Tara Metal combines her love of writing and editing with her passion for history and storytelling in her role as Director of Engagement and Social Media at the Jewish Women’s Archive. Tara is also the editor of a local literary journal and an online art magazine. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I don’t do well in humidity. I don’t think rallies have been particularly effective since the 1970s. Still, I stood outside for two hours this Tuesday, gathered at City Hall with a couple hundred of my fellow concerned citizens. We were there to show solidarity against certain recent Supreme Court decisions.
Lupita Nyong’o is an Academy Award winning actress. She has a Master’s Degree from Yale. She speaks four languages. She is the writer, director, and producer of a documentary about Kenya’s albino population. She is also a stunning beauty, and a fashion plate. It’s that last point, that shallow observation, which I’ll write about today.
Back in 2011, as newly minted high schoolers at Gann Academy in Waltham, Kineret Grant-Sasson and Mitali Desai had an idea: during the second half of freshman year, they would start holding meetings for a feminist club, welcoming students with all levels of knowledge and interest. Today, Kineret and Mitali are incoming seniors, and their club, Feminijas, is going strong. Femininjas meets Mondays at lunch for discussions about gender, power, and feminism, topics many students don’t study in earnest until well into college. Recently, they embarked on a photo project, something they’d seen online and thought would be an empowering exercise for Femininjas. The concept was simple: pass around a white dry-erase board, ask participants to write a blurb about why they need feminism, and take a picture. The results are powerful, encouraging, and thought-provoking.
Who still watches Miss USA? I remember tuning in when I was younger, eager to check out the contestants’ glam evening dresses. Now, if anything, I’ll glance through pictures online of the top five. Maybe. If it’s a slow internet day.
Well, the dated, sexist, eye-roller of a pageant became suddenly culturally relevant this Sunday, in more ways than one. The winner, Miss Nevada Nia Sanchez, is a fourth-degree black belt in taekwondo. Thanks to thorough research (Google search) I can tell you that black belt is the highest rank, and there are nine levels within the rank. So, Nia is about halfway through the most advanced level. She started training when she was eight, and became a certified taekwondo instructor at fifteen. This is something she’s been dedicated to for most of her life, not a hobby she picked up to stand out at pageants—which she didn’t even begin competing in until 2009. Impressive.
Roz Chast is one of The New Yorker’s most enduringly popular cartoonists, beloved for her signature neurotic style and quick wit. In her first graphic memoir, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, Chast dives into the always frustrating, often funny, sometimes surreal world of elder care. As an only child, Chast was wholly responsible for making sure her aging parents were safe and taken care of, despite their tendency to drive her completely nuts. We meet her mother Elizabeth, a domineering woman who always had the last word, and her father George, an anxious man who adored Elizabeth. Together, the three of them navigate the last years of her parents’ lives, the brutal realities of aging, and the bittersweet comedy of reaching the end of the road.
When I was in tenth grade, a male friend of mine told me he would kill himself after I said I wouldn’t go out with him. The next day, he confronted me in the hallway and told me I was, among other things, a terrible person, a tease, and a slut. Later that year, a senior who I was too shy to talk to approached me and told me he really liked me and wanted to go out. He tried to kiss me at my locker, in front of a teacher, and I pulled away. Later he told his friends that I wouldn’t have sex with him and that I was obsessed with playing hard to get; that I loved the attention. Of course, this was news to me—I’d had a crush on him and was baffled when he stopped talking to me after the attempted public kiss. Later I learned that the two of them—I’m-going-to-kill-myself guy and kamikaze-kiss-guy—circulated a list detailing which sexual positions would best take advantage of my body—which, as was noted in the list, “would be really great if she lost 5 pounds.” There were other incidents that year, and many more throughout high school.
"I am proud that I had the guts and the patriotism to defy my parents and enlist in the service of my country when it needed me." –Miranda Bloch
"What is a nice Jewish girl going to do in the military, especially in the Marine Corps?" –Miranda Bloch’s incredulous father
Did you know that there were women in the Marines in the 1940’s? I certainly didn’t.
“The fire was burning low, and just a few live coals are on the bottom. With the slow feeding of wood and finally coal, a roaring fire is started. I couldn't help thinking how similar to a human being a fire is. If it is not allowed to run down too low, and if there is a spark of life left in it, it can be nursed back. So can a human being.” –Frances Slanger
Lt. Frances Slanger of Roxbury, Massachusetts was one of four nurses who waded ashore at Normandy on D-Day. She was also the first American nurse to die in Europe in World War II.
In 1942, the United States was suffering through a severe shortage of pilots. Men were needed to fight overseas, and the government was forced to take a chance and train women to fly military aircraft. This pioneering group of civilian female pilots was called the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots, or WASP for short. Over 1,000 young women were trained to fly B-26 and B-29 bombers, test new planes, and fly shipments across the country from factories to military bases. Fun fact: the WASP mascot was drawn by Walt Disney, and appeared on each woman’s shoulder patch. Less fun fact: All records of the WASPs were classified and sealed for 35 years, so their contributions were little known and all but inaccessible to historians.
In the few short days since Jill Abramson’s surprise firing from her post as executive editor of the New York Times, much has been written about her ouster. There are many questions still unanswered about the reasons behind such an abrupt dismissal: Was it a pay dispute? Her “bossiness”? And, as Ken Auletta asks, “Why did the Times, which so heralded the hiring of its first female executive editor, terminate Abramson in such a brutal fashion?
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Tara Metal." (Viewed on July 29, 2014) <http://jwa.org/blog/author/tara-metal>.