Madwoman Out of the Attic

a feminist trudging forward in a patriarchal world

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I think I'm a ward project

Well, more accurately, I think I'm a Relief Society project. People have been suspiciously nice and helpful recently, beyond the call of duty. But if being a project means I get great dinners, etc., I think I'm happy to be one. :)

It does raise fascinating questions, however, about why/how I became a project. I think it may just have to do with this blog...

Sunday, October 29, 2006

I love this guy.

Kinky Friedman. What a name. This man is running for governor of Texas. A few days ago I saw a commercial of his on some political show and I was won over. I think it's the best political ad I've ever seen. The intersting things about the ad: he really did found that Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch 10 years ago. And he's Jewish.

Click here to check it out.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Have I Finally Found My Destiny?

Last weekend I went to a sociology of religion conference with Mike. Fun! I got to hear sessions on Mormon motherhood, on Mormon women subverting and supporting patriarchy, on sexual harrassment in the Methodist church, etc.

While there I spoke to an LDS woman who is getting her doctorate in Women and Religion at Claremont. As I was talking with her, I was overwhelmed with excitement and the feeling that this just may be what I've been looking for. For so long I've been wanting to be a grad student in women's studies but I've not found a program close to home that would work. But this.... 45 minutes away, a new Mormon studies chair.... other than its exorbitant price it may just be perfect.

But I don't want to screw this one up. If I enter this I want to finish it. With a PhD. I think I should bide my time and really figure out if this is the field. And I need to figure out when I should do this. It may be that 7 or 8 years down the line might be best.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Is Therapy the Answer? Reconciling Faith and Feminism

(This is cross posted at Exponent Blog)

A few days ago I was talking to an LDS friend, Sarah, for the first time in a couple of years. She’s currently getting her doctorate in religion, and we were discussing the ways we (attempt to) reconcile our faith with our feminism.

When I asked her for advice on dealing with the women’s issues that we both struggle with, she immediately answered “Therapy.”

Sarah first went to LDS family services – not a good experience. Then she found a non-LDS therapist who herself was a person of faith. After years of expressing her frustrations and anger about the Church to her more orthodox LDS husband, and often hurting his feelings in the process, Sarah has found it so liberating and helpful to have a third party to act as a sounding board. The husband, who at first was not very supportive of her going to a therapist, now goes with her and loves it.

Sarah mentioned other things that have helped her cope with her issues, but the advice about therapy really stuck with me. I myself have toyed with the idea of seeking out a therapist before, but like Sarah’s, my husband isn’t too hot on the idea and thinks that I can probably just work through things myself.

But the idea still intrigues me… I know I often don’t handle my pain in the healthiest of ways. I sometimes unfairly get angry with my husband, since he represents the Church to me, and often defends it. And I sometimes am so frustrated after church that I find myself criticizing speakers, teachers, or leaders in ways that are not very kind.

I don’t want to be that person. Ultimately, I want to learn to be more generous and less angry towards institutions and people who I think are treating women unfairly, while at the same time working proactively towards change.

Perhaps therapy could help me with these goals. Have any of you had any experiences with therapy? Were they positive or negative? Did you experience feelings of self-consciousness or shame as you contemplated seeking third party help?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Politician's Wife

I just netflixed an outstanding Masterpiece Theater production called "The Politician's Wife."

It's the story of the proper, dutiful wife of a British Minister of the Family (like a Secretary of ____, I suppose.) She finds out he's been having an affair, but it's not the one night stand he tells her it is. It's been going on for a year. Then one night her husband rapes her, and her masterful plan to destroy him is set in motion.

It was like watching Shakespeare. Absolutely perfect.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Forays into Political Activism

Today I'm going to do the first politically active thing of my life: attend a friend's Iraq the Vote Party.

The objective is to mobilize democrats in states where elections are close. We'll be calling voters in Pennsylvania and asking them to be sure to vote on November 7. We'll also be watching a short film called Iraq for Sale.

Republicans have done a great job in the past of making such calls and mobilizing their base, and I hope that this time, with so many depressing things going on in Washington, Democrats will likewise do a good job of getting people out to vote.

I know the chances of Democrats taking the house or senate are slim. But I'm still hoping.

May this be the first of many activistist experiences for me.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Here's my baby

No, not that baby.

This is a picture Mike's department took of him for their web page. Notice how nice and full Mike's hair is, since he lost that contest over at Times and Seasons about whether or not I should control his hair. Hee hee. Notice also Mike's nice smile. Usually he's a bit challenged when it comes to smiling for pictures, but this one turned out really well.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Taking my Church Sabbatical

(This is cross posted at Exponent Blog)

Last Sunday I returned to church for the first time in two months after having Baby E. I had decided late in my pregnancy, when virtually no clothes fit and I was huge and uncomfortable, that going to church when one is nine months pregnant was not a priority. And then after I had the baby, the doctor was surprisingly firm about not taking the baby to church until he was six weeks old. Thus my two month sabbatical from church was born.

During those two months of Sundays, I generally stayed at home to take care of baby, while Mike was gone from 8 AM until the afternoon. (Side note: Sundays suck when one’s spouse goes to up to seven hours of meetings and leaves one home alone to cope with crying infant.) Towards the end of that two months, however, I had begun to miss worship services, and for some reason I wasn’t feeling up to going to my own ward, so I decided I’d attend my local favorite non-LDS church, the United Church of Christ.

I love it there. I love the thoughtful, professional, academic sermons the pastor gives. I love the upbeat energetic hymns and choir performances led by a local professor of choral music. I LOVE it when that same professor and music leader would lead the congregation in meditative singing, as he sings the cantor part. That part always gives me chills of joy. I love the infant quiet room, which is encased in glass and right in the midst of the congregation. I love the fact that women often conduct the meetings and that sometimes female guest pastors come to lead the service. Above all, I love its inclusive Christian message of loving and inviting all people to worship.

Every time I go to this church, I become more strongly determined to live a thoughtful Christian life. I become interested in praying again. It is wholly a positive experience.

I’ve felt similarly inspired and uplifted by attending other religions’ services. It makes me happy to see so many people thoughtfully communing with God in diverse and beautiful ways, and it inspires me to try to connect with God in new ways as well.

Because of these uplifting experiences I have had attending various worship sessions, and because I sometimes become frustrated, bored, and depressed by the status quo in my own faith tradition, I have become convinced that taking sabbaticals from my ward and attending other churches occasionally – particularly churches whose message personally resonates – is healthy for me. Doing this nourishes my spirit. It reconnects me with God. It fills me with joy to see people finding their paths to Him and Her. It even gives me the strength to renew my relationship with God within my own religion.

What have been your experiences with taking sabbaticals from Church, positive or negative? Is it wrong, from an LDS perspective, to skip out on Sacrament Meeting occasionally to attend other services? What’s a good balance of maintaining active Church attendance but also enjoying other services?

Monday, October 02, 2006


Today I stepped on Sibyl the Pug's foot as I was lifting baby into his car seat. With my huge deadly pump heel. She squealed and then was walking on three legs. Then I noticed blood was dripping from that foot. It was so HORRIBLE. I was stunned by the horror of it and all I could do was keep apologizing to Sibs, but Mike was a rock as usual and stopped Sib's bleeding. It turns out I smashed one of her little dog nails. I hope I also didn't break a bone. My poor baby pug!

This happened hours ago and I still feel awful. I continually have a sick feeling in my stomach when I think of it. She's now walking pretty normally but her little nail is red and must hurt so much. I'll keep an eye on it and take her to the vet if it looks like she's in pain tomorrow.

I think this gives me a clue as to how horrible I'd feel if I ever hurt my baby by accident.