Tuesday, December 30, 2008
"You're shomer negiah?" in a tone of, "Oh, you're one of those weirdos..."
"Negiah" is the concept in Jewish Law that forbids physical contact with members of the opposite sex, other than certain close relatives.
It's a hard concept for many people. After all, what's the big deal about shaking a guy's hand? It's not like a little hug is going to hurt anyone, right?
I'm not going to go into the "to shake or not to shake hands" argument now because it's long, tedious, and subject to many personal and halachic opinions. What I want to talk about right now is why women should be pro-negiah.
I know plenty of girls\women who are not shomer negiah (meaning, they do touch members of the opposite sex) and sometimes I just feel like yelling at them, "What the heck is wrong with you? You're giving him the milk when he should be buying the cow!" (Yeah, that's a bad analogy, visually, but I'm going to stick to it because it works.)
In Judaism, touch between a man and a woman is something sacred, to be preserved and cherished within a marriage. But what farmer is going to buy a cow when he can get milk for free, without the worries of all the expenses and maintenance that come with it? What guy is going to marry a girl if she'll give him that sacred touch without having to buy her a ring?
Honestly, girls, if he really loves and respects you, don't you think that he should value you enough to marry you? You can argue, "But we're too young," or, "We're saving up until we have enough money to get married," but when it all comes down to it, it's about commitment.
Tell him that he can only have that kiss after he's put that ring on your finger and signed the kesubah (Jewish pre-nuptial agreement) and I guarantee that if he really does love you, he'll be on his way out to buy that ring.
So have some respect for yourselves, ladies, and demand what you're worth. You're worth the price of the whole cow, not just the price of the milk.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
In the aftermath of the recent horrifying tragedies in Mumbai, this song really struck a chord with me.
These lines kind of represent the Big Question that we all automatically ask when such a tragedy occurs:
Why does G-d allow such evil to be perpetrated?
Why were these wonderful, caring, incredible people killed?
Why is there so much brutality in the world?
Why hasn't G-d delivered us from this brutal Exile yet? Haven't we suffered enough?
There are no satisfactory answers out there and the second line in my quote is the only response that we can come up with:
We will go on. We will not allow those who hate us to hold us down. We will Live to fight another day, in spite of these tragedies.
And, ultimately, we will be the last ones standing.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
*Third-party candidates in previous elections have only ever made a difference by taking votes from one of the major candidates, such as when Ross Perot took votes that George Bush Sr. would have gotten, possibly ruining the election for him, or when Ralph Nader takes away votes that the Democratic candidate would be getting otherwise.
Monday, October 6, 2008
This post is for any Harry Potter fans out there.
Remember the "Decoy Detonator," one of Fred and George Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes? If you don't, here's a brief description:
"Decoy Detonators are [...] small devices which scurry off into shadows and then make a noise, thus decoying people away."
They become an important plot device in the 7th book when Harry is trying to get one of the Horcruxes at the Ministry of Magic. (If you don't know what a horcrux is, this post is obviously not for you.)
In any case, I was just reading through the most recent issue of Wired Magazine, (yes, I'm a geek,) when I read a description of a new-and-improved stun grenade that sounds remarkably similar to the Decoy Detonators:
Decoy Detonator Description: When Harry sets off a Decoy Detonator in "Deathly Hallows," it, scuttles silently to the far side of the room, then blows itself up, making a sharp noise and a cloud of smoke. There's no explanation for how this product works, aside from the given assumption that it's done by magic. But maybe Wired can give us an idea...
Fuel/Air Distraction Device Description: "Yank the pin on the new stunner and a gas starts combusting, which pushes out and ignite a cloud of powdered aluminum. The result is [...] a blinding burst of light accompanied by a boom of up to 170 decibels - about as loud as a shotgun". (Wired Magazine, 16.10)
Science and Potter magic coming together... Wonder how much Rowling knows about defense industry inventions. Or maybe they got the idea from her? Which came first, the decoy detonator or the stun grenade?
Register to vote at http://www.rockthevote.com/
This is the story of our Grandmothers and Great-grandmothers; they lived only 90 years ago.
Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.
The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote.
And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.'
They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.
They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack.
Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.
Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote.
For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms.
When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.
So, refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year because -- why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining?
Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new movie 'Iron Jawed Angels.' It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.
All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.
My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women's history, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry.
She was--with herself. 'One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,' she said. 'What would those women think of the way I use, or don't use, my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.' The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her 'all over again.'
HBO released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum I want it shown on Bunco night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think
a little shock therapy is in order.
It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy.
The doctor admonished the men: 'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.'
Please, if you are so inclined, pass this on to all the women you know.
We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so
hard for by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party - remember to vote.
History is being made.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
It's been nearly two weeks since John McCain introduced Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate, so this post is long overdue.
I confess that I've been almost entirely cut off from this presidential campaign, especially compared to the last one where I campaigned for George W. As a conservative, I don't like Obama but, - also as a conservative, - I don't like John McCain either. His record in the senate is entirely too liberal for my taste. So I've been sitting out this election; disliking Obama wasn't enough of an incentive to get me to campaign for another man I don't like.
As I wrote previously, in a race where it was McCain running against Hillary, I would have voted for Hillary because I considered them to be equals politically and at least with her we'd finally have a woman in the White House.
So how do you think I felt when I woke up on August 29 to hear that John McCain had chosen a woman as his vice-president?
