d rather bake you a rice-tapioca-soy flour loaf.  If you want our kids to hang out, you’d better have my e-mail–or better yet, Matt’s!

All of this is very funny in the echo chamber of the internets.  I really don’t care whether Kelly Makino, Lisa Miller, or hell, Sheryl Sandberg is a housewife or not.  I DO care when one pretty white New Yorker’s lifestyle is trotted out as “proof” that women are this or that and feminism is a failure blah blah blah, because you know that articles like these delight conservatives eager to push back on women’s rights,  especially reproductive rights.  Sen. Rand Paul, a 2016 presidential contender, has already said he’d support a fetal personhood bill that would outlaw abortion and many forms of contraception.  Without control over their fertility, women would be stuck in the kitchen making hotdish (and this is the important part) whether they want to or not.

It’s a future too horrible to contemplate.

Maybe I’ll cook a pie.  That would make me feel better.


*offer not valid for women


Mansplaining through the centuries

Friday, February 8th, 2013


The National Women’s History Museum posted this 1916 pamphlet on their Facebook page yesterday:


“Women are not suffering from any injustice which giving them the ballot would rectify.”


Isn’t it hilarious what those poor misguided idiots thought about women’s suffrage a hundred years ago?  One has to wonder what feminists of the 22nd century will think of debates happening today. What do you think my great-grandchildren will think of these words, written in 2013:

“We’ve got equal pay, and female CEO’s just as greedy and criminal as the males. So what do we need the ERA for?”

HA HA HA HA HA …ha ha….sniff sniff…..*sob*…gawd have mercy….


Yes, folks, I wrote an essay for Minnesota Public Radio News calling for action on the long-delayed Equal Rights Amendment and got myself soundly mansplained in the comments.  And if you think that’s enough to make a white woman (earning 77 cents for every white man’s dollar) bawl her eyes out, consider that the wage gap is FAR worse for women of color: like 62 cents (African-American women) and 54 cents (Hispanic women) worse.

An Equal Rights Amendment would sure help.

The same gentleman also insisted that “we’ve got equal sports,” which I found kinda funny in the week leading up to the Super Bowl.  I don’t remember weeks of hype leading up to the WNBA Finals last fall–and I was paying attention, because 2012 was the year my daughter and I became hardcore Minnesota Lynx fans. Maya Moore, the Lynx forward whom my daughter wants to be when she grows up, earns $45,000 a year.  Moore was the WNBA’s number one draft pick in 2011.  The NBA’s top pick that year, Kyrie Irving, was signed by the Cleveland Cavaliers in a two-year deal worth nearly $23 MILLION DOLLARS. Wow! Is that “equal sports”?

Would an Equal Rights Amendment bring these wildly disparate pro basketball salaries into alignment?   Free market mansplainers will squawk “hell no!” but I say we give it a try!


I could write a (long-threatened!) women’s studies dissertation disproving these gentleman’s claims, but I have two children, a marriage, and fresh grief that runs deeper than the sorrows of First World Woman.  I urge YOU, however, to keep talking about the real need for the ERA to your friends, colleagues, unfortunately unavoidable mansplainers, and most importantly, your elected representatives.  Your signature on this White House petition would be nice, too.





In praise of gender warriors

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

“You’re born naked and the rest is drag.


My daughter recently asked me if my favorite television star (that would be Mama Ru, of course, the genius who uttered the quote above) was a man who dressed like a woman.  I said, “no, honey.  RuPaul is a man who dresses like a drag queen.  There’s a big difference.”

“What is the difference?” she wondered.

“Well,” I said, “I’m a woman, and you don’t see me wearing six inch platforms, candy-colored couture gowns, and wigs the size of small dogs, do you?”  She shook her head.  Her mom is so obviously NOT a drag queen!  As I’ve mentioned before, my idea of dressing up is slipping on a pair of new Chuck Taylors.

In fact, I present pretty butch for someone who’s a straight married housewife.  I don’t want to sleep with Rachel Maddow, but I would love it if she’d take me shopping.



