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Nov 15 2011

Too Busy For Book Club: Jewish Women on the Back of the Bus

By at 11:49 am

Orthodox women waiting for bus in brooklynHello Kvellersphere,

There have been several articles over the past few weeks about bus lines that serve Orthodox areas in New York coming under fire for allowing the community to force women to the back of the bus, so the men and women can sit separately.  These buses are run by private companies, but they receive public funding and are considered public buses. Here’s one article from The Post, and another from The Forward.

Recently I also saw an article in the LA Times about a similar situation in Israel, tied to much bigger issues on the state of feminism in the Jewish State.

I would love to know what you think.

And I would really appreciate some different perspectives here, as well as someone who can explain something to me: I see Orthodox Jews riding the New York City subway all the time, and I can’t think of a more tightly packed sardine can humanity than a subway car. So if they can ride the subway, why do they need to curtain off the bus home?

In this New York Times article, a legal expert argues that forcing women to the back of the bus is a violation of civil liberties. But a religious expert argues that blocking these communities from public transportation is a violation of their rights.

If you were riding one of these buses, in Israel, or in the United States, what would you do?

Read up on why we started Too Busy For Book Club.

Nov 8 2011

2Busy4BC: Husbands of Sucessful Women

By at 11:30 am

The new CEO of IBM, Virginia (Ginni) Rometty. Her husband is being lauded as a hero for being so supportive.

Today on Too Busy For Book Club (also known as 2Busy4BC when you’re too busy to write) we’re talking about this article.

Dearest Kvellerati,

Remember the old saying “behind every successful man is a woman.” Do you imagine it being said by some back-slappy asshole in condescending fashion? I do. But what about when the roles are reversed and the man is the one in the background?

IBM recently named Virginia (Ginni) Rometty as the first female CEO in the company’s 100-year history. The Times did a piece on her husband saying his career took a backseat to hers and lauding him for it.

A few things struck me about this article:

1)   There’s a double standard that when a man quits his job to stay home with the children, or puts his career on the back burner for his spouse, it must be because he couldn’t be very successful.

2)   Women do this all the time – quit their jobs, or slow their careers down for husbands, for children, to care for aging parents – and nobody throws them a parade or writes an article about their sacrifice.

3)   There’s a line where Ginni Rometty talks about how she wasn’t sure she should take a job because she didn’t feel ready. Her husband said “a man would never say that.” I love stories like that, that remind women not to apologize upfront, to just go in and take it. Hell yeah.

4)   The article talks about how most CEOs are married and many have spouses who have put their careers on the back burner. I’m wondering, in a relationship/family, can both people be hyper-ambitious in their careers at the same time, particularly if they are parents?

So, Kvellerites, I’d love to know what you think. Anything about this article chap your ass? Ring true? Irritate? Enlighten?

Nov 1 2011

Too Busy For Book Club: Unplugging Our Children

By at 2:49 pm

Finally, Too Busy For Book Club is here! Read a note from Dawn Siff about our new club. Every week, in this space, we’ll find a topic relevant to you. And we want to hear your thoughts.

There’s been a lot in the news recently about screen-time and children. First the American Academy of Pediatrics urged parents to turn off the TV, especially for children under 2. And then, a New York Times article noted that “screen time” for children is higher than ever before.

What do I think about all this?

I use the TV to distract my 11-month-old son, Zeke, so I can cut his nails. Another friend watches the “baby sign” videos with her 15-month-old and he really signs a lot of things, so how could it have “no benefit?” I think we probably aren’t the group that pediatricians are concerned about. But what I did find interesting is the point about TV as background noise and in houses where it’s on all day, you are not talking as much, obviously crucial with an “under-2” in the house.

The second article, I think, should be more troubling to my demographic: educated, upwardly mobile ivy league types who, to borrow a phrase made up by my advertising friend, have a very high SSQ (self satisfied quotient). Oh, we all think we’re such model parents because our children don’t watch television (God forbid!) but we are tapping away on the iPad and so are they.

I try to keep my iPhone away from Zeke, I don’t show him the screen, and we have dodged grandparent requests for Skype appointments (come visit instead), but he sees me on the computer throughout the day. He sees me tapping away on the iPhone, and let’s be honest: I’m doing it while I’m feeding him, while I’m pushing him in the swing, while I’m walking him down the street. When he was a new-newborn, I used to check my email while nursing. My husband said to me once, “On some level he knows you’re not paying him full attention.” It’s true. And children model our behavior, so what am I teaching him by tap, tapping away when I should be living life?

Your turn. Plug in and weigh in!

Too Busy for Book Club, New on Kveller

By at 2:16 pm

I don’t know about you, but we used to read books. That was before the babies, of course. But we liked reading books and enjoyed the shared of experience of reading something. And talking about it. And that got us thinking. So, we present you Kveller’s newest addition: Too Busy for Book Club. Instead of books, we’ll talk about articles, stuff in the news. In other words, stuff that’s short. We are pleased to introduce Dawn Siff, a kick ass journalist and mom who will be choosing articles each week. And with that, we give you Dawn…

Dearest Kvellerati,

For years I worked in the news biz, now I work in the mom biz. I quit my job in April, a few months after my little boy was born. I realized soon after that, while momming full-time is great – best job in the world… puppies and rainbows etc – I was losing something in my ability to keep up with the outside world.

I remember going on dates back when I was young(er), (more) fabulous and single. If the guy wasn’t terribly interesting my friends and I would say, “He had no bullshit.”

So, traipsing to the park and back, hanging out at the swings with other moms, realizing “Oh I already told them that banal story,” I worried that I was running out of bullshit. I started looking for “talk-about” articles that I could mention to my friends. Occasionally we would send them around and get a good discussion going. I think, this is what book club is for, but who the F has time to read a whole book, right?

So, I give you, “Too Busy for Book Club.” Every week, in this space we’ll find a topic relevant to you, or just interesting and we want to hear your thoughts, feedback, arguments and …well, we want to hear your bullshit!

Dawn Siff


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