"That is awesome!" I said as I read the news reports, laughing out loud to myself.
And the news just got better and better: she's a mom of five kids; her youngest has Down's Syndrome (I've always admired the parents of children with special needs); she's a lifetime member of the NRA; she started out as governor of Alaska and was now being considered for the position for vice-president of the United States... She was where I've dreamed of being myself. (Well, my dream is to become governor of California and then run for President, but it's almost the same.)
It was the first time that I felt excited about this election and determined that I would definitely be voting for McCain. (Not that I would have voted for Obama; I would have just abstained.)
It was the smartest move - or, possibly, the only smart move - that McCain has made during this entire campaign. My (very) liberal history professor claims that she's just a dumb redneck woman who I'm smarter than (that's what he said) who doesn't have the experience necessary to run this country. He says he can't understand for the life of him why McCain chose her as his VP. I suggested that maybe he was trying to get more conservatives to support his campaign, and though he disagreed, that's still what I think.
It definitely got me on board.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
My question was: When a man cheats on his wife, whose fault is it - his own for breaking his oath of fidelity, or his wife's for not keeping him happy?
The answer that I found was written by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (aka "the Shelah"), a renowned rabbi and mystic who lived from 1565-1630.
The Shelah writes that all human beings have two kinds of desires: desires of the soul, and desires of the flesh. Both are good, writes the Shelah, since both were given to us by G-d; but they have to be used correctly.
Following the desires of the soul, a person will do good deeds, following the path that G-d wants us to follow.
Following the desires of the flesh, however, often leads a person to selfishly chase objects of their own pleasure.
The desires of the flesh were not created for a person's own selfish use, says the Zohar, (the most important work of Kabbalah); rather they were given to each person for the sake of their spouse.
"Therefore," writes the Shelah, "a man should not indulge in any pleasure except that which beautifies and benefits his wife."
The explanation goes into more Kabbalistic (and more complicated) detail, which I won't go into here, but the practical lesson here answers the question that I asked by telling us that a man is only given "desires of the flesh" for the sake of his wife, so if he decides to take them elsewhere, he's using those desires for entirely the wrong purpose.
Clearly, according to the Shelah and Kabbalah (and, thus, according to Torah and G-d,) a man who cheats on his wife (or, conversely, a woman who cheats on her husband,) is in the wrong.
Monday, August 11, 2008
So, just so we're clear, the guy breaks the sacred bond of marriage and it's the woman who gets blamed.
I hope that the fact that I heard this from people in the frum community doesn't mean that it's a common attitude in the frum community.
How many frum people out there agree with this statement?
Sunday, July 27, 2008
It happened when I was talking to someone about the shidduch (Orthodox Jewish system of matchmaking) system and mentioned that I believed that it was the job of the man to pursue the woman. The man I was speaking to immediately accused me of being sexist against men by suggesting that the man should do the difficult part.
It took me slightly by surprise, probably because I'm not accustomed to hearing people speak about sexism against men, but I automatically answered, "Of course it's not sexist! The Torah (Bible) says that the man should pursue the woman, the Torah is written by G-d, and G-d isn't sexist; so obviously, it's not sexist."
It's the truth. The Talmud teaches that a man is supposed to search for his soulmate, "as a person seeks an object that he has lost." (Kiddushin 2b; Niddah, 31b) Frankly, it makes perfect sense to me. After all, the mitzvah (G-d's commandment) of marriage is for men. Men are the ones who are obligated to get married, according to the Torah; not women. So why should the woman pursue the man if he's the one who's required to get married?
In the Orthodox community today, it's the absolute opposite. Theory has it that there are more Orthodox single women than Orthodox single men, which means that women need to "fight" to get a good guy. Ultimately, that means that women need to work hard to find a match whereas the men can sit back and wait to be pursued by the girls.
And they do. I can't tell you how many stories I've heard from girlfriends about guys who will date a girl and just automatically "throw her away" because he knows that there are plenty of other girls who want to go out with him. Random dating is not how the shidduch system was ever meant to work. The system is based on the idea that men and women only date for marriage and dating numerous girls carelessly just because they're available doesn't really fit the bill of, "dating for marriage."
Yet it happens time after time that girls - wonderful, sweet, pretty girls - get passed up for another girl because the guy can say, "Well, she was fine, but there might be something better out there..." And Orthodox girls keep taking it - being treated by guys as objects in a store that are picked up, examined, and then abandoned, - because they want to get married and are willing to do what it takes to make that happen, even if it means being treated like trash over and over again.
It has to stop. Single women in the Orthodox community need to start putting their collective feet down and demand that the men stop this silliness; if the men want to get married, then they need to start taking dating seriously.
Friday, July 4, 2008
Tznius (or Tzniut) is more than just a dress code, though. It also includes a code of modest conduct. I choose to think of it as a royal code of conduct. G-d chose the Jewish people to be His chosen Nation, His firstborn child, and since G-d is the King of all Creation, that makes us all royal children. Along with the privileges of being the children of royalty come serious responsibilities, and that includes a strict code of conduct.
Not that I would compare the Jewish People's spiritual royal dynasty to theirs, but for the sake of discussion, let's take a look at the British royal family. Most people, when they think of the Queen of England, recall seeing her in suits and hats at all times, following a royal dress code that commands respect for her majesty based on her royal position rather than on how trendy her outfit is.
