Category Archives: women


On Monday when I voted, I was ebullient. I Love Voting. Just love it. Although it probably sounds really corny to say this, I felt the spirit of folks like Martin and Alice and Harvey right there alongside me there in that uber hi-tech voting booth. I was also surrounded by dozens of undergrads who were exercising their right for the very first time. The thrill was palpable.

People who are voting next Tuesday: bring a lawnchair and some leftover Halloween candy to share. Those lines are going to be long, but don’t let that deter you. Just do it.


gettin’ political

I do not believe that women are better than men. We have not wrecked railroads, nor corrupted legislatures, nor done many unholy things that men have done; but then we must remember that we have not had the chance.

–Jane Addams, in a speech to the Chicago Political Equality League in 1897

This quote from Jane Addams seems particularly salient given recent events (h/t Penny L. Richards). I’m thrilled to see more diversity in our highest political offices and it’s also quite exciting that Americans are seeming to really care about politics.

May I suggest some ways that you Californians might want to exercise a bit of your political influence? First of all, grab your cellphone. It’s time to call the Governor.

1) Harvey Milk Day: This bill would require the Governor to annually proclaim May 22 as Harvey Milk Day, and would encourage public schools and educational institutions to conduct suitable commemorative exercises on that date.
To show your support for this bill, calll 916-445-2841
If you reach a staff member, tell them that you are support AB 2567 Harvey Milk Day.
Or if you get a recording…follow the recorded instructions to voice your opinion.

Some biographical details about Harvey Milk:

Perhaps more than any other modern figure, Harvey Milk’s life and political career embody the rise of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights movement. Milk was born on May 22, 1930. He was the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in a major city, serving on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from 1977-1978.
While in office, Milk worked to pass a gay rights ordinance and defeat Proposition 6, commonly known as the Briggs Initiative, which would have banned gays and lesbians from teaching in public schools. Milk encouraged LGBT people to be visible in society and believed coming out was the only way they could achieve true social equality.
Milk was tragically assassinated in 1978 by Dan White, a former colleague on the Board of Supervisors whose politics often clashed with Milk’s. After resigning from the Board and being denied reappointment by then Mayor George Moscone, White entered San Francisco City Hall through a window armed with a gun and shot and killed both Moscone and Milk.
During White’s criminal trial, the defense argued that White was a victim of pressure and had been depressed, a state exacerbated by his consuming a large quantity of junk food before the murders. This later became known as the “Twinkie Defense.” When this tactic proved successful and White was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and a mere seven years and eight months in prison, San Francisco’s gay community erupted into protest in what came to be known as the “White Night Riots.”
Harvey Milk’s legacy as a civil rights leader is still felt today. He was named one of TIME Magazine’s most influential people of the 20th century. Many institutions and organizations are named for Harvey Milk to commemorate his life and social contributions.

2) Universal HealthCare: SB 840.
To weigh in on this bill, call 916.445.2841.
Some info about this Universal HealthCare bill:

General approach. Senate Bill 840 would establish a single-payer health insurance system for California. A new government-administered system would replace all private health insurers and existing government insurance programs, including Medicare. An elected Health Insurance Commissioner would oversee all aspects of the new system, including contracts with health care providers, the allocation of health care workforce and capital equipment, and the introduction of new technologies.

Eligibility and benefits. All residents of California—defined as those with a physical presence in the state with intent to reside—would automatically be covered under the system. The benefit package would be very comprehensive, including not only the usual range of inpatient and outpatient services, diagnostic and laboratory services, and prescription drugs, but also mental health services, dental and vision care, chiropractic services, adult day care, and 100 days of skilled nursing care following hospitalization. Long-term care would not be covered. Copayments and deductibles could be established for other than preventive care. Patients could choose to receive services from any willing provider and providers would determine what services are medically necessary. Each person would have a primary care physician responsible for approving care to be received from specialists. People could choose to enroll with an integrated health care system, which would be responsible for all their care.

pilgrimclassic: Mother’s Day Proclamation for Peace

Originally posted May 13, 2007:

The celebration of Mother’s Day originated with poet Julia Ward Howe, as a movement for women to fight the devastation of war and to show the way towards peace. Today’s sentimental-flowers-&-Hallmark-card bedecked event hardly measures up to the fiery rhetoric of the day’s founding mother…

Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation – 1870

Arise then…women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
“We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: “Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”
Blood does not wipe out dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace…
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God –
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.


iris, originally uploaded by pilgrimgirl.

