Fed by love

June 19th, 2013

 

A common theme in my writing about parenting is my overwhelming need to untangle generational parenting styles to figure out what will benefit my own children the most.  In plainer language, I want to do better than my mom, whom I understand wanted to do better than her mom, et cetera.

Rationally, I expect that my own kids will do the same thing, should they decide to become parents.  Emotionally, I wonder how I will react when that time comes.  Will I freak out?  Will I respect their choices?  Will I assume that they are rejecting my way when they strike out on their own?

This month’s Minnesota Women’s Press is food-themed, a loaded subject for women, mothers most of all.  When we feed our children’s bodies, we imagine ourselves filling their hearts and souls.  Which we’re not, but tell that to the Paula Deen, Rachael Ray, and whoever else the Food Network is pushing.

When my maternal grandmother died in 2003, I opened her eulogy with the following words: “my grandmother is the smell of butter.”  When I wrote about her for the Women’s Press in 2009, I declared: “butter was the woman’s natural milieu; I think she probably dabbed it behind her ears.”

She loved butter, and she probably loved us too, but she never said so.  If she declared her love for anything, it was probably for Johnny Carson and the Marlboro Light 100s she chain smoked.  That was much less embarrassing and vulnerable than admitting to loving a person.  Sheesh.

 

 

My current column is titled “When food means ‘I love you.’”  I would very much like for my children to see food as a source of nourishment and/or delight, not as a conduit of my affection for them.  Already, however, I am touchy when my hard work is sniffed at or spat out.  If Elliott dislikes my chicken fried rice then he must not love me.  If my coffee cake is burned I must be a failure.  ALL LESSONS LEARNED AT MY FOREMOTHERS’ KNEES!  That they, in turn, learned from the women before them!  At least they could do it in an age before Pinterest and mothering as an Olympic-level sport.  From the column:

I follow a number of so-called “mom blogs,” and you’d think to read them that not even abortion is as loaded a topic as whether children ought to eat yogurt that contains high-fructose corn syrup. Even though we 21st-century moms aren’t shy about telling our little darlings we love them, our culture compels us to express our care and concern through cookery.

Here I must cop to the fact that the chicken I put in that fried rice recipe was not a free-wheeling hippy-dippy bird that I picked up at Seward Co-op.  Elliott could taste it!   I just hope I can handle the grief when my future grandchildren are organic vegan gourmets who turn up their noses at the kind of nut cheeses I bring for Christmas.

Oh my.

 

 

Right now is a difficult time of year to strive for balance, emotionally or nutritionally, for bizarre schedules and hot weather lead to nights where ice cream is the only thing on the menu, and carrot-spinach ripple it ain’t.  I am trying very hard to let myself off the guilt roller coaster so I can enjoy it.

And I also committed to say “I LOVE YOU” with words and smooches several hundred times a day without fail…but I do that anyway.

 

 

YUMMY!

 

 

Manuscript Monday: “Legalize Love”

May 13th, 2013

Today’s excerpt is dedicated to two people I love dearly, who appear in my book under the pseudonyms Kelly and Gretchen.  They are very important members of my family, and whenever anybody asks me why a straight middle class housewife gives a crap about marriage equality*, I mention them.  In fact, Kelly took this picture of Elliott at a marriage equality rally our families attended on February 12, 2009:

 

I remember that rally well–I delivered a speech on behalf of Minnesota NOW that was received warmly by the less then the few dozen people who bothered to show up.  Today, my friend Kelly is back at the Capitol, with THOUSANDS of  ecstatic people ready to celebrate marriage equality in our state.  Among those thousands are Kelly and Gretchen’s two daughters, who can’t wait to be bridesmaids in their mothers’ LEGAL Minnesota wedding.

LEGAL!  

I can’t believe it.


Kelly and I were both good American girls, born in the land of the free, rewarded with Social Security Cards and easily obtained passports.  Had I fallen for a lederhosen-wearing Bavarian named Matthias Schwarz (instead of a professor’s brat born within a mile of UC-Berkeley), his road to citizenship would be assured.  Kelly, on the other hand, had no such opportunity.  She could not legally sponsor the citizenship of the foreign-born person she loved.

“Ugh,” Matt said, his usual eloquence failing him.

Deep in the throes of liberal guilt, I blurted, “you’re lucky, then, that you’re a white European and not a dark-looking terrorist.”  Post-9/11 hysteria brought new reports daily of Muhammads and Fatimas kicked off airplanes, hijab-wearers taunted with racial slurs, rocks thrown in mosque windows.  Gretchen admitted that her citizenship class had zero attendees of obviously Arab descent.  The Muslim students took great pains to announce that they were Somali war refugees.  Well into 2003 there was still palpable fear that al-Qaeda lurked in every (swarthy, hijab-clad) corner.