The same goes for her demeanor. She does not demand respect through a loud voice and outlandish publicity stunts (can you say, "Paris Hilton"?). She keeps a calm and collected persona in public because that is what is expected of a woman whose social position itself commands respect and veneration.
It is similar with the Jewish people. Our social status and existence is not based on the opinions of others. If it was, these "others" would have finished us off a long, long, time ago.
Rather, our status in the world is based on the fact that G-d chose us to be His nation. We have survived all this time with our dignity intact solely as a result of G-d's will.
Based on modern psychology, the way that the Jewish people have been treated for thousands of years - as dirt beneath the feet of the gentiles, - one would expect us to have serious self-esteem problems. How often do we hear about how African Americans have less chances in our society because they were treated as slaves for hundreds of years? Yet we, the Jewish people, who were treated worse than slaves for thousands of years, don't seem to have a problem climbing the ladder of success in the secular, gentile world. Why is that?
Because we have known throughout the years of torture, denigration and murder that no matter what the nations of the world think of us that we are still G-d's chosen nation. Like the Queen of England's position, society's opinion of the Jewish people cannot change our royal status. They could treat us like vermin all the wanted; in the end, we rose from the extermination camps and built new lives, new communities, new shuls (synagogues), and new personas of beauty despite what they thought of us and all that they did to us.
Like the Queen of England, then, we should remember that we don't need to show off our bodies - whether by taking off our clothes or by running down the street yelling, - to gain the respect of others. We can carry ourselves with dignity because we know that no matter what that person driving by in the fancy German car sees when they look at us, their opinion cannot change who we really are.
Seeing us as vermin didn't stop us before and it won't stop us now.
Friday, June 6, 2008
I've recently found myself getting eerily interested in cooking and baking. Two cupcake books (not to mention the cupcake-decorating *GULP* gadgets) and online Food Channel videos in the last two to three weeks. Today, I bought a recipe keeper, which is basically a folder in which you can write and organize recipes that you find, and I bought it because I've been finding recipes, using them, and wishing I had a place to keep them.
Does that as sound 'housewivey' to you as it does to me? It's making me feel like I'm related to Bree Hodge, and that's seriously creepy. (Does the fact that I know who Bree Hodge is make me less frum, nevermind the feminist part?)
What it doesn't sound like is feminist.
It's not that my feminist views have changed. For example:
In addition to cooking and backing, I've also recently become interested in a show called Army Wives, which presents wives of U.S. Army personnel and shows them, (from what I can tell -- I haven't really watched the show,) almost exclusively as housewives. In true feminist fashion, I've found this a bit disconcerting. I read a comment about the show on the internet which said, "Why don't these women have their own careers?" and I agreed with it. I found it disturbing to see these women relegated to staying at home and taking care of the kids while their husbands went off to war.
Clearly I still have feminist views, but all this recent cooking-and-baking-enjoyment has got me questioning where exactly I stand on the feminist scale. So here I am again, faced with the question of:
Am I a Frum Feminist?
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
"Ha ha!" I thought to myself. "That's hilarious!" I was sure that it was a joke, which some Wikipedia (which can be edited by anyone) user decided to put in. But I was curious to see if anyone else had ever commented on it so I googled, "USAF Cyberspace," and found out that it's actually true.
Apparently, "the Air Force has begun reorganizing itself to conduct cyberspace operations."
We've all heard of cyber-crime and most recently in a course I've been taking on terrorism the question of cyber-terrorism and the need to prevent cyber-terrorist attacks came up. I realized that a government institution would have to be set up for that defense, but it never occurred to me that it would be the air force.
I find it "blooodee fasinaitin'," personally.
Note: The awesome graphic is not mine; it belongs to the U.S. Military. I just spruced it up a bit.
Friday, April 25, 2008
There are those who say that the Democratic Party stands for the poor people (one class) and the Republican party for the rich (another class,) but that's not actually true. There are poor people in the Republican party, and rich people (say, "Hollywood!") in the Democratic party.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
This from the same Library of Congress report on the Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism that I last quoted from.
This is similar to some of the points that DeeDee Myers made in book, "Why Women Should Rule the World," and discussed at her book signing that I wrote about here.
As I wrote there, I didn't like DeeDee and the atmosphere at the book signing, (i.e. Clinton-Worship) but, as mentioned, I do think that she had some good points.
And while I don't like Hillary, the arguments that she couldn't handle the pressures of the presidency because she's a woman... I would have to say I disagree with, even if it's because, as this Library of Congress Report that I keep quoting from mentions, often these female leaders have male gender-tendencies.
[I don't know enough about Margaret Thatcher and Golda Meir to comment on whether they had male gender-tendencies, by which I mean that they thought and acted like men. Anyone else know?]
"Lochte also considered female terrorists to be stronger, more dedicated, faster, and more ruthless than male terrorists, as well as more capable of withstanding suffering because 'They have better nerves than men, and they can be both passive and active at the same time.'"
Looks like I can finally, with terrorists as my guinea pigs, prove that what I've long believed is actually true: men can't handle blood or pain nearly as much as women can. Biologically it makes sense, since women are the ones who've had go through the most painful and bloody process to keep humanity in existence.
Anyone interested in checking out this Library of Congress report, click here. Warning: It's a PDF.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
"While nothing is easier than to denounce the evildoer,
nothing is more difficult than to understand him."
Anyone out there think that we need to try to understand evildoers? Anyone know what the Torah perspective might be on this?
