Our Shared Shelf discussion

Intersectional Feminism > Conservative Feminism

Comments Showing 1-50 of 263 (263 new)    post a comment »
« previous 1 3 4 5 6

message 1: by Kressel (new)

Kressel Housman | 436 comments I'm starting this thread because I was told I'd gone too far off topic on the "topless" thread.

My political philosophy is to have a liberal attitude toward others, but to live a conservative life personally. Actually, I live quite a conservative life. I'm a Hasidic Jew.

Most women in my community wouldn't identify themselves as feminists. Now, I think a bit outside the box in comparison to my community, but I do agree with them on many issues, particularly the modest dress code. I find it empowering, and I'll defend that point for all I'm worth.

In Emma's U.N. speech, she expressed disappointment that so many people don't identify as feminists. One of the reasons for that, though not the only one, is that some of us hold conservative values that "mainstream" or 60's-style feminists deplore. I like to think that I can be a conservative feminist, and I would hope there's room for us in this group. I'd also like to know if there are any others in the group like me.

I look forward to hearing from you.

message 2: by Aglaea (new)

Aglaea | 987 comments I'm curious about the "conservative" :)

I think it was on the topless thread that you used this expression for the first time, or at least I haven't seen it before here.

My question is what you personally feel conservative to mean to you, as I know you wondered whether I represent sort of a "mainstream" feminism?

And do you think there are others here, who identify with the same label or sub-group or whatever I should call it?

message 3: by Kressel (new)

Kressel Housman | 436 comments I don't know if there are others here. That's why I started the thread.

I've called you "mainstream" feminist, but I'm not married to the phrase. How would you describe yourself?

message 4: by [deleted user] (last edited Feb 25, 2016 01:00PM) (new)

Now that you've brought up this issue, I hope you allow me to share with you a text about conservatism. Actually, not mine.

Alas, the time is coming when man will no longer give birth to a star. Alas, the time of the most despicable man is coming, he that is no longer able to despise himself. Behold, I show you the last man.
'What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star?' thus asks the last man, and blinks.
The earth has become small, and on it hops the last man, who makes everything small. His race is as ineradicable as the flea; the last man lives longest.
'We have invented happiness,'say the last men, and they blink. They have left the regions where it was hard to live, for one needs warmth. One still loves one's neighbor and rubs against him, for one needs warmth...
One still works, for work is a form of entertainment. But one is careful lest the entertainment be too harrowing. One no longer becomes poor or rich: both require too much exertion. Who still wants to rule? Who obey? Both require too much exertion.
No shepherd and one herd! Everybody wants the same, everybody is the same: whoever feels different goes voluntarily into a madhouse.
'Formerly, all the world was mad,' say the most refined, and they blink...
One has one's little pleasure for the day and one's little pleasure for the night: but one has a regard for health.
'We have invented happiness,' say the last men, and they blink."

message 5: by Kressel (new)

Kressel Housman | 436 comments Elena wrote: "Now that you've brought up this issue, I hope you allow me to share with you a text about conservatism. Actually, not mine.

Alas, the time is coming when man will no longer give birth to a star. A..."

Where is it from?

message 6: by Tim (new)

Tim I find it noble enough to live a conservative life and still be a feminist. However, I don't know if it's a very sustainable way of thinking. I can't think of a lot of historical examples straightaway, but so as I see it, conservative thoughts haven't very often been intended to count for both sexes, and when they did (whether that has been often or not), they always wound up getting lopsided in a way that elevates men and/or degrades women, over a certain course of time (could take some generations, could take less than even one). It's not to say you shouldn't have said thoughts; it's to say you should certainly talk about them with other conservatively living people and make sure they hold onto those thoughts, otherwise they'll just settle for patriarchal values again. That does take a good bit of effort, so I think, but if anything I think it's a worthy thing to put effort into.

message 7: by Kressel (last edited Feb 26, 2016 08:13AM) (new)

Kressel Housman | 436 comments I was wondering last night whether I should have used the phrase "religious feminist," rather than conservative. I think it's a better description.

In any case, "patriarchal" is often the word used to describe the major Western religions, but I personally find more empowerment in adhering to my religion than living in secular culture, which I basically dropped out of in my college years.