I love that belt.

All this begs the question: do clothes make the wo/man?  You know they don’t, and for that we must be grateful to the gender warriors who have made it okay to play dress-up, including folks like Amelia Bloomer and others in American feminism’s first wave.

That’s what civil rights are about, after all: FREEDOM.  To live life honestly, with dignity and autonomy, with all the rights and responsibilities of full citizenship.  In 21st century America, you might meet women who say they’re not feminists, but you’re not going to find any who think they shouldn’t have the right to vote…or wear pants.


We may be in the fourth or fifth wave of feminism nowadays, but  millions still struggle every day against the rigidity of gender conformity.  My friend Andrea wrote a very moving account of the crap that she, as a nonconforming trans person, goes through just to use a public toilet.  We posted it on the Minnesota NOW blog on Transgender Day of Remembrance, because Andrea has justification for her bathroom anxiety–in 2011, a trans woman in Maryland was nearly beaten to death for attempting to enter the McDonald’s restroom door marked with the stick figure in a skirt.  You remember the case because the manager of the restaurant filmed the whole damned thing on his phone.

As Andrea put it, “all this, for a bathroom.”

Gender performance is in the news again today, as Carnival Cruises has just announced that having drag performers IN DRAG on a DRAG-THEMED CRUISE would be a security risk.  Because when a guy puts on a dress, al Qaeda wins!


Gender rigidity hurts everyone, on a continuum of hideous violence on one end to incredible annoyance on the other.  The sickening queens from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” are WERKING to make the world a little safer, and a little saner, for us all.

I hope their fans get their money back.


UPDATED: Carnival came to their senses and reversed the drag ban.  Jesus is a biscuit!






We are all made of scars

Thursday, September 27th, 2012


One of the great things about working for a feminist media outlet is being assigned stories that are actually a pleasure to research and write.  In fact, I regularly get hipped to people, places, and things that make me kick myself and think “why the hell didn’t I know about this?”  In the last year alone I’ve learned about the fab musical “My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding,” the wildly talented pop-funk singer-songwriter Mayda, and now, the photography project Of Scars.



You can read my full-length feature for the Minnesota Women’s Press here.  It contains the who, what, where, when, why and how of the project, which in their words “explores all the facets of living with the emotional and physical scars of breast cancer through photography, education, networking and community outreach.”

On my blog, however, I can be as opinionated and decidedly non-newsy as I please.  I can tell you about how I’ve been thinking about Of Scars nearly every day since Kate and Elli allowed me into their studio to take a peek at the pictures.



I’m a feminist, but I hate my body.  As I’ve written here before, I am a feminist because I hate my body–I recognize that patriarchal capitalism wants me to hate my body, and I’m fighting that shit every time I look in the mirror.  Self-acceptance is a truly radical act, and one I’m striving towards every day.

Most of the time I fail.

In my Women’s Press piece, I make reference to a “smiling model who posed topless in a Wonder Woman costume” (above, she appears in the SFW version from the Of Scars website). Here in my blog I can add that her smile was one of the fiercest, most kickass things I’ve ever seen.  As I held her photograph in my hands, I wondered what it would take for me to feel the same fearlessness about myself.  Here was my genuine, unedited, terrifying thought:

Would my body need to be mutilated for me to appreciate it?  Would it need to be pulled back from the brink of death to be loved unconditionally?  

Several days ago, Lady Gaga responded to criticism about gaining 25 pounds by posting pictures of herself in a bikini on her website.  She looks fabulous, as shapely and delicious as Marilyn Monroe in her prime.  As much as I appreciate the gesture, as well as Gaga’s admission of eating disorders and her hope to “BREED some m$therf*cking COMPASSION” by doing it, I couldn’t help experiencing another genuine, unedited, terrifying thought:

Are you kidding me? This gorgeous young woman is supposed to be the face of “bravery” and “body acceptance”?!  Give me a break.  Where are HER scars?  If she truly was bulimic, she has ‘em–bite marks on the fingers she used to make herself puke.  I want to see THOSE.  

