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United States Capitol

The Power of an Ask

I’ll admit it—I own a power outfit. And it was only a few weeks ago that I woke up in a D.C. hotel room, put on my pressed skirt and my sensible (but classy) black heels, and took a bus with my friends to Capitol Hill. I remember listening to my shoes click on the marble floor, shuffling through printed pages of talking points, a nervous, excited energy rising from the center of my stomach.

The Sea Change Program

Talking Abortion, Stigma, and Storytelling with The Sea Change Program

Last month, JWA's podcast Can We Talk? reflected on the founding of the women's health collective Our Bodies Ourselves. Hearing founder Vilunya Diskin talk about fighting for reproductive rights in the late 1960s and early 1970sincluding access to safe abortions, turned my thoughts to where we stand today. Abortion has been legal since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, but stigma against women who get abortions seems more pervasive than ever. With abortion making headlines again as the subject of political debate, it can be difficult to cut through the noise and hear what real women are experiencing outside of the media glare. 

Rising Voices Fellow Noam Green at the People's Climate March Cropped

Moving Past My Passivity

I was a relatively passive preteen. I was stuck in this mentality that my life wasn’t really going to start until I was older, that everything until then was just filler. Looking back at it now, I can acknowledge the internalized adultism that clouded my perception of the world, but am still regretful of this period of stagnation in my life. 

"Grease" Rehearsal

Is Grease Sexist?

I once told a friend of mine that I think Grease is horribly sexist because the plot is basically: girl changes herself to get the guy. He responded, “I always thought it was her throwing off negative social norms. It’s not like the whole goody two shoes thing was good.” His sentiments versus my own are the crux of the argument about whether Grease is a sexist movie, or one that supports feminist ideals. 

Drawing of a Prince and Princess

The Princess Tried

My favorite movie [The Princess Bride], though strikingly Jewish, is not particularly feminist. It’s not just that it doesn’t pass the Bechdel test (because let’s be real how many movies do?), it’s because the female protagonist, Buttercup, is seemingly incapable of doing anything on her own. 

Topics: Film, Judaism
Tyra Banks

America's Next Top Sell-out

Tyra Banks. What comes to mind when you hear that name? For you, maybe a middle-aged woman who has been riding a franchise for too long. However, what comes to mind for me is a strong, African American woman who has had a wildly successful career, first as a model, and more recently as one of the creators and judges on the TV show, America’s Next Top Model. ANTM originally was intended to humanize the modeling career, however, as of recent, it has done nothing but the polar opposite.

A Red Rose

My Beef with the Bachelor

This winter, Ben Higgins graced our TV screens once again in his search for love on ABC’s hit reality show, The Bachelor. As an avid (yet ashamed) Bachelor viewer, I’ve been thinking about everything wrong with this show. From the degrading one-sided relationships, to what is expected of the women on the painfully cheesy dates, there are so many things wrong with this show; and don’t even get me started with the lack of diversity! 

Topics: Television
"Girlfriends" Movie Poster

Letting go of Woody Allen with the help of Claudia Weill

Woody Allen’s name is synonymous with New York City Jewry and avant-garde art; he is the poster boy for the guilt ridden, philosophically burdened, emotionally stunted kvetcher that we are all familiar with. Allen’s characters are recognizable—carrying pieces of our relatives, our community members, and ourselves. Annie Hall, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Manhattan, and Fading Gigolo, to name a few, place a strong emphasis on Jewish culture and idiosyncrasies, connecting to both a broad, general audience, that responds to the novelty, and to the specific tastes of Jews.

Topics: Directors, Film
Pride and Prejudice, 2005 Film

Elizabeth Bennet, Feminist Killjoy

I became a full-blooded Janeite when I read Emma as a twelve year old, shortly followed by Austen’s classic, Pride and Prejudice, a few months later. I was captivated by a world of lavish parties, grand estates, and husband-material men who make five thousand a year

Jennifer Lawrence in "Joy"

The ‘Miracle Mop’ Can’t Wring Out Dated Stereotypes

Joy is a cute movie, to say the most. Jennifer Lawrence’s character, Joy Mangano, is a housewife who strives to become a businesswoman despite the men in her life advising her against it. On the surface, this is a powerful story about  a woman coming into her own; a working class woman in the late 80s who moves beyond her meager station in life to make a name for herself. 

Alix Kates Shulman

An Interview with Alix Kates Shulman

In 1972, founding second-wave feminist Alix Kates Shulman published her bestselling debut novel, Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen. Following a young midwestern Jewish woman named Sasha Davis, Prom Queen bears witness to the exhausting, invasive, and often violent experience of becoming a woman, and is widely identified as the first important novel to emerge from the Women's Liberation Movement.

Topics: Writing
Scene from Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" Cropped

Hail Caesar! - A Movie (Obviously) by White Men

I wrote my most important college admissions essay about The Big Lebowski. This is probably less indicative of my commitment to higher education, and more indicative of my unabashed love of the unstoppable film duo that is The Coen Brothers. 

Topics: Film
Barbra Streisand in What's Up, Doc?

Unlearning Silence in What’s Up, Doc?

For all that I am the outspoken, proud nerd in my school life, for all that I try to speak up for my views and ask questions in academic settings, for all that I am confidently liberal in conservative settings— I am distinctly self-conscious about all of it. 