Recently, I've been listening to a podcast called "Charles Manson's Hollywood," which is phenomenal. In describing Haight Street of the 60's, film historian Karina Longworth spoke about all the young women who flocked there, expressing their sexual liberation with looser standards of dress and relationships. But what they ended up finding was a microcosm of the same old male-dominated hierarchy. Charles Manson's "Family" was an extreme example of this, but it was portrayed well enough in the movie "Forest Gump." In other words, I don't necessarily believe that the more left-wing, for lack of a better word, approach to feminism didn't necessarily deliver results.

message 8: by Alexis (new)

Alexis Marie | 200 comments I am a "conservative" feminist sometimes too.

message 9: by Bunny (last edited Feb 26, 2016 03:58PM) (new)

Bunny I don't think that being conservative and being feminist are incompatible or at least they don't have to be. However since being conservative means trying to preserve what was good about the past and retain some older ways of doing things you do have to wrestle with the fact that a lot of the past was pretty antifeminist. Then again if we're going to hang on to anything from the past we have to untangle that knot. Whether or not we identify as conservative.

I think religious women have a particularly challenging task because a lot of religions have historically undervalued and excluded women. But there are amazing women trying to work on that from the inside in many religious traditions.

message 10: by Sandy Bergeson (new)

Sandy Bergeson There are amazing religious feminists out there. I have an MA in theology from CTS (Chicago Theological Seminary) and was stunned to see the amazing feminist work being done throughout all of the religious traditions.
I would like to know what your definition of "conservative" is? In the US right now, for example, the conservative right is doing everything in its power to undermine the rights and support of women. If this is how you are defining conservative, then it's difficult (for me) to reconcile the two words...conservative and feminist.
If by "conservative", you are saying that your choices tend to be more modest and religiously based, then that is an entirely different definition all together.
I am just trying to understand...

message 11: by Heather (new)

Heather (heatherinthesky7) | 8 comments I don't personally identify as a conservative feminist, but I absolutely celebrate feminism in all its forms. I live in NYC, surrounded by individuals of all cultures, and I think there is not only space for conservatism in feminism, but that it needs to be celebrated and seen. There is more to feminism that radicalism and allowing that part to be spoken allows feminism to be more appealing and relevant to a wider range of people.

message 12: by Ashwin (new)

Ashwin (ashiot) | 215 comments This is really interesting. Up until now I used to associate feminism with freedom of choice irrespective of the gender. And this freedom for me was more about absolute liberty. But now that you raise this concern, I have started looking at things from a different perspective.

Feminism is about gender equality. But does it say anything about liberty? For instance, in a patriarchal society men have more rights, and according to feminism women should have as many. But what if men themselves do not have adequate rights to live with dignity? Does feminism then only require women to have as many rights as men?

I agree with Tim that conservative life for both genders hasn't worked well historically.

I also agree with Kressel that you do not need to have a licentious lifestyle to be a feminist, after all it is a matter of personal choice. But I will add that just because I choose to live conservatively (or licentiously) I can't force my belief on others.

But coming back to my question, is it just equality that we desire or liberty?

message 13: by Bunny (last edited Feb 27, 2016 10:27AM) (new)

Bunny Ashwin I don't think that feminism is about gender equality in the sense that you are talking about. At least not for me. It's not about measuring who has "the most" rights or freedoms or money or opportunities or whatever else and then somehow enforcing that men don't get more of those things than women. It's not about a competition between genders for the best stuff.

Instead it's about saying that people, all people, should not be restricted to only certain choices or activities because of their gender. So it's not just about how women are limited by narrow gender roles, but how men are too. And genderfluid people too. It's about trying to build a society in which everybody gets a chance to do their best regardless of what kind of genitals they have.

So if a particular patriarchal society limits the rights of all of its members then feminism shouldn't just try to bring the women up to the same low level. Then again I don't think it's entirely a coincidence that many patriarchal societies put a lot of limitations on all, that's kind of how patriarchies tend to work.

message 14: by Katelyn, Our Shared Shelf Moderator (new)

Katelyn (katelynrh) | 836 comments Mod
Very interesting post.

