Feminist + feminist = awesome

February 14th, 2014

This entry from the RHW archives first went up on January 4, 2011, but I figure it’s still relevant three years later–after all, feminist love is always, ALWAYS the best love.  Happy Valentine’s Day! 



I posted the following in reply to Jill at Feministe, who wondered, while reading her New York Times last Sunday: “are feminist marriages more satisfying?

I’m a hetero feminist woman married to a hetero feminist man. On paper, we look like a “traditional” pair, as he earns our family’s living while I tend to our two kiddos.

But thanks to feminism, we understand that home-based caregiving, while unpaid, is a job like any other. My at-home parent status does not give my husband license to lounge on the couch after work while I scrub myself silly. The household grunt work is still everyone’s responsibility, just as it would be if I worked outside the home. Feminism upends “traditional” expectations, to everyone’s benefit: my kids have a close and loving relationship with their dad, who puts in quality time AND quantity time with them; my time building a freelance writing career is not seen as a detriment to our family; our foundation of mutual trust and respect gets us through the times in our relationship that are shitty.

FEMINISM is our secret! Pass it on!

What makes a “good” Aspie mother? (with a giveaway!)

February 10th, 2014


Last week, Gina Crosley-Corcoran of the blog The Feminist Breeder wrote on her Facebook fan page that her oldest son was recently diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.  When I saw her post, I responded as I always do to parents sharing this news for the first time: “WELCOME TO THE CLUB!”

In my essay in the book The Good Mother Myth, I write about my son’s diagnosis:

…I hardly mourned when my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when he was seven. After all, as countless psychologists reminded me, this was likely the same neurological quirk that made Bill Gates the wealthiest man in the world.  Hell, in my wholly overeducated social circle (I am one of very few with “just” a bachelor’s degree), you’d be hard pressed to find a young boy without a spot on the autism spectrum.  

The words here are elegant and composed, but in 2007 I was a wreck.  In truth, I had been a wreck ever since my perfectly adorable infant opened his mouth in February 2000 and SCREAMED.  He wouldn’t stop for months.




So I did mourn: I mourned the stubbornly persistent belief that parenting was supposed to look like it did on TV, that my child and I would be so naturally in sync that I would know his every need, that my child would be warmly accepted into the fabric of modern society by virtue of his very existence.

Instead, I had a kid who was regularly singled out by frustrated relatives as well as preschool, kindergarten, and grade school teachers for not being their version of “normal.” I had his preschool classmate tell me, upon learning whose mother I was: “I don’t like Elliott.  He screams a lot.”

I have to pause here an collect myself because I am tearing up.  I haven’t thought about that preschool experience in years, yet the memory still makes me clench my teeth so hard I can feel my crowns loosen.

It is painful to imagine a world that might not love your child as much as you love him.  This is true for any parent of any kid, with or without special needs.  A childhood diagnosis, however, kicks this panic up a thousand notches, for moms especially.

Why moms?  Because we parent under the excruciating glare of  The Good Mother Myth.




Gina herself has an essay in this anthology, a poignant look at abuse and neglect she suffered in her childhood and her determination to break the cycle with her own kids.  I write in my own essay about how much I fear passing on my family’s tendency towards anxiety:

My seven-year-old daughter Miriam bites her nails.  She chews them down to angry red nubs that even I, her loving (good!) mother, must admit are really quite ugly.  “It’s a bad habit,” she laments, using language she learned from a Berenstain Bears book on the subject.  “I want to stop it, but I can’t.”  I tell her I know how she feels.  When I was her age, my fingers were raw and bloody too, like the tips of ten half-eaten hot dogs.  

You didn’t ask, but I’ll tell you anyway: I believe that autism is genetic.  My wholly unscientific theory is that in the latter part of the 20th century, nerds and geeks who might have been isolated from one another were suddenly let loose on the campuses of research universities and liberal arts colleges where they met, fell in love, and decided to breed (this theory holds true for my friends in same-sex couples, who selected donors that shared their interests, like, y’know, science and engineering).

Gina is very well-known in the blogosphere and in social media, so naturally the post about her son drew a lot of traffic.  What drew even MORE traffic was a series of followup comments and posts between Gina and autistic self-advocates who objected to what they perceived as Gina’s desire to “cure” her son of his condition.  I won’t take a side in the debate, which as of this writing has devolved into a very bitter affair that includes name-calling, accusations of lying and harassment, the works.  Nothing good comes of that, online or elsewhere.

