Sharrona Pearl is an Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. A historian and theorist of the face and body, her most recent book Face/On: Face Transplants and the Ethics of the Other is forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press. She and Ben have three kids who love navigating the streets of Center City, Philadelphia. She’s really scared right now, but trying to live with #resistance #solidarity #kindness. You can follow her on twitter (or just say hi!) at @sharronapearl
I had to search for it.
It had been so long since I’d even looked at my Magen David necklace. It’s funny that I even had one at all; I’d just never been all that in to the idea of using…these kinds of cultural symbols as decorative. I'm sure I got a chai (the Hebrew word for life, consisting of two letters, chet and yud) necklace or 12 for my bat mitzvah; I’m sure I never wore them. But I did have a Star of David pendant, somewhere. My mother-in-law gave it to me for… >> Read More
So. It turns out that my oldest knows all about reproduction, but she doesn’t actually know the word sex.
Or, at least, she knows one meaning of the word. Not the one you might expect.
About…a month ago, when the Vancouver parents who didn’t give their child a sex designation on the birth certificate had the media in an uproar, I was reading a newspaper article about Storm, the Toronto child whose parents chose not to let anyone know their baby’s sex so that the child could make that choice… >> Read More
This year, for the first time, I blanked. I totally and completely blanked. I couldn’t for the life of me remember the names of all my great grandparents. Which meant that I could properly insert…the full Hebrew names of my grandparents during the Yizkor (memorial) prayer during Shavuot. I couldn’t use the traditional Hebrew formula, naming the person according to his or her parental lineage. For a second, in that totally sacred room, quietly humming with the sacred murmurings of names and the equally sacred sounds of memory, I… >> Read More
We had planned to go on a hike over Memorial Day with some friends. It was optimistic of us: not just because all six of the kids might run in deeply different directions, but because the weather…just hadn’t been cooperating that weekend. Nor did it on the intended day of the hike: science museum it was! As we mounted the rather impressive steps up to the main entrance, I realized we hadn’t been on those steps in quite some , not since we’d stopped there en route to the Women’s March… >> Read More
I admit it. I shirked. I spent yesterday in willful blindness, refusing to look at the details of Trump’s proposed budget. I knew it would be bad. Monstrous, even. I decided, for just a few hours,…to spare myself the details. When I finally looked, what I saw was worse–so much worse–that I had even anticipated. As Kveller editor Sarah Seltzer outlined, under this terrifying vision of the future, so much of what we hold dear (the arts, the humanities, the sciences, support for the elderly, people not dying of cold… >> Read More
A "Rally Against Hate." What a lovely idea. I mean, we all hate hate, right? And it was, in fact, a really lovely event, organized by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia but designed to be…interfaith, bringing together the entire community together to support Jews in the wake of all the bomb threats. Really lovely. And we need to love and be loved right now, to support each other. But I’m not quite sure if we can–or should–love the haters. And in the end, that was a message I had… >> Read More
“Abba, when I grow up and have a baby, I’m going to need a little piece of your penis, OK?”
Having uttered this statement, casually and matter-of-factly, our then two and half year old went…back to what she was doing in shul. She was just staking her claim, making it clear. She wanted to let him know. No big deal. Business as usual. Abba, however, was having a bit of a hard time keeping a straight face. As he was fighting not to burst out laughing, he was also… >> Read More
Well. This is going to be awkward.
That was my first thought when all the prospective parents gathered in the synagogue space during my middle daughter’s visit to kindergarten for next year. We…got the spiel (I’d heard it before, as had many in the room), and then we introduced ourselves. Casually. Conversationally. As though this were just any day in American history, and we were just any group of people. It was not any day in American history. We were not just any group of people. This… >> Read More
Will she go by Ms. Lynne or Mrs. Lynne?
That was my oldest daughter’s first question when I told her that her friend’s parent was transitioning from a man to a woman, and transitioning from…being called Max to being called Lynne. Ms. or Mrs. She wanted to get the naming right. And the pronouns weren’t the confusing part. To be honest, I’d expected that she’d greet the news fairly calmly. She’s got a trans friend from one of her activities (Vera’s a girl who was born with a penis,… >> Read More
When is the writing on the wall?
Today, now, in the United States of America, this is not an idle question. My family, like so many others, has been joking about moving to Canada. And our kids…listen and cheer and imagine that we’ll move back in four years. And we can, easily, since I’m Canadian. Well, easily enough. But we have a strong community, a strong, neighborhood, a strong life here in Philadelphia. And yet. In the United States of America, in 2017, people of color, Muslims, Jews, women, immigrants, trans… >> Read More
First of all: hell yes. It’s absolutely fucking fine to punch an actual Nazi in the actual face if you happen to be a Jew (or a prostitute or gay or black or mentally or physically challenged) and…the year is 1943 and that Nazi is herding you into the ghetto, or lining you up for selection, or shoving you into a cattle car, or marching you to the gas chambers, or raping you, or holding a gun to your head. Or your mother’s. Or your daughter’s. Or if you happen to be… >> Read More
I took a knee yesterday. It wasn’t the result of a coordinated protest, or a detailed plan, or even, frankly, much thought. It was the opening night of the symphony season, and in its honor, the…orchestra played the national anthem. I wasn’t expecting it per se, but when everyone stood, I realized that I was not going to. Instead, I took a knee. I’m not particularly proud of what I did. Which isn’t to say that I’m ashamed of it—I’m not, at all—but I don’t see it as some great… >> Read More
Lice. Just one syllable, a simple little word, that strikes fear in the heart of every parent. Instantly. Are you scratching yet?
