"Not in My Name": From Hatam Soferet, blog of Jen Taylor Friedman, creator of Tefillin Barbie and a Soferet – ritual scribe.
Sometimes people say to Orthodox types, on my behalf:
What do you MEAN a woman can't be a scribe? The Talmud says women, slaves, heretics and so on can't be scribes? How can you say a woman is like a slave or a heretic? That's DISGUSTING!
To which I say:
They're right. My community chooses to say that we should view women as equal to men, and that women should have the same obligations (and hence the same ritual capabilities) as men. Non-egalitarian Orthodoxy does not.
In fact, their choosing to maintain traditional gender roles is probably more in line with existing trends in the secular world—certainly in the USA women's and men's roles are still definitely distinct; look at almost all advertising, as well as expectations re careers, childrearing, care of elderly parents, etc. When a community chooses to maintain gender roles in ritual, it is absolutely reasonable for them to maintain that women do not write sifrei Torah. Challenging this is asking them to alter something pretty fundamental to their culture and way of life—it is asking them to accept an absolutely foreign premise, rather similar to how you would feel if someone insisted you accept Christianity. They are entitled to their view, just as you and I are entitled to ours.
The best thing we can do is build a sustainable, committed Judaism which incorporates egalitarianism into the existing matrix. For that we need mutual respect, self-respect, and self-confidence. We gain authenticity not through others but through ourselves.
Jen Taylor Friedman, creator of Tefillin Barbie, responds to criticism and support for her work on her blog.