It might be interesting to know, in considering this questions, that studies on the history of terrorism state that while the term, "terrorism," comes from the "Reign of Terror," (in France following the French Revolution,) that the first record of terrorism (according to the official historical record) says that it was perpetrated by *gasp* Jews:
(Source: Library of Congress Report on the Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism)
(Any Rabbis out there who want to do an, "Ask the Rabbi," type of post in reply, feel free to contact me.)
Thursday, March 27, 2008
So even with G-d Himself "governing" the Jews, we still ended up being screwed? And that's because it's so hard to govern men? Is that what Voltaire is saying? Guess he didn't believe in G-d as much as he claimed he did, considering he didn't think "G-d Himself" could take care of things...
It was the, "even today they do not appear to cut a very pretty figure," part that cracked me up.
Corrections from my, "W - The President" post:
1) The Jewish Journal apparently is not affiliated with the Jewish Federation, as someone with the name, "JewishJournal.com" mentioned in the comment section.
2) The, "Olmert's popularity ratings go up - to 3%" headline was on the Jewish Journal's Purim cover, so it might not be a correct statistic.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
My other "W" hat says, "W - STILL the President," on it. I bought that one after Bush won. It was a, "Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah, we won!" hat. I wore it for Purim that first year and got maybe one look in shul.
Right now, I'm getting tons of them. Every person who walks by is eying me like I'm a child of the devil.
I know I'm one of the last remaining few who still likes Dubya. Especially here in Democrat-blue-country California. I haven't looked at his popularity ratings in a while, but I know they're in the dregs.
They are better than Olmert's, though that's not saying much. I picked up a copy of, "The Jewish Journal," today, a truly awful excuse for a newspaper here in LA put out by the Jewish Federation, and on the cover it announced, "OLMERT'S APPROVAL RATING GOES UP -- TO 3%"
But Olmert truly deserves his ratings. He's a terrible Prime Minister. Bush, however... If I were to say this aloud I'd likely be stoned with rotten vegetables, but he really hasn't done such a bad job as President. That's just a fact.
But people don't care about facts when it comes to Bush. They just plain hate him. "He's dumb and evil!" they declare. "Bush is today's Hitler!" liberals scream.
How is it that everyone has forgotten Saddam Hussein? How he gassed and tortured his own people? Does that sound familiar to anyone else?
And then everyone whines and cries about Bush going into Iraq. Forget the fact that he went in with Congressional approval so every member of Congress who voted to go to war is just as liable as him; how can any Jewish person in the world not rejoice in the downfall of Saddam Hussein, the mini-Hitler of our time?
Or, since Purim just passed, the true Haman of our time. Didn't anyone else see the picture of Jewish U.S. troops celebrating Purim in the palace of Saddam Hussein, of cursed memory?
Jewish philosophy teaches that it's our job to take the sparks of negative energy into the world and turn them into sparks of positive, G-dly energy. If celebrating Purim in Saddam Hussein's palace isn't flipping the evil sparks of Saddam's reign onto their collective backs, throwing them into G-dliness, I don't know what is.
How can a Jew still hate Bush, seeing this? Seriously; I know I have readers who dislike Bush -- explain it to me!
Monday, March 17, 2008
I assure you, my awe of full-time mothers has grown from this experience. So has my determination that I don't know if I could ever be one.
Maybe it's different when it's your own child and when I have children, G-d willing, I will want to stay home taking care of them all day. As of now, though, I really don't know if I have the right temperament. I was exhausted just from watching these kids for a few hours a day and it threw my schedule off because I wasn't used to:
a) Having to wake up so early
b) Having a hard time taking care of all my other responsibilities because I was so exhausted
I adore these kids, (and I'm not just saying that in case their parents read this blog - I really do,) and appreciated the time that I had with them, but it was not easy. I only had to do it for a few hours a day for a week and a half; I can't imagine doing it all day permanently.
That's not to say that I couldn't do it. I worked in a preschool for two years and, though it was excruciatingly hard work, really loved the kids and, (without sounding too egotistical,) know that did a pretty good job taking care of them. I also know that I took excellent care of the children in my charge over the past week and a half.
But it was so hard! How anyone could do that all day, I really don't know. At the same time, I do believe that if you're going to have kids, you'd better be ready and willing to do everything that you have to to take care of their best interests.
I just wonder whether it would really be in the best interest of my children for me to be a full-time mother. Isn't it possible that I would be a better mother if I wasn't completely exhausted all the time from taking care of a home and children?
I know that this isn't an opinion valued in the frum community, but could there be any validity in it?
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
I went to the Dee Dee Myers book signing that I mentioned in an earlier post. You know, the, "Why Women Should Rule the World," book.
Oh. My. Goodness.
I should have expected it to be a liberal-fest but for some reason I didn't expect people to be so incredibly partisan that they couldn't see past the noses on their faces.
It was Clinton (mostly Hillary, but not exclusively,) worship all around. I felt like a squirrel in a room full of resting dogs; as long as I stayed quiet, I would be fine, but the second I made a peep, they'd pounce.
I arrived early because I wanted to get a seat. There were only two other people there when I got there and they were talking up a storm about hating Republicans and loving the Clintons while I sat quietly and read one of my textbooks. I was interrupted by a woman asking me:
"Would you like a Hillary bumper sticker?"
I almost laughed but managed to make it just a smile when I replied, "No thanks." I was the only one in the growing crowd who refused.
