Lavender Haze and the Struggle for Egalitarian Marriage by Liz Cooledge Jenkins

Like most Taylor Swift fans—and anyone who’s tuned into a pop station on the radio recently—I’ve been listening to (and loving) the song Lavender Haze[1] from Swift’s latest album Midnights. The chorus: “I feel the lavender haze creeping up on me / Surreal, I’m damned if I do give a damn what people say / No deal, the 1950s shit they want from me / I just wanna stay in that lavender haze.”

Swift uses the phrase “lavender haze,” as she explains in an Instagram video,[2] to refer to an intense feeling of being in love, complete with an “all-encompassing love glow.” Presumably in contrast with the “1950s shit” people want from the narrator of the song. From the other lyrics, we might assume that this “1950s shit” includes people’s constant barrage of questions about whether or when the narrator is going to become her lover’s bride—because, of course, “The only kind of girl [people] see / is a one night or a wife.” No other options.

Continue reading “Lavender Haze and the Struggle for Egalitarian Marriage by Liz Cooledge Jenkins”

My Heroine’s Journey: Writing Women Back in History by Mary Sharratt

Alma Maria Schindler

We have been lost to each other for so long. My name means nothing to you. My memory is dust.             

This is not your fault or mine. The chain connecting mother to daughter was broken and the word passed into the keeping of men, who had no way of knowing. That is why I became a footnote, my story a brief detour between the well-known history of my father and the celebrated chronicle of my brother.

Anita Diamant, The Red Tent

I am an expat author. My home is everywhere and nowhere. A wanderer, I have lived in many different places, from Minnesota, my birthplace, with its rustling marshes haunted by the cries of redwing blackbirds, to Bavaria with its dark forests and dazzling meadows and pure streams where otter still live, to my present home in the haunted moorlands of Pendle Witch country in Lancashire, England. My entire adult life has been a literal journey of finding myself in the great world.

For as long as I remember, I longed to be a writer. As a novelist I am on a mission to write women back into history. To tell the neglected, unwritten stories of women like my pioneering foremothers who emigrated from Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) in the 1860s to break the prairie soil of southern Minnesota.

To a large extent, women have been written out of history. Their lives and deeds have become lost to us. To uncover their buried truths, we must act as detectives, studying the sparse clues that have been handed down to us. We must learn to read between the lines and fill in the blanks. My heroine’s journey, in other words, is about reclaiming the lost heroines of history. My quest is to give voice to ancestral memory of that lost motherline.

Continue reading “My Heroine’s Journey: Writing Women Back in History by Mary Sharratt”

Discerning is the Journey by Katie M. Deaver

This past weekend I had the privilege of officiating for the wedding of a dear friend.  Despite having undertaken all of my graduate and doctoral degrees at a seminary, I had not seriously considered ordination since the beginning of my master’s program when I discerned that my calling was to the academic side of theology rather than to leadership of word and sacrament. When my friend called me nearly two years ago to ask that I officiate her wedding, it never occurred to me that something as simple as an online ordination process would push me toward further vocational discernment… and yet, I think, just maybe, it has.

As a long time church musician I am accustomed to being a part of people’s special days.  I have certainly played or sang for more than a few weddings, as well as other services that mark some  of the various stages of  life – baptisms, confirmations, funerals.  I’m no stranger to carefully (and prayerfully) crafting these types of services to fit the families and individuals involved, but I imagine I do leave a certain amount of professional space between myself and these events in most cases.

Continue reading “Discerning is the Journey by Katie M. Deaver”

Identity and Marriage: Which Christian Conception? by Stephanie Arel

This post explores issues I present in an essay which will be published in the Journal of Theology and Sexuality. In that piece, I consider the term “identity.” I claim that identity and the categories it delineates often present dilemmas when it comes to gender, sex, and sexuality. This is especially the case when considering biological and social data related to sexual fluidity in women. While in the paper I argue that “identity” serves in many ways to stultify, I recognize that we can also interpret the eschewing of identity as something reserved for the privileged – who can afford to discard identity. Marginalized groups, on the other hand, are often at the mercy of identity – it is hoisted as a marker, one that cannot be displaced or removed.

Where I complicate identity relates to its ability to typecast and congeal a self into a definitive configuration. Categorization follows, serving specific ends and bolstering very specific institutions.

