Madwoman Out of the Attic

a feminist trudging forward in a patriarchal world

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Sex and Gender

I would love it if the LDS Church would downplay theories of sex and gender. It all comes down to Jesus for me. He stands as the perfect model and example for both men and women. As my good friend Amy stated in a recent issue of the Exponent II, I as a woman "am to become everything he is. Everything. Not just the nurturing, gentle parts of what He is. I am also to be powerful. To learn to create life. To love perfectly. To stand in passive but powerful resistance to the inequalities and injustices in the world."

If we keep this as our goal - to raise up the human race to become more like Jesus, theories of gender difference should start to melt away. We will see godly and priestly potential in every human being, and it would become more natural to include women in the leadership of the Church.

I don't deny that there might be differences between men and women in this life. (hormones, societal construction, etc.) But I do absolutely reject the idea that because of these differences, one sex should "preside" over the other. If presiding is even necessary (why not just have equal partnerships, particularly in the family setting?), I believe it should be a function of worth and character, not sex.

I don't reject the idea that sex is eternal. But I do reject the idea that there are eternal gender roles. I believe that women need to learn to become everything Jesus is, and relegating women to eternal baby making while the man guides and presides really violates that idea for me.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Blessing Penelope

A couple of years ago I accidently poisoned my 14 pound pug Penelope. I left the door open to my garage, and she got in and ate enough rat poison to kill a much larger dog. Luckily, I realized it right away, took her to the vet, got her stomach pumped, etc. The vets seemed to think she would make it, but I was agonized and heartsick. The dog I loved like a child had almost died because of me.

I felt strongly that she should have a priesthood blessing. I know some of you might find that ridiculous, but it was incredibly important to me that we do everything in our power to save her. I asked my husband. Since it wasn't standard practice, he wasn't comfortable with blessing an animal.

I begged . I sobbed. I was so disgusted with him refusing that I couldn't even look at him. I was humiliated that I had to beg for this - especially when he knew how hard it is for me to ask for a priesthood blessing under any circumstance. I had never felt so powerless in my marriage before. He had something I didn't - something that I knew would help her - and he was refusing to use it. And there was nothing I could do about it.

Eventually, he reluctantly performed the blessing. I held her as he spoke. He was overcome with the Spirit/emotion and cried and told me later that he now knew it had been the right thing to do.

So my story ended happily. But only because he eventually gave in. Having experienced the feeling of terror and helplessness with my dog ill, I can only imagine what it would be like with a child.

This experience made me believe it is wrong to concentrate that kind of power within only one partner of the marriage. In my ideal world, both women and men would share their priesthood and bless and annoint jointly. (But if one wasn't willing, then the other could step in and do it.) However, in the meantime, I would be happy with smaller steps. If it was acknowledged that wives shared with husbands equal decision making power on when to bless, then I'd be more comfortable. Or, if it were acknowledged that healing by faith and by the gift of healing were just as powerful as a priesthood blessing, then that would be ok as well.

As it stands now, perhaps I do have the gift to heal. But I wouldn't know it since it's such a cultural faux-pas to even entertain the idea. I think it's time for the church and its members to stop ignoring/rejecting this empowering and ennobling doctrine and give women the permission to find this talant and gift within themselves.

Or we could just give women the priesthood. That would work too.

Monday, October 24, 2005


(one of my favorite poems)
by Constantinos Cavafy

As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon — don't be afraid of them:
you'll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon — you won't encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind —
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won't have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

Learning to be a Non-Pleaser

My whole life, since I was a little kid, I have wanted nothing more than to please authority figures. I was obsessively concerned with what my teachers thought of me. I agonized and cried when I had projects and papers due because I was so terrified of letting down my teachers. Even if I thought the project was dumb or boring - that meant nothing. I still agonized over how turn in the best whatever the teacher had ever seen. This, unfortunately, led to the torture of my long-suffering mother, whom I would force to sit next to me for hours to help me come up with ideas and write papers. I can't even begin to tell you how many projects and papers I turned in which my mom basically wrote for me, since she was so concerned with me crying and hyperventilating with stress. I also genuinely liked most of my teachers and enjoyed talking to them and getting ideas from them. Though that liking was mixed with fear, since I so desperately wanted to please them.

Now that I am 28, I seem to have moved beyond this. I am taking a class right now for library school, and have not read one article, though I've been taking the class for three months now. I'm simply not interested in the topic. So I'm not going to do it. Period. Of course, I'll do enough to get a decent grade, but all these articles that I won't be accountable for - phff. Not going to waste my time on those. Even if I am supposed to be talking about them on the discussion board - that's only 10% of my grade. Why bother?

This is such a stark contrast to the excellent little student I always was in the past. So responsible. So conscientious. Such a pleaser. I really do think this is a mark of maturity I did not have five years ago. Now I'll study what pleases me. Now I won't worry if my profs think I'm a slacker. It's more important for me to be pursuing ideas and projects I am fascinated by. Most of my high school students have reached this plane a whole decade and a half before I ever did. I must have been have been a very slow developer.

My newfound lack of awe and worship for authority figures has transferred over to other parts of my life as well. But that's another story...

Thursday, October 13, 2005


I'm not a big quote person. There's rarely one I care enough about to write down. But I thought this was great.

"Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some; it is in everyone. And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

- Marianne Williamson (famously quoted by Nelson Mandela)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Cried Again

Yesterday I cried again after reading about the cruelties of the modern factory farm. I had requested a free copy of the Humane Society's Guide to Vegetarian Eating. The first few pages were devoted to the horrors animals on factory farms endure. These animals are not covered by any laws protecting them against cruelty. I can barely stand to think about it.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Cultural Creative

Ok, so I totally poached this from Jana. Apparently, I'm a cultural creative, according to Quizfarm's What Is Your World View? (Though I scored equally high as a postmodernist.) Who would have guessed that my world view would be "very spiritual"? Kind of goes against my whole subtitle for this blog.

"Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational."

My results:
Cultural Creative 88%

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Ahhh, Captain Wentworth...

Last Wednesday afternoon, Amy came over and we watched Persuasion. Captain Wentworth was in particularly fine form, all rugged masculinity and sexy commanding presence. I've probably seen the movie 20 times, and I often wonder what kind of feminist I am to always drool over Jane Austen heroes like I do. After all, the men are generally somewhat arrogant and authoritative. And ultimately, by the end of the novel, patriarchy and traditional marriage are always affirmed.

Yet there's just something about those Austen men... give me a good dose of Mr. Darcy, Colonel Brandon or Captain Wentworth any day. Oh la la, the fantasies they inspire! Yet it's funny - when it all came down to it in reality, I chose Mike who admittedly shares little resemblence in looks and attitude with my Austen men. Fantasies are fun but reality with Mike is pretty good too.