Rebekah Chodoff Kuschmider, whose name should be an official Scrabble word, is one cool lady. Her blog, Stay At Home Pundit, is full of smart, sassy, and political writing. She also runs a pretty swank series here at Ravishly called "Ask a Feminist." We just couldn't resist the opportunity to talk with her, so we sent some questions her way and she was gracious enough to coach us on the many virtues of the skort and how to be both a mother and an activist.
First, and most importantly, we need your thoughts on Donald Trump. Also thoughts on Donald Trump’s hair, as they are clearly separate entities.
Must I think about Trump? He gives me nightmares. LOLSOB.
Ok, here are my thoughts: I sat next to a shrink at dinner in 2011 and he gave me a wonderful analysis of Sarah Palin (who was still mildly relevant then). He said she has a narcissistic personality disorder and is all flash and no substance. He predicted she’d flame out. He was right. I see a lot of the same qualities in Trump: all flash, no substance, and very into the idea of being a winner. However, I see nothing in his profile that makes me think he’s ever considered what governance actually means. And I think he’d suck at governance. Suck HARD.
As for his hair, I fear it. We all should. Just watch the "Trouble With Tribbles" episode of Star Trek if you don’t believe me.
Apart from your freelance writing, you also run At Home Pundit. Can you tell us a little bit about the blog and your background in politics?
Oh, my poor little neglected blog. I’ve been so busy with other things that I don’t tend it as well as I should. I started blogging in 2010 under the title Mom In A Million and thought I would be the next Dooce, writing amusing snark about motherhood. It turns out, though, that what I’m most passionate about is politics, feminism, and culture. So I changed the name and turned it into my corner of the Internet to analyze all sorts of sociopolitical things. For the past couple years, I’ve been mainly using it as a platform to talk about gun control. Since Newtown, gun violence haunts me and I can’t shake a feeling of urgency on the issue. It’s telling that my own blog is the only place where I have a platform to talk about it regularly. Many sites don’t want to go there.
How do you think your education in politics and cultural policy has influenced your motherhood?
Oooo, interesting question! I try NOT to let capital-P Politics influence my parenting, actually. There’s just no reason for my kids to hear me screaming “Jesus, Trump what are you full of? Is it Summer’s Eve or plain old fashioned shit?" at the TV. I’ve talked to my kids about why I support certain candidates but I also explain that my views aren’t the only views and just because I don’t vote for someone doesn’t mean they’re bad people. I’m trying to raise thoughtfully engaged citizens, but not necessarily partisan ones.
As for small-p politics, I spend a lot of time analyzing how my parenting choices play in a larger social sense. It’s important to me that my kids see me treating everyone with a certain level of respect, for instance. I’m careful to draw their attention to broader possibilities of thinking — for example I might remind them that not all construction workers are workMEN. Anyone can do construction. And I try to take part in service projects in my community and let them see me participating in that, or include them if possible. I want them to understand about giving back.
I hear you are a big fan of the skort, the ultimate women’s-wear underdog. Do you have any advice for other ladies out there about how to incorporate this lovely portmanteau into our wardrobe?
The beauty of the skort is that it picks up where jeans leave off! It has all the breezy, summery appeal of a sundress with the practical cooter-coverage of pants! I’ve been wearing skorts with colorful tanks tops all summer. It’s been great!
Who do you have your eye on for the 2016 election and why?
I have my eyes all over the damn place for 2016! I’m going to be voting for Hillary Clinton in the primary because I think she’s far and away the most qualified of the Democrats to be president. I do like my former Governor Martin O’Malley, but he’s not gaining traction and there’s a reason for it. He’s not ready for the office. I’ll be interested to see if he resurfaces in 2020 or 2024, especially if he ends up in a Clinton cabinet.
Bernie Sanders is GREAT. I mean, fantastic. I love hearing a true progressive say true progressive things but he’s not a serious contender. He’s changing the dialogue and bringing up important topics and for that I’m incredibly grateful to him. But in 2016, I want him back in the Senate where he’s a valuable legislator.
If I had to eyeball a Republican, I’d look at John Kasich from Ohio. I don’t like him. Not even a little. He’s anti-labor, anti-reproductive rights, lousy on education, and way too trickle-down focused for my taste. But, he was chair of the House Budget Committee, knows a fair amount about armed services and foreign relations, and has governed a big state. He’s the best of the bunch in the GOP.
One other person worth mentioning is making an exit in 2016, not an entrance: Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland. She's the longest serving female senator, the first female chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and a total badass. Any legislation that offered protections and benefits to women in the past 40 years has her fingerprints all over it. Senator Barb has been a force and a hero. I’ll miss her as my Senator after she retires.
You write for the Ask A Feminist series here at Ravishly. How did you arrive at your own feminist politics?
My mother went to Vassar in the '60s and worked in women’s health for most of her career, including in abortion services. So, feminism was part of my upbringing. Sometimes, it took the form of my mother not letting me and my sister watch The Dukes of Hazzard because she didn’t like the portrayal of women on that show. Sometimes it took the form of telling stories about women she saw coming into an inner city ER bleeding out form botched back-alley abortions. She also made sure we know that the experience of well-off white women isn’t the only experience of women and we need to do what’s best for everyone, not just us.
And lastly, since this series is titled Ladies We Love, who are some ladies you are loving right now?
Well, I just finished Jennifer Finney Boylan’s gorgeous memoir of her transition from male to female. It’s called She’s Not There: A Life In Two Genders. I saw Jenny on I Am Cait and picked up her book out of curiosity. Not only is she a wonderful advocate for the trans community, she’s an exceptional writer. I’m looking forward to reading more of her books.
In the social media sphere, I love Leah Torres and Jen Gunter. They’re both OB/GYNS who are really active on Twitter. They debunk a lot of anti-choice rhetoric about abortion and women’s health in general. Watching Dr Torres take on trolls is always entertaining and educational. Dr. Gunter always has great posts about women’s health, such as her take on the new “female Viagra” drug. Check them both out!