Let’s consider marriage. Continue reading “Identity and Marriage: Which Christian Conception? by Stephanie Arel”

Reflections on Marriage by Ivy Helman

studyMy partner and I are getting married in a little over a month.  She, a lawyer, and I, a professor, live in the Czech Republic.  Technically, we aren’t getting married because the Czech Republic doesn’t have marriage equality.  Our relationship will not be recognized in the U.S.  For that, we need to be married in a state or nation that has marriage equality.  Germany might soon.  Other options would be a number of EU countries or the United States, but that doesn’t affect our status in the Czech Republic.  Finally, our marriage will also not be recognized by some in Jewish circles as well since the ketubah, the Jewish marriage document which possesses legal status in Jewish courts, is between two women.

There is nothing legal about our Jewish wedding except one could argue its Jewishness. So, the day after our wedding our relationship will have the same recognition as it had the day before and the day before that.   This would not be the case if we were a heterosexual couple.  It reminds me of the countless commitment ceremonies that took place before marriage equality in the United States.  They were not prohibited (like the marriages that slaves had because slaves weren’t considered people under the law or eligible to enter into legal contracts while in bondage (see pages 301-302).  Yet, similar to the “contubernal relationships” of slaves performed by their masters or other slaves (page 302), they weren’t particularly legal either.  Despite the ceremony, there was no change in status of the couple within society.  Yet, recognition was and still is an important component of both struggles for rights.  In fact, according to Darlene Goring in “The History of Slave Marriage in the United States,” (345-346), the process of gaining legal recognition was very similar for both ex-slaves and the marriage equality community in the United States. Continue reading “Reflections on Marriage by Ivy Helman”

My Turn: A Femifesto by Marcia Mount Shoop

It’s coming up on a year now that pretty much everything changed in my family’s life. My over twenty years of married life, up until last year around this time, our lives had been built around my husband’s job. John’s work as a coach in the NFL and Division I collegiate football had moved us all over the country—coast to coast and in between.

MMS Headshot 2015This time last year our move was for me to take a job. No more football. And a move not for football meant massive shifts in the daily life of our family.

I cannot count the number of times since I took this new job that people have said to me, “Finally, it’s your turn!” Continue reading “My Turn: A Femifesto by Marcia Mount Shoop”

Solitary Marriage by Esther Nelson

esther-nelsonI’ve been married for most of my life.  Marriage, along with all our institutions, is influenced by and therefore takes shape from the culture/society in which it exists.  When I got married, I had certain expectations that I’d absorbed from my environment.  Attaining “marital bliss” by achieving an indistinguishable oneness with my spouse was part and parcel of it all.  Popular thought tells us that marriage (especially heterosexual marriage) brings about the completion of two individuals.  How often do we hear about people searching for, and sometimes finding, a person they label as their soulmate?  People seem to long for that one human being they think will make them happy.

I recently picked up Rainer Maria Rilke’s (Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist, 1875-1926) short book, LETTERS TO A YOUNG POET, and found his thoughts about marriage liberating.  A few months after he married Clara Westhoff he wrote, “I am of opinion that ‘marriage’ as such does not deserve so much emphasis as has fallen to it through the conventional development of its nature.  It never enters anyone’s mind to demand of an individual that he be ‘happy’,–but when a man marries, people are much astonished if he is not!” Continue reading “Solitary Marriage by Esther Nelson”

Pope Francis’ “The Joy of Love” Falls Short by Gina Messina

Gina Messina-Dysert profileIt seems that Pope Francis has finally read Margaret Farley’s Just Love; and while he is taking steps in a positive direction, he still needs to spend time processing Farley’s words. With his new statement, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), Francis has called for us to begin to change our attitudes towards “the other” but is still unwilling to change the man made rules of the Vatican.  He refuses to acknowledge that LGBTQ relationships are in fact just and maintains the idea of complementarity rejecting women’s roles and capabilities outside of the home. Continue reading “Pope Francis’ “The Joy of Love” Falls Short by Gina Messina”

To Have and to Hold: Gay Marriage and the Religion Question

If a conservative religious traditions can’t give their mothers or sisters full equality, how can we expect them to give a GLBT individual the time of day?

John Erickson, sports, coming out.Outrage.  Anger.  Fear.  Hatred.  These are just a few of the words that flashed across my Twitter feed as I woke up on that fateful Wednesday, June 26 morning when the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (or DOMA) was unconstitutional and that supporters of Proposition 8, the hotly contested voter initiative in California that banned same-sex marriage, had no standing.   People were mad.  However, it wasn’t just the typical kind of mad that is associated with hatred, it was a type gay_marriage_81102178_620x350of mad that was met with impossible anguish because what I was reading and feeling was a result of one thing: there was nothing more they could do.

