Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Watch this space, fans! The New & Improved Radical Housewife Blog is coming your way!
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Monday, July 18, 2011
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Monday, July 11, 2011
Thursday, July 7, 2011
What follows is an excerpt from the original draft of The Radical Housewife. Before I slice it away, I thought I'd share it, in hopes you'll post me your thoughts on the matter. Note the second-to-last paragraph, in which I remark upon the twisted logic of what "pro-life" means in the Palinverse. It was disturbing when I wrote it, but it's even worse now that Bristol claims her virginity was "stolen" while she was drunk (for a discussion on why Bristol may have resisted calling her experience rape, read this piece at the Daily Beast). As if we needed another reminder of the power of words....
The late, great Shirley Chisholm wrote the following in her autobiography Unbought & Unbossed, addressing men on her staff who tried to convince her to avoid speaking out in support of abortion rights:
“Women are dying every day, did you know that? They're being butchered and maimed. No matter what men think, abortion is a fact of life. Women will have them; they always have and always will. Are they going to have good ones or bad ones? Will the good ones be reserved for the rich, while poor women have to go to quacks? Why don't we talk about real problems instead of phony ones?”
Rep. Chisholm wrote these words in 1970, three years before Roe v. Wade, when dying from a botched abortion was a very real threat to women across the country, particularly poor women of color. Two generations later, not a lot has changed. Accessing an abortion is easy for well-heeled urban women, the vast majority of whom (as it was in 1970) are white.
In Shirley Chisholm’s day, the term “pro-choice” was used to remind people of the personal matter of the procedure. The “choice” to have the abortion should be the woman’s, centering the debate on the right to individual autonomy, a concept that Republicans claim to embrace. Senator John Kerry declared in a 2004 Presidential debate that having an abortion “is a woman’s choice. It’s between a woman, God, and her doctor.” Oh, if it were only that easy, John!
God and doctors are often in very short supply when they are needed the most. If you get accidentally knocked up in Wyoming or Mississippi, you better pray as hard as you can, because your states have no provider at all. In fact, a 2008 report funded by the Guttmacher Institute announced that 87 percent of counties in the United States do not have an abortion provider. That’s a big enough number to put in all caps: EIGHTY-SEVEN PERCENT! That makes getting an abortion seem less like a “choice” and more like a forced road trip.
Or a financial ordeal. The Hyde Amendment, passed in 1977 and reauthorized every year since, bans the use of federal funds to pay for abortions. Rep. Chisholm worried that poor women would have to go to quacks; she didn’t realize that when they won the right access abortions from a trained doctor, they’d have to surrender their rent checks. The Hyde Amendment, predictably, reinforces the idea that wealthy women have the “choice,” but poor women don’t. And lest we forget, the poorest women are the ones who lack access to contraceptive information and services anyway, dammit!
When I demonstrated with over one million other people on the U.S. Capitol Mall in 2004, the event was called the March for Women’s Lives, which made some mainstream feminists gripe. Wasn’t it usually called the March for Choice? Not so fast, declared a coalition of poverty activists and health care groups for women of color. The word “choice” obscures the “real problems” that Rep. Chisholm talked about: racism, poverty, and other forms of pervasive inequality.
I no longer identify as pro-choice. How can I, when Sarah Palin congratulates herself for the “choice” to carry her Down’s Syndrome child to term? Bringing a special needs baby into a tightly-knit, financially stable family that has access to health care and other forms of support is no big whoop, except for the baby in question—Trig Palin is one hell of a lucky kid. So is Tripp Johnston, the child carried to term by Trig’s seventeen-year-old sister. All four of them appeared on a celebrity tabloid in the early days of 2010, declaring “we’re so glad we chose life!” That’s that sneaky, slippery power of language again! Can you imagine a headline that read “we’re so glad we didn’t have abortions!” I can’t either.
Remember chapter one? I don’t deserve a medal for surviving life with the colicky, special needs baby I had in the year 2000. Accidents of fortune gave me everything I needed, and my child reaped the benefits. I don’t care if Sarah and Bristol Palin keep on breeding; that’s their beeswax, not mine. But under Gov. Palin’s leadership, Alaska’s rates of domestic violence and sexual assault were twice the national average. When Palin ran for office in 2006, she announced (in so many words) that if her then 14-year-old were raped, she wouldn’t allow the girl to have an abortion—a very likely scenario, considering Palin’s vocal support for parental notification laws. In yet another nimble linguistic twist, Palin averred that the issue was one of “parents’ rights.” Welcome to Palinverse, where a pre-born fetus had greater bodily autonomy than a post-born teen.
