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Rising Voices

Learn more about the Rising Voices Fellowship, JWA's thought-leadership program for female-identified teens.

Rising Voices Fellow Rana Bickel with the Pope

Pop(e)ular

Religious leaders aren’t normally considered cool by teenagers, but Pope Francis is most definitely an exception. As a teenager myself, I can say that the Catholic Church was not at all on my radar until he started making waves. 

Carly Fiorina/Hillary Clinton Collage

The Fluidity of the Politician

I live in a town where Bernie Sanders merchandise adorns front yards and backpacks, school clubs like the GTSA (Gay-Trans-Straight Alliance) and Students Against Human Trafficking have the largest followings, introducing yourself with pronouns is required, and discussions on issues like the refugee crisis and racial inequality are held in both the classroom and the cafeteria. It’s a liberal bubble in a world with increasingly pervasive conservatism, and while many members of my town are wonderfully open about acceptance of liberal issues, kids at school are ostracized for identifying as Republican. 

A Translation From One Language To Another

Sharing Our Stories

I grew up bilingual. From a young age, my parents, who are not Israeli, spoke to me in Hebrew because they felt it was an important skill to have. My ability to communicate with people outside of the English-speaking world has always felt like an incredible privilege. Although I love being able to find deeper meaning in the things I say through my dual-vocabulary, it’s the ability to share stories with people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to understand them, and the ability to hear theirs, that I find most important. 

Topics: Activism, Writing
Angela Merkel

Macchiatos with Merkel

This lady is my German RBG (Ruth Bader Ginsburg), and let’s not even discuss what would happen if I were to bump into RBG at a coffee shop. For anyone who might not know, Merkel is the Chancellor of Germany (2005-present), and is the first woman to hold the position. 

Cecile Richards (Cropped)

Care No Matter What

Recently, American women came under attack. And I’m not talking about a dozen women, or even a hundred women. Earlier this year, each and every one of the estimated 160 million women living in the United States of America was threatened by an attack which, had it succeeded, would have set women’s rights back to the early 1900s. 

"True BU" Campaign Image

Marwa Sayed, a Leader in the Community

Marwa Sayed was the first Hijabi I ever met. I was a freshman in high school and she was a junior. A force to be reckoned with, she terrified me. She had strong convictions for equality and justice from which she did not back down. I served on student council with her at Boston University Academy (the high school we both attended) for two years, and during that time she led the charge to abolish the dress code and to establish gender neutral bathrooms. 

Barbie Ferreira

Barbie Revisited

As a teenage girl who has had a consistent, though definitively low key, internet presence since I was 12, I have witnessed the rise and fall of many-a carefully tailored persona. Online venues (Tumblr being the most recent and preeminent, but MySpace before this) provide a space for young people to pick the best bits and pieces of themselves, and to cut and paste them together into some straw man fallacy of a person.

Topics: Feminism
Monica Lewinsky

Monica Lewinsky: From Ruin To Role Model

While we know the most intimate details of the scandal, what most Americans don’t know about (or don’t care about) is the extreme personal harm that Lewinsky endured as a result. 

            

Rising Voices Fellow Gabrielle Cantor in Color Guard (Cropped)

Evolution Revolution

I am a member of the Marching Band and Color Guard at my high school. One challenge that we face as a group year after year is designing our costumes. The easy part is making the design fit with the show’s theme. The harder part is designing something to wear that everyone is happy with. 

Thrift Store Purchases

Feminism: Lab Science Or Liberation?

For the young woman, a thrift store serves as the proverbial laboratory of feminism. The reactants: bits and pieces of people left behind in coat pockets and skirt pleats (the people, hopefully, being solely metaphorical). The product: a newly formed sense of self, or the ability to form said sense of self. 

Woman With Tape Measure

A Tale Of Two Stores

Brandy’s clothes are appealing to girls like me who prefer a simple look. However, there’s one important thing that separates Brandy from the other clothing chains for teenage girls—their one-size policy. Yes, all of Brandy Melville’s clothes are only available in one, miniature, singular size. One size fits most is the company’s complacent statement regarding their sizing. 