What does all this mean?  Questions from friends and family were filling up my inbox and although I wanted to take a moment to just hit “Reply All,” and input the words: Equality, I had to hold back and start to examine the notion that although equality may now be firmly on the proverbial table, there is still a lot of work to be done, specifically for gay marriage and those wanting to marrying inside the traditional church spaces they grew up in and not just the ones that have come out as open and affirming in recent years towards LGBT individuals. Continue reading “To Have and to Hold: Gay Marriage and the Religion Question”

June—a Month Ruled by Feminine Principles by Barbara Ardinger

Let’s celebrate the Matronalia in the 21st century by demanding money from our male relatives, our male religious leaders, and the men in our local, state, and federal governments to support causes that help women—young girls, married women, new mothers, poor and oppressed and abused women, artists and actors and other performers, philosophers and scholars…all of us. Let us seek out and use Juno’s powers to improve the lives of modern women.

June, Juno, Hera, Barbara Ardinger, marriage, honeymoon, Rome, Hellenistic Period, MatronaliaJust as each Roman man had his genius, or guardian spirit of masculinity, so did each woman have her juno, or guardian spirit of femininity. Juno rules every woman’s entire life and every feminine occasion. In fact, it’s because she’s in charge, so to speak, of married life that we have our June weddings and our honeymoons. Our modern “honeymoon” dates perhaps back to the fifth century and is based on the custom that the newly married couple sweetening the beginning of their life together by drinking a lot of mead (which is made with honey) and making merry. (Honey is sometimes considered to be an aphrodisiac.) Continue reading “June—a Month Ruled by Feminine Principles by Barbara Ardinger”

Modesty Codes in Pentecostalism and Mormonism by Amanda Pumphrey

“You look like a lesbian.” “Why do you want to look like a man?” “Hey, boy head!” These were just some of the responses I got from friends and family when I decided to cut off my hair. The gendered connotations that come with how one decides to wear one’s hair are an overarching signifier of the dominant culture’s obsession with normative appearances. Many religious institutions and congregations uphold normative understandings of appearance and dress. Growing up in a conservative town in rural South Georgia and being raised within a Pentecostal tradition came with many challenges regarding gender, sexuality, and dress.

In an earlier post on FAR, I described my experiences with my church and my community regarding sexuality in “Sexual Ethics and Southern Belles.” In this post, I want to further explore those thoughts to discuss modesty codes within my own Pentecostal denomination, The Church of God, and within the LDS Church. Both Mormonism and The Church of God promote modesty codes that are ultimately harmful to girls and women.  Continue reading “Modesty Codes in Pentecostalism and Mormonism by Amanda Pumphrey”

“If You Allow Gay Marriage…” by John Erickson

“We need to start examining the underlying questions of counter-cultural relationships that view one man marrying many women to be hip because we begin to see that although a polygamist idea of marriage may be sexy from a popular culture standpoint, the thought of legally recognized gay marriage always then gets likened to bestiality.”

… you have to allow polygamy, bestiality, and everything else!” The title for my post this week is a quote from an individual I used to associate with.  This individual, haling from a conservative evangelical background, tried to explain to several others and myself the reasons why gay marriage would eventually lead to the repeal of anti-polygamy and bestiality laws across the United States.

The problems that I have with this particular argument are conflating gay marriage with religious freedom.  Activists and scholars can draw comparisons to anti-polygamy cases such as the 1878 U.S. Supreme Court case Reynolds v United States and the 1882 Edmunds Act and 1887 Edmunds-Tucker Act that disfranchised and led to the imprisonment of Mormon polygamists. But in the end, gay marriage is not about religious freedom but rather human rights.

I often feel that there is this need both within and outside religious communities to promulgate the idea that LGBTQ individuals want to get married within the sanctified walls of “the church” just as much as heterosexual couples do.  Although I do not want to disqualify those who desire to see LGBTQ equality within their faith based communities, buying into a heternormative ideal of what traditional marriage should look like needs to result in LGBTQ individuals asking why marriage should be performed in sacred spaces in the first place The normative traditions that have often defined marriage have also served as shackles keeping LGBTQ couples in the mindset that to achieve fully marriage equality with their heterosexual counterparts is to fully immerse themselves within the same traditions and practices. Continue reading ““If You Allow Gay Marriage…” by John Erickson”

Presiding: Its History Within My Marriage By Caroline Kline

Mormon feminists struggle with patriarchy on (at least) two levels. First, since women are excluded from priesthood ordination, women have very few opportunities to rise in Mormon leadership. They can participate as leaders (under the male bishop’s jurisdiction) on a congregational level, but beyond that, the opportunities are very slim. Second, Mormon feminists struggle with patriarchy on the home front. Because all Mormon men are ordained as priests, Mormon wives have not just a husband in the home, but also a priesthood leader. They are instructed to support and sustain their husbands in the home, as he presides over them and the family.

