Madwoman Out of the Attic

a feminist trudging forward in a patriarchal world

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

More Than You Ever Wanted To Know....

four jobs I've had
neighborhood plant waterer for old ladies
Baskin Robbins ice cream girl
high school Latin teacher
extra help library assistant

four movies I can watch over and over
Pride & Predjudice (Colin Firth's a hottie)
Iron-Jawed Angels (great film on women's suffrage)
Persuasion (another Austen classic)
A Room with a View (who doesn't love the naked men pond scene? Do I sound like a pervert?)

four places I have lived
Browning Hall (Scripps College lovely dorm)
an ex convent (when I studied abroad in Rome
Koloniki Square (the most fashionable part of Athens)
Uniformity Hills....err I mean University Hills, Irvine

four TV shows I love
24 (I'm embarrassed about loving a show with excessive violence and torture, but hey, you love what you love)
King of the Hill (Bobby Hill's the best)
Lost (I got sucked in)
Seinfeld (forever a classic)

four places I have vacationed
cruise ship around the Mediterranean ( best vacation ever! I have never eaten so well...)
Jamaica (honeymoon)
Oaxaca, Mexico
the Little House odyssey (in which my mom and I drove to DeSmet S.D. to find the little town)

Four of my favorite dishes
Pizza! Pizza! (is pizza a dish?)
Chicken Mahkni (sorry chicken)
Chipotle carnitas burrito (sorry pig. Can you tell i'm a wannabe vegetarian?)
potato soup

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Powerful Names

I'm expecting my first baby this summer. I've been thinking about names for my kids for the last 20 years. But now that it's actually here, I'm having a hard time deciding what the name will be. Certainly, my feminist sensibilities are coming into play here, particularly for female names.

What I want out of a name for a girl:
  • I want it to not end in a "y" or "ie" sound. (no offense to those of you that have those types of names.) I'm worried about the trend of diminutizing female names - and that's what happens when you add that sound. Think "itsy bitsy spider." I suppose it's ok when she's a kid, but if that diminutized name gets carried into adulthood.... it just makes me uncomfortable. So definitely no Katy's, Susie's, Lizzie's (sorry Elizabeth Bennett!), Kitty's and so forth.
  • I want it to have a noble history. A history of strong women who have done good things.
  • I would like it to also have a noble literary history. Great, strong, female characters in classic books.
  • I want it to have two or preferably three or four syllables. I'm a sucker for long names. But it needs to go with its last name Kline McBride.
  • I want to avoid names that are two feminissima. Like Isabella, Evangelina, etc.

So this is what I've got so far.

Girls: Amanda, Alexandra, Athena, Victoria

For boys, I want strong mature names with rich histories that can't easily be shortened to nicknames. Here are some options:

Boys: Alexander, Evan,

What do you think? Give me suggestions please!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Exponent II

Some friends and I have just gotten together to begin a blog for the Exponent II. This publication has a rich history of providing a forum in which LDS women have been able to share their life stories with each other. We are excited to begin this process of creating The Exponent II Blog, another forum for LDS women to gather and share their diverse perspectives.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Calling: Part 33 1/3

Well.... last Sunday the bish called me into his office and rescinded the library calling. He made it clear that he and his counselors felt good about the original calling, but my subsequent email and the fact the RS pres wanted me for something else prompted him to think that this new calling would be better for me. I am now one half of the compassionate service committee. I immediately accepted that, as it sounds much more meaningful to me than policing chalk for two hours a week. I really do hope there's more to the calling than arranging food for people.

I give the bish credit for clearly trying to make me happy in my calling and for having the courage to change his mind when it was clear I wasn't attitudinally suited for the library stuff. Good for him. Even though I have absolutely no relationship with him and I really don't know the first thing about him (and vice versa), I have a better opinion of him now.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Why I Stay

I know a friend of a friend who has been asked to write a Dialogue article on women and the Church and why certain feminists have decided to stick with it, despite the difficulties. She wanted me to send her some of my ideas on the subject, and I figured I would use my blog to get some of my ideas out.

Why I stay: it's a hard question to answer right now, as I am at a low point in church activity. I usually go to Sacrament, but take off afterward due to the lackluster teaching in my ward. I have begun to run out of patience. The black and white statements in talks and lessons are wearing me down.

But despite all of that, I am somewhat committed to remaining at least a partially active member. I can locate a few reasons for this.

