Friday, January 27, 2012

New Facebook Support Group

My husband and I have been somewhat frustrated in trying to find a support group for mixed-orientation marriages that seem relevant to our situation (young married couple with young children), so we are starting a facebook group for Mixed Orientation Families. The group is for individuals/couples currently or previously in marriages where one or both spouses are gay or bisexual. We will discuss issues related to navigating parenthood, marriage, and/or divorce while accepting your non-heterosexual identity.

You do not have to be currently married or intending to stay married to join this group. Individuals who have gone through divorce or separation can offer a lot of insight into navigating family-related pitfalls for gay or bisexual parents, spouses, or ex-spouses.

The goal is to have an accepting place to discuss issues related to topics specific to this subpopulation and to help us feel not so alone. Any life path forward that is mindfully chosen will be honored in the group: monogamy, non-monogamy in its various forms, divorce, etc.

If you would be interested in joining this group, please let me know and I will add you. It is a secret facebook group so it will not show up on others' news feeds and you cannot access it by searching for it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Curie-us Collages

Mister Curie and I were inspired by Kiley's self-actualization collage a while back and one afternoon decided to make our own collages. According to Kiley's post, to make the collage you:

  • Step 1 – You go through magazines and rip out things that are attractive. You do this process quickly without really thinking about or analyzing why you like what you like.
  • Step 2 – Cut out the objects.
  • Step 3 – Organize the objects on a paper.
  • Step 4 – Glue them down.

The finished collage is supposed to tell you something about yourself without the filters we often impose on ourselves. Today we are jointly posting our collages.

You can see Mister Curie's collage at his blog.

So, any thoughts about what our collages say about us?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Its Been Awhile

As is frequently the case when things are going well, without much trauma to publicly bleed, I've let my poor blog go by the wayside for the past 2 months. Although I'd like to say that I'm back for good, sadly I will probably continue to be as busy as ever. No news is good news, folks.

To be even doubly rude, this will be a summary post of things that have happened since I've written last. I'll be keeping up with the comments, though, so if you have any specific questions about these items, I'm happy to elaborate.

I've officially resigned my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I was waiting until I had processed my emotions about my resignation before I posted on it, but now that that time has come I find that I have little I want to say. It's done, I am no longer a Mormon, I am neither sad nor relieved. At first, I felt bittersweet that it had to end the way that it did. But I don't even feel bitter or sweet about it any more - my Mormon life will always be part of my life, just as my college life or graduate student life are also part of my past. I have some regrets, but I also got my greatest prize - that of my awesome spouse - from my membership.

I'm on a low-carb diet.
About 6 weeks ago, my doctor threatened me with... well, I don't know what he was planning on threatening me with, but he insisted that I come to the office every 3 months for "obesity issues". Since my sister had gastric bypass surgery a year ago, I've been deathly afraid that I would have to go that route as well. In a last-ditch effort on my part, I started the one diet that I have never tried - I've gone low-carb. It has been surprisingly easier than I expected, and I find that I don't feel deprived the way that I usually do when I am watching what I eat.

It's also been surprising to me how much sugar they put in EVERYTHING! In looking at labels, I find myself getting uncured meats, unpasteurized dairy, unprocessed nut butters, just so that I know what is going in to my body. It has definitely been an eye-opening experience.

My work is going splendidly.
I work as a science editor. It's a niche field, but I've been very lucky recently to have picked up several new clients and expanded my business. I've also attended 3 conferences in my field. It's been very exciting. This is especially so because I'd felt for many years that my career was something to be ashamed of, because it kept me "outside the home". Ah, the peace that dispensing with others' expectations of you brings!

My husband will be cutting people open this fall... Live, in a hospital near you!
Mister Curie finishes the PhD phase of his training next week, and will be defending his dissertation. After that, it's off to the clinic for him in August. First step is a 6-week OB/GYN clerkship at an "away" rotation... Meaning, le Petite Curie and I will be doing the solo thing for a while. Mister Curie didn't exactly love his last round of clinical rotations, so let's all hope that things go better this time, mmmkay?

I think that's about it for the major items!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Holy Murder

Our local ward is reeling from the arrest of ward member 28-year-old John Thomas. On Friday, March 18th, 2011, Thomas confessed to stoning to death ward member Murray Seidman (age 70 years) for "homosexual advances" on Jan. 12 of this year.

Thomas claims Old Testament law as justification for the murder, and that he received personal revelation from God to murder Seidman.

Thomas, who is a convert to the LDS church of about 5 years, was instrumental in Seidman's baptism into the church last year. The two were claimed to be "inseparable," and just recently Thomas was made beneficiary of Seidman's will.

