So, something that I’ve been wanting to do for a while is sharing questions that I get via e-mail and PM, as well as the answers that I give. This is the first one that I have chosen to share. The sender did not respond when asked if I could share her email, so instead I’ve summarized her questions, and posted my reply. If you have any questions you would like to ask, please feel free!
How can I value something [Masonry] that doesn’t value me for what I am, a woman? How do you feel about that?
In your blog you speak as if you and your partner hold in the highest regard the brotherhood, and without questioning? Why not question? Why not doubt?
Addressing your first question, about the exclusion of women. This is something that I have struggled with greatly the entire time that I have been with my husband. On the one hand, I want to be included, and my sex and gender shouldn’t matter. On the other, I respect their right to exclude me, and understand why its done; I see it as creating a “safe space” something that men need just as much as women. I’ve asked my husband before if he would be okay with me joining a co-ed Masonic Lodge. There are none in our area, but he said it would not be an issue. He did, however, say that he feels that his obligation would bar him from communicating with me at least Masonically, if not also put a damper on our communication about Masonry. That would make my life very difficult, as he is often the first person I turn to when writing this blog.
Many people have asked me, “Why not just join Eastern Star?” I have, and it is not the same. As it is not a mirror image of Blue Lodge, and is not exclusive of males, that safe space feeling tends to fall short. I would say that the closest thing that currently exists within the Masonic community would be Daughters of the Nile. It’s not quite right though. I feel that the answer lies in a different organization, called the Order of the Weavers. It mirrors Blue Lodge very similarly, but is quite different in its own right. Unfortunately, there are currently no chapters in the United States, and the organization only operates in the Netherlands. It would be quite the project to get a group of people together to go there, receive the degrees, get the blessing to start a new chapter, and then head back to the States and start the first US chapter. This would take a decent sized group of very dedicated women to pull off.
As for the values, there are two things to remember: Freemasonry is hundreds of years old, and came about well before women were independent in any sense; just because a group excludes you from membership, does not mean that it does not value you. For the former, Freemasonry has been largely unchanged the entire time that is has existed. With this goes the gender and societal roles of women. I often feel that the organization is outdated and behind the times. However, just because you cannot be a member, does not mean that you cannot be involved. I’ve heard from lots of women who have started their own “wives club” of sorts within the Lodge, who get together for all sorts of activities, both related to Masonry, and not. Masonry can uphold traditional gender roles, this is true, but in this day and age I feel that there is much more flex within them, and many more lines to be blurred and boundaries to be pushed.
The latter is very interesting as well. While there are no oaths sword to uphold womanhood within ritual (that I am aware of). It is expressed in different ways. There is a special dinner that some Lodges put on every year (others less often) called Ladies at the Table. It’s basically an evening to celebrate and honor all of the women who support the Lodge throughout the year. T decided to put one on the year that he was Master of the Lodge. It was a great time to have all the men come together and really show their appreciation for what the women do (and put up with) for Masonry. Within DeMolay, the young men’s organization, which is based on Blue Lodge, honoring womanhood is mentioned within their obligation. They also have a special ritual called the flower talk, specifically given for the sake of moms and other women that support Masonic youth. You can watch that here. So, I guess my point is, don’t ever think that you are not valued as a women within Masonry. I think that often the opposite becomes true. Masonry teaches men about many topics, and I have seen many a man come out on the other side as a kinder, more respecting, and chivalrous individual.
Moving onto your second question. When I first started dating T, I was much like you were before you were with your Mason. Most of my ideas about Masonry were largely based on conspiracy theories and Internet rumors. I had no idea just how involved he and his family are. Luckily, our relationship was built on open communication, and because of that, I trust him fully.
I think the two biggest factors in me trusting the brotherhood are experience and Google. I joined OES early on in my relationship with T. After you join a Masonic body, you realize just how mundane it really is. And when you see that the organization that uses the inverted pentagram mostly just pays bills and sends condolences, it gives you perspective. I have also since become a DeMolay advisor, and am privy (as are all the parents) to the ritual, that is based on Blue Lodge’s. In addition to this, I have seen first hand what Masonry does. It does make good men better, but it is so much more than that. To know that I have a huge community that has my back whether they agree with me or not is truly amazing. I can’t think of anyone within my Masonic family that would turn me down in a time of need. I’ve been lucky enough to see the life of a child changed by Masonry, not only through its youth programs, but also the hospitals that they run.
When all else fails, Google is your friend. All of the rituals are available online with some careful searching. None of those secrets are really so secret. Have I read the entire ritual cover to cover? No, I’ve not. But I feel that just knowing that it is available to me is comforting on many levels.
I would not say that I am without doubts on Masonry. However, these tend to be on specific issues rather than the organization as a whole. For instance, the exclusion of homosexuals in Mississippi and Tennessee, as well as the exclusion of trans-men in other states I definitely do not agree with, but it never causes me to doubt the entire organization.
I am also, not without question. Questioning Masonry is actually what lead me to create this blog in the first place. Questioning Masonry is often the drive to continue on with it. We cannot learn without knowing what questions to ask. I enjoy sharing the answers to my questions here, which is what makes up a large portion of the posts on The Mason’s Lady. I think that when we stop questioning, we become compliant, and that leads to many issues.