These decidedly NON-compassionate thoughts are my scars on display.  These scars have covered decades of cuts, some big (“outta my way, fat bitch!) and some small (“you need foundation to cover up that splotchy skin of yours”).

Kate told me in her studio that breast cancer magnifies and multiplies everything women feel about their bodies and by extension, themselves.   I think she’s right.  I’m grateful that she and Elli are using their art and their studio to begin this important conversation.  We all have scars to share with each other, and ways we can learn from one another, no matter what the demon we’re battling.

If you’re in the Twin Cities on September 29, you can view Of Scars, the photography exhibition, for yourself.  I’d like to know what you see.



All photos of non-internationally famous pop stars by Of Scars and are used with permission.


The writings of “an extreme liberal/feminist/atheist and occupy supporter”

Friday, September 14th, 2012



Yes, that’s me, tippity-tap-tapping away at my dented Compaq for your reading enjoyment.  I do my writing on the dining room table, though.  Who can type on a couch?  Here’s a small sampling of what I’ve had published lately.  Interpret according to your identity politics*:


Global patriarchy back in business. Minnesota Women’s Press, September 2012.



Periods of great national stress tend to demand scapegoats, even ones as unlikely as Sandra Fluke, the law school student at Georgetown who was called a slut and a prostitute after testifying before a Congressional committee in favor of legislation supporting birth control. The control of women and their bodies is a political imperative in cultures around the world and in eras throughout human history, and nothing brings out misogyny more than global recession, prolonged war and environmental catastrophe. Women are the canaries in this ever-deepening coal mine. 


Lawn signs have their place, but shouldn’t neighbors be talking too?  Minnesota Public Radio News, September 12, 2012.


She wouldn’t have learned much from me, but she might have learned something from other neighbors at National Night Out. Neighbors like the gay couple across the alley and the lesbian couple several doors down. Lest she think that all GLBT people in the area are in a mad dash to the altar, she could also have met the singleton known to mingle in Palm Springs at Dinah Shore Weekend.

And these were just the folks who were out; untold others could be B (bisexual), or T (transgender), or part of the rainbow of difference in countless other ways. At our block’s annual event last month, there were elderly neighbors, toddler neighbors, surly teenage neighbors, neighbors of color, white neighbors, a neighbor in a wheelchair, a neighbor with multiple disabilities, gluten-free neighbors who avoided the brownies and vegetarian neighbors who avoided the hot dogs.


“An Atheist Grieves.” Atheist Voices of Minnesota. Edited by Bill Lehto.  Freethought House, 2012.
(enter to win your own signed copy of the book HERE!)


My son and daughter, ages 11 and 6 respectively, have never attended a funeral. By the time I was Elliott’s age I’d lost both of my Greatest Generation-era grandfathers; Elliott and Miriam’s four grandparents are Baby Boomers who are reaping the benefits of the late 20th century’s scientific advances, including the once-mocked theory that smoking cigarettes is a bad idea.  My kids are lucky, though they don’t know it.

The nearest my children have come to the reality of death occurred in November of 2007, when my very dear friend Liz succumbed to colon cancer when she was only 35.  Her death was painful, but foreseeable; during the final year of her life she was seriously ill, with more surgeries and hospital visits than I could count.  I visited her as often as I could, but for my Minneapolis-based children her death outside Boston happened offstage, not unlike the lead character’s mother in Bambi.  Instead of an echoing gunshot, my children heard the telephone ring at an hour too early for good news and the dull thud of my body as I slumped to the floor.


Finally, we have something that I didn’t write, but it’s too hilarious not to repost here.  It’s in reference to a comment I made in support of a piece by fellow MPR scribe Haddayr Copley-Woods:



How, HOW, did this young lady** discover my secret?  For years I’ve endeavored to hide my liberalism, my feminism, my atheism, and my socialist tendencies from the world!   Sure, the masthead photos on this website feature the word “abortion” twice, but doesn’t everybody’s?

