Madwoman Out of the Attic

a feminist trudging forward in a patriarchal world

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Stop Violence Against Women

Every day four women die in the U.S. as a result of domestic violence. And more than 700 women are raped or sexually assaulted every day. is sponsoring a petition to the US Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, which expires in September 2005. Just click on the link, add your name to the petition, and help save women's lives. 700 women is 700 too many.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Thoughts of a Traveler

Last week, Mike and I returned from a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico. Oaxaca is in the southern part of Mexico and is characterized by its highly indigenous population. We particularly enjoyed seeing so many people in their native dress walking around the capital city. In this picture to the left, Mike is standing next to some old women who sold their weavings on the street. We thought these two little old women were so cute. This is probably the only picture we will ever have where 5'10 Mike looks like a giant!

We also enjoyed the main square of the city. Every evening the local children would joyously hit these long skinny balloons into the air as high as they could. This second picture contains Mike hitting our balloon.

One of my biggest hesitations about going to Mexico was my fear that I would see desperate poverty and sickness. However, I came away with the feeling that this was a wonderful place and most peple seemed to be living happy lives. Sure, they didn't have the huge plethora of material goods so many Americans believe are necessities. They didn't drive nice cars or have single family homes. They didn't have huge Wal-Marts and fast food everywhere they turned. But they were fine. Just fine. I liked the way families would gather in the square in the evening, hit ballons, listen to the music, and just enjoy each other. I realized that there was no need to pity these people for not having all the stuff I had, and no need to feel sorry for the rest of the world for not living in the U.S., land of convenience and consumerism.

Monday, August 22, 2005

To eat meat, or not to eat meat, that is the question

I've been a carnivore my whole life. Love meat. Every meal, every day. It was always my staple, particularly considering the fact that anything remotely resembling a vegetable always made me nauseous.

Ironically, I've also always loved animals passionately. The very idea of people abusing a pet makes me want to rip their heads off and stomp on them. While I am generally pretty compassionate towards people with faults and weaknesses, I really do hope that animal abusers burn in hell for eternity.

But recently, these two aspects of my life have ceased to live comfortably side by side. I've begun to face the fact that the ways I've rationalized meat eating - that the animals are treated humanely throughout their lives and then killed quickly and compassionately - do not truly hold water. They are full of wholes. Big gaping ones. The Meatrix (a two minute short animated film) has made that abundantly clear to me.

To think that chickens live their lives in tiny cages with their beaks chopped off, that pigs live so tightly packed into pens and cages that they live their lives unable to even turn around. It's terrible and cruel, and I have recently decided that I can no longer unthinkingly support this industry. And I am ashamed that this has not entered my consciousness before now.

I am trying to cut down on my meat consumption by eating lots of cheese pizzas and grilled cheese sandwiches. I eat fish three or four times a week. When I buy meat now, I make sure that I buy only free range chickens.

Do I still eat beef and pork occasionally when I go to restaurants? Yes. But now and for the rest of my life, when I put those bites into my mouth, I am very aware that an animal died for this. That an animal was probably mistreated for this. That this food used to be a living breathing beautiful creature. That because of me (partly) it is dead. And I am sad/grateful/ashamed that this animal has died to feed me.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

My favorite blogs

as the old tag used to say, "angry activists changing diapers." Actually, they are really not that angry. And for that matter, some are not even that feminist. But lots of posts are funny, fiery, and thought-provoking.

Jana's cool blog with posts on the war, her kids, disability issues and lots of other good stuff.

John's blog which deals with issues of Mormonism, skepticism, and more.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Exponent II

This collage by Emma Donaldson Taylor graced the cover of the summer 2005 Exponent II. Jana and I volunteered to be guest editors for this Southern California issue. We spent several months gathering articles by LDS feminists which broached topics which are generally not socially acceptable to bring up in other institutionally sponsored settings.

The article I'm most proud of is the panel on feminism and Mormonism. We arranged this by inviting four LDS feminists, two younger, two older, to discuss their views on feminism and the Church today. 16 LDS feminists from Southern CA attended and we had invigorating and emotional roundtable discussions on male and female roles, the priesthood, Heavenly Mother, sexual abuse, and other experiences as women in the Church.

