The Rising Voices Fellowship is open to female-identified teens with a passion for writing, a demonstrated concern for current and historic events, and a strong interest in Judaism—particularly as it relates to issues of gender and social justice. Learn more or apply for 2017-2018!
The Rising Voices Fellowship is funded in part by a grant from the Hadassah Foundation.
I was a sophomore when I first stumbled across Easy A on my Netflix browser one lonely Friday night. The green poster, exclaiming in bold lettering, “Let’s Not and Say We Did,” was the first thing to pop up under the “Top Picks For Hannah” banner. It instantly grabbed my attention. Intrigued, I clicked play.
Her struggles are relatable, and her story is compelling, giving hope that we too can break free from the patriarchy. By talking about her life with such brutal honesty, Liz Gilbert provides a cautionary tale for women about what happens when we define ourselves by our relationships with men.
Throughout The Odyssey, Penelope, Odysseus' wife, is characterized as constant, virtuous, and patient. She’s seen as the epitome of faithful wifeliness for her refusal to marry a suitor and for her belief that Odysseus will return. Her character is two-dimensional and, for the most part, irrelevant to Odysseus' escapades.
It’s late Monday evening. I’m snuggled up on the couch in my living room, popcorn rapidly flying into my mouth. My eyes are glued to the TV screen in front of me. I can’t look away from the scene of a handful of girls and one guy bouncing around the beach on some exotic island. It’s Bachelor time.
Even though the series successfully portrays many failures of prisons, the show occasionally misrepresents the hardships people face. OITNB may have its viewers talking about feminism, LGBTQ+ rights, and so much more, but the series needs some work when it comes to elevating the voices of less privileged women and portraying the abuse they face.
Despite my positive feelings about them, I was disappointed that Tina and Queenie didn’t acknowledge their Jewishness, that the movie left this part of their identity ambiguous. Sometimes it’s fun as a Jewish viewer to get winks that fictional characters may be members of the tribe. The hints of Judaism in Fantastic Beasts, like Tina’s middle name being Esther and a glimpse of a challah, made me smile. But since having two Jewish women starring in such a global, mainstream fantasy film would be monumental, I wished that Tina and Queenie had claimed their heritage proudly like I do.
This show isn’t something you can find on most American TV, or on TV, period. I normally have to unplug my feminist brain when I settle down to consume media. Otherwise there’s just too much to get angry over: the one-dimensional female characters, the unrealistic beauty standards, the male gaze of it all. But when Netflix gently pushed me towards Miss Fisher last year, I found that I didn’t have to be upset all the time.
From an early age, I learned that diversity in mainstream media was seriously lacking. I grew up in an era when mainstream media was mostly dominated by white, heterosexual people. One example of this is the Disney princesses
That Scottish Shakespearian tragedy, so shrouded in mystery that it is unlucky even to say its name, gave society new ideas about women that have stayed with us since 1606, when the play debuted in London.
When someone says “doctor,” the first person that pops into my head is Meredith Grey. Yes, she may be a fictional doctor, but she’s the first doctor who inspired me to look into medicine as a possible career choice.
There’s nothing wrong with making a lot of money. Honestly, I admire Jenner and her family for building up their empire from scratch, and becoming a modern-day royal family. And, as Kylie is only about two years older than me, I can only dream of what it would be like to be so successful at such a young age. However, I think what shows a lot about a person’s character is how they use their money.
Although I knew I was a feminist long before I had the words to describe it, I try not to judge women who don't feel the same way. However, I take issue with Kardashian West's declaration because we seem to share similar views on women's rights, yet she shies away from the “feminist” label.
Moderate Republican Senator Pat Toomey is one of those silent guys, especially on gun control. Officially, Toomey is “a champion of the Second Amendment” but still believes we “should take common sense steps to protect the American people from gun violence.” That all sounds good to me—I’m not trying to take away anyone’s constitutional rights either, but gun violence is bad and we should work on stopping it.
Every once in a while the topic of public breastfeeding sparks a heated debate in the media. Whether it’s a nursing mother being asked to leave a public place, or a nurse-in being staged, controversy ensues as many express their varying opinions on the topic. I’m a seventeen-year-old girl who is not a mother (nor would I like to be anytime soon), but the controversy surrounding public breastfeeding completely baffles me.
One of my biggest problems with Christie has to do with his education policies. As governor, Christie has brought many changes to the New Jersey education system. Overall, his policies tend to benefit families that send their children to private, parochial, or charter schools, and to take money away from districts that need more school supplies, classrooms, and teachers.
It was on Tumblr that I first encountered the idea that all sexual activity is oppressive to women. It was phrased more like, “PIV (penis in vagina) IS RAPE!” but the main point seemed to be that women can’t be independent or free if they engage in sex with men.
It’s fair to say that Tomi Lahren and I disagree on almost everything. She is a conservative political commentator who uses her show, Tomi, to criticize the Affordable Care Act, gun control legislation, the Black Lives Matter movement, President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and anyone else who happens to catch her attention for acting too much like a “snowflake” (more on that in a moment).
I’ve realized that the show’s one-dimensional view of identity is objectifying. Segments on the show include “How to Hide Your Tummy,” or “How to Create Curves.” At one point I heard those things and thought they were trying to be helpful. At second glance, these “how tos” project a single image of beauty, an image of beauty that has a big bust and a tight tummy.
A “white feminist” is a feminist who doesn’t acknowledge that the life experiences of white people are different from those of people of color, and therefore doesn’t practice what is called “intersectional feminism.” Dunham doesn’t acknowledge the fact that even though she’s part of an oppressed group as a woman, she still benefits from white privilege, and that isn’t inconsequential.
“Torah Judaism does not support abortion, Torah Judaism does not support same-sex marriage,” right-wing pundit Ben Shapiro explained with a confident smirk to a cheering audience of Yeshiva University students. I expect it’s a lot easier to blindly subscribe to one binary view on what is seen as one of the most enigmatic documents in existence, rather than to actively engage with this foundational text, and question its claims.
I understand where Chuck Schumer’s public stance comes from. He and his supporters are afraid of the “anti-Israel bias” at the UN, and they believe that anything passed by the organization is inherently anti-Zionist. Sadly, Senator Schumer and many other Jews have a misconstrued notion of what it means to be pro-Israel.
Betsy DeVos and I are about as close to enemies as two advocates for children could be, and about as different as two white Midwestern women have ever been. We both believe in the power of education, but we see the purpose of education very differently.
For the longest time, mirrors were my sworn enemy. Dressing rooms were the battlegrounds of a war between comfort and confidence, and my body was caught in the middle of it. On some days, every curve I had was subject to thorough self-scrutiny. Stomachs had to be sucked in, and spandex was a girl’s best friend.
The recent presidential election proved that women haven't broken the highest glass ceiling just yet. For centuries, however, women have been breaking barriers and surmounting obstacles. In one of the first recorded cases, five revolutionary biblical women, Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah, were the first females to inherit land from their father, Zelophehad.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Rising Voices." (Viewed on March 29, 2017) <https://jwa.org/blog/risingvoices>.