Here’s what I do know: there is genuine and deep pain on all sides.  Autistic adults hurt because they feel humiliated and denigrated when the complexity of their lives is reduced to the image of a missing puzzle piece and ridiculous stunts like turning the Empire State Building blue.  I can’t speak for Gina, but holy crap did I feel hurt and vulnerable when people tried to tell me the “best” way to support my son’s diagnosis.  For a few years there I walked around like an open wound.  Every suggestion stabbed my heart to a very familiar refrain:



2014-01-17 11.54.59


There is good news: my son is the coolest boy in the universe, and I would not change a damn thing about him.  Not a damn thing!  I WANT to give him the tools he needs to be a happy, socially successful adult., so I offer him help with skills that don’t come naturally–like reciprocal conversation, sensory processing, nonverbal communication, etc–but I wouldn’t change him.  He knows he has Asperger’s, and he’s not ashamed of it.  In fact, he wrote a short essay for his school newspaper about his life as an Aspie.  I love him so much that I want not only to be a GOOD mother, but the BEST mother that he needs.

I don’t always succeed, though, and that’s why I’m sharing some other good news:  the kind people at Seal Press, publishers of The Good Mother Myth, want to send a Radical Housewife reader a copy of the book for FREE.  Yes, FREE!  In addition to Gina and me, contributors include Sharon Lerner, K.J. Dell’Antonia, Soraya Chemaly, Jennifer Baumgardner, and many other smart, funny, thoughtful parents who are committed to doing the best they can.

Which is pretty good, I think.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To linger at the bus stop

January 30th, 2014


I can usually be counted on to announce when one of my columns appears in the Minnesota Women’s Press.  I like the gig, I want to keep it, and I’m proud of the work that I’ve done for the magazine.  But the column that appeared in last October’s issue was different.  It felt too raw, too emotional, too vulnerable to link to on Twitter with the usual “HEY EVERYBODY CHECK THIS OUT!”

How could I be happy to publicize a column I wrote about a loved one who is dead?



My friend and neighbor Pam Taylor was diagnosed with an aggressive and virtually untreatable brain tumor in November 2011.  In one week Pam went from being just another mama at the school bus stop to a semi-paralyzed terminally ill hospital patient.

This was nothing at all like other times cancer has touched my life.  My friend Liz’s colon cancer treatment, though eventually futile, allowed her at least some time with mobility, hair, and most importantly, hope.  A family member with lung cancer has been trucking along for six and a half years, switching out medications in search of whatever works.  Not Pam.  Once her cancer was diagnosed it was too late for anything but goodbye.




A new mother I know told me recently that she was surprised to see the parents in her neighborhood linger at the bus stop long after the children had been whisked away to school.  It seemed odd to her that busy people, commuter mugs in hand, would yak at the corner for up to a half hour in the mornings, longer on warm afternoons.  I told her that I might have thought that was silly, too, if I hadn’t lingered at my own bus stop and gotten to know some incredibly funny, thoughtful and supportive parents who I’m happy to say became dear friends.  Including Pam.




Pam’s diagnosis was shattering for me.  In late 2011 I was already in a pretty crappy headspace, dealing with professional rejection, interpersonal drama, and a long-festering depression that required more attention than I cared to give it.  I used to write a couple blogs a week, but in 2012 and 2013, I wrote a couple blogs a month.  I say this just to be honest, not to make you think that my own pain in any way compares to the suffering endured by Pam and her family.  And what a family!  Pam loved her two daughters so fiercely that she defied the odds and lived 14 months after her diagnosis, more than a year than any fancypants oncologist expected.  She was stubborn like that.

Pam passed away on January 30, 2013, in the house just up the street from where I type one year later.  I still miss her.  As I wrote in that October 2013 column:

I could pretend, in my worst days, that Pam was merely behind schedule and was seconds away from opening the kitchen window to ask me if I’d seen the school bus cresting the top of the hill. All of that pretending failed to make her materialize; on my very worst days, I blamed myself for not trying harder. 

The bus is scheduled to drop my daughter and Pam’s youngest off in ten minutes, but will likely be delayed due to last night’s heavy snow that has yet to be fully plowed.  With the windchill factored in, it feels like three above zero, not the ideal conditions for hanging out on a street corner, gabbing.

But I’ll do it anyway, and if you have the opportunity, I hope you can too.  Who knows?  Taking the time to linger at the bus stop could change your life.

It changed mine, for the better.





Repose en paix, Monsieur Seeger

January 28th, 2014


“Aw no, Pete Seeger died,” I said, turning up the radio so I could hear the entire report from NPR news.

“Who’s Pete Seeger?” Elliott asked.

I paused for a moment, listening to the familiar plinkety-plunk of his banjo on the cold airwaves.  “I know you’ve heard of him,” I said.  “Pete Seeger, probably the world’s most famous folk singer.”

“Nope,” Elliott said.

“Have you heard of him, Miriam?” I asked.

She stared at me blankly. “Who?”

“Are you telling me that you’ve both been in public elementary school music programs for years and you’ve never had to sing “If I Had a Hammer”?’

“NO,” they shouted.