Matt returned us to the original point. “It shouldn’t be against the law to sponsor the person you love.”

Kelly shrugged.  “We can’t get married,” she said simply.  “If we’re not legally married, our relationship doesn’t exist.”

“But we have some domestic partner laws,” I said.  “Are you able to register as partners?”

Gretchen lifted her head from her thick textbook. “We can register all day long, but it still doesn’t mean anything.”  Then she returned to The New Citizen’s Guide to the Constitution.

Kelly shrugged.  “I guess it would be nice to have a big party,” she said, “but it’s true that it doesn’t mean much.  I still can’t give Gretchen any of my job’s benefits.  I can’t even carry her on my health insurance.”

“I have to buy my own,” the student of American law announced.

I decided, after draining my Summit Extra Pale Ale too quickly, that The Happy Hetero ought to state the obvious.  “That’s really expensive.”

Kelly nodded.  “Yes,” she said.  “Yes, it is.” At least [their son] Morgan could be added to Kelly’s coverage without any trouble; unmarried mothers, once a category as publicly shunned as homosexual couples, were wholly unexciting in the 21st century.

Gretchen passed her citizenship exam easily, returning home from her swearing-in ceremony with the gift awarded to her by the Customs Bureau, a tiny American flag stapled to a barbecue skewer.  “USA! USA!” she taught Morgan to shout.  He ran around the yard, chanting and waving, chased by Elliott, who shrieked that he wanted a turn.  Frustrated, Elliott grabbed Morgan by his overall straps and threw him to the ground, WWF style.  The home of the brave, indeed.

 

 

 *though anyone who would ask me such a stupid thing deserves a kick in the crotch, not a polite answer

 

 

It’s time

May 9th, 2013

I know it’s time.  You know it’s time.  We all know it’s time.

Yet whenever I read this phrase, so casually and coolly dropped into news articles on the happenings at my state capitol today….

“Minnesota is expected to become the 12th state making same-sex marriage legal”

….I have to do a little:

!!!!

OH MY GAWD!

IT REALLY IS TIME!

 

The unemotional can watch the Uptake’s live stream, but I am already a bit too verklempt, especially since the person introducing the bill in the House is Rep. Karen Clark, the longest serving openly lesbian member to serve in a state legislature in the United States.  Since 1980 she has kicked all kinds of butt for equality and justice in Minnesota, and everyone exulting today (on the live stream you can hear them chanting, howling, and screaming outside the House chamber) owes her an enormous debt of gratitude.

Now I just have to break the news to Elliott that he’s probably a little too old to be a ring bearer.

 

 

 

Parenting as Plan A

May 1st, 2013

 

 

Yesterday the FDA approved plans to sell emergency contraception over the counter to anyone over the age of 15.  This is a good thing, but it is not in compliance with a federal ruling that ordered Plan B be available to ANYONE who walks into a CVS and buys it.  To quote the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “The medical evidence demonstrates that EC is safe and effective in preventing pregnancy for all reproductive-age females.”  ALL females.  ALL.

When I was a teen, before I had my state-issued driver’s license, I relied on these thin plastic cards to get discounts at the Southdale movie theater:

 

 

Don’t I look awesome? Matt calls it my Julia Cafritz period, but my ferocity was all an act.  Inside I was a trembling, anxious, fearful mess.  My contraception was my mother’s insistence that should I require it, she would be only too happy to help me procure some.  This embarrassed me into celibacy until I left for college (though my scowl may have been a contributing factor).

Yesterday’s announcement is a small step forward for girls like the one in the plastic card pictured above.  We cannot forget, however, that the arbitrary identification requirement is a serious barrier for people who don’t look like her.  With this policy in place, 13-year-olds and undocumented women can purchase Tylenol and Robitussin, both extremely toxic in large doses, but they cannot buy Plan B.  Why?

 

 

Conservatives who protest the availability of condoms in high school health clinics are suddenly horrified that Plan B doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections.  The drum of “parents’ rights” is beaten long and loud.   Safe, FDA-approved medications are “dangerous.”  Human sexuality is scary and wrong.  There is no right to premarital, non-procreative sex.  Since no one fears eternal damnation these days, fear of pregnancy needs to keep kids out of each others’ pants.