Reverence the highest, have patience with the lowest. Let this day’s performance of the meanest duty be thy religion. Are the stars too distant? Pick up the pebble that lies at thy feet, and from it learn the all.
~Margaret Fuller

[Note: this iris is one of the beauties blooming in my garden right now. I love the two-toned purples. Nearly everyone who passes by comments on how spectacular these flowers look.]

getting political

I didn’t vote for her, but this thrilled me anyways…

“I want to thank all my friends and family, particularly my mother, who was born before women could vote, and is watching her daughter on this stage tonight.”

— Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Super Tuesday night
H/T to Salon’s Broadsheet

You know what else thrilled me yesterday? Knowing that my friend Caroline was standing out in the cold (the requisite 100 ft from the polls) gathering signatures for a petition that means a lot to her. I love it when women get political! 🙂


I’ll be teaching this morning then running an errand and heading for the polls. Having been a pollworker for several years I know that the slowest time tends to be around 10-11 in the morning. Lunch is awful and the crowds keep rolling in all afternoon and swell again in the evening.

Yes, I know I could use an absentee ballot. But do you know that I would truly miss the THRILL of standing there in the cardboard booth myself? My foremothers, like Quaker Alice Paul, fought so hard to give me this right. And I appreciate it so very much.

UPDATE: a pic of me, post-vote…
exercising my rights...

pilgrim classic: because of all that armpit hair

This is one of my most-googled posts ever. Lots of folks out there in cyberspace searching for hairy armpitted feminists, I suppose. Originally posted on March 8, 2007.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, Take a minute to watch this short video “Are YOU a Feminist?”

For whatever reason, feminism seems to be equated with armpit hair and lesbianism. That’s so odd to me, as I don’t know any female feminists that eschew shaving (tho a few male feminists that I know don’t shave their armpits) and only a handful of my feminist friends are lesbians. Why is the feminist label so maligned? Is this a legacy of the Equal Rights Amendment era? Or is this indicative of larger social discomfort with assertive women?

An anecdote: I’ve recently found myself in a social situation where I’ve observed several undergrads who have behaved belligerently towards an older woman in a position of authority over them. These same students treat a young-ish man with a similar position with much greater respect. Though there are many reasons why this might be happening in this particular situation, I suspect that much of it has to do with gender. Most people seem to be uncomfortable with assertive women, but not so with assertive men. IMO, this is a shame. Though the woman might be more qualified and more capable, the man is preferred. Why?

And, also in celebration of IWD and some truly radical feminist women (no hairy armpits, I promise). Take a few moments to watch and listen:

Note: The original clip that I linked to seems to no longer be available. Here’s a similar vid, though with a more contemplative (less militant) bent:

not so girlish anymore?

Yesterday I was telling someone the URL for my blog and all of a sudden I felt sheepish. Pilgrim_girl_? What am I thinking? I’ll be 40 in a few years, for crying out loud! Is it time to let go of the girl and become something else? Something more mature and scholarly-sounding?

BTW, I think pilgrimwoman sounds dorky. Waaaaay too puritannical. I could just be pilgrim, but that’s a bit vanilla-ish. Your ideas?

Motherhood, housework, and who irons the clothes?

There’s been a furor in the Mormon blogworld about the leader of Mormon women, President Beck, and her speech this weekend about Motherhood. She said such things as:

“Mothers who know” are nurturers. This is their special assignment and role in the plan of happiness. To nurture means to cultivate, care for, and make grow. Therefore, mothers who know create a climate for spiritual and temporal growth in their homes. Another word for nurturing is homemaking. Homemaking includes cooking, washing clothes, and dishes and keeping an orderly home. Home is where women have the most power and influence. Therefore, Latter-day Saint women should be the best homemakers in the world.

