Feminist change often requires that women face powerful institutions – from the government to the medical establishment to the synagogue – and challenge their assumptions, expectations, and rules. Some Jewish women have changed these institutions by confronting them from the outside, while others have transformed them from within.
Politics is still considered by many to be a male arena. The women in this section determined that men alone should not control the functioning of society. They advocated for equality and against discrimination, bringing women’s voices and influence into the political sphere.
The medical establishment long held power over women, defining what was considered “normal” and “abnormal” and deciding when and whether women could have access to treatment. The feminists featured here challenged the medical establishment, insisting on their right to information and their authority about matters relating to their own bodies. Women have also brought feminist insights to the practice of medicine, creating new models for health and healing.
What does our culture look like? What do music, history, science, painting, and poetry tell us about society? The feminists in this section have brought women’s issues into American culture, creating space for women and raising attention to gender.
Men have traditionally run the Jewish community. But tradition didn’t stop the feminists featured in this section from challenging the exclusion of Jewish women from public communal life and developing innovations that allow for new and egalitarian expressions of Jewish practice.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Confronting Power." (Viewed on September 27, 2021) <https://jwa.org/feminism/themes/confronting-power>.