Tanya is one of my closest friends. We’ve known each other since we were 15, and it’s fair to say that we know each other better than our husbands probably ever will (okay, not in all ways). We have an arsenal of inside jokes, and a language that’s our own.
When Tanya told me last week that she does not consider herself a feminist, I was extremely surprised. Tanya is smart, liberal, independent, and gets totally ticked off when anyone is treated unfairly, especially her woman friends.
My daughter Risa is turning two next week. When my mother, a Jewish feminist who went to law school at age 40, asked me to accompany her to a toy store to pick a gift, I agreed. She asked me what Risa enjoyed most these days, and I admitted “dress-up.”
All week I’ve been fascinated by the reports of Catholic women being ordained as priests – 12 women were ordained on a boat outside of Pittsburgh on Monday (these “irregular” ordinations take place on rivers, which are beyond archdiocese jurisdiction), and last week another secretly ordained woman priest “came out” about her ordination and resigned from her position in the Archdiocese of Boston.
We may be known for our long and rich past, but I think it’s fair to say that the Jewish community is obsessed with its future – think about the role of a term like “Jewish continuity” in American Jewish life. And we also like to talk. So it’s not a big surprise that so many conferences and programs – especially now, in the early years of a new millennium – have taken the Jewish future as their subject.
What do you think about NEW, Network of Enlightened Women? If you haven’t heard of it, they’re a group of conservative female college students, founded in 1994 by UVA student Karen Agness. They are “dedicated to fostering the education and leadership skills of conservative university women.” What does that mean? It means they think the Vagina Monologues “glorifies” rape; feel that women’s studies “unfairly paints men as evil” and “ignores differences between the sexes,” and have a major problem with modern feminism.
Lately I’ve been re-reading the stories of Grace Paley, and no matter how many times I’ve read them, they’re hard to put down. She’s one of my favorite writers, a woman who weaves stories from what she views around her and captures how the most mundane, brief moments (a walk with a friend, moms watching kids in the park) contain everything we need to know about people and the world.
By now you all know I’ve got a lot of issues with what our world looks like these days. Near the top of my list is popular media’s degrading representation of women and girls, who are objectified and usually valued only for their appearance and sexiness (as defined by men). So all hail the REAL hot 100 – a list compiled by a bevy of kick-ass young feminists to counter Maxim Magazine’s annual “Hot 100” list and to redefine what makes women hot.
Kudos goes to Kelly Kulick, who is the first woman to qualify for the Professional Bowlers Association Tour. She's a 29-year old from Union, N.J. who works in her father's auto-body shop. According to the New York Times article about Kulick, published on June 15, some men in the PBA are upset at the idea of a woman playing on what has traditionally been a men's sport and a men's tour.
Last Sunday I watched the Memorial Day Parade in Somerville with a bunch of my friends. It was a great excuse to get together with other families, have a barbeque and chill.
But as I was enjoying the high school bands playing their trumpets and flutes and the Shriners in their little cars, I couldn’t help but notice that there was a big disconnect between the spirit of celebration and the fact that there is a war going on.
This June marks a milestone in the history of Jewish feminism: the retirement of Rabbi Sally Priesand, the first American woman rabbi. In the feature about her in the New York Times last Saturday, she repeated something she’s said often during her career: “I became a rabbi not to champion women’s rights.