Thursday, September 24, 2009

Secrets of DC's Masonic Wives

Friend Heather Calloway, the Sublime Priestess of Templicular Seremnity* at the Scottish Rite House of the Temple, is quoted in the Washington Post today on the subject of being a Masonic wife.

See "Secrets of D.C.'s Masonic Wives Revealed" by Paula Dvorak.

*Appropriately magniloquent title of tumescent blandishment concocted by Eric Diamond.

12 comments:

Scout32 said...

This is too funny! I've shared it with everyone I can.

Worshipful Mistress said...

I am so frustrated by this type of Masonic Wife that I have had to edit my comments a dozen times....

Freemasonry is the last bastion of masculinity left in the world. A place where the men rule their own space and make their own decisions. A place where fraternity and brotherhood is fostered in the name of Charity and Learning.

I am appalled by the comments of these "Masonic Wives" and their absurdity and satirical way of portraying their Spouse and his Brethren as nothing short of toddlers. Someone to "tut-tut" for their eccentricity of trying to maintain their own identity away from the womanly norms.

To say that "The Masons definitely have a women problem." has been proven by the interviews and quotes of the DC wives...the problem seems to be in the lack of respect from these wives towards their spouses.

simon laplace said...

This topic was discussed in Connecticut Freemasons.
http://ctgrandlodge.ctfreemasons.net/images/stories/CTFreemasons/ctfm_clr_1007.pdf
page 3

Artwinged said...

Let me start by saying my husband is a wonderful man and I love him, madly. (Don't tell me Masonry made him that way, I knew him before he ever set foot in a lodge.)

I'm glad my husband has a group of men he admires and spends time with. Clearly, he enjoys all the ritual and structure. He has a right to his own time and his one associations. However, I think he's addicted to it. He pours countless hours into keeping records of memberships, sending dues cards, attending meetings/events/banquets, etc.

The financial drain is significant. Aside from the membership fees, every branch of the organization has a uniform and a (funny) hat. Each has its own line of officers and some men can't resist holding every office, at least once. If they want to raise money for charity, there are more efficient ways than the self-aggrandizement of uniforms, elections and pageantry.

My own husband has been the master of his blue lodge three times in our 25 year marriage. He is about to become the "Grand Whatever" of yet another York Rite body. He says he may also become the secretary of the local lodge in the coming year. At one time, he held no less than NINE offices in various Masonic bodies.

If he were to attend every function available to him, he could be gone 4-6 nights a week. If our daughters were so "unwise" as not to know, a year in advance, that they were going to be in a play or a concert, they were out of luck if Daddy had a previously scheduled Masonic event.

My being excluded from everything except "social" events where I am ignored or treated like an ornament for his sleeve leaves me cold. Sitting and watching endless ceremonies to install new officers is not my cup of tea. Many other wives say nothing in the presence of their men, but they tell me they feel the same. (I do not belong to one of the womens' auxiliary organizations because I prefer personal relationships to formalized groups social activity.)

Worst is the "traditional" assumption that a Mason's wife is available as an extension of the man. She should be glad to sew patches on his uniforms, cut holes in his brand new coat to accommodate a sword belt, and answer phone calls from men she never heard of, who want to know if/when he is going to do something for an organizations she is not supposed to know anything about. Some bodies expect the wife of the outgoing grand officer to hostess the installation of the next one!

I didn't sign on for this. I am not his "lady." We are, in every other aspect of our lives, equal partners. Nothing, including money, has caused more strife in our marriage than Masonry.

Masonry needs to come into the modern world. Respect is a two way street. I know of few young women who are going to tolerate the kind of exclusion I have experienced. It is no wonder to me that the general membership is aging and few young members are replacing them. Our own daughters wouldn't marry a Mason if he were the last man on Earth.

I have not attended a Masonic event for several years. My absence has led to criticism of my husband by other members. How dare they? If the organization is about "men of good character" then his is the only one that should matter.

