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May 21 2014

I’m Looking Forward to Finally Leaning Out

By at 11:02 am

leaning-out-uhaul

Eight years ago, I left my job as an elementary school teacher in Boston to move to Philadelphia where my boyfriend lived. I could barely get the words out of my mouth when people asked me why I was moving, sure that someone was going to come around the corner and revoke my feminist card if I admitted that I was moving, without a job lined up, for my boyfriend who I’d known for less than a year.

I did it anyway, I survived, and it got easier the more times I told people. While driving the U-Haul from Boston to Philly, I was offered a job in Philly in Jewish communal service, which I accepted, and I began my new life in a new city. I even used my anecdote about moving under unknown circumstances to counsel many young professionals through some scary life decisions. Fast forward a bit, and my boyfriend and I got married, had one kid, then had another kid, and it stopped seeming so crazy that I had left Boston “for a guy.”

This month, I have once again made the decision to leave my job because it’s the right thing for my life rather than the right thing for my career. As anyone who’s worked in Jewish communal service knows, this sector isn’t known for its work/life balance or generous compensation. Instead, we do it because we care, and what we give up in free time or money, we gain in nachas by giving back to our people. Unfortunately, nachas can’t put the kids to bed at night while I’m out creating positive Jewish experiences for my childless peers. Read the rest of this entry →

May 14 2014

Why I’m a Die-Hard Feminist Who Loves to be Domestic

By at 10:20 am

feminist-muffins

I’m a feminist. A hard-core, there-is-no-inherent-gender kind of feminist. A Judith Butler-reading, Gloria Steinem-worshipping, Ms. Magazine-subscribing feminist. Heck, I don’t just read them, I write for feminist publications.

I also work part-time from home, bake challah every week, and teach my kids to use a sewing machine. (That last one, that’s really just Benjamin, whose vast stuffed animal family needs a lot of outfits and pillows.) Last weekend, I whipped up a purse out of a pair of old jeans while homemade vegetable stock bubbled away in my Crockpot. Sometimes we make our own pasta.

I’m like Caroline Ingalls in yoga capris, except with boughten underwear and indoor plumbing. Read the rest of this entry →

May 13 2014

Why Do So Many Moms Regret Having Kids?

By at 11:45 am

moms-regret-kids

A lot of the time that I read Jezebel, the preeminent feminist blog of our time, I find myself nodding along in agreement with its stances of equality, feminism, and personal choice, as well as its clever takes on pop culture (even if it’s a tad too snarky at times for my own taste). Jezebel generally offers commentary that I both recognize and learn from.

And then sometimes, I read something and feel so extraordinarily distant from the prevalent sentiment being shared that it’s difficult for me to wrap my head around this alternate world. In honor of Mother’s Day, the website posted an article on the moms who express remorse over having children on the social network Whisper, a clearinghouse of anonymous confessions that range from the hilarious to the horrible. Some of these “momfessions” are understandable, if tinged with a little sadness: “I’m a mom, but I obsess over my old life. I just miss it so much”; “My daughter ruined my body;” and “I truly love my kids, but I’m starting to regret having them so young.” Others bordered on humorous: “I read my daughter’s tweets, she doesn’t know. She seems like a real asshole.” But some were just plain appalling, like this one: “I hate my son. I didn’t want a boy. I wanted a girl.”

But what really struck me was the comments section, at last count nearing 1,500, and which did vary but mostly stuck to one theme: “Honestly, most parents I know IRL, say this stuff to me all the time. That they love their kids, but if they could take it back….When we tell them we don’t want kids, they say, ‘Good… DON’T DO IT!’” and, “I didn’t want kids when I got married 32 years ago. Now, I’m really happy to say I didn’t give in to the societal pressures that still existed then. So many of my friends whispered ‘You were right’ after their kids were born.’” And this: “I rarely hear anyone say anything positive about parenting.” Read the rest of this entry →

The Tireless Jewish Feminist Who Opposed Women’s Suffrage

By at 9:45 am

meyer-jwa

Meet an energetic and thoughtful woman who opposed the suffragist movement: she’s the tireless writer, advocate, activist, fundraiser, author, playwright, and art critic who founded Barnard College, New York City’s first liberal arts college for women. Historian Myrna Goldenberg tells her story:

Annie Nathan Meyer, born in 1867 and a descendent of Gershom Mendes Seixas, a Jewish Revolutionary War patriot, received less than six months of formal schooling. She educated herself, later boasting she had read all of Charles Dickens by age 7. As a young woman, she enrolled in the newly established Columbia College Collegiate Course for Women. In 1888, Annie begin her campaign to build Barnard with a passionate 2,500-word letter to The Nation, arguing that New York could make no real claim to culture without a women’s liberal arts college. What started as a seven-year plan, she accomplished in two.

Along the way, she developed a “separate spheres” ideology about women’s roles: she did not believe the suffragists’ claims that social and political change would ensue when women could vote and opposed their pacifism, and she wrote extensively about her views. Turns out she was also intensely jealous of her sister, Maud, a progressive activist and well-known suffragist. However, after the 19th Amendment passed, she joined the League of Women Voters. Read the rest of this entry →

May 8 2014

The Jewish Nobel Prize Winner With a Crater Named After Her

By at 9:54 am

gerty-biochemist

How many women do you know who have a crater named after them? Now, at least one: Gerty Theresa Cori. And planetary study wasn’t even what made her a scientific star.