This has not been one of my happiest parenting weeks.  I received some very disappointing news about my son’s grades, which led Matt and me to have THAT TALK with him.  While he curled into a surly ball in the corner of the couch, a very familiar scowl on his face, I could almost hear the thought “this sucks” rattling around his teenage brain.  While my mouth was blabbering all the Very Important Lessons that my son needed to learn about his school responsibilities, inside my head I was thinking the same goddamn thing: “this sucks!”

So much about parenting sucks.  It sucks to be the bad guy all the time, it sucks to clean up all the messes, both emotional and literal, it sucks to send the person you love the most in the world to the place you hated the most in the world (middle school).  It also sucks that there is tremendous social pressure to say WHY NO, PARENTING DOES NOT SUCK AT ANY TIME EVER, IN FACT IT IS THE BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO ME.

Which it is, of course, but it’s not a gig for the faint of heart or the unprepared.  It really needs to be your Plan A.

If all sex can’t be planned, at least parenthood ought to be.  A person’s ability to decide her future, whether it’s Plan A, B or C, ought not to depend whether she has an ID card in her pocket.  

Scowl.

 

 

 

Manuscript Monday: “Patriarchy and our sons”

April 22nd, 2013

Hi readers!  Sorry I haven’t posted much lately, but it’s sorta hard to type when you’re hiding under your thickest blanket, scared to death not only of the bizarro Minnesota weather (nine inches of snow last week, eight inches more expected tonight) but also of the United States Senate.  And that thing that happened in Boston.

 

 

I can’t get over how young and vulnerable the boy in this photograph seems.  He’s a baby!  What the hell happened between the moment this picture was taken and the moment he decided to drop a bomb in a crowd full of people?  

As this face flashed across my television and computer screens myriad times over the last five days I flashed back to the intense, white-knuckled terror I felt in 1999 when, within weeks of each other, the Columbine tapes were released and discovered the sex of my first child.  

 

 

Since [my] angst-filled first pregnancy, I’ve become convinced that the greatest challenge of the 21st century women’s movement is to raise feminist boys who become feminist men.  I chanted this mantra to myself in 1999 to build up my confidence, to be sure, but the reality is that no part of our culture will change until men make it happen.

If you’ve forgotten, we live under patriarchy.  Men make the world go ‘round.  Women like Indira Gandhi of India, Golda Meir of Israel, Margaret Thatcher of the UK, Michelle Bachelet of Argentina, and our own Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are exceptions, but not the rule.  A 2007 report from the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) discovered that  “women perform 66 percent of the world’s work, produce 50 percent of the [world’s] food, but earn 10 percent of the income and own 1 percent of the property.”

Successful civil rights movements acknowledge that power can’t be shifted without the consent of the powerful.  Women got the vote by appealing to the consciences of their menfolk.  How will we upend patriarchy?  By raising a generation of boys who reject the rigidity of gendered society in favor of a balance of power that will ultimately benefit everybody.

Deeper minds than mine have probed the motives and psyches of Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold; I cannot claim to improve on their work here.  But would these broken children have expressed their frustrations differently in a world less accepting of testosterone-fueled violence?  Could some gender flexibility instead of ingrained machismo have allowed Klebold to ask for help with his suicidal ideation?  Perhaps suicide was an inevitable outcome of his mental illness—chronic depression has as high a fatality rate as cancer—but where does a boy get the idea to kill others, too?

The prevailing wisdom is that Harris was an irredeemable psychopath.  Where does such a lack of empathy for others begin?  In the cradle, where boy babies are less likely than their sisters to be held when they cry?

Is it too radical to suggest that feminism could have prevented Columbine?  I don’t think so.  Feminism asks that we critically examine the interconnections between gender roles and social behavior, and there’s no better starting point for such a discussion than in our persistent, almost intractable, culture of violence.

 

 

So why the hell are you so angry, fellas?  Why, with virtually all the power on the planet, do you still need to hurt others?  Why do you, yourselves, hurt so badly?

Would you like to talk about it?

 

 

Corporate food sensitivity

April 12th, 2013

 

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 Salon.com 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.

*sniff*

 

 

Manuscript Monday: “A whole world of moms needing to connect with one another”

April 8th, 2013

This week’s excerpt is from Chapter Two.

I needed to snap out of my isolation and get out into the world again, this time with a stroller in tow.

My liberal arts background prepared me to tackle each and every problem in one place: the library.  Deep in the stacks, past the What to Expect When You’re Expecting volumes and The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, I spied a book called The Hip Mama Survival Guide.  This was it: a book that acknowledged the dirty truth that parenthood is something to survive, like middle school, meningitis, or the Vietnam War.  I wanted to be surrounded by mamas as salty-smart as the book’s author, Ariel Gore.  Unfortunately, Ariel lived on the West Coast and had given birth as a naïve teenager; much of her mothering spunk derived from the fact that she was still in the midst of her own bratty youth.