Let's forget the crowd, among which I'm pretty sure were a few lesbian women, (I've never quite been looked at by a woman the way a few of those ladies looked at me,) and at least one gay man, (his, "Wow, those are great boots, though they wouldn't look good on me," comment when he sat down next to me clued me in.)
It was not a scene I, as a frum woman was in any way accustomed to, but I stayed because I wanted to see what Dee Dee had to say.
Her opening was a joke. A Rush Limbaugh joke. A little girl saying her mom is gonna kill her because she saved Rush Limbaugh's life joke.
It got a hearty laugh from the crowd and Dee Dee admitted, "This has nothing to do with what I'm going to talk about today but any chance I get to bash Rush Limbaugh, I do."
A disparaging George W. Bush came a few seconds later.
Again, I shouldn't have been surprised by the partisanship of it all, considering Dee Dee worked for the Clinton administration; I guess I was naive to think that a book signing would be about the book there to be signed.
Needless to say, I left early. Dee Dee made some good points, (which I'll talk about another time,) but the Q&A session was all about Hillary v. Obama, why people hate the Clintons, (they all seemed so shocked by it, somehow,) and life working for Bill Clinton, and I'd really had enough.
It took hours for me to get over the sickened feeling I had when I left. You need a strong stomach to handle one, let alone a room full of, people who love the Clintons.
Photo Credit: Me.
Friday, February 29, 2008
While I did expect such a response, it still bothers me sometimes because when people in the frum community hear the word, "feminist," they automatically throw up defenses because they identify feminists as rabid, anti-religious, heartless women who hate men, love abortions and think that working in the home horrible.
When I talk about feminism, that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about supporting the notion of women being treated with as much respect as men are treated. I'm talking about women being allowed to succeed in areas in their lives other than just housekeeping and cooking; not that they have to, but that they are given the option of having other ambitions.
I'm not a "rabid feminist." I'm frum, I don't think that abortion should be used as birth control and actually enjoy cooking.
In fact, when I went to Barnes & Noble, as I mentioned in my last post, I didn't buy the, "Why Women Should Rule the World Book." I bought a cookbook. I used it. I enjoyed using it.
So do me a favor; don't discount everything that I have to say just because I say I might be a feminist.
I have to go and fold some laundry.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
"Why Women Should Rule the World" is actually a book title I came across when I was in Barnes & Noble the other day. They had a big poster with the title in bold letters to announce a book signing that they will be having with the author.
My automatic reaction to the poster was a smile crawling across my face. "Women ruling the world? Sounds good to me!" However, I was simultaneously thinking, "Well, that's pushing it a little..."
I reached my destination, the top floor of the store, (where the Starbucks is!) and, seeing a pile of copies of said book, I picked one up to get a better idea of what it was about.
The first thing I read was that the author, Dee Dee Myers (Jewish? Yes? No?) was the first female press secretary at the White House.
I liked the sound of that.
Then I read, "...for the Clinton administration," and I felt disappointed. I'm a Republican, as I've mentioned before, and have a really poor opinion of the "Clinton years," so I wasn't sure whether I was interested in reading from one of Clinton's employees. But I pride myself in being able to hear from opposing viewpoints without being judgmental, so I continued reading:
What would happen if women ruled the world?
Everything could change. [...] Empowering women would make the world a better place—not because women are the same as men, but precisely because they are different.
"Women tend to be better communicators, better listeners, better at forming consensus," Myers argues. In a highly competitive and increasingly fractious world, women possess the kind of critical problem-solving skills that are urgently needed to break down barriers, build understanding, and create the best conditions for peace.I was glad that I continued reading, because this was really interesting. It sounded suspiciously like a prophesy, based on Jeremiah 31:21, that says that in the time of Moshiach (the ultimate redemption), the power of women will be equal to, if not greater than, the power of men.
(Don't believe me? Read this article.)
I couldn't help but think, "Is the fact that women are becoming more powerful today than they ever were in the history of mankind - emphasis on the 'man' part - a sign that the Messiah is coming?"
Chew on that, all you critics out there who think I'm a crazy liberal for having a penchant for feminism.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
I received an email the other day entitled, "An Open Letter to President George W. Bush." It was written by Ruth Mater of "Women in Green," and basically consisted of an accusation that the biggest mistake that Bush has made during his presidency is promising a state to the Palestinian people.
I'm not going to argue about what the greatest mistake of Bush's presidency has been, but the majority of Americans believe it to have been the War in Iraq. Promising the Palestinians a state is hardly on the minds of most Americans as the greatest mistake of Bush's presidency.
Emails, or other forms of communication, with messages like these are a pet peeve of mine. It really annoys me when people blame President Bush for Israel's problems. How self-centered\ethnocentric do you have to be to consider the biggest problem of Bush's presidency to be about something that doesn't really affect his country?
Bush has his own political agendas to attend to, which include promoting peace in the Middle East. He, and America, have seen that tyranny and horror in Middle East have led to terrorism that has hurt Americans and therefore it is in his country's best interest promote peace in the Middle East.
Politically speaking, promoting peace in the Middle East includes trying to keep Muslims from despising America. So what does Bush do? He tries to placate them with promises of a state for the Palestinians (once they achieve a democratic system of government - something unlikely to ever happen.)