Doesn’t it?





*my parents are under no illusions whatsoever about me working in an office. They know my all-time favorite job (other than child-rearing of course! derp) was selling used CDs at Cheapo.  Gotta aim big, you guys!

**yes, Nicole, I know how to do Google searches too.  In fact, it took me just a few clicks to discover that your boyfriend of nearly six years still hasn’t proposed, much to your family & friends’ chagrin.  My “liberal/feminist/atheist and occupy supporter” advice would be to propose to him yourself, but you probably wouldn’t listen.  If you’re truly as antifeminist as you claim, you ought to ask your Facebook pal Rush Limbaugh for his opinion, which I’m guessing would be: “stop putting out, you dirty tramp.”




Why you’ll never be mom enough

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Tits out, ladies!

Unhook your bras and settle in for another battle in the Mommy Wars 2012, kicked into gear ever since Hilary Rosen thoughtlessly insisted that Ann Romney “never worked a day in her life.”  And maybe you heard about that Elisabeth Badinter book?

Why, even the New York Times devoted an opinion page to a debate it called “Motherhood vs. Feminism”   (this happened, like, a whole week and a half before the infamous Time magazine boob cover, so you can be forgiven for not recalling it).

Yes: motherhood VERSUS feminism, as if the two are mutually exclusive.  Please direct your attention to the left of your screen, to the “About Me” widget, for my thoughtful perspective.*

One of the NYT essays is titled “Let’s Not Pass Judgement.”  It’s not as good as the piece by Annie Urban, which you really MUST read, but I agree with its sentiment.  Women shouldn’t be fighting each other for our “choices”–we should be wagging our shame fingers at the systems that conspire against us, consumer culture and patriarchal capitalism in particular.  Repeat after me: class wars, not Mommy Wars.

I’ve been thinking about this not-passing-of-judgment thing.  A few weeks ago, a feminist site I enjoy posted a photo on Facebook of the now-infamous Tanorexic Mom, wondering if all the harsh criticism of this woman’s “choice” to fry her pale skin wasn’t antithetical to the feminist ideal of to each her own?




Once again, we must return to the tricky notion of “choice.”  This woman chose to change her appearance rather drastically.  But did she, really?  Let’s ask our frenemy, good old consumer culture.  Pale women are told to buy creams and tanning beds to look acceptable.  Dark women are told to buy fading creams and treatments (like Photoshop) to look acceptable.  It doesn’t take long for these messages to tip vulnerable people into obsession, if not outright mental illness.

Is Patricia Krentcil mom enough?  A lot of people don’t think so.  For one thing, she is awfully ugly…unlike the lovely Jamie Lynne Grumet, she of the boob seen ’round the world:



Breastfeeding is, of course, a very good thing.  Unlike tanning, it has clear health benefits and does not cause cancer.  The fact that Grumet nurses her 4-year-old threatens me not a whit.  Her defiant stance, however, coupled with the hysterical cover copy, adds more fuel to the already tired notion of breastfeeding as a lifestyle “choice,”  and that’s when I get pissed.

I hate to break it to y’all, but nursing a baby is a biological function.  Our bodies are designed to do it–but please do not confuse this fact with a moral judgment upon you for not doing it!  PLEASE!  If you feel threatened by what you perceive to be my judgment, you are going to waste your time battling little old ME, not demanding change from the systems that conspire against a truly family-friendly society.

Suck on this: the United States is one of only four countries in the world that does not offer some kind of paid maternity leave.  The other three are Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, and Lesotho.  The latter country has an annual per capita income of $1600, so I can see why they can’t afford it.  The USA, not so much.

Would you “choose” to nurse your child if you had the “choice” to take paid maternity leave?  I bet you would.  And no matter your skin color, your body size or shape, you’d look damned good doing it.

According to patriarchal capitalism, you are NOT mom enough, and you never will be.  You have to hate yourself to buy what they’re selling….tanning packages, magazines, economic systems that trickle down slower than a dried-up teat (and that’s s-l-o-w).