We had a teenage mom on our own block, Matt and I discovered.  The homeowner directly across the street from us was Clinton Avenue’s designated loonball (there’s always one), the furious type who believed that the ten feet of curb outside of her house was a valuable piece of real estate and no one, NO ONE, but her was allowed to park anywhere near it.  When Matt and I spotted her daughter clutching a bundle that looked more like a baby than a stack of algebra books, we wondered if all of that energy protecting a cement slab might have been put to better use.

This girl cornered Matt on the street one evening, offering him use of her son’s old bassinet if we needed it.  Matt said she seemed eager to bond with me about our babies, but I found this horrifying.  We were both mothers, this sixteen-year-old and I, but she was not my peer.  I wanted to shake her by her shoulders and yell, “You’re sixteen!  You should go to the mall to gorge on Cinnabons and buy earrings at Claire’s with your friends, not going to Bob the Builder at Toddler Tuesdays with your kid!”

Our friendship, though imaginary, was over before it could begin.

I clicked through some postings on the forums of HipMama.com, where I found others eager to connect, so much so that the profiles were coded as strenuously as any on eHarmony or OKCupid.  SAHM (we know what that means), BFOD (breastfeeding on demand), VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), AP (attachment parenting or advanced placement? Did they want to know my scores?) DS (darling son?), DH (does that mean she lives with a dickhead?), et cetera.  The acronyms tacked onto each blog post made me cross-eyed, though they were all Very Important in the virtual world, for like a pair of Louboutins in the real world, they broadcast to the world exactly Who You Are.

The listings’ very existence spoke to a whole world of moms needing to connect with one another—yet the coded language was so mysterious and ultimately alienating that I abandoned the site without completing a profile.

 

To find out what happens next, keep me motivated by telling me how much you want to read The Radical Housewife: Redefining Family Values for the 21st Century, coming sometime soon (!) from Medusa’s Muse Press

Manuscript Monday: “Two moms, two dads, who cares?”

March 25th, 2013

An excerpt from Chapter 8:

GLBT-friendly diversity curriculum being proposed for our elementary school might bring out a crank or two from the Catholic parish across the street, but no sensible person at my school would object to inclusivity.

Would they?

 

The first sign that I was wrong appeared when Elliott and I approached the northeast side of the school.  Cars were double-parked in the school’s surface lot, with more cars lining the streets as far as I could see. I soon discovered the reason for the parking squeeze—the entire south side of the school block was swallowed up by four Minneapolis Police squad cars and an enormous mobile satellite truck from the local Fox affiliate.  “Cool!” my son squawked from the back seat.

I allowed him to gawk the crowds and cops without registering that this was, in fact, a bad thing.  This meant that someone, somewhere, anticipated a burst of hysteria that four, count ‘em, four MPD officers would be required to quell.  Elliott also failed to notice that he was the only child in the overcrowded music room.  “HEY!” he yelled as a teacher waved from across the aisle.  “DID YOU SEE THE NEWS TRUCK OUT THERE?  COOL, HUH?”  She nodded and stifled a giggle.

A school district representative approached the microphone with a plea for respect and self-restraint ahead of the short film that would preface our discussion.  From her tremulous, agitated tone I assumed we would be watching a clip from Good Will Humping or You’ve Got Male, and I had my hands ready to cover my son’s eyes and ears if need be.  I was disappointed to see a fairly boring five minutes of cute multi-culti children gabbing about their families, a few of which were headed by same-sex parents.

 

Post-viewing, a stack of index cards was passed throughout the room.  Did we wish to share our opinions with the group?  I nudged Elliott.  “Yeah,” he said, cookie crumbs from the snack table tumbling down his shirt, “I wanna.”  I wrote out our names and handed the card back down my row.

“Okay everybody,” announced the school principal, his usual look of hurried anxiety replaced with what looked like defiance.  “Please,” he urged, “remember to be respectful and to honor everyone’s opinions.  Our first speaker is Shannon Drury.”

Elliott squeaked with glee.  I felt a moment of deep gratitude for holding off on the Thin Mints, for when the Fox 9 News camera operator caught sight of me he whipped his enormous lens directly into my face, where any telltale brown specks would be instantly visible.  I edged through the crowd to the microphone, Elliott bumping knees and elbows with abandon as he trailed behind.

