"This is a political memoir about one parent's entre into liberal activism and the stuff she learned along the way, mostly by doing everything wrong."
Indeed, these words not only reflect the essence of Shannon Drury's debut book, but also serves as a reminder of the grueling parenting experience that led her to activism. There is absolutely no mincing of words for this life-long feminist as Drury takes readers back to the year 2000 and the birth of her firstborn with colic. Mulling over the conservative political "family values" rhetoric of the stereotypical "stay-at-home-mom," Drury regards herself as an at-home parent with high hopes of becoming a writer. But because of her son's incessant cries, Drury's plans appear dashed when she succumbs to a nervous breakdown.
Drury's experience into the dark side of parenting raised her awareness of the lack of structural support for families at the time. Yet she doesn't get involved until she looks beyond her circumstances and observes that the needs of surrounding impoverished black families are not being addressed by a neighborhood parent organization. Her activism broadens when her lesbian neighbors explain their inequality problems. Amid these daunting issues, Drury's world is further shaken by the events of Columbine, 9/11, and the tragic death of Sen. Paul Wellstone.
Continuing to address a multitude of feminist issues, Drury eventually gets involved with the National Organization for Women (NOW), and by 2006 becomes president of the Minnesota chapter of NOW. Drury's dream of writing becomes a reality when she creates a MySpace page soon after, under the name of The Radical Housewife. Her stinging commentaries draw a plethora of responses, including some severe criticisms. But her essays also make it into the Minnesota Women's Press, as well as attract the attention of Al Franken in 2008 during the Minnesota Senator race.
Drury is the first to admit that her activism does not solve the ills of the world. Yet through it all, there is one motto that she learns early on and still rings true today: "the most important thing a kid can have is a happy parent." Even though Drury's journey is not over, The Radical Housewife offers provocative insights into efforts to create a better world.
Shannon Drury is a writer, at-home parent, and feminist activist. Her political memoir The Radical Housewife: Redefining Family Values for the 21st Century is based on her longtime award-winning blog of the same name. Her essays are featured in the anthologies The Good Mother Myth and Atheist Voices of Minnesota. She writes a regular column for the Minnesota Women's Press. From 2006 to 2012, she served as president of the Minnesota chapter of the National Organization for Women. Shannon Drury lives in Minneapolis with her husband and their two children. Visit her website.
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