“Crap,” I said, snapping the radio dial off when talk returned to the ongoing disaster in Syria, the kind of hopeless warring between brothers and sisters that Seeger spent his music career denouncing.  “I’m sorry,” I added.  “I guess I goofed on an important part of your musical education.”



I cannot hope to add much to the public conversation about Seeger’s contribution to music, politics, and culture.  Instead, I’ll use my tiny platform to share my favorite version of “If I Had a Hammer” outside of an elementary school music class. In the wobbly but magnificent clip below, it is performed in French ye-ye style by the obscure but amazing group Les Surfs.  Enjoy it as part of your musical education.

Merci beaucoup, M. Seeger.  RIP.





How to control your libido

January 24th, 2014


READERS!  From the feedback you give me, the majority of you are bio-women, which means that you have insatiable sex drives and need to hump the living daylights out of everything you see.  It’s a terrible burden, I know, but I’m here to make your life easier!  I have discovered a foolproof new system that will allow you to unplug your Magic Wand long enough to get out and do your grocery shopping.  Take a look!


huckabee (2)


After you stop laughing, do a quick check of your lady parts: any dampness or tingling?  Are your cheeks flushed?  How about the rest of your skin? Any goosebumps at all?  Is your breathing heavy?  No?

GOOD!  Your libido is now under control.  You may now fetch your prescriptions without sexually harassing the pharmacist, the clerk, and the elderly woman in line behind you.  Repeat as needed to function in polite society.


Aunt Sugar




The dream

January 20th, 2014


“And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ ”




“….when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’”

Mothering performance anxiety

January 16th, 2014



The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood to Fit Reality is NOW AVAILABLE.  I am simultaneously thrilled and terrified by this.

Thrilled because the talent in the book is staggering, including feminist writers both famous (Jennifer Baumgardner, Jessica Valenti) and really-should-be-famous (the blogging brains behind blue milk, Black Girl in Maine, The Feminist Breeder, and Raising My Boychick to name a few).

Terrified because my essay in the book contains some of the most vulnerable writing I’ve ever shared in public, and I fear that when you read it, you will judge me a BAD MOTHER.

I’m not kidding.




Oh Philosoraptor!  DON’T GO THERE.

Luckily I have a dear friend who is also a mother-writer, and she thought the essay was good.  Another dear friend, a mother who is more the mathy-sciencey type, thought the essay was good too.  But as Paul Westerberg once sang, “the ones who love us least are the ones we’ll die to please.”  It’s not enough for my FRIENDS to like it: I want EVERYONE to like it.

I want everyone to like me.  To tell me that what I unloaded in the essay doesn’t make me a freak, or gawd forbid, a bad mother.

All of this anxiety from something I wrote in a book that breaks down the myth of the good mother??


Help a mom out, won’t you?  Pick up a copy of the book and tell me what you think.  Great reviews of it are in Literary Mama, Brain Child, Parents magazine and elsewhere: click on this link to read more.

Look at me trying to convince you that the book is actually good.  DAMMIT!  When will I ever learn?!











A very white lady holiday

January 8th, 2014


Though the  holidays kept me, your ever-lovin’ Radical Housewife, too busy to blog (that spiked eggnog can’t drink itself, ya know) I did spend the rare moments I could escape my family learning new hashtags on Twitter:


According to Meghan Murphy of Feminist Current, feminist action that occurs on Twitter isn’t “real” feminism, in part because her feelings have been hurt sometimes.  Ohhh-kay……


According to Adele Wilde-Blavatsky via HuffPo, this hashtag is necessary because HER feelings were hurt sometimes, too!  And something to do with Beyonce, I think.  The hashtag was so blindingly dumb that I couldn’t concentrate on anything else.


According to Ani DiFranco, hosting a songwriting retreat at a Louisiana plantation that whitewashed (PUN INTENDED) its slave history was not big deal–in fact, in her cancellation announcement she wrote “i believe that people must go to [slave plantations turned into fancy resorts!] with awareness and with compassionate energy and meditate on what has happened and absorb some of the reverberating pain with their attention and their awareness.”  She later apologized, then apologized AGAIN for giving the world’s lamest non-apology.

#NotAllGreenPeople, #stopblamingKermitweneedunity

According to white lady Anne Chastain, it is possible to rise above racial disharmony just by wishing it so!  As she wrote on Twitter: “I’m not white, black or hispanic, I tell my kindergarteners. I’m beyond all that. I’m green: one w/nature.”  These hashtags were created to mock Chastain, who likened the negative response online to “lynching.”  REALLY.

I drank my eggnog looking like this:




I hate it when dumb white lady feminists ruin things for me, another white lady feminist!