She adds: I have visited sacrament meetings in some of the poorest places on the earth, where mothers have dressed with great care in their Sunday best, despite walking for miles on dusty streets and using worn out public transportation. They bring daughters in clean and ironed dresses. Their sons where white shirts and ties and have missionary haircuts. [Cultural note: missionary haircuts are short ‘dos for men where the hair is above the ears and above their shirt collar. There is a cultural norm for boys/men to wear white shirts each Sunday for church and for girls/women to wear their best dresses. Mormon mothers who don’t enforce such dress rules for their children are sometimes maligned by church leaders…]

Wow, this was hard for many women to hear. To equate mothering with housekeeping seems an antiquated notion anyways. I’m also sad to hear her say that women’s power and influence is limited to a domestic sphere. And to call on LDS women to be the best homemakers in the world seems a shallow goal in the midst of so many ways that LDS women could make an impact on the world.

She said later in her speech:

“Mothers who know” do less. They permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally. They allow less media in their homes, less distraction, less activity that draws their children away from their home. Mothers who know are willing to live on less and consume less of the world’s goods in order to spend more time with their children, more time eating together, more time working together, more time reading together, more time laughing, talking, singing, and exemplifying.

On this, I am on the same page with her in many respects. I think it is important for _everyone_ to carefully guard against too much busy-ness. It pains me that so many of us are too busy for relaxation, eating meals together, or for an evening stroll. Simplicity is an important goal, and perhaps our biggest challenge as 21st century Americans–especially those of us who live in urban and suburban regions of the country.

As I read through Pres Beck’s talk I thought back on my own mother. She gave birth to 5 children in a seven year span of time. About midway through her childbearing years, our family moved out of state–hundreds of miles away from all extended family members–and she had to care for her own growing family while my Dad traveled extensively with his job, sometimes he was gone three weeks/month. She had a large home to care for (4 or 5 bedrooms) and we moved every 5 years or so. Mom was called to lead the regional LDS women’s organization that covered parts of three states–meaning that she was frequently on the road traveling to distant church branches and leading meetings. During all that time she kept her teaching credential active in each state where we lived, often taking night classes or taking re-certification exams. By the time her youngest child was in the upper-grades of elementary school, she worked full-time as a teacher and was earning her master’s degree.

My Mom was an awesome mother in so many ways. Yes, she was busy. Yes, her health suffered at times from stress-related ailments. But she raised a great crew of kids. Um, and she wasn’t always the best homemaker. I don’t mean that as any kind of slight AT ALL. The house was rarely ‘messy.’ She had hearty meals on the table every night of the week. We had clean clothes to wear (sometimes even home-sewn clothes, because Mom is a great seamstress). But she hired a housecleaner to help fill in the gap. And later a gardener and a pool-cleaner, too. She taught us to do our own laundry as soon as we were in Jr High. We also made our own lunches and after school snacks and occasionally cooked dinner for the family.

And probably the most important part of this story is that when my Dad died after a rather aggressive bout with cancer, Mom had a good job (two of them, actually, because she was a school administrator by day and a college professor by night at that point). She had taught us all great life skills, too–we can each sew, clean, cook, budget, etc. Though all of us kids are creative types of people that sometimes find writing a story more important than scrubbing the bathtub, I think we all turned out well (we’ve all been gainfully employed, three of us have graduate degrees, etc).

I guess the upshot is, if Mom had stayed home and had only been a remarkable homemaker, well I don’t know that things would’ve turned out quite so well for her or for us. Of course everyone’s situation is different, which is why I’m dismayed to see a one-size-fits-all approach to motherhood that’s portrayed by Pres. Beck. IMO, parenthood has so little to do with how clean your house is and _everything_ to do with how you nurture, care, and respect for the children in your life, as well as making sure that you do all you can to teach them self-reliance and to provide for them financially.