Friday, February 29, 2008

In My Defense

I've gotten plenty of flak for the views that I write about on this blog. Even if I'm not a feminist, just associating myself with the term, "feminist," seems to irk people in the frum community.

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

Calm down. It's not as bad as it sounds.

"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

Open Letter to 'Dubya' Bush

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

Moving this blog along...

In one of the comments on one of my blog posts, someone pointed out that while it's true that the community looks down on women going to college and having ambitions in the business marketplace and wants them to marry young, the frum community's attitude is not limited to women. It frowns on men going to college and working in the secular world and on men who don't marry young as well.

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

A Woman's Place

"Women belong in the House... and the Senate." -Author Unknown

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

Maybe Not a Woman in Office...

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

Women in Office

"I will feel equality has arrived when we can elect to office women who are as incompetent as some of the men who are already there."
-Maureen Reagan (Daughter of former President Ronald Reagan with his first wife)

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

Checking out "Bubby's Burkha"

When I spoke previously about tzniut, (referring to the Orthodox Jewish dress code) I mentioned that I didn't find the dress code degrading or chauvinistic because I believe that it comes from G-d directly and I don't question G-d (it's the community attitudes, instead, that I tend to question.) You can see that post here.

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

Addendum to "In this Patriarchal Society"

I want to add an important note to my, "In this Patriarchal Society" post.

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."