"Conservatives are much more concerned with the basics of life: family, religion, education," he says.

True to the message she's preaching about women's work, Suzanne Venker isn't out to get famous. When Flipside first came out, she traveled to Washington, D.C., to knock out a few television appearances — but only after Bill rearranged his work schedule to make sure there were no gaps in child-care. She does some radio from home when she can fit it in. She did even less promotion when 7 Myths came out because the kids were much younger then.

"My job as a mother is how I define myself, and being a writer/pundit is something I do on the side," she says. "The role ebbs and flows as my children grow. In another ten years, I suspect my presence will be greater — it's already greater now than when my kids were little. My only plan as of now is to continue writing books and articles, and to the degree that I need to appear on radio and TV to sell my work, I will. I'd like to speak way more often than I do, but I'm in mom mode, so that'll have to wait."

Jennifer Silverberg
Conservative author Suzanne Venker at home with her raison d'etre: Emma, eleven, and Henry, eight.
Jennifer Silverberg
Conservative author Suzanne Venker at home with her raison d'etre: Emma, eleven, and Henry, eight.

While she's a willing warrior in culture clashes, it's much more important to her to focus on her family. Proclaiming her gospel is critical work, but she'll only do it between hockey practices.

That said, some things about Venker would likely surprise you.

She's not all that religious. Bill is Catholic, and they're raising the kids that way, but she hasn't converted and probably never will. "I'm not a devout Christian," she says. "I've been to a thousand Masses in my life, but I've never gotten up and taken Communion."

She is also not particularly strident on the hot-button social issues.

"I think people would be surprised about my neutrality," she says. "I don't take a hard line on premarital sex. It's absurd to think a grown woman won't have sex. It's called being responsible. If you're responsible, loving and committed, sex has its proper place — and it's fantastic!"

Don't expect her to tackle gay marriage or abortion in a book any time soon, either. She has an opinion, sure, but those aren't her focus.

It's these contradictions, perhaps, that make Suzanne Venker such a likeable woman, regardless of whether you agree with her politics. Her persona in her books is that of a firebrand, sure, but in real life, she's a warm, approachable person. She's still forming her opinions and ideas on plenty of topics. She lives a life that hews close to her stated ideals, yet she's the first to admit she's faltered.

That's not to say she isn't judging you.

As flexible as her viewpoints are on some cultural issues, for example, when it comes to the so-called Mommy Wars, Suzanne Venker's mind is made up.

"A lot of people will take the opinion that you shouldn't have any opinion about what other people do," she says at the end of a long, discursive chat in the family living room, cuddled up in a chunky cardigan against an unseasonably chilly spring afternoon.

It'd be too easy — and wrong — to call her June Cleaver, to suggest she's just another Suzy Homemaker with a house in the 'burbs and two great kids. Behind the perky smile, she's got Phyllis Schlafly's steely certitude.

"How other people raise their children does affect my family," she insists. "My kids are gonna marry your kids. We're all in it together. This is why we get so involved in the politics of it."

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