[NOTE: When I say "politically speaking," I'm referring to the science of politics within the United States, which includes the fact that the President can't do anything without considering the ramifications that his actions will have. Not to mention that the President doesn't create Middle East foreign policy on his own; he has to consider the views and stances of his cabinet, Congress and the public who elected him. That's how a democracy works.]
Can we really expect the President of the United States to work for anything other than his own country's best interest? Can we really condemn his for working toward that goal?
Personally, I think that the people we should be angry at is the Israeli government. Is blaming Bush and sending him long letters\emails with, "A History of the Middle East," to prove that the land of Israel belongs to the Jews, (as this email included) - something that, as an Evangelical Christian, Bush is well aware of already, - really going to help Israel?
I think it's a waste of time and energy.
Women in Green, focus your anger at the government of Israel, not at President Bush, who is only doing his job.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
While there are different frum communities with different takes on this issue, I think that this commenter might be right. I can't say that I know enough about the issue to make an absolute statement, but I know that it is true of some sects within the Orthodox world.
That doesn't mean that it's okay, but if it's true that many of my complaints about how women are treated within the frum world goes for men as well then I can't really blame it on misogyny.
Most of this blog, so far, has been about the frum community's attitudes toward women. With the exclusivity of that attitude being towards women being questioned, I'm finding that I might have to change the direction of this blog.
I still believe in women's rights, and if that makes me a feminist, then I am one. Since I am also frum, that would also make me a frum feminist. So now that the question of whether I'm a frum feminist has been answered, I think it's time to move on to bigger and better things.
Thus, my ongoing tirade against the frum community's attitude toward women will no longer be the sole subject line of this blog, though I doubt that I'll drop it completely.
Some people see feminists as outspoken, opinionated women; I'm definitely opinionated and might be considered, by some, to be outspoken. So from now on, the "frum feminist" aspect of this blog will be the fact that I'm a frum, outspoken, opinionated woman speaking my piece.
Stick around. It's sure to get interesting.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
While this is my latest favorite quote, I'm not sure how it fits in with frumology (the science of being frum - yes, I created this word.)
I thoroughly believe that women can be excellent members of Congress as much as any man and even have a little dream of my own about becoming a Senator one day (it sits somewhere next to my dream of being President) but whether it's okay for a frum woman to have such ambitions "out of the house," is a question on my mind.
I don't believe that Judaism has a problem with women being leaders. Devorah the Prophetess rode out to war and no one criticizes her. I think that the issue is less about women in a position of strength and more about what they're using that strength for.
As a frum woman I believe that being a mother is the most spiritually and physically important job that a woman could have (I'll get into the "spiritually and physically" part another time.) If a woman has children, her children need to be her priority. I think that this is true of any woman, not just a frum woman; I don't like Dr. Laura that much but I tend to agree with her opinion that if you're gonna have kids, you'd darn well better be ready to give your all for them. Though, of course, that holds true for dads just as much as moms.
However, I don't think that motherhood is the sole important job that a woman could have. I think that it's possible for a woman to have more than one mission in life. I do think that her children have to be a mother's top priority, but not all women are mothers, and not all mothers are cut out to be full-time housewives. [Please note that I didn't say "full-time mother"; I think that any person who has kids has to be a full-time parent, whether they have other jobs or not.]
So is it okay for a woman who isn't a mother or who isn't cut-out to be a full-time housewife to have ambitions out of the kitchen? I believe it is.
Now I can already hear frum people shouting over me that a mother needs to be a mother, first and foremost, and I am not arguing with that. If a woman is a mother and her ambitions will hurt her children, she has to fix those ambitions so that her children aren't hurt. But first of all, that's not exclusive to women; men who are fathers also need to make sure that their careers don't impede on their ability to father their children.
Second of all, I don't think that it's an "all or nothing" situation. I think that it's possible to be an excellent mother even while having other - though not top priority - ambitions.
This is a controversial position to hold in the frum community, but I stand by it.
I now await the criticism that I know is going to come from all the people who disagree with me... I know you're out there and I know what you're thinking. Feel free to drop me a line (those of you who have my number) or a comment (those of you to whom I'm just a random lady in cyberspace.)
Monday, February 11, 2008
It seems I spoke too soon in my last post. Obama hasn't given up the fight, despite Hillary taking the lead on Super Tuesday, so Hillary might not get the Democratic nomination.
Obama versus McCain... I don't know if I can vote for someone with the name, "Barak Hussein Obama." Maybe I'll abstain from this election? It would go very much against my principles; I collect those, "I voted!" stickers that they give out at the polls after you vote, you know.
I mean, for goodness sakes, do you know what it took to pass the 19th amendment (Women's Suffrage)? All that fighting and then I don't vote? That just wouldn't be right, now would it?
Friday, February 8, 2008
With Super Tuesday behind us, we now know that the next presidential race is going to be Hillary Clinton versus John McCain. (Correction here.)
As I've said before, I am a Conservative, so you can be assured that I did not vote for McCain and was very disappointed (to put it mildly) to hear that he'd won the Republican nomination.
I am not an Ann Coulter fan, but when I heard that she'd said that if McCain won the Republican nomination that she would campaign for Hillary, I had to agree. In Coulter's words:
"She is more conservative than McCain. [...] She is not going to be a weak woman. Compared to John McCain, she will be better. [...] She's running in a Democratic primary and he's running in a Republican primary and their position are about that far apart. [...] Moreover, she lies less than John McCain; she's smarter than John McCain so that when she is caught lying, at least the Clintons know when they've been caught lying. McCain is so stupid, he doesn't even know he's been caught. [...] John McCain is not only bad for Republicanism, he is bad for the country." (Hannity & Colmes)
I can't put my thoughts any more simply than that. I do not trust McCain and while I don't trust Hillary either, at least she doesn't pretend to be a Republican. John McCain is really a hidden Democrat and I'd rather vote for someone who's upfront about what party they support.