In the world of Mormon feminism, the shorthand term we use to designate this issue of patriarchy in the home is ‘presiding.’ The oft discussed debate among Mormons is how this concept of ‘presiding’ can be compatible with other injunctions by our leaders to act as ‘equal partners’ with our spouses.  It was only recently that I realized that this debate is not only alive and well in the Mormon community, but also in the Christian community at large, though the terms they often use are ‘male headship’ vs. ‘equal regard.’ Continue reading “Presiding: Its History Within My Marriage By Caroline Kline”

Love, Loss and Longing: The Rebooting of a Feminist Heart By Cynthia Garrity-Bond

It has been said time heals all wounds, I do not agree.  The wounds remain, in time the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens, but it is never gone.  Rose Kennedy

 This past Saturday, August 6, would have been my 34th wedding anniversary.  Next Saturday, August 13 will be the wedding of my once fiancé.  The former lasted 20 years, the latter 10.  I have recently begun the delicate dance of getting to know another man; continuing to second-guess myself as if I’m a schoolgirl with her first crush, only I’m not.  I’m a woman drawing upon 30 years of the good, the bad, and the ugly.    Without sounding like Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and The City, I am asking myself what does a feminist relationship look like as it unfolds?  How do I trust another with a heart that is held together by Elmer’s glue?  And more importantly, how do I make myself present to another without past wounds surfacing and then projected onto the innocent?

In a recent post, XochitlAlvizo wrote on the difference, as she understands it, between sacrifice and love. All too often, argues Xochitl, we confuse the two, believing our sacrifice is what redeems us and others, when in reality, it is always love.  The distinction, while at times difficult to discern, is what can bring life to a healthy, loving relationship.  I can’t imagine not being steeped in a committed relationship without some sacrifice on my part.  But when does this practice of sacrifice become the support system for sustaining love?  How do I hold the balance of love and at times sacrifice for another without losing love of self? Continue reading “Love, Loss and Longing: The Rebooting of a Feminist Heart By Cynthia Garrity-Bond”

The “Marriage Crisis” in the U.S and Around the World By Caroline Kline

The Mormon Church, the tradition in which I was raised, is into protecting marriage. In the United States, that seems to often mean deeply discouraging out of wedlock births and politically lobbying against homosexual unions.

But, according to Stephanie Coontz, who wrote the book Marriage, A History, “the marriage crisis” is a phenomenon taking place all over the world. But fascinatingly, that crisis doesn’t take the same form.

While United States legislators are worried about out of wedlock births, in Germany and Japan, policy makers are far more interested in increasing the birthrate, regardless of whether or not the parents are married. The United Nations recently initiated an enormous campaign to raise the age of marriage for girls in Afghanistan, India, and Africa (where the health of these young women is greatly impaired by early motherhood), whereas in Singapore the government launched a campaign to convince people to marry and have babies at a younger age. Continue reading “The “Marriage Crisis” in the U.S and Around the World By Caroline Kline”

Why (I) Work? The Difference Between A House Wife and Being Unemployed By Sara Frykenberg

The following is a guest post written by Sara Frykenberg, Ph.D., independent scholar and graduate of theWomen Studies in Religion program at Claremont Graduate University.

Ever since I graduated I have been keenly aware of the fact that am no longer a student who is “not working right now,” but am in fact, unemployed.  I do not have a job and have accumulated countless hours, applications and my fair share of rejection letters to attest to this fact.  However, something else has changed in my life this year: I also became a wife and gained a husband… and in between my job searches, while I am cleaning the house, planning meals and working on a GARDEN (which is thriving by the way, despite my previous occupation as a serial plant-killer), I’ve found myself considering, “Am I unemployed or am I a housewife?”

I ask myself this question, as I water the money tree next to my desk: a graduation gift from a friend.  *Am I imagining things or did it slightly quiver when I thought about getting an (outside) job* 

Planti-cide aside, the more I have considered this question, the more of a spiritual issue and a feminist issue its has become for me.  How do I find a balance between my sincere belief that the choice to be a homemaker is a beautiful one, and the feelings of shame or worthlessness I sometimes struggle with because I have not found a “real job.”  I find myself listing all of the things I have accomplished in the house each day to my husband when he gets home, as though I have to justify my existence or earn the grocery money I no longer have in my own bank account. Continue reading “Why (I) Work? The Difference Between A House Wife and Being Unemployed By Sara Frykenberg”

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