Topics: Feminism, Comedy, Film
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The Feminist Force Awakens

On December 17, I joined millions of people around the world in a line. Now this was no ordinary line. In front of me stood Chewbacca, and behind me several Stormtroopers waited patiently. This was the line to see the latest and possibly greatest movie in the Star Wars saga, The Force Awakens. That evening, I joined fans both young and old in delighting in the marvels of another world. I lost myself in the journey of Rey and Finn, cheering for their victories and crying at their defeats.

The White House

Why I Fell in Love with The West Wing

The West Wing is, in my opinion, one of the greatest TV shows of all time. It’s the perfect balance of seriousness and comedy, with enough storylines to keep you interested but not too many to get confused. It’s intellectual, but totally engaging. The characters are witty and lovable. I could go on about my love of The West Wing for hours. And I wouldn’t be done.

"Legally Blonde" Movie Poster

Is Elle Woods a Feminist?

Elle Woods was one of my favorite heroines growing up, and I was not only in love with her sparkly outfits, but also with her fiery personality. It had been a couple years since I had watched the movie, but I caught myself thinking about Elle’s story as I walked around Harvard Square with my friend a few weeks ago. So, I decided to watch Legally Blonde again. 

Topics: Feminism, Film, Law
Lynne Avadenka in Yeshiva University Museum

Will You Hear My Voice: Artist Lynne Avadenka Revisits Rahel

I first heard the lyrics of Zemer Nugeh, a poem by seminal pre-state Israeli poet Rahel, as a 14-year-old at summer camp in the early 90’s. I had no experience with heartbreak or loss, and yet the haunting words affected me. I’d spend the evenings walking through open green fields, kicking up dust at sweaty folk dancing sessions, feeling inspired by nature and Hebrew culture and pining for the summer when I’d get to spend six weeks in Israel.

Topics: Art
The Genderqueer Pride Flag

We’re Not In Oxford Anymore

I am one of the biggest grammar freaks that I know. I proudly count myself as a “soldier of the subjunctive,” and I find cartoons about comma placement to be hilarious-- so it may come as a surprise that I was excited when The American Dialect Society voted an ”incorrect” use of English to be the defining word of 2015. The word in question? The singular “they.” 

A Sampling of Netflix's Stand-up Comedy Offerings

Netflix and No-Chill?

I am the funniest person I know. Out of all of the aspects of my identity, my sense of humor is probably my favorite. I say my jokes loudly; I laugh at the things I say even if nobody else does. Shari Short asserts in her article, "Jewish Funny", that humor is a common ground for Jews. Self-deprecation and sprinklings of Yiddish go a long way when identifying fellow members of the Tribe by jokes alone. 

Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer

The Broads are Back

That’s right. The much anticipated third season of Broad City is finally here! YAS KWEEN! After a hiatus which ardent fans like myself would classify as an eternity, Abbi and Ilana have at long last returned with their shenanigans, their pot, their feminism, and, as we learn from season three’s opening sequence, their multi-faceted bathroom use.  

Miss America Pageant, 2014

Pageant Problems

Bess Myerson, the one and only Jewish Miss America, was crowned winner in 1945. Jordyn Rozensky’s 2013 JWA blog post, Here She Comes….Miss America, discusses the influence Myerson had on America and on the Jewish community following her big win. Myerson was the first Jewish woman to win the pageant, and she experienced significant antisemitism as a result. Despite these challenges, Myerson channeled her fame into doing good—she became active with the Anti-Defamation League and launched a successful political career. 

Judy Batalion

An Interview with "White Walls" Author Judy Batalion

A scholar, writer, and comedian, Judy Batalion has a knack for finding the humor in family. As the daughter and granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, Batalion grew up in Montreal with her parents, a younger brother, and a house that was overflowing and chaotic with the results of her mother’s aggressive collecting. With insight and kindness, Batalion's book traces her messy origins, the complicated relationship between being a daughter and mother, and how to live with humor and authenticity in the world, and within our families.

United Synagogue Youth (USY) Convention

Where Have All the Boys Gone?

As soon as anyone tries to say that feminism is about women’s rights alone, someone pops up and points out that it’s a movement about equality.  But if that person then turns around and says that men are inherently sexist or that men cannot be victims of sexism, they contradict themselves.  Sexism towards men is real. It’s a parent telling their son, “big boys don’t cry.”  It’s a boy feeling unable to ask for help because he’s afraid of being perceived as weak. 

B'nai Jacob Synagogue

Come, Join Us

I remember my excitement upon hearing about Yeshivat Maharat’s  ordination of women. As a supporter of female Jewish leadership in all of its forms, I was thrilled at the idea. Evidently, Jessica Cavanagh-Melhado, a contributor to JWA’s blog, felt the same way. In June 2013, she wrote a piece entitled, We Begin to Become a Multitude. In the piece, she describes her experience attending the first ever ordination of women as open Orthodox female spiritual leaders. 

Women Voting in 1936

What Really Counts

As we enter an election cycle that promises to be intense and potentially groundbreaking, the Jewish Women’s Archive is looking to collect your stories about elections. Some possible topics you might explore include:

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Blog." (Viewed on May 29, 2016) <http://jwa.org/blog>.

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"I don’t need a hero. I have the generations of feminists who came before me to thank for that..."https://t.co/Gnbl84R11N
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"If the tables were turned and Donald Trump worked for his daughter, he would have been fired long, long ago.” https://t.co/Yy8NzuRCGJ
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After decades of waiting—and months of lobbying—female air force pilots of WWII will finally get their hero's burial https://t.co/4hbgB0Prey