I cleared my throat, blushing under the telephoto lens and the hundreds of eyes fixed upon me.  “First of all, I want to express how grateful I am that our school is offering to pilot this program,” I said.  “It means the world to me that our school takes seriously the fact that children are already bullying and stereotyping each other.  I am a member of the Human Rights Campaign, and I believe in their mission of equality and civil rights for everyone.”

A murmur went through the crowd.  Had I said something wrong?  Hell, you’d have thought I just declared myself a feminist.

As I warmed up, I revealed the shockingly obvious truth that children, our innocent and loving children, are born without prejudice.  Their social phobias are learned from the adults who pass them along.  I explained that when it finally dawned on Elliott that his best friend Morgan had two moms, his reaction was not “ew, gross,” but “NO FAIR! I only have ONE!”

I paused for the laughs that never came.  That story usually killed, but in this crowd, it died.  Tense anticipation showed in the sea of clenched jaws surrounding me.  Every chest in that room was crossed with defiant arms ending in tightly balled fists.  Uh oh.

I gave up and adjusted the mic for my short partner.  “Hi, I’m Elliott, and I’m in second grade,” he said.  The cameraman moved in closer.  For a second I feared Elliott would shout in the mic for the guy to back off, which would be a trigger for pandemonium.  Instead, he remained calm.  “I think that bullying is just wrong,” he said.  “Two moms, two dads, who cares?  It doesn’t matter!”

The room erupted—with applause.  The camera caught Elliott’s truly perplexed shrug as he wandered away for another dozen cookies.

 

 

To find out what happened next, check out my June 2008 column “What Would You Call a Welcoming School?”  ….and of course my long-threatened book The Radical Housewife,  coming to you soonish from Medusa’s Muse Press.

All illustrations by the brilliant Todd Parr

 

Gender essentialism and the feminist housewife

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

 

Manuscript Monday: “Bitch”

March 18th, 2013

Readers!  Welcome to a new feature on the blog I’m calling Manuscript Monday.  It’s a chance for you to get a preview of my book during the editing process as well as an opportunity for me to hold my procrastinatin’ ass accountable to the three of you who are still reading my blog on a regular basis.  Enjoy!

 

I can’t remember the moment I was labeled bitch for the first time, but it sure wasn’t in the blogosphere of 2008.   It was well before the blogosphere, let alone the World Wide Web, even existed.  The first time I was called a bitch, the home computer of choice was a Vic 20, capable of playing Pong and calculating to eight decimal points but not much else.

Boys called me bitch.  Girls called me bitch.  I remain, as always, an equal opportunity threat.

What they call rage, I recognize as power.  The constant challenge is to prevent this force from turning within, for those who keep their truths to themselves self-destruct at an alarming rate.  Lady Lazarus may have had nine times to die, but Sylvia Plath didn’t.

Honesty is a weapon.  It threatens the dominant, it questions authority, and it upends embedded systems, even systems as relatively benign as the typical suburban high school, which is why I couldn’t get a date until I was eighteen.

Male honesty is intrepid.  Female honesty is hostile.

Medusa and Medea.  The Sirens.  Salome, rewarded for her sensuality with John the Baptist’s head on a platter (a mistake—she should have demanded his saintly balls).  Eve and the sweet-tasting apple.  Delilah and her lover’s soft hair.  Madonna once said, “I’m tough and I know exactly what I want.  If that makes me a bitch, okay.”  OKAY!

Assertive men are admired.  Assertive women are unpleasant, unattractive, unsympathetic. As Barack Obama said to Hillary Clinton: “you’re likeable enough.”

Some feminist softies tried to divert our attention with a celebration of something called the “uppity woman.”  Derived, perhaps, from the legendary Laurel Thatcher Ulrich quote that “well behaved women rarely make history.”  I like this idea, but not as much as I like the word BITCH.  The word tears out of your mouth like a dog ripping the flesh off a bone—and not just any dog, either.  A female one.

A briskly selling gift item over the winter holidays of 2007 was a nutcracker in the shape of Hillary Clinton’s pantsuited thighs.  Between her legs was the fulcrum of her power, her Cunt as Destroyer.  How obvious could you get?

By the way, a lot of feminists get very upset when anyone, male or female, uses the word “cunt.”  I have also been tut-tutted for using “bitch,” though by now most folks agree that the B-word, when used by women, has a similar defanging effect as when gay folks call themselves “queer.”  I have trouble explaining this nuance to my young son, however, who knows I had an essay published in Bitch magazine but is surprised when I ask him not to share this information with anybody.

 

 


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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