As I said in the beginning, I love my husband. I do my best to keep my mouth shut and let him do what he enjoys even if it leaves me out for far more time than I'd like. I wish that the organization was as willing to "live and let live."

Mrs. Dark Overlord said...

I agree with a hell of a lot of what you say. I do get bone weary at times of the tedious Masonic dinners, one more rubber chicken "honey, do I really need to be there" installation or honorarium. However, I've found over the years that it's easier when I maake friends with the other wives. Lots of us don't belong to organizations like Eastern Star, and as a rule, the ones who do don't press you obnoxiously about joining. So we enjoy one another's company and have a much better time. Don't mean to sound like Elwood P. Dowd, but you can never have too many friends. And in that spirit, I've also gotten close to the great guys in his lodge. They come over for parties all the time, and we do other, non-Masonic things together. This, too, makes me feel less a stranger in a strange land. Listen, all in all, it's better than him hanging out at a strip club, like my brother-in-law.

Like you, my husband was a great guy before, and he's a great guy now. Yes, Masonry changed him. The first time he got up at six on a Saturday to go cook breakfast for the guys, I was really shook. Is he in , like, a cult or something?

No. He's just doing something he loves. And the biggest positive and maturing change has been that Masonry has made him so much more aware of the people in our community. He's very big on helping, not just some guy in Haiti with an impersonal check, but the guy who lives up the street who's out of work, and Chris drops off some groceries. Or maybe he's checking in on one of the lodge widows who lives all alone since her son died. When Chris was in the hospital, these guys lined up to help me. They mean it, about brotherhood. I'm so proud of him, and the time he gives to people who need him.

Unfortunately, I need him too. We have no kids, and have always been very close. As for the nights he's gone, maybe two a week on average, it used to bug me, but does no longer. I'm a writer, just like he is, and I love having the quiet time to work, or read. Not to mention the chance to watch a film like Imitation of Life without hearing him crack wise about it.

Unfortunately, your husband and mine have something in common; they just can't say no. If they were women, they'd be pregnant all the time. There really are too many "appendant" bodies like York Rite, Scottish Rite and the Shrine. They will all constantly try to draft a nice guy into the officer's line. A guy can even find himself elected on a night he wasn't there to refuse. But try to remember, this is a great honor for him...

Mrs. Dark Overlord said...

And griping about the money seems a bit harsh. My hobby is buying tons of junk to make my own jewelry, and my husband knows turnabout is fair play. It sounds to me like you and your husband need to reach a compromise. Chris and I did a long time ago. You just can't do them all. If your man's gone that often, I think he needs to give up active involvement in at least one body. To me that sounds fair. For your end of the compromise, you might try to make friends with some of the guys in his lodge or most treasured attendant body. You might find yourself having a good time.

I greatly admire the ideal of Freemasonry. It's not their fault that there aren't any women. Co-Masonry, as it's called, is very big in France, but nowhere else. Women can form a lodge if they want to, but in America, they don't seem to be much interested.

There have been huge changes in the way Freemasons see "the little woman." I think, in your anger, you're giving the men too hard a rap. These changes in society are reflected at lodge level. In the old days, female appendant bodies existed to do the cooking for the men. That's very rare now, in what I've seen. Lodges get caterers, order pizza or carry out from someplace like Boston Market. Sometimes, in a social event, we all do pitch in. Most women nowadays work, hard, and they haven't got the time for coffee-clatching with the gals while they cook for the men. Whether or not this is such a great leap forward for Womankind would require another couple hundred pages to discuss.

In closing, I'll say that it's perhaps medieval, but I love being called his "lady." To me it seems respectful, as well as inclusive of, say, girlfriends.

And yeah, I've called him "Worshipful Master" a few times under the sheets. But he must, in his turn, call me Mistress of Discipline. Hey, fair's fair.

Chris Hodapp said...