Feminists of any/every Wave, listen up: “choice” is over. It’s done. NO MORE.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Friday, July 1, 2011
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Monday, June 27, 2011
Thursday, June 23, 2011
I’m number two!
I mean that figuratively, for the weeks of the Circle of Moms Top 25 Political Mom Blogs contest coincided with what is always the crappiest (ha) time of year: the dead zone between the last days of school and the first days of afternoon camp.
My children, who thrive on predictability almost as much as I do, go batshit crazy for ten days every June. For an avowed pessimist, it’s odd that I’m never prepared for this. As school winds down early in the month, I find myself irrationally anticipating sleeping in late, heading out to Lake Harriet for a swim, and doing all the “fun” things that we’re not able to do because we have a school schedule keeping us on the straight and narrow. On May 31, I should be calling the pharmacy to bump up all of our meds, but I don’t until it’s past Father’s Day and the damage has been done, to our psyches and bedroom walls alike.
Indeed, the whole mess has taken a large toll on my (admittedly lame) career as a Political Mom, as I found myself utterly unable to juggle personal and professional responsibilities. Not only do I feel like a steaming pile of number two, I have the stamina of an actual two-year-old. Several months ago, I reflected on how my shy temperament complicates my life, in a piece called “The Trials of an Introverted Activist” that is finally seeing print in the current issue of the Minnesota Women’s Press. Sadly, the piece did little to exorcise the anxious, Piglet-like aspects of my personality; I remain a Very Small Animal, unconvinced of my ability to remain steadfast against the two Heffalumps screaming “I HATE YOU!” to me and to each other all day long. I just hope they care enough to publish The Radical Housewife after I’m dead, for that looks to be my smartest publishing strategy right now.
But things are looking up. I fell in love with Jersey Shore. Camp started rough (it’s never good to be phoned on the first day), but it did start. And did I mention that for a moment, I was a real number two?
Let’s back up a bit, to Monday, June 13, when the Circle of Moms contest officially closed, with the conservative Political Mommentator in first, followed by Veronica Arreola’s Viva La Feminista, Gina Crosley-Corcoran’s The Feminist Breeder, and yours truly, The Radical Housewife. It was suggested that it was really too bad that the Mommentator’s legions voted out of their concern, expressed by the Tator’s husband, that the “feminazi” Crosley-Corcoran might win instead.
Yeah, he went there.
Women on the right, I beg you: please do not tolerate the use of this slur. Ever. Do not allow the men in your lives to defend you by calling other women “bitches.” DON’T DO IT. Disagree with us about politics all you want. Call us loony, call us dumb, call us late for dinner if you want, but don’t put up with sexist stereotypes. They’re bad karma in addition to bad form. Circle of Moms agreed and disqualified Mommentator from the contest.
Then, inexplicably, Crosley-Corcoran posted on the TFB Facebook page that she was dropped from the contest herself, for somehow not being “political” enough. I don’t think they read her older posts, about raising her kids gender-neutral or her take on feminism and pornography, instead focusing on her recent posts about attachment parenting her VBAC newborn Jolene. What’s not political about that? In my confusion, I realized that with TFB out I was literally NUMBER TWO. Whoa.
But I don't want to be, either literally or figuratively. All cliches aside, I am honored just being in the company of some of my favorite online writers, including the two mentioned above, as well as Joanne Bamberger, Katie Allison Granju, Gloria Feldt, the collectives behind MOMocrats and Moms Rising, and many others whose writing I would not have discovered without this peculiar competition. Feminist mom writers are one hell of a group. I'm very happy to be in their company, and I'm grateful to all of my readers who buzzed over to the CoM site for the votes. Feminists are one hell of a group.
A group that includes Crosley-Corcoran, of course! In good news, it turned out that she wasn't dropped from the contest after all. In bad news, it's because she has a psycho stalker. * Isn't that just the way with moms? A little good, a lot of bad, all in the service of the toughest job you'll ever love and sometimes really hate.
*though I would like concrete proof that the stalker isn't a RWNJ. I'm conspiracy-minded like that.
Monday, June 20, 2011
Like it or loathe it, a woman’s appearance means something. Whether you wear heels or Doc Martens, no “choice” can be made independently in a consumer culture. Free will does not exist. Such was the revelation I found in my college media studies curriculum after Professor John Schott handed us syllabi that would challenge our deeply held beliefs about soap operas, Madonna videos and Cover Girl commercials. Symbolic language? The object and the objectified? Semiotics? Jacques Derrida?!! What the fuck??