The local news station posted the following video of the story:

News about the Mormon connection and an interview with Len Seidman can be found here:

My husband posted a link on his blog, which can be found here:

After the arrest, it was revealed that Thomas has schizophrenia, but is high-functioning with medication. He claims to have been off his medications when he committed the murder. The victim Seidman was also mentally handicapped.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Review of "Subjection of Women"

The February book for the Year of Feminist Classics read-along was John Stuart Mill's The Subjection of Women. This is an excellent essay that outlines many arguments for why and how the legislation of marriage and roles for women rendered the status of women as "less than slaves" in the late 1800s. The thesis of his argument is
That the principle which regulates the existing social relations between the two sexes - the legal subordination of one sex to the other - is wrong in itself, and now one of the chied hindrances to human improvement; and that it ought to be replaced by a principle of perfect equality, admitting no power or privilege on the one side, nor disability on the other.
Mill's arguments for why women should be legally treated as equal with men:

1. The arguments used to keep women in submission have been based on emotions or precedence, termed instinct, which is not rooted in sound reason. In an effort to legitimize our prejudices, we have named them "instinct," but these rationales still stand in opposition to reason, i.e.,
For the apotheosis of Reason we have substituted that of Instinct; and we call everything instinct which we find in ourselves and for which we cannot trace any rational foundation.
Interestingly, his explanation of "instinct" reminds me greatly of the "will of God" arguments provided by Wollstonecraft. These are the same arguments used by many religious and non-religious patriarchal systems today (e.g., Quiverfull movement of Christianity, Mormon gender roles, etc.) that seek to keep women submissive or subordinate to men.

2. The theory that women are naturally weaker than men has never been tested in an environment that does not already assume the same. It is impossible to draw conclusions about the nature of women from their current environment.
Experience cannot possibly decided between two courses, so long as their has only been experience of one.
Moreover, the subordinate role of women was based on a notion of "law of the strongest" (i.e, survival of the physically fittest) that no longer applies as the primary motivation of civilized societies.

3. The fact that dominance is "natural" does not make it right.
[W]as there ever any domination which did not appear natural to those who possessed it?... So true is it that unnatural generally only means uncustomary, and that everything that is usual appears natural.
You cannot expect someone who is privileged to see their privilege as being unnatural.

4. You cannot use the argument that women seem content with their lot as an indication that they are not oppressed.

It is the political law of nature that those who are under any power of ancient origin, never begin by complaining of the power itself, but only of its oppressive exercise.

5. We cannot assume that someone will fail at an object and then bar them from trying. Women, men, all classes, and all races should be given equal opportunities in life. People will naturally sort according to individual capability.
In no instance except this [sexism], which comprehends half the human race, are the higher social functions closed against anyone by a fatality of birth which no exertions, and no change of circumstances, can overcome.
6. The definition of "feminine" is socially constructed and not inherent.

7. A master-servant relationship within a marriage can only be detrimental to the unity and maturity of the partners. Moreover, such a relationship blocks the marriage from reaching its ultimate goals of perfecting the individuals in the family.

In summary, Mill gives many reasons for why women should have all of the same opportunities that men have, stating that the general abilities and capabilities of women cannot be determined based on what women as a whole have done. Individuals are largely influenced by their environment. A person who is given no education, and who is taught from infancy to submit their will to others, cannot be expected to perform as well as another who is fully educated and who has been encouraged to have independent thought.

I liked how Mill created the argument of marriage for a women as her chosen "career," stating that it is not to be expected that a woman who manages the household and the training of her children should be expected to have a vocation outside the home (this particularly at a time when the full attentions of women were required to keep a household in order). But women may not have the desire to marry, may have other vocations that are better suited or worthwhile for them, or may desire after their children are grown to continue in a vocation. His argument is that all careers that are generally open to all men should be likewise open to women, and that women should be educated in a similar fashion to men to prepare them for what vocation they desire.

I found the following quote to be of interest, because it says a lot in terms of the durability of religious or political institutions long past their overall positive benefit on society:
They do not understand the great vitality and durability of institutions which place right on the side of might...
In other words, placing privilege in the hands of the powerful, and then claiming that the power makes them moral, creates a very dangerous situation that is not easily surmounted.

Overall, the essay was excellent and I would highly recommend it to anyone. Moreover, I found that Mill's arguments still hold for other "isms", such as racism, heterosexism, classism, etc. It would be fascinating to reread this text in terms of gender politics and same-gender marriage.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Blood of Eden - Part II, Union

In the blood of Eden
Lie the woman and the man
We wanted the union,
Oh the union of the woman,
The woman and the man.

- Peter Gabriel, Blood of Eden
Continuing on the topic of my last post, another thought that I had while listening to this song was the idea of marital unity. Numerous Biblical phrases have a call to the union of man and woman. Elder Holland eloquently casts this union in the physical and sexual light in his book Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments.

In the case of the Peter Gabriel song, the lyrics describe a failed marriage. Thus, the phrase "We wanted the union of the woman and the man" implies a sense of unfulfilled sadness, such as at a high and lofty goal that one yearns for but cannot reach. In the video are illustrations of a man and his bride, dressed in a red veil, lying down in their home but in separate rooms. The union, then, is some sort of idealistic marital "oneness," impossible to reach with the different spheres filled by man and wife.

I suppose for each person, the definition of this oneness or unity is going to vary drastically, from oneness in purpose, to oneness in feeling, to oneness in opinion. The beauty of the oneness I believe comes from a merging of heart and mind, where you know an individual so well that you can guess his or her motives and intentions, where the very wavelengths of your heart strings and mind resonate at the same frequency.