So tuck those boobs back in and start shopping!



*short version: it’s bullshit



Ladies unite for the War on Women!

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

The following is a guest post by Mrs. Matthew Black, member of the Twin Cities chapter of Ladies Against Women.  Though I object to everything she wrote here, she threatened to reveal my eBay username if I didn’t allow her to post this unedited. –SD

On April 28, 2012, I was invited by local ladies of my acquaintance to attend an event relating to this War on Women that everyone’s talking about. I usually don’t express myself in public in this manner (preferring to let my husband speak for me, of course), but I felt that a War on Women was something that the ladies and I could get behind. Here we are:

Photo credit: a young man who was thrilled to be of service

Mrs. Ballentine looks depressed because she accidentally left her pearls at home, the poor dear.  I would chide her for this oversight if I weren’t guilty of a crime against decency myself–the wearing of white shoes before Memorial Day.  I share this unretouched photo in hopes that my gentle readers will learn from my mistake:

Photo credit: Mrs. Robert Rolle

It will take a little more than a wardrobe faux pas to keep me from speaking my mind about this War on Women.  As I said in my remarks, just about everything wrong with America can be traced back to the day in 1920 when non-male adults were given permission to vote.  On this issue I agree with Miss Ann Coulter, though I don’t make it a habit to pay attention to women who don’t have the sense to get married at least once.  Even vulgar trollops like Misses Madonna Ciccone and Britney Spears have been married twice each (just not to each other, for heaven’s sake).

Photo credit: Mrs. Robert Rolle

Confidential to strapping bachelors and wealthy widowers: Miss Emily Johnston, the young lady holding my umbrella, is single and looking for a breadwinner who will allow her occasional use of his Kohl’s card!  Interested gentlemen may send resumes, sperm counts, and credit reports to

The crowd really seemed to enjoy my story about how I reacted when people assumed I supported Michele Bachmann for president.  The very idea of a WOMAN president gives me horrible gas.  It twists me up so that I can’t help making faces like this:

Photo credit: some feminist in cahoots with Sen. Sandy Pappas, a speaker at the rally

Here’s something that keeps me popping Tums late into the night: I assumed a member of the Minnesota legislature who goes by “Sandy” must have the first name Alexander on his birth certificate.  Was I ever wrong!  This Sandy creature and Michele Bachmann are two of a kind–women who forgot that they are supposed to be working in the kind of house that has a white picket fence around it.  Leave the state and federal Houses to the menfolk, please!

It’s my great hope that this day of rallies in support of the War on Women will alert ladies and the gentlemen who support them to the danger posed by women legislators, contraceptives, and the unmarried.  I invite ladies across the country to join me in not voting on November 6.


Mrs. Matthew Black

Repeat after me: CLASS WARS, not Mommy Wars

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

So Hilary Rosen Ann Romney blah blah blah.  You didn’t get comment from me on the matter because  last week was the buildup to the 2012 Minnesota NOW conference, which involved a great deal of work…..for which I was not paid.

At the conference I was approached by a political campaign that was interested talking with me about my writing.  “Is this a volunteer opportunity or a job?” I asked.

You can guess the answer.

A friend of mine works more than 40 hours weekly where our daughters attend school.  She monitors the cafeteria, goes on field trips, assists with special events, and fundraises like a maniac.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that school would crumble without her.  What’s her job title, you ask?

Co-Chair of the PTA.  Yearly salary: nothing.

On Facebook, a friend posted one of the bajillion links to the Rosen/Romney feud and one of HER friends claimed that her stay-at-home-mommy work is “priceless” and she would be “offended” if the government paid her.

I said:

And I wasn’t kidding.

