Madwoman Out of the Attic

a feminist trudging forward in a patriarchal world

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Pictures of Baby E at 2 1/2 Months

Thursday, November 23, 2006

My Favorite Bumper Stickers

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Sad Night - Sibyl's dead

Our pug Sibyl died last night. She was a wonderful dog. Kind, nurturing, well-mannered. She came to us three years ago from a home in which she was neglected and unloved. But at least she left this earth with a family that truly loved her.

As with Penelope, euthenizing a Sibyl was a painful experience. She had gotten to the point where she was gasping for breath and barely able to breathe. I couldn't stand to see her struggle anymore, so Mike and I decided to release her from her suffering. We cried and said goodbye and rubbed her head as she took her final breath.

Things I'll miss about Sibyl:
-her huge tongue that was always hanging out of her mouth because it was too long to be contained
-the way that huge tongue would get dry and sandpapery from being exposed to the air for so long
-the way she would spend up to 40 minutes licking my legs
-how she would press her head hard into my hands and lean into them when I pet her and rubbed her ears
-how cute she was in her Caesar costume
-how she was always trying to lick the inside of the other dogs' ears
-her excited low woo woo bark when she wanted to be released from the kitchen
-the way she begged for food so politely, never pawing or barking, just staring up with her big brown eyes
-her massive and utterly distinctive underbite
- her barrel chest which, combined with the underbite, always lead people to think she was a boy dog

She was lovely. I hope she's happy and playing with Penelope right now.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Making Church Better For Women

I've been thinking of concrete, practical, realistic things an individual bishop might do to make church more woman-friendly.

I, along with a lot of other women I know, find going to church pretty hard sometimes, particularly when we go into Sacrament meeting and see men in suits presiding every Sunday. Men and boys blessing and passing the sacrament. Men getting the majority of airtime at the pulpit due to high council Sunday, General Conference, etc. Men being quoted continually in all talks, lessons, discussions. Men meeting for hours before church every Sunday to decide on callings, Sacrament meeting topics, 5th Sunday meeting plans, ward projects and goals, etc. Men counseling members who are troubled.

In our church, it's all men, all the time.

So what could a brave, compassionate bishop do to ameliorate this situation? Here are some ideas:
  • call a woman to be Sunday School president. There is a major dearth of women in leadership positions. Let's show confidence in women by making them leaders whenever possible.
  • encourage all teachers to make an effort to quote from women in lessons. This may mean going outside the manual a bit and dipping into Chieko Okazaki and Sherri Dew, but so long as the quote supports the objective of the lesson, let the teachers know that this is acceptable. Afterall, we all know that maleness and preisthood is not a prerequisite to having deeply meaningful spiritual insights that all can benefit from hearing.
  • Have the Relief Society President attend every single meeting in which plans for the ward, callings, welfare, etc. are discussed. This includes bishopric and certainly PEC meetings. The bishopric could only benefit from having a woman weigh in on subjects like Sacrament Meeting topics, callings, etc.
  • Another option besides having the Relief Society President attend all these meetings would be to call a woman as an assistant clerk. This female assistant clerk would be invited to come to all the bishopric meetings, thereby giving a much needed female's perspective to discussions.
  • Invite the Relief Society President and her counselors to sit up on the stand in Sacrament meeting every Sunday. Thereby creating a visual picture that women and men are equally valued in this church.
  • Lay off the rhetoric about how much more spiritual women are and that's why they don't need the priesthood. Likewise lay off rhetoric about motherhood being the equivalent of priesthood. Admit that there is no plausible justification about why women don't have the priesthood, just like there was no plausible justification about why blacks didn't have it. Admit that no one knows why women don't have the priesthood.
  • Let women know that they may bring another woman in with them when they have appointments to speak to the bishop. For women who have been raped, abused, etc. it could be very threatening to be alone in an office with a man they don't know well.
  • Make sure women and men alternate for closing and opening prayers. Also make sure women are the anchor speakers sometimes. Likewise, because there are some Sundays which we hear exclusively from men (High Council Sunday) be sure there are a few Sundays in which women are the only speakers. This balance of male and female speakers would communicate a message that men's and women's thoughts and spiritual insights are equally important.
  • Call more men to primary, thereby promoting the truth that both genders are equally capable of nurturing children. Reality is that many kids are without father figures, and it would be a huge benefit to interact more with men in church.
  • In Young Women's encourage leaders to make a conscious effort to acknowledge the many different lives women will lead. Acknowledge that not all the young women will marry and have kids. Several will not marry, several will marry and get divorced, and several will marry and need to work. In all of these situations it is imperative that the girls are prepared for a career. Encourage several career nights for the young women throughout the year.
  • Let young women know that their spiritual growth is just as important as the young men's spiritual growth. Encourage activities that support this spiritual growth.
  • Call couples to have co-equal joint callings. For instance, there could easily be a Ward Mission Leader Couple
  • be flexible when women want to hold the baby during private baby blessings in the home.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