1. Mike. I adore Mike, and the Church is hugely important to him. I know it really hurts him and frightens him to think of losing his eternal family by me deciding to not participate in the Church anymore. He married me thinking we'd be an active Mormon family (I thought the same) and I want to do my best to keep that vision somewhat alive for him. I can't give him a total and full embracing of all tenets and teachings of the Church, but I can show up every week for at least Sacrament Meeting and attend some Church functions. And I can try to not be so critical of leaders and things that are said that I find narrow-minded and hurtful (I need to be much better about that - New Years Resolution number one)

2. Mike. He's the best human male I've ever met. Hands down. Kind, ethical, compassionate, thoughtful. And really smart. Sure, there are some things I would change (e.g. his politics and lesser interest in helping animals), but overall he is an incredibly good person. And the LDS Church helped produce him. I can't forget that. Every time I wonder why I stay, I look at him and know that the Church can indeed do very good things for some people and teach some very good principles. It helped fashion a marvelous human being in Mike.

3. While I find a lot of Joseph Smith's actions particularly during the Nauvoo period deeply problematic, I like his radical vision of a new religion. I find compelling his vision for the divine potential of humans, male and female. I like his radical approach to battling poverty through the United Order. I think his ideas about the spiritual and divine potential of women were particularly revolutionary, as when he "turned the key" to the Relief Society and organized them "in the order of the priesthood." I think our present day Church has unfortunately retreated from the liberated vision Joseph Smith had for women and their auxiliaries. I also like to remember that the original endowment ceremony that Joseph Smith created did not have the women's hearken covenant in it.

4. I stay because I now realize I can choose what to believe in. I stay because I now realize that I have the privilege, the right, and the responsibility to embrace those wonderful LDS ideas that empower me and to reject the ones that don't. And this realization - that I can choose what to believe in, that Mormonism is not an all or nothing proposition - has liberated me. By rejecting the ideas that tear me down and hurt me (men presiding in the family, women having to hearken unto husbands, a circumscribed definition of womanhood, polygamy as my eternal future), I am now at liberty to embrace the ideas which I love that are also a part of my faith. It inspires me to no end to know that the Jesus we Mormons believe in is the same Jesus who went out of his way to include and teach the outcasts of society, to break taboos, and to uplift all humans despite race, sex, or class. That is the Jesus I accept and love, and any ideas that have crept into Mormonism that go against that, I roundly reject.

5. I stay because I know that leaders need to be allowed to make mistakes and grow. At this point in my spiritual life, I am on a religious journey that privileges my own conception of God's wishes and my own conscience over the statements of Church Authorities. I now realize that all human beings, including Church leaders, are subject to their own cultural contexts, and that even the wisest, most wonderful leaders can allow unfortunate cultural ideas to creep into their conceptions of the gospel. I am trying to be more compassionate towards these leaders. After all, they are human, and I am human. And I know that I make mistakes too.

5. I stay because of my own fallibility. This realization of my own fallibility has also profoundly affected my relationship with the Church. Just as I need Jesus to forgive me for all the mistakes I make, I know that I need to forgive the institutional Church for the mistakes it makes. It's not easy to do. I am extremely hurt by the ways women are routinely shut out from the general Church hierarchy, by the ways women's voices and ideas are lost or ignored in nearly all Church talks and lessons. But I need to give the Church time to progress. This is the gospel of progression; it is also the Church of progression. And I have reason to hope that it will indeed progress with time. (After all, blacks did eventually get the priesthood.)

6. I also stay because, in order for the Church to progress, it needs people like me to stay. The Church benefits from having all types of people of various ethnic backgrounds, ideologies, and political persuasions. The more types of people it has, the more types of people it can help. Besides, this is my church too. If progressive, liberal people keep leaving the Church, it will be left with a population that grows steadily more conservative and homogeneous in ideology. This would negatively impact its ability to be the inclusive and compassionate church I know it has the potential to be.

7. I stay because I care. Despite all my issues with the current hierarchical structure of the church and certain doctrines I find disturbing, I really do care about it. I have shed countless tears over the problems and unfairness I have perceived in the institutional Church. After all, this is my religion, my heritage, and my identity. My ancestors sacrificed and died for this religion, and I want this to be an institution they would be proud of. I want to be proud of it. I desperately want it to be better than it is, just as I want me to be better than who I am. And if I don't stay, I will no longer have the same types of opportunities to help it progress.