In 1947, Cori became the first American woman–the third woman ever–to win the Nobel Prize. She and her husband Carl received it together in recognition for their life’s work on carbohydrate metabolism, specifically for “their discovery of the course of the catalytic conversion of glycogen,” which expanded understanding of how muscles make and store energy and the role of enzymes, with implications for the treatment of diabetes, among other diseases.

What’s particularly amazing is that she did all this while marginalized, for most of her career, in junior research positions at a small fraction of her husband’s salary. Gerty and Carl worked so closely together that he turned down prestigious positions at universities which would not support their collaborations; even so, she only rose to full professorship shortly before receiving the Nobel Prize.  Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 14 2013

10 Ways to Add Some Girl Power to Your Seder

By at 5:03 pm

orange for the seder plateWhether you weave in one, a few, or all 10 of these tips, consider honoring the matriarchal roots of Judaism this Passover with a little girl power fun at your seder this year.

1. Add an Orange & Coffee Bean to Your Seder Plate

The Orange: The orange represents both inclusion and solidarity with women and the LGBT community. The new tradition was started by Professor Susannah Heschel, who was inspired by women at Oberlin College in 1984 who made space on their seder plate to represent all who were not explicitly present in the Passover story. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 28 2013

What Kids’ Cartoons Teach About Intermarriage

By at 9:48 am

Elana Gartner’s piece about “adjusting” the fairy tales she tells her son and daughter reminded me of how my poor children are forced to bear the brunt of my Master’s in Media Analysis every time they watch a movie or television show.

Most recently, my 13-year-old son and I discussed how in Les Miserables, the noble revolutionaries who only care about the plight of the poor set up their barricade and destroy the poor people’s (whom they care so much about) neighborhood. Then, while said poor people are literally on their knees cleaning up the mess, the only revolutionary left goes back to his rich grandfather’s house and proceeds to celebrate his lavish wedding without a moment of irony or even self-awareness. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 20 2012

The Power of Women–In Newtown & Beyond

By at 1:30 pm

female teacher and studentDo you ever read something online and get really mad, almost to the point of fury? That’s how I felt when I read a piece posted on Facebook by friends from the National Review Online which alleged that the Newtown massacre was so terrible because there were no men around to stop it.

No, really. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 5 2012

Waxing Eloquent

By at 11:02 am

I don’t care if you shave or wax your legs or armpits or you don’t – but please, don’t tell me I’m less of a feminist because I do.

Maybe it’s because it’s summer, but my fellow Kveller editors seem to be waxing eloquent (ha!) as to the status of their hairy parts. Carla got waxed for the first time and hated it. Mayim disclosed that she not only has never waxed, but she also has never shaved her legs or armpits. I’m not sure why I needed to know either of these things, but hey, now I do! I found the discussion benignly entertaining.

Until, oh, Mayim, you had to go here:

And I have had plenty of women tell me that their feminism is about choosing: whether or not to wear spike heels and push-up bras and bikinis, and whether or not to shave or not shave. Well, as a second-wave feminist (think Hilary Rodham Clinton rather than Gwen Stefani feminism), I respectfully disagree. Feminism, to me, is about leveling the field, creating realistic and respectful expectations for all genders, and allowing the natural abilities and properties of all people to be accepted, appreciated, and treasured.

Mayim, you know I adore you, but it’s not really “respectfully disagreeing” when you say that feminism isn’t about choosing, and when you imply that creating respectful expectations for all genders somehow necessarily entails choosing to keep leg and armpit hair unshaven.

Let me reiterate: I really don’t care what you, or anyone for that matter, do or does with your hair, “down there” or anywhere else. It’s up to you, because it is YOUR HAIR.

Mayim made the argument that we should keep our own body hair so as to convey acceptance of it. I think that’s not necessary. As a general rule, I’d much rather tell my kids, if they comment with regard to anything, “Why is so-and-so doing X, Y or Z?”, simply that “Different people make different choices, and that’s fine.” I’m not going to dictate what my kids find attractive or not, because I can’t. They will come to their own conclusions, and that’s fine, because attractiveness is really pretty personal. In other words, let’s model acceptance of different standards of appearance and beauty – not judge people based on the state of their body hair.

Mayim doesn’t want other people to judge her because of hair on her legs or armpits. Well, similarly, I don’t want people to judge me. I don’t want people to make assumptions about my ideology/card-carrying feminism – and certainly not based on whether or not my legs or armpits are shaved or waxed.

People are far more complex than the state of their body hair, whether by their vaginas (listen, if we can’t say vaginas on Kveller, I quit) or their ankles. I don’t like judging people based on what shoes they wear, so I’m going to try not to judge them on whether or not they use a razor.

Tell you what: I won’t judge you on your hair – don’t judge me on (my lack of) mine.

Jun 19 2012

Are Stay-at-Home Moms Really Killing Feminism?

By at 1:39 pm

rich mom pushing expensive strollerBeing a “real feminist” is apparently when you write an article for a national publication deliberately denigrating other women, and get paid to do so.

That was what I learned from reading Elizabeth Wurtzel’s essay in The Atlantic, “1% Wives Are Helping Kill Feminism And Make The War On Women Possible.” The essay is fairly mean-spirited. Here, for example, is the first paragraph:

Read the rest of this entry →

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