A Jewess isn’t like other women – the word alone makes her stand apart. There’s a slight sense of both shaming and warning in the label, as if it’s her fault that she’s different and she should feel bad about it, and also, you should probably stay away from her—she’s a little different, that one. “Jewess” has connotations of too much: too loud, too pushy, too big, too different (or, according to OkCupid, “more aggressive). She doesn’t perform her femininity as well as non-Jewish women for these reasons—while she’s still recognizable as a women, she’s a different kind of woman. Because of this, “Jewess,” to me, feels more than a little queer.
During this morning’s commute into Boston the car started making a weird whoomping sound*. To my untrained ear it sounded like the car was performing some sort of subtle dance with road, where the slight shimmying of my car was a sure sign that the engine had decided to part ways with the rest of the vehicle. Luckily my partner actually knows a thing or two about cars, and had a few slightly more plausible explanations than the engine becoming self aware and annoyed with its surroundings.
Growing up, my discomfort derived from the separate-but-equal mentality I found inherent within a mechitza service. Sometimes, the mechitza is a balcony (women in the back, men in the front). Sometimes, the Torah and the service-leader are only on the men’s side. Even in the more forward-thinking mechitza services that I’ve attended, there are still areas in which women may not lead. As an outspoken queer feminist, mechitzas make me uncomfortable... to say the least.
Next week is the release of Berlin 36 in German cinemas. Berlin 36 is a film about Gretel Bergmann, the talented German high jumper denied a spot on the 1936 Olympic team because she was Jewish. Rather than face the embarassment of a Jew winning a gold medal for Germany, the Third Reich selected gentile Dora Ratjen to compete in Bergmann's place. Two years later, a doctor revealed that "Dora" was actually a man.
Everyday I encounter a number of interesting websites, articles, and blog posts that are definitely worth mentioning. I hope you find these as interesting as I do!
The Hadassah-Brandeis Institiute releases a new issue of HBI 614 eZINE on the titillating topic of Jewish Sex! Editor Michelle Cove writes, "Who knew there were Yiddish lesbian poems published in the last century? Or that teen girls were giving oral sex as a gift to Bar Mitzvah boys? Or that the mikvah could be considered part of erotic foreplay? Given the sizzling weather outside, we decided to partner with the entertaining Jewcy (a lifestyle website for young Jews) to look at the heated and fascinating thoughts that Jewish women experience in and out of the bedroom."