Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Thing That Makes Me Nauseous #1: Jewish Femininity Books

Especially: Gila Manolson

...but I've read lots of them, mostly for theoretical papers in graduate school.

It's cool if you want to feel that way about being a woman in Judaism. If you want to feel empowered by a "return to femininity" and being modest, etc.. But really?! Why do we need to tell other women that this is how they ARE instrinsically because they are women and to deny it is to deny some essential piece of themselves.

I remember being in seminary and listening to teachers tell the class the exact sentiment I expressed above. And all I remember thinking is: okay, but what if I don't feel that way? Does that mean there's something wrong with me? Maybe there's something wrong with me...

Society does it enough anyway implicitly. We're made to feel somewhat lacking or weird if we don't want to have a pretty white wedding/go shopping a lot/get manicures and pedicures/have babies. OJ society also does it implicitly in its own special way. So why the need for these overt statements in books?

Just tells us why we should be shomer negiah, religious, etc. (not that I will, but for those who are interested in being convinced), without reverting to gender stereotypes, please!!

And you can say, well OnHerOwn, then don't go reading those books... (Well, I'm a compulsive researcher/reader, I'll read anything that comes into my reach, but that aside) But people that I know will read them regardless and then come spewing that same stuff out at me in arguments. And it really makes me sick. I do want to not believe that OJ is dependant upon gender stereotypes to survive and/or thrive.


chaimsmom said...

I'm glad I'm not alone. As someone who never was a girly girl, I have a huge problem with the stereotypes. Plus, I work in a male dominated field and get along great with my male collegues. I know men and women can work together professionally. If the Orthodox stereotypes were true, none of us would ever get any work done becasue the guys wouldn't be able to control themselves.

elizabeth said...

I feel like I missed something: haven't you been realizing that you don't believe in this stuff?
when I was frum I really believed "that OJ isNOT dependant upon gender stereotypes to survive and/or thrive". I had lots of beliefs about feminism and Judaism.
But I am not frum now (at least in my heart- still married, still in the mikvah , kosher shabbes trap (the religion is the trap, not the marriage;)).
Being not frum opened me up to seeing that maybe I was wrong al along (no kidding, you are saying) : Religion is what it's adherents say it is. I lost. I had twenty thirty friends who believed like me, let us say 10,000 Ortho Jewish women believe in feminism. Heck, let's double whatever JOFA and Kolech membership is (what is it?)
If that only equals one percent of Ortho Jews,and all the others read Manolson, or WORSE, that means there is at least one sense in which
"that OJ is dependant upon gender stereotypes to survive and/or thrive".
Al this to say, why does this bother you? You are not OJ. what is your investment?
I am really truly not trying to be obnoxious.
I am still all over the map myself!
does it bother you to think of friends who are OJ, who might be tricked into thinking it is incompatible with feminism? what if is incompatible?

kisarita said...

Is Gila still writing those same books? I spoke to her way back and got the impression she was poised to embark on a new path in her thinking.

On Her Own said...

Liza --

I DON'T believe in it or follow it, for the most part.

That said, it's still an intrinsic part of my life, whether I like it or not. What I mean: My siblings are OJ, my parents are OJ, my nieces and nephews are OJ, and LOTS of my friends are OJ.

Thus: I hear this stuff all the time. I get it from my sisters, which is what really bothers me. And even more so, I see it being pushed upon my nieces when they don't even have the choice. So that's why it bothers me.

This particular rant was inspired by a note about Ms. Manolson in which I was "tagged" on FB.

Kisarita -- I'm not sure -- everything (including the FB post in which I was tagged, mentioned above) that I've seen Manolson-related has been very gender stereotype-y. But if she's really embarking on a new line of thinking, that's pretty exciting and props to her...