And then, of course, there's the fact that if I have to choose between an incompetent man and an incompetent woman, I'll definitely choose the woman. I'm with Maureen Reagan on this point: at least with an incompetent woman as president we'll know that equality has arrived. I mean, how much more equal can you get than having an incompetent Hillary in office to replace an incompetent Bill?
Here's the video of Ann Coulter for those who are interested:
Monday, February 4, 2008
Now, however, we've got Jewish women in Israel wearing burkhas, and that's definitely not coming from G-d. (For the full article, click here.)
Apparently some woman named "Bruria Keren," who considers herself a "Rabbanit," has decided to tell a bunch of Jewish women who look to her for guidance that they should wear burkhas whenever they leave their homes for reasons of modesty. That way, men won't look at them.
I'm convinced that this "Bruria" must not "have all the lights on upstairs." No sane Jewish woman would turn to Islam for fashion tips or, more specifically in this case, religion tips. We've got 613 commandments in the Torah, which break down into much more than 613 laws in halacha (Jewish law) and these women are looking for more?
Just off the top of my head I can think of two of the 613 commandments that this new trend of "Bruria's" violates:
1) "Like the practice of the land of Egypt, in which you dwelled, you shall not do, and like the practice of the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you, you shall not do, and you shall not follow their statutes." (Leviticus, 18:3)
2) "Everything I command you that you shall be careful to do it. You shall neither add to it, nor subtract from it." (Deuteronomy, 13:1)
#1 commands us not to follow any of the practices of non-Jewish nations, such as wearing burkhas.
#2 commands us to follow G-d's commandments as He tells us to, and we're not supposed to add or subtract from His commandments according to what we feel is better. You can't one-up G-d; once you start being more strict than G-d, you've stopped serving Him. He never asked us to be more strict than Him; in fact, He specifically tells us not to be. If He wanted us to wear burkhas, He would have told us about it.
These women have got a bee in their burkhas about something though I'm not quite sure what that is. Why are these women so desperate to hide from men? I think that there's something more disturbing than just Jewish women wearing burkhas going on here...
Thanks to Seraphic Secret for bringing this article to my attention.
Friday, February 1, 2008
Not all Orthodox Jewish men are as I described in my last post. While I have noticed a pattern in it, I also know that there are many Orthodox men who are perfectly respectful.
And to be fair, it's not only the Orthodox men who treat single women differently than they do married women. There are plenty of Orthodox women who do as well.
My apologies to anyone out there reading this blog who may have been offended by my characterization of all Orthodox men being "patriarchal."
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Here's how it happened:
I was on the phone with an Orthodox man who dented my parked car when he backed up into it, trying to settle the accident with him without involving the insurance company. It had already been a few months of haggling where I tried my best to settle without having to ruin his insurance rates but it had come to a point where he was only offering me enough money to fix the paint job.
That's how it happened that today I called him and told him that I couldn't fix my car with the amount that he was offering and I was going to have to go to my insurance company. He tried to offer me more, asking me how much he would have to pay me to cover the expenses and I named a price for him.
Now, if he had said right then, "Okay, I'll send you a check with that amount and I appreciate that you aren't going to the insurance company," then I would have been happy to leave it at that.
Unfortunately, that's not what happened.
Instead, he began to tell me off for haggling with him, telling me that he would show me, midat hadin, which roughly means "G-d's attribute of justice" but in this context meant, "You'll get what's coming to you for making me pay this much."
Now I don't know who he thought he was talking to, but there was no way that I was going to let him talk to me that way. I immediately told him that and said that I was going to go through my insurance company. He tried to wheedle me into changing my mind, saying, "Oh, it's nothing personal against you; I just know how people like you work..." but I was done. I told him that I had done nothing wrong here and did not deserve to be talked to in the way he had just talked to me, that I was calling my insurance company, and I hung up over his protests.
That's when I said, "I could really use a husband right now," because I knew instinctively that this man thought that he could talk to me that way because he knew I was a single, frum woman and assumed that, like the community expects, I'd respect him as an Orthodox man and wouldn't dare defy him. (He'd actually mentioned it to me a few times, telling me that he could have walked away without taking responsibility for backing into my car but that would be gneiva - stealing - and he, as a frum man, couldn't do that and I should darn well appreciate that.) If I had a husband then maybe I could stand up to him, but without one I wouldn't have the guts.
This is a serious problem in the frum community, which is often very patriarchal. Too often men in the community don't respect women as much as they respect men so that their attitude toward women is not as respectful when they don't have a husband around to back them up.
Before revising this post I had written that these frum men's attitudes were detrimental specifically to single women, but the truth is that the same goes for married women as long as their husband is not with them.
For example, one of my former bosses hired women specifically because he felt he could push them around more than he could push around men.
It's got something to do with women not being able to defy a man without another man to back them up. And, unfortunately, all too often women in the frum do not defy the men even when they have reason to. Doing so is considered chutzpa - an act of disrespect.