Photoshop Logo

Photoshop: A Tool For Body-Shaming

There is not a single part of American culture that infuriates me more then the over-editing of the female body. It’s untrue, unfair, and unjust. You and I should not have to feel badly about what we see in the mirror. It’s not fair, but it’s not going away unless people try to do something about it. 

New York Fashion Week Models

The Art Of Self-Expression

I have always been what some may call a “fashionista.” I have loved fashion since I was a very little girl. Whether it be my all-pink clothing phase, my mortifying obsession with layering neon Sugar Lips tank tops, my love for high side ponytails, or my obnoxiously bright and sparkly Limited-Too wardrobe, I have always used fashion to mirror my inner self. 

Rising Voices Fellow Caroline Kubzansky as a Child

The Elements Of Style

Every single morning, I wake up, shake the fog out of my head, and consider what I am going to wear. Almost every day, my outfit is some version of Doc Martens (or, “Docs”) boots, a white button up shirt, and jeans. I somewhat intentionally do not dress like most of the other girls in my grade. I don’t care about looking similar to them, but I do care about my appearance. 

Shaving Razor

Feminists Can't Shave

The This is What a Feminist Looks Like campaign has inspired discussion and change around the world. The message behind it is that people of all shapes, sizes, races, ethnicities and genders can believe in gender equality. 

"Cruel Culture" by Malcolm Evans

All Dress Is Feminist, No Dress Is Feminist

Recently I found myself bombarded by a series of conflicting articles, all telling women how they should dress. Strangely, for articles that seek to police women’s behavior, each one claims that its dress prescription is the only way women can be respected from a feminist perspective. 

Clothing Hangers on a Rack

The Catwalk Or The Cafeteria?

Imagine it’s the first week of September. In New York City that means two things: school is starting, and midtown Manhattan is filling up with fashionistas and papparazzi; it’s Fashion Week. 

Rising Voices Fellow Rana Bickel Then and Now

Best Dressed Most Stressed

I used to wear tie-dye. A lot of it. I also used to wear awkward length skirts, brightly colored shirts, and sparkly jewelry. It was a middle school phase; everyone is entitled to one. But it was also more than a phase. It was the time before I cared what people thought of me. 

Women Getting Hair Done circa 1960

Does Doing My Hair Make Me A Bad Feminist?

Around the time of my bat mitzvah (the Jewish coming of age ceremony), I started to straighten my hair every Shabbat. Each Friday afternoon, I would rush home from school to make it into the shower with enough time to do my hair before the sun set. Although it was stressful at times, it became something I really enjoyed doing. 

Topics: Feminism, Judaism
Noam Green as a Child

On Gender Expression, Elementary School Fashion Rebellion, And Ill-Fitted Polo Shirts

It is a general truism that in a society which prioritizes one’s physical appearance over one’s personality, dressing outside of the established norm is often a form of social self-ruin. It is also a general truism that the delicate ecosystem of Jewish private school isn’t the place most conducive to experimentation with gender expression through clothing. 

Caroline Kubzansky Holding "Fearless" Sign

Dear Midge Decter

You know the saying: keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Were we to meet, we wouldn’t be enemies exactly, but I doubt that we’d be friends either. While you and I are both female Jewish writers, the similarity stops there. 

Nehama Leibowitz

We Should All Be Feminists

Nehama Leibowitz, one of the greatest Torah scholars of the twentieth century, was often described as a paradoxical woman. She was a pious Jew, and a liberal. She was fiercely intelligent, and nonetheless humble. She was a Torah scholar and teacher of thousands, and she was a woman.

Emma Goldman with Noam Green

My Friend Crush on Emma Goldman

There is a certain type of girl our parents always told us to stay away from when we were younger; she was often described as bad news, or as bound to corrupt our innocent souls. Always getting herself into trouble, she's the type of girl who the adults detest and the kids idolize.

SlutWalk Sign, 2015

Blaming Victims

I have an insane amount of respect for Susan Brownmiller. Trailblazer is truly the word to describe this journalist who became a civil rights and feminist activist. Her book, Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape, legitimately changed the public outlook on rape. 

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Rising Voices." (Viewed on January 21, 2019) <https://jwa.org/blog/risingvoices>.

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