As our kids head back to school and we heave a collective sigh of…relief, for some of us, the relaxation is tempered by the fear of that phone call or note from school: Your child has lice. Please remove all eggs and bugs before returning her to class. DON’T PANIC. Seriously. Removing lice is annoying, time-consuming, and often guaranteed to cause tantrums and meltdowns (for the kids, too),… >> Read More
It was only a matter of time. And that time, predictably, was about five seconds. It took about five seconds for the latest iteration of an Anthony Weiner sexting scandal to turn into a referendum on…his working wife, top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. This enormously accomplished women is in the news again: not because of her work as the vice chair of Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign. Not because she was the Deputy Chief of Staff to the U.S. Secretary of State for four years. But because her husband fucked up.… >> Read More
Jetlag. Turns out that my youngest kid gets sustained and very real jet lag. And that was never more clear than at 4:10 a.m. yesterday morning.
We’d just returned from London. It had been the…smoothest long-distance trip we’d taken so far. The kids slept on the flight out there! Entertained themselves on the way back! I read! Watched a movie! And didn’t even have to spend $60 and buy endless packages of scotch tape (though pro tip: scotch tape is MAGIC on a plane ride) to make it happen.… >> Read More
If you’ve been through it as a parent, the words Molluscum Contagiosum strike fear in your heart. If not, you’ve probably never heard of it, and you likely don’t care. Good for you. Enjoy it…while it lasts. It’s coming. Molluscum is a highly contagious (thus: contagiosum), incredibly common, and essentially harmless viral skin infection. It results in round, firm, white-filled bumps. They might be small. They might be a smattering on your kid’s shoulder or chest. They might redden or blacken quickly. They might come and go on your… >> Read More
In our defense, we had no idea. I mean, Roald Dahl. ROALD DAHL. Beloved storyteller and author of our childhoods. The man who gave us the fantasy of sailing away on oceans of chocolate and riding off…into the sunset on the shoulders of a friendly giant. Or to space in a magical elevator. Or anywhere in our imaginations. Roald Dahl. What could possibly go wrong? That was what I was thinking in the library, looking in the kids’ (I emphasize, THE KIDS’) section of audio books. (An aside: Anyone else still… >> Read More
The bris (ritual circumcision) is a ceremony I’ve basically been going to since my own birth. Except not really, of course, because back when I was born, women had a lot longer to stay in the…hospital following delivery, especially in the case of a C-section. In those days, a lot of the brises happened right in the hospital. With a mohel, sure, and as a fully religious/Jewish experience, but much more quietly. Much more privately. In those days, often, women did not have to host 150 of their (and their… >> Read More
I’m not very good at saying no. That isn’t a humble brag: As a feminist and a (sometime) pragmatist, I think women in particular would benefit tremendously from saying no more often.
We are…asked to do more, and the more we are asked to do is often the most low-status stuff. And we say yes more. We shouldn’t, unless it is for things that we really care about, find really interesting, or would benefit us. (There is so much that we care about! So much that is interesting!… >> Read More
None of my kids has ever had a haircut. That’s not an ideological statement, or a religious one. (Or, really, even a true one, to be honest: My littlest guy recently told me that “my hair gets in…my eyes, Imma. Too much.” I gave him a wee trim, and some de-mulleting.) It’s more of an inertial one: both my girls were basically bald for a really, really long time. Like, really long. We never really thought about haircuts, and then one day we woke up and the eldest had all this long,… >> Read More
“It’s just a game.”
That’s what people say, rolling their eyes slightly and turning away, when they hear that I am no longer watching NFL or participating in any of its merchandising or…fantasy pools. “It’s just a game.” Also: “Don’t take yourself so seriously. Just relax.” And, of course: “I’m sure the NFL is just quaking in its boots. Do you really think you can have an impact?” Honestly, on the NFL, no. Not at all. But on the people in my house, on my kids (whose… >> Read More
I wish we didn’t have to take it seriously. I wish it didn’t all sound so familiar. I wish it really was just a joke, a satire, a sideshow act. I wish it didn’t make me very, very scared. Again.…A presidential candidate (and yes, Donald Trump is a real one, despite how it seems) is calling for a ban on all Muslims entering the US. Seriously. A. Ban. On. An. Entire. Religion. I wish that the conversation about banning all people of a given religion (and no—it doesn’t matter which one) stopped immediately after… >> Read More
We had heard rumors about it, whispered behind closed doors and with a tone of skeptical reverence. Some said it was as common as water, others said it was rarer than a sighting of the Loch Ness…monster. Like the myth of the courtier, we had held out hope that we would be among the few lucky ones, that it would happen for us. The Shift. That mythical, magical shifting of bedtime to earlier in the night, facilitated by the end of nap time, or the beginning of kindergarten, or the blessed… >> Read More
The past few mornings, I’ve woken up with the feeling that I’ve forgotten something. I wracked my brain today, trying to figure out what needed to be done. It came to me: packing. I need to pack.…Relieved, I sat up, only to remember that I’m not actually going anywhere. None of us are. Packing?!? Why was I convinced that I needed to immediately start packing? I was so sure that I needed to pack. So very sure. (Weird. So very weird.) When I thought about it a little more, a little… >> Read More
It doesn’t hurt me anymore.
Standing quietly as I prepare for Yizkor, the memorial prayer, I watch most of the synagogue file out (quietly, respectfully—until they pass the invisible barrier…and then, of course, there’s laughter, chatter, and why not?). It doesn’t hurt me anymore. I’m used to it. I’ve been witnessing this peculiar and almost ritualized procession for over 25 years, since I first started ducking out of junior congregation services to join the big shul for Yizkor. I expect it. But I still… >> Read More