Of course, our published article was not nearly as daring and edgy as our conversation that day. The editors in Boston felt it was necessary to be very careful about these topics in order to not offend the more conservative portion of the readership. I understand their perspective, but I will always remember nostalgically the excitement and vigor of our fiery, frank conversations that day.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Croatia 2004 Posted by Picasa

Penelope, Pug Warrior

Penelope above, a month before she died. Check out that tongue!

Our first dog was Penelope. We got her from the pug rescue group in Orange County, CA. She had had a hard life - she was found wandering the streets with a huge hernia, starving. Her front legs were messed up (her shoulders seemed to slip out of their sockets a bit) and she had pretty clearly been bred nearly to death. She was also deaf. The rescue group nursed her back to health for a year, and then Mike and I adopted her. We didn't care that she wouldn't be able to go on long walks or run very well. We just wanted to give an unwanted dog a home. And she was great, full of personality and spunk. She sure loved her toys! And the way she would become so threatened by our dog statue piggy bank and would bravely try to protect us from it through her firece barking was so endearing

After we had her for about a year we found out that she had cancer in her mammery glands. I remember crying as I drove her back from the vet, thinking that she deserved so much better than this. She was still a young dog, only 6 or so. After her horrible former life, she deserved to live long and happily - not die like this, so young.

We had the vet operate to try to get the cancer out. A big mistake. He took out a huge chunk of the cancer but couldn't get it all. So the last month or two of her life were hard. Her recovery from the operation was extremely painful, and in the end it didn't do any good at all. We put her through that horrible operation for nothing.

Putting her to sleep was one of the most horrible things I've had to deal with. One weekend she just kept collapsing so we took her to the vet, and it was clear that she was in so much pain that she had to go. Mike and I both were probably among the most undignified people the vets had ever come across. We were both sobbing, though Mike was more controlled than I was. After the traumatic experience of watching the vet put Penelope to sleep - and watching her scream and fight during those last 10 seconds of her life, Mike manfully volunteered to go out and pay the bill so I could slip away and cry in private. Sure, his eyes were red and it was clear he had been crying, but he had it pretty much under control at that point. But then when the secretary told him how sorry she was about Penelope, Mike lost it and started sobbing in front of the whole reception room. Poor Mike, it's been nearly a year since her death, but he's still embarrassed to go back to that vet's office.

That night as we ate dinner at our house, tears kept sliding down our faces every few minutes. I think that day we got a glimpse of how horrible it would be to loose a child. But we also came to understand how shared grief can unite people. I felt very close to him that night.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Romantic moment

Mike and I right before we got engaged six years ago. We are sitting on the steps of a lighthouse in Connecticut.

It was rather a strange time in our relationship. We knew we were going to get married the upcoming summer. I had even had my mom book the reception hall. We just hadn't gone through the formal proposal situation yet. (My mom wanted to have a private "conversation" with Mike before the official engagement announcement. I hid in the kitchen and eavesdropped for a while until the whole thing just became too humiliating.) Why my mom wanted to go through that, I'm not sure. Probably some remnant of the old fashioned idea that a man should ask for the daughter's hand in marriage. As a feminist, I had absolutely forbidden Mike to do that. I'm not a piece of meat! I can make my own decisions, thank you very much. Therefore, his job was to inform my mom about our intention, not ask permission. The conversation sounded pretty damn awkward to me.

But at least this gave mom a chance to hand over her wedding ring to Mike, so that he could formally propose. Mom was so nice to give us her ring! She had been widowed over two decades and hadn't worn it as a wedding ring for several years. And as a grad student, Mike was completely broke and could never have afforded anything. What a windfall for us!

The Inception of Madwoman!

Welcome to Madwoman. As a technophobe, I'm quite proud of my temerity in trying to set up this blog myself. To introduce myself, I am a 28 year old high school teacher dropout. Well, not completely a dropout. I quit teaching a year ago after suffering for two years as a high school Latin teacher traveling between two schools. This past year I've been...well....exploring different options for the future. Last spring, on a whim, I applied for a Masters in Library and Information Science program and was accepted. So it looks like librarianship may be in my future. (A questionable profession for one who is a self-admitted technophobe.) But in the meantime, I'll be teaching Latin part time at a local high school - a teaching gig I am far more excited about. Staying in the same classroom, not having multiple levals of Latin in one class, working as a substitute librarian at the local libraries - the future looks bright!