Let us cool our Prada boots while we return to the thoughts that began our chapter, a consideration of the second wave’s flaws. Betty Friedan opposed lesbian leadership in NOW for many reasons, one of which is how they looked. Many lesbians of the time didn’t sex up their drag the way Marlene Dietrich did—they took off their bras, let down their hair, and rubbed off their makeup. I see no problem with this, but remember: I was born in 1971. My cultural touchstones were the rough and tumble kiddos on Sesame Street, not prim maidens like Elizabeth Taylor in National Velvet. Once upon a time the sight of a woman in pants was so transgressive as to inspire revulsion: not because the pants were ugly by themselves, but because the act itself was so outrageous as to be unfathomable. Susan B. Anthony stopped wearing bloomers when she sensed they were distracting people from her suffragist message.
Her words didn’t matter as much as her clothing. Sound familiar?
Over time, the pants really did get ugly, and someone heard something from someone about the burning of a bra. The fact that no bras were harmed during the 1968 Miss America protest is a truth so persistently rejected that the story remains a long entry in the debunking website Snopes.com, right up there with alligators in the Manhattan sewers and death by Pop Rocks and Coca-Cola. The message was clear: FEMINISTS BURN BRAS. According to Newtonian physics, without the support of sturdy underwire, perky tits will eventually droop. According to the marketing department at Maidenform and the pages of Playboy, girls with droopy tits are gross. Therefore, feminists are gross. QED.
When I ask around for nominations for Best Feminist in America, no one names Friedan, who inspired the Second Wave, or Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who kick-started the first. Almost every single person will name Gloria Steinem. A fine feminist, to be sure: a powerful activist, writer, speaker, and thinker. But you remember her before all others because she is very, very pretty.
Much of the Third Wave has consisted of studiously breaking down this feminists-are-ugly stereotype, and not just because heterosexual feminist women were getting desperate for a lay. Women of the Second Wave who rejected consumer culture were brave in numbers. The times were a-changin’, and plenty of men were breaking down long-cherished beliefs themselves—resisting the draft and militarism, embracing androgynous hair and clothing, recognizing their part in perpetuating discrimination.
Reagan’s election in 1980 and the defeat of the ERA in 1982 brought all the marching to a grinding halt. The communal spirit of the Second Wave fragmented. Reaganites declared a new era of rugged individualism, of freedom. Not the freedom that comes from constitutionally-enshrined gender equality, though; this freedom was that of the lone cowboy riding into town with nothing but a knapsack and a gun, free to blast his way to prosperity in pursuit of the American Dream. There were no cowgirls in Reagan’s America. His pal Schlafly made sure they were all at home, boiling diapers over an open fire.
Second Wavers in Reaganland soon realized that opposing the forces of capitalism required a lot of difficult emotional work. To delve inward for clarity is much more challenging than, say, purchasing a finely woven shirt that telegraphs that confidence for you. If self-acceptance is available at Macy’s, in a Chanel bottle of beveled glass, then to the mall we shall go! Sitting in the lotus position is for suckers.
Oh my god……I can’t believe I use DEODORANT. I want to smell pretty. So much for being radical.
*Come on, could that REALLY have been said by anyone other than Courtney "Pretty on the Inside" Love? She may not understand sobriety, child-rearing, or anything else about human relationships, but she sure as hell knows about power, baby!
Monday, June 13, 2011
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Monday, June 6, 2011
An excerpt from The Radical Housewife, chapter four, shared in honor of the 12th anniversary today of my civil marriage with a fella who is not, fortunately, named Mattias Schwarz:
....neither youth nor hormones last forever. Somewhere around our ten year college reunion, everyone’s attention shifted from desire to domesticity, so it seemed natural that marriage would dominate our discussion of gay rights in the 21st century.
Unlike the college come-outs and come-ons, Kelly and Gretchen came out by moving in next door. No one could misunderstand two women, a toddler boy, and a hyperactive mixed-breed terrier moving a truck full of furniture into a tidy Minneapolis bungalow—they were a family. For once, identifying as gay had nothing at all to do with sex. Hell, they were new parents, so we knew from experience that they weren’t doin' it! Instead, the story of their lives together was a lesson for Matt and me on a topic far less arousing: good old-fashioned civil rights.