This is Why I Vote

The women were innocent and defenseless. And by the end of the night, they were barely alive.

Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of "obstructing sidewalk traffic."They beat Lucy Burn, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air. They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thoughtLewis was dead and suffered a heart attack.
Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the Night of Terror on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote.

For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms. When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

So, refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year because-- why, exactly? Too busy? Carpool duties? Got to get to work?

Good Night

I'm thrilled and trying not to gloat. Democrats have taken the House and may just pull off a win in the Senate. My 87 that was supposed to help the environment has lost. Bummer. But overall a very good night.


Mike doesn't want me to post the whole blessing (well, he really doesn't want me to post any of it) but in the spirit of compromise, I'll just post a couple sentences from E's blessing.

"We bless you with a passion for peace, justice, and equality, that you will have the desire to both engage and improve the world around you.

We bless you with an appreciation for nature and animals, that you will take joy in their beauty and be considerate and respectful in your stewardship over them."

Monday, November 06, 2006

Good Sunday

We started out as usual with Mike getting up before 7:00 so he could go to all his bishopric meetings. I took care of baby for a couple of hours and then took him to church. I was not feeling at all excited about going, as it was fast and testimony meeting, and I get tired of the usual choruses of "I know this church is true."

But lo and behold, sacrament meeting was great! Due primarily to the fact that J.W got up and gave a fantastic testimony about how Mormons have a great tradition of being involved in both political parties. He then talked about how a great family has left due to feeling that there wasn't much space for them to be pacifists in this church, and read a fantastic passage from Kimball about how Mormons need to repent for worshipping the gods of steel and war. So cool! I wonder what was going through the bishopric's mind when he was up there. They looked pretty stoic, but I get the feeling they were quite nervous about where J.W. was going with his testimony.

Then I ditched S.S. as usual and went to R.S., which was better than usual since J.A.T. was giving the lesson and quoted Chieko Okazaki. How refreshing to finally hear women being quoted in a lesson! And it was good since I got nearly 30 people to sign up for my humanitarian field gleaning service project. Whoohoo!

Then I went to J's to make my political "Calls for Change." I called 50 people in a district in Nevada to urge them to vote for the democratic congressional candidate. Most weren't home, and most of those that were hung up on me pretty quickly. But I did get one or two nice people so that was good.

Then I rushed home to clean up because this was the night of baby E's blessing. We went through a lot of drama to get there, but in the end I think it was pretty cool. Mike wrote a few things a couple of days ago, I changed and added to them, giving them an activist, be kind to earth, animals, marginalized, etc. slant. We held him together, the two of us, as Mike read from the blessing we had both composed. At the end I lifted baby up like that monkey does in the Lion King. And it was fun to have my liberal friends there to give me positive vibes, as I'm sure there were others there who were less thrilled at how we decided to do this blessing.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Note to a Friend who has left the Church

I am so happy for you, that you’ve found a community and an institution whose values resonate deeply with yours.

I am sad, however, for the Mormon community. They are the losers here. They are the ones who won’t be enlightend and expanded because you won’t be there to give your thoughtful comments. Because you won’t be there on Sunday to stand as living examples of a Mormonism that doesn’t fit the conservative, orthodox stereotype.

But regardless, I understand that following your conscience is paramount. Nothing is worth having your soul stifled.

I, as you know, am planning on a life in which I remain an active LDS. And I hope to God that it won’t crush my soul. I’m hoping my presence and my openness about my pain over women’s subordination will minutely help the church move forward. It will be interesting, at the end of my life, to look back and figure out if my staying was worth it, if it did any good in the end.

May we all follow our faith journeys with as much integrity as you have.