Jill at Feministe wrote a few thousand words on the subject before getting to the real heart of the matter, which is:

Free female labor props up our economy and saves us all tax money.  …women with children, whether they work outside the home or not, aren’t just doing the inside the home care-taking work; they’re volunteering at schools, in community centers, on sports teams. They’re filling the gaps that state and federal funding leaves, so in the short term kids get necessary classroom assistance when lawmakers cut programs. Women are much more likely to be a (again unpaid) care-taker for an aging or ill relative. As a nation, we can afford to not pay for necessary things because there are so many women who are doing those things for free.

Again, in bold and all-caps: “FREE FEMALE LABOR PROPS UP OUR ECONOMY.”

Capitalism depends on our unpaid work.  We are conditioned to do it at every turn.  My job is  so idealized by our culture that my colleagues in the business (women like the Facebook poster) feel ashamed to ask for what is their due.  Ashamed! Can you believe it?

Second Wave feminism declared that women should have opportunities outside the home, but forgot to add that men need to shoulder the burdens inside the home.  The revolution should have demanded as many stay-at-home dads as female CEOs.  But it didn’t.  The goals of the movement became allied with making money, which is one reason why feminism gets accused of being anti-family.  Family is so precious is cannot be allied with something DIRTY like MAKING MONEY!  It’s the madonna/whore binary all over again.

No matter what women do, we’re made to be either/or.  To rob us of nuance is to rob us of autonomy, and that’s just how patriarchal capitalism likes it!

If you think that all of your decisions in life are your own, that you “choose your choice,” then you fail to question the systems in place that perpetuate oppression.  Systems like capitalism, patriarchy, racism, classism, you name it.

Here’s an example.

Minneapolis Public Schools is in trouble.  Every year, the budget cuts get deeper and deeper and the achievement gap between poor and not-poor students is astonishing. Yet somehow, my daughter’s school seems to persevere, and will continue to do so as the ax drops in the future.  Why?  Because of people like that PTA co-chair I know.  One day I asked her: “Would you consider going on strike to highlight how much free work the district gets out of you?”  She looked at me like I was nuts, and I knew why–a PTA strike in our school would only hurt the children, and women are conditioned to think of the children and not themselves.  Minneapolis Public Schools counts on the free labor of middle- to upper-class women to prop up schools when their budgets are cut.  Schools without the free labor force are left to fend for themselves, and their test scores show it.  Class systems stay rigidly enforced.

If women went on strike and refused to volunteer, our school district would have to put much more, and I do mean MUCH MORE, pressure on government officials to fund them adequately.  If the women who prop up our school system went on strike, Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak would be forced to put $150 million of city tax money towards hiring school staff, not towards a Vikings stadium–whose profits will be funneled straight into the pockets of the 1%.

Here’s a picture of our poor, old, inadequate football stadium.  I think it just needs an army of unpaid women to puff it back up again, don’t you?  Maybe we gals could install some of those fancy new corporate suites that the menfolk say they need to conduct the networking business whatchamacallit.

The Official Mommy War Narrative™ would have this PTA co-chair incredibly offended by me suggesting  such radical ideas.  We live under consumer capitalism, a system that encourages competition and discontent–if I’m right, you’re wrong.  Either/or.   If I pick a philosophical fight with Hilary Rosen, Ann Romney, the PTA moms, Linda Hirshman, Jessica Valenti, Phyllis Schlafly, The Feminist Breeder, Amanda Marcotte, the editors at Jezebel, and/or Hillary Clinton, I’ll be distracted.  In my absence, Minneapolis will build a billion dollar football stadium, and its achievement gap will remain one of the worst in the nation.

The (white, male) rich will get richer, the poor will get…..





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"With The Radical Housewife, Shannon Drury shares her journey as a stay-at-home mother and activist, filling in a wide gap within the feminist sphere. Drury not only takes the reader through her own feminist awakening and activist career, but also provides a bit of Feminist 101, reviewing the history of US feminism in an easily accessible way. A mixture of unflinching honesty and snarky humor, this book serves as a necessary reminder that mothers are an integral part of the feminist movement, despite not always being recognized as such." --Avital Norman Nathman, editor of The Good Mother Myth