Yep, I’m white.  Just look at me!  I’m descended from Northern Europeans and I live in Minnesota: the only color I get is boiled lobster crimson when I’ve been out in the sun too long.  Like the white ladies mentioned above, I’ve benefited from white privilege in a hundred million ways.  I’m not very happy about it, but there it is.  I do whatever I can to unpack my privilege, to be aware of it, to learn from it, to give my children the information that they need to do the same (because as you have seen from their photographs, they’re white, too).

I’m a cis-gendered, middle-class, hetero white feminist lady.  Does it hurt when call-out culture calls ME out?  OH MY GAWD YES.  Of course it hurts. It hurts so much that against my better judgment I want to get out my Diversity Bingo card and wave it around (if you’re a white liberal like me, you have one, even though it embarrasses you to admit it).  I see words like “racist” or “heteronormative” or “trans-exclusionary” and want to hit the caps lock IMMEDIATELY AND TWEET “OH NO, THAT MIGHT BE SOME WHITE FEMINISTS, BUT IT SURE AS HELL ISN’T ME, NOPE, YOU’RE TOTALLY WRONG, THERE IS NO WAY THAT I COULD EVER, NO NO NO NO NO NO.”

Which doesn’t help at all and is over 140 characters besides.

So what can white lady feminists do instead?  I always like to give my readers advice, so here it comes: I suggest we grab a cup of eggnog (confidential to “Green Liberation”: Silk makes a vegan version I highly recommend), step away from the TWEET button and take it all in.  Read, listen, think.  Stash the Diversity Bingo card in the drawer with the holiday gifts that don’t fit.  Pay attention.  Go to the store and buy more eggnog because in January it’s on sale.  Read, listen, think.  It’s not that hard.

And behave yourselves, dammit!  If any of you ruin Easter I will hunt you down and break the ears off your chocolate fertility symbols!







My vote for person of the year

December 11th, 2013


Today the world learned that Pope Francis is Time magazine’s Person of the Year.




It’s a little surprising, isn’t it?  I mean, why choose this guy when the field included candidates like Edward Snowden, Bashar al-Assad, and MILEY FREAKIN’ CYRUS?

In Time managing editor Nancy Gibbs’ words: “a focus on compassion….rejects the pomp and privilege… embracing complexity…”

Like the complexity behind a woman’s desire to delay motherhood by using contraception?  Like the complexity that informs her decision to terminate a pregnancy?

I can’t think of anything MORE complex in a woman’s life than her reproductive health and its consequences for her future. So far the new pope has shown little interest in changing the status quo when it comes to Catholic policy regarding women’s reproductive freedom.

I’m not a Catholic–I was baptized in 1971, but it didn’t take.  Still, I have an vested interest in the happenings in the Catholic Church due to its undue influence on American social policy.  Remember the sway that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had on the Affordable Care Act waaaay back in 2009 and 2010?  I know you do.

Apparently the church is conducting a survey among the faithful to discern just what the heck they think of all this gay marriage, divorce and whatnot that’s been happening in the culture since Vatican II.  So far there’s no indication that the results will push Catholic hospitals to start offering emergency care for women whose unviable pregnancies are at risk of killing them.  This recent article at RH Reality Check has a great breakdown of the stranglehold Catholic directives have on the providing of health care throughout the United States, and what the ACLU and plaintiff Tamesha Means are doing about it.  I am VERY grateful that Tamesha Means is alive to tell her story, unlike Samhita Halappanavar.

Maybe Tamesha Means should be Time’s Person of the Year, instead.


photo credit: ACLU

I get that Francis looks like he might be a kinder, gentler Pope, but for women, there is no social justice without reproductive justice.



Manuscript Monday: how we became “traditional”

December 2nd, 2013





First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Elliott in the baby carriage!  That Matt and I became the poster children for the “Traditional” (hetero) American Family was no accident.  We didn’t have to ponder our choices because many of our paths were proscribed for us years before we met.

Matt was born into an educated, upper middle class family, expected from childhood to match the level of education obtained by his parents, who started dating while pursuing advanced degrees at UC-Berkeley.  His natural aptitude for mathematics was encouraged by his parents and high school teachers, who encouraged him to college level study while still a teen.  After earning his BA, he knocked around in a skronk-punk band, earning beer money at the record store where he met me, aware all the time that dorking around after college was a choice for a man of his socioeconomic status.  When he decided to leave, he could.  He started on the bottom rung of a startup software company’s ladder, but today his salary comfortably supports himself, his wife and his two children.

As for me, I found math maddening, and I heard no objections when I decided to drop the subject after tenth grade.  My guidance counselor did not raise the notion that taking all these English and history classes might land me in a pink-collar ghetto….

Ultimately, I got an English degree that would have prepared me for graduate school, had I not been so burned out by academia after earning it that I couldn’t face another day in the classroom again. But If I’d changed my mind, and jumped in the professor pool with both feet, I still would have been paid less and been less likely to receive tenure than my male peers!  






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Ebook cover 978-0-9797152-2-8 copy

"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