But how often do we experience that glorious oneness with someone in our lifetime? And if we do experience it, how often are we able to hold on to that perfect vibration for more than a moment or two? Life is not lived forever in alt, and it seems we are ever changing. Loneliness, misunderstandings seem more likely than not when you expect to be one at all times with another individual, from age 20-something to 80-something.

Furthermore, is this sort of oneness really the purpose of marriage? Or is its primary purpose for the "societal rearing of children"? Most Christian religions would teach the latter. Entering into marriage not with the intention of focusing on your partner, but of focusing on bringing more souls into the world, perhaps works in favor of a "Oneness in Purpose" but not so much a "Metaphysical Oneness".

Can it be possible to glory in the resonance of mind and spirit when you and your spouse are spending your days with entirely different societies and undertaking entirely different purposes with your life? Wife is home with children and household cares, husband abroad with work in the world, both meet for only a few stolen minutes in the evening before husband runs off to Church Ball and wife to her Crafting club. There seems little time in there where there is oneness in location, let alone in any metaphysical sense.

Moreover, many Christian religions support a "submissive wife" meme. This relationship evokes a master-servant marital arrangement that by its very nature precludes true intimacy between the marriage partners. As expostulated by John Stuart Mill in The Subjection of Women:
Even with true affection, authority on one side and subordination on the other prevent perfect confidence. (...) How much more true, then, this must all be, when the one is not only under the authority of the other, but has it inculcated on her as a duty to reckon everything else subordinate to his comfort and pleasure, and to let him neither feel nor see anything coming from her, except what is agreeable to him.
Indeed, how can a submissive wife express anything like real opinion or feeling when her primary concern is not offending her master?

I think most people yearn desperately to be understood completely, wherein someone looks at you completely and transparently, with no opaqueness at all - and yet still accepts and respects you. However, I am not convinced that marriage as constituted by religious institutions is the place where we are most likely to find that in our daily lives.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Blood of Eden - Part I, Metaphor

In the blood of Eden
lie the woman and the man -
With the man in the woman
And the woman in the man...

- Peter Gabriel, "Blood of Eden"
I've never believed in the literalness of the Adam and Eve story. From the time I was a child, I was raised to see the story as a metaphor, a mythology. I understood most of the Old Testament to be an oral history, inspired but not written by God. I found little difficulty in making the temple experience fit in with this mythology. And it is as a myth that I listened to the Peter Gabriel song "Blood of Eden" last week with new ears.

It strikes me as profoundly interesting that in the Garden of Eden story, it is of man that woman is made. Eve's very body is formed from Adam's rib. In real life, we have man formed of woman - from her womb, grown from her essence, the blood of the ovary and uterus.

And here is the irony: the Garden of Eden story is a study in role reversal.

As I mentally switch the roles in my mind, I see Adam as the mother-figure. I see myself as Adam. Eve is my child, flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone. It is not a story of marriage, but of birth - out of woman is made man. The blood of Eden is the blood of childbirth and of labor, the literal "rib" extracted viscerally from Adam's flesh to make Eve. Thus, woman should be called man, and man woman, because man is "made of" woman.

Galen Dara published a beautiful illustration of this interplay between man, woman, Adam, Eve, and childbirth in a recent edition of Sunstone Magazine (issue 160). In it, Galen represents the image of the apple as becoming a uterus with fetus, dripping blood. I was struck when I first read the graphic retelling in its vivid honesty. I refer the reader here to see Galen's person website, with a picture of this gorgeous comic.

It would be easy enough to say that the Garden of Eden story was manipulated by patriarchal culture, placing man in the formative "master" and woman as the child-slave that needs protection from their own poor choices. Not knowing much about biblical history, I mention this only as a possibility. An alternative possibility is that "adam" and "eve" were never meant to represent strict gender roles at all. This is particularly appealing from the perspective that most Christian religions do not see God as male OR as female, but as an entity with features of both genders. Thus what we read in the Old Testament as a story of gender roles may be a reflection of the aspects of godliness.

When the child (Eve) partakes of the fruit of temptation, and admits of her choice, it is unsurprising that Adam, as mother, would choose to remain by Eve's side. What mother would not reach out to protect an mistaken or wayward child? You have formed this very creature, and desire to love and, above all, to protect. Protect, as she will be thrown from the garden and into the "lone and dreary world". Protect my child, from being thrown from paradise, unprepared.

It is also unsurprising that God would command the child to obey the parent (Adam), as the parent obeys God, or that God would command the parent to work for her child's food and raiment. This is not a story of marriage and roles within marriage, but of the bonds of parenthood.

Bringing us back to the words of Peter Gabriel's song, why is it we say that when woman and man are wed, they become "one flesh"? If it is based on the Garden of Eden story - man is in the woman, but the woman is not in the man. Indeed, man is in the woman both figuratively (i.e., by rib) and literally (i.e., by sexual intimacy).

That the woman has no such parallel of entering man strengthens my conviction that Adam was meant to represent woman.

Image by Knawx at