Artwinged,
I am truly sorry that your experience with your husband's Freemasonry has been this upsetting to you. I have known people who obsess over their hobbies and allow their leisure activities to take over their lives. Everything from Star Trek clubs, square dancing groups, model trains and dog shows, to stamp collecting, Bible studies and NASCAR. The blame does not lie with Freemasonry, but with the boy who can't say no. This is not a cult or a monastery he has joined.

If it was only one Craft lodge and its needs, that would be manageable. But Freemasonry has so many appendant bodies that vie for an active Mason's time, and many men never successfully find the true Lost Word of Freemasonry: "NO." Nor do they figure out the proper balance. I myself am an officer or board member of seven Masonic organizations, so I understand this situation. And I promise, I dislike officers' installations as much as you do.

But I don't understand the schizophrenic nature of your note. On the one hand, you say you don't want to be a part of the gatherings that wives, girlfriends and families can take part in, then you seem resentful of when you AREN'T asked. I can't tell from your note just what role you want to play in your husband's Freemasonry. Is taking the occasional phone message that much of a hardship, really?

As for sewing his Commandery uniform, tell him to sew his own damn patches on.

Freemasonry CAN gobble up a Mason's time that he should be spending with his family, without question, if he lets it. If he's missing his kids' school plays, graduation, etc. because of Masonic events, HE'S to blame for that, not the lodge. We are all told that the obligations of Masonry will not conflict with our duties to God, our country, our neighbors or ourselves, and I promise that it is HIS responsibility to tell his brethren that his family comes first, and THEIR responsibility to accept that.

Chris Hodapp said...

And like Mrs Dark Overlord, I don't understand the chafing at the term "Lady." What would be your appropriate suggested substitute generic term for a room full of wives, girlfriends, or daughters accompanying a group of Gentlemen?

Artwinged said...

If you read my last response, you will see why I object to the term, "Lady." I do hope you post it.

I'm not trying to be obnoxious. "Lady" has connotations I find offensive. Ask a person of color how he feels about being called "boy."

Being called "his lady" is not the same as being in an anonymous group of "ladies and gentlemen" such as an audience.

When introductions are called for, why not ask the Mason to introduce his "companion" rather than "your lady"? (Yes, I know that "companion" is used as a title in some of the bodies. Seems to me a wife deserves equal billing.)

What's wrong with "wife", "girlfriend" or "daughter"? If the M.C. is unsure of the relationship, he can fall back on "companion."

Chris Hodapp said...

I can promise you that if my wife was ever introduced as my "companion," I'd be beaten senseless with an uncomfortable banquet chair (could "colleague" or "pal" be far behind? How about "chum?"). I think, madame (if I may use THAT term) you have a perception problem. If "Lady" was good enough for Diana Spencer, it's certainly fitting for my wife. It is a term of respect and honor, and can in no way be compared to "boy."

Artwinged said...

I mean "companion" as the neutral term you seek for a female accompanying a man to a Masonic event when the exact relationship is unknown to the MC requesting an introduction.

I do not mean that you should introduce her as your companion rather than your wife. That would be absurd. Neither do I think you would like to be introduced as "her man" rather than her husband.

And, since my last post didn't make it into the blog, here again is what other meanings of "lady" I find objectionable:

"My Lady" was the counterpart to "My Lord" and connoted the man's ownership of his wife and her subservience to him. In modern parlance, "Lady" has become synonymous with "Ho" in some circles. I am neither property nor prostitute.

Clearly, we are not going to agree on this. I just think that Masonry would be better served if some of the arcane posturing was left out of it, particularly where women are concerned.

intercat said...

I have only just recently become involved with a gentleman who is a Mason just prior to his installation as Worshipful Master. I had no idea what was in store, and I find this blog to be quite interesting and somewhat echoing my own sentiments and concerns. The comment I need to make is the reference to one's lady, and I have been referred to as such. What is wrong with the oft-used term, Significant Other? That covers a great area and couldn't possibly be found offensive.

Intercat