The Radical Housewife by Shannon Drury

The Radical Housewife by Shannon DruryThe Radical Housewife: Redefining Family Values for the 21st Century by Shannon Drury
Published by Medusa's Muse on June 20, 2014
Genres: Social Issues
Pages: 186
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review consideration.
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What does a feminist do when she becomes a middle class, stay-at-home mom? Fight even harder for the rights of women! Through vivid tales of street action, political campaigns (both Michele Bachmann and Al Franken make appearances), school curriculum debates, SWAT officers, flame wars, ultrasounds, white-liberal guilt, feminists with no interest in children, moms with no interest in politics, and gay marriage, The Radical Housewife depicts the struggle of one woman to understand herself and her role as a well-educated woman who chooses-for a variety of reasons, not least of which is the "glass ceiling" that enables her husband to earn a greater salary than she could-to stay home and raise her children. Ultimately, Shannon Drury asks the question: What does "family values" really mean? After reading The Radical Housewife, the answer may surprise you.


I should probably start off disclosing my own bias. As a libertarian, I don’t really identify with either of the two major political parties. I’m a little to the left on some issues, a little to the right on others…and mostly, I’m fed up with the extremes at either end. However, I love talking politics and hearing another person’s perspective, as long as things remain respectful.

Shannon Drury was so easy to relate to at the start of this memoir, even knowing that she leans much further left than I do. I was impressed with her desire for a loving community who cares about all of its members, regardless of social, cultural, and economic status. I was also impressed with her ability to recognize the many ways people sabotage that ideal, no matter which “side” was to blame. I loved how passionate she was, how she jumped to action. I was highlighting in my Nook like crazy:

— Economic class reveals itself not in elegant haircuts or automobiles but in one complicated word: choice.

— Do you do anything for babies once they leave the womb?

— 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. 

I’m reading along, appreciating her perspective and thoughtfulness, sometimes only agreeing with the fundamental idea but not the examples given. That’s okay.

But then, about halfway through the book, the vitriol began. Even when I agreed with her position, I couldn’t get past the gross generalizations and petty jabs:

— A liberal woman who believes in bodily autonomy is a mother who respects that her children’s bodies are their own. A conservative, on the other hand, reduces the female body to an object, owned by an adult male, until such time it is owned by a baby.

— In many ways [Shannon Hayes is] just as reactionary as any conservative, if there are conservatives out there who have read The Feminine Mystique in its entirety.

And on and on, downhill from there. This is the kind of delivery I’ve grown tired of. Why can’t these issues be approached without assumptions and rudeness? How does this encourage further consideration and discussion? It doesn’t. It’s a conversation stopper.

The issues Drury tackled and her struggle to find a meaningful balance between being a wife, a mother, and a feminist were interesting and thought-provoking. I just wish the engaging tone of the first half of the book had continued to the end.