The battle for same-sex marriage first made Minnesota headlines in July 2002, when our friendly, toque-wearing northern neighbors on the Ontario Superior Court ruled that Canada’s current marriage laws were discriminatory. Gay marriage was legal right in our backyard. “We could get to Thunder Bay in eight hours!” I exulted.
Kelly and Gretchen glanced at each other warily. “I don’t think so,” Gretchen said.
“But I want to buy you a melon baller,” I said. “Or a Jell-O mold in the shape of a giant strawberry.”
Kelly crinkled her nose with distaste. “Is that the kind of stuff you two got?” I told her that Matt and I opposed the idea of a wedding registry on principle. I went further and explained that so much of the modern American wedding constituted re-enacting traditions put in place when women were considered property to be handed from man to man in a ritual financial exchange. When Kelly regained consciousness, I returned to the subject of her Canadian marriage.
“Go ahead and buy us a melon baller if you want to,” Gretchen said. “Just don’t make us drive to Thunder Bay for it.” Her stern face told us that the discussion was over.
I cursed myself for weeks for being such a fucking idiot. The Happy Hetero just told two sensible adults that all of their problems would be fixed after ten minutes in an Ontario courtroom! I thought they’d be freed from discrimination once they signed a provincial paper, produced in a country not their own, that would mean less than nothing to the border guards they would encounter on their return trip, guards who would still log them as two single persons: one an American citizen, one a Permanent Resident. Nothing would change.
Gretchen, unlike Kelly, was not born in the United States. When we first got to know one another, she was studying madly for her citizenship exams, a series of quizzes on Constitutional trivia that I might have passed if I were still a 17-year-old student in AP American Government, but would definitely flunk today. “A test she wouldn’t have to take if I’d been a man,” Kelly grumbled.
Kelly and Gretchen didn't intend to offer me more than friendship, but they inadvertently gave me something nearly as valuable: an education in discrimination that this naïve straight woman sorely needed. For years, I thought that being an ally was about getting vogueing invites, ending the use of “gay” as a catch-all slur, and dropping my heterosexual assumptions. Through Gretchen and Kelly, I learned of the pervasive inequality that exists in state and federal law, the very legal system that Gretchen understood better than the average straight guy who was too busy scratching his balls to vote.
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. “If we’re not legally married, as Kelly put it, "our relationship doesn’t exist.”
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
I am your favorite, right? You'd at least put me in your top ten, beside Viva La Feminista, PunditMom, Gloria Feldt, The Feminist Breeder, MOMocrats and MomsRising, right? Right??
Forgive my fragility--since the Pre-Rapture "Marriage" Debacle and the Post-Rapture Northside Twister I've been just a mess of nerves. Minnesota needs some love 'n light right now, and there's no better way for you to show it than to vote for THE RADICAL HOUSEWIFE as one of Circle of Moms' Top 25 Political Mom Blogs. Vote every 24 hours to ensure I beat my evil twin Jenny Erikson.
The Radical Housewife
Monday, May 23, 2011
Friday, May 20, 2011
Mike Burbach, Editor: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Bass, Sports Editor: email@example.com
As a reader unfamiliar with Joe Soucheray’s style, I cannot tell whether his May 19, 2011 column was meant to skewer the unenlightened readers who suggested he was somehow un-masculine for protesting the dangers of modern football, or whether he aimed to prove his macho bona fides via said mockery. Whatever the intentions of Soucheray himself, the message made by the print headline was clear: “No. I’m still a man, not a woman. It’s football that changed.”
I’m a writer as well as a feminist activist—I am not interested in policing language. Yet I am keenly aware of the power that words have, particularly in the hands of a major newspaper, to perpetuate stereotypes that are at best, irritating, and at worst, dangerous. Soucheray’s column and accompanying headline reinforce the message that for a presumably heterosexual man, there is no worse offense than to be called a woman.
Thanks to a half-century of civil rights progress, it is no longer considered acceptable to use race, ethnicity, or perceived sexual orientation as a slur. No editor would approve a headline that read “No. I’m still a man, not a faggot,” for fear of significant (and richly deserved) backlash. Why is gender still, after all these years, fair game?
Rigid gender stereotypes hurt everyone, from men who are prevented from developing emotional relationships with their children to women who are stymied by sexism in the workplace. As a newspaper that hopes to survive in the 21st century, the writers and editors of the Pioneer Press would be wise to make decisions that better reflect our changing times.
Shannon DruryPresident, Minnesota NOW