Ironically, the when the men don't t treat women respectfully, that doesn't seem to count as chutzpa.
The fact that I suddenly felt like I needed a man in order to handle business, - in order to be respected, - that's what ticked me off.
Luckily for me, but unluckily for the "car-smasher," I'm not one of those timid frum women who put up with patriarchal males who think that the fact that they're male means that they can push women around. With my former boss I eventually got the courage to stand up to him (and, ultimately, to leave the job,) because of the way he did not respect me. I wasn't about to let another chauvinistic man push me around.
So on the question of, "Am I a frum feminist"? Well, today I am. Not the type of feminist who argues that women should be able to do everything that men do, (like so many people have assumed, reading this blog, scoffing at me,) but the type of feminist who argues that women should be respected just as much as men are.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
The reason why I didn't get to the reason why I didn't want to go to the wedding is because I still didn't know why. It took me until after I got home from the wedding to figure it out.
Yes, I went to the wedding despite the fact that I really, really, didn't want to. And I smiled and danced even though I didn't want to do those things either. That was after a margarita and half an apple martini. I'm not a drinker, but I thought it would help me be a bit more freilich (Yiddish: joyous). I really wanted to be happy at the wedding; it's a big mitzvah (generally translated as, "good deed") to make the bride and groom happy on their wedding day, and there's no way that you're going to do that if you yourself aren't happy.
I did my best, honest. And I think I managed pretty well up until I left. Which was early. I'm blaming it a headache from the music, which was so loud it had babies screaming, and possibly on the alcohol. Subconsciously, however, it was more than that.
It took me a little while to figure out why I was so uncomfortable about going to and being at the wedding. It wasn't the fact that I was among the top five oldest single girls there. (At 23!) It wasn't that I was jealous of the bride, because I most definitely (as I mentioned in my earlier post) was not.
It was the older women staring at me that clued me to what all my negative feelings about this event were really about:
It wasn't about me being unhappy with myself; with me being single or "old". It was the community's attitude about me being single that was bothering me. At an event celebrating a wonderful simcha (joyous occasion) where everyone was thrilled for the 19 year old bride (including me), there I was, being pitied for not being married yet.
The looks I got as women said to me, "G-d willing you should get married very soon too," irked me terribly because they spoke volumes about the attitude of the community that being single at 23 is a tragedy.
I've written about this before so it shouldn't have taken me so long to figure out what it was about this wedding that upset me; it was being in a place where I am looked at as a tragic case because I'm not married, which is, after all, the only thing I'm good for, right?
Wrong! The attitude of these women that I must be so unhappy because I'm not married points to a general community attitude of marriage being the only way a woman can go for happiness. A dangerous attitude, in my perspective, because as I've said before, it's better to be single than sorry.
Being at a wedding celebrating a 19 year old girl getting married, where everyone is thrilled for her while I'm considered a tragedy is what I was subconsciously dreading. I, thank G-d, am happy with where I am in life. I'm not jealous of the bride, in fact I'm very happy for her. But in a community where getting married at 19 is considered the best thing that could happen to a girl, being at an event celebrating that "best thing" wasn't easy.
Monday, January 21, 2008
"If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation."
It's pretty amazing to note that Abigail Adams must have said this sometimes around when her husband was writing his famous documents about the rebellion he was involved in: The American Revolution. Two of a kind, eh?
Sunday, January 20, 2008
It's either because I'm slightly afraid for her that she's too young and has no idea what she's getting herself into or because I'm subconsciously jealous that she met her soul mate so young. I'm admitting to the latter because I'm trying to be honest here, but I don't really think it's true because...
I'm so happy that I didn't get married at 19. While there are pressures in the Orthodox Jewish community to get married young and most of my high school classmates are married, many with children, by now, I can't help but feel a sense of relief that I'm not one of them. Call me selfish and self-centered, but I'm glad for the time that I've had to myself without the responsibilities of a husband, children and home.
Maybe some people don't need that time to grow up and mature as much as I have. Maybe some people don't feel the need to perfect themselves before they start perfecting a family. Personally, I'd prefer to grow up before I start having kids; to learn how to take care of myself before I have to take care of others.
There are those in the frum community who argue that you should marry young and grow together with your spouse; well, that sounds all sweet and romantic but I think that there's something to be said for personal growth. How about growing into your own skin, finding out what makes you who you are - and what makes you happy - before going out and looking for a guy who'll make you happy?
Sunday, January 13, 2008
I didn't read the book but from what I could see from the back cover, the basic idea that the author discusses in the book is that it's better to be single than to be stuck in a relationship with the wrong person.
It seems like a pretty reasonable idea, and it's one I've had independently long before I read the book title, yet it's not a concept often discussed in the frum community. As I've mentioned before, marriage is a top priority in the Orthodox world, and the younger the better. The state of being single is not encouraged, so "Better Single than Sorry" isn't a piece of advice you'll find common in the Orthodox community.
But it should be. Not because some woman wrote a book about it, but because while marriage is put up on a pedestal in the frum world, it doesn't always turn out so great. Too often young people get married because it's what they've always been taught is the right thing to do and because it's so exciting to be in the center of attention and they don't realize what, exactly, they're getting themselves into.
There needs to be an equal emphasis in the frum world on how being single is better than being in a bad marriage. The state of being single is so deplored that people will marry just to get away from being single, and that's a bad reason to get married.
Better single than sorry -- I have to agree with that one.