I personally think that as long as you have, as you put it, "a liberal attitude towards others," your personal choices are not necessarily related to your personal identification as a feminist. I guess that's a bit simple, and I think Bunny hit the nail on the head when she talked about how complicated it can be (message 9). But as far as your personal identification, the two are not mutually exclusive, as long as you're willing to forego personal beliefs when considering the larger picture, and are aware that the word "conservative" has negative political connotations for most feminists.

P.S. In the Book Suggestions folder, there are a couple of different book lists coming together about feminism and religion. Last I checked, they looked like there were mostly focusing on Christianity. You should suggest some books related to Judaism if you have any :)

message 15: by Tim (new)

Tim Hey Ashwin, your comment is interesting as ever, but I don't quite understand the distinction you're making between equality and liberty (at least, if you're trying to make a distinction).

After all, liberty cannot exist without equality. Some would argue that equality cannot exist without liberty either, but that's about equality in general in terms of having democratic power, thus not limited to gender equality only, which I presume is what you're referring to. Anyway, I'd personally opt for liberty in any case, as I feel like equality without liberty can give people the delusion that they're actually free. For instance, people were far more likely to acknowledge that they were being oppressed in feudal times, than they are in our current capitalist system. The difference between the two is mainly that we've got rid of the cast system and birthrights to private property (at least in theory), sending the message that all people can be rich (again, at least in theory) and that we have in any case come somewhat closer to equality, when actually, in order for the idea of "rich" to exist, inequality is a necessity.

I think conservatism is inherently authoritarian (and therefore unequal) to one extent or another, with gender inequality often being part of the inequality spectrum, but not necessarily inherent to it. So to put in a more straight forward way, I'll phrase it in the following question: is both genders being equally subordinate really as much more desirable as we'd like? I could be wrong.

Perhaps conservative thought can be without human authority and only be restricted to (given the foundation of this thread) divine authority (i.e. no authority figures, just god(s) and the people) but then I'd have to wonder how long that can be maintained. After all, from a historical point of view, people have almost always been given some elevated status for carrying out the will of said god(s). Priests or rabbis may not hold any official power, but they're certainly viewed higher than others, or so I'd imagine.

This last bit you've just read is pure speculation, so don't quote me on it. I would, however, still be somewhat critical over this notion. If it is achievable to have an equal, conservative society (whether it's preferable to other societies or not), it probably requires lots of critical thought from its participants in order to remain equal in the long run. As Bunny said, it's a particularly difficult task. I would, however, like to add to that that the challenge does not end with the first generation of religious feminists; this challenge is a continuous process that must be maintained, not taken for granted. Such is equality and such is liberty.

message 16: by Sandra (last edited Feb 27, 2016 01:57PM) (new)

Sandra | 269 comments i think, like we've seen on the 'what is feminism?' thread, that there are as many definitions of conservative as there are of feminism. while i've been described as a 'free spirit' (another term that could be defined in many ways), i consider myself conservative in some ways, radical in others, and mainstream in still others. and, in each of these arenas, i can also change my mind, backtrack, move ahead, or remain still. words and their definitions are often completely personal, due to background, worldview, perspective, perceptions, and experience. how one defines oneself will not necessarily mean the same as how the person next in line understands that definition. although i went to a catholic college (i'm not catholic) taught almost exclusively by nuns, i've never met more feminists in a traditional setting than there. (to many people, this college was called femi-nazi) they may have been conservative in their dress, in their religious affiliation, and in their choice of vocation/job, but they poured forth some of the most radical ideas i've ever heard. they encouraged us to think independently, challenged us to be the best we could be, and illuminated our minds so that we would continue to look for our own answers regardless of who might want to crimp our style, so to speak. they were an inspiration to feminists everywhere on how to work independently and self-fulfillingly no matter what the surroundings might be. in the end, i am what i believe myself to be, and my belief capabilities are limitless.

message 17: by S. K. (new)

S. K. Pentecost | 63 comments I carried a sign for the Equal Rights Amendment on my state capitol's lawn when I was five years old. My mother, a member of a conservative Southern Baptist church, made that sign. I was marching with her local chapter of NOW.

Over the years she became even more conservative, religiously, but to this day periodically rails at me and my little sister for not keeping up the good fight to her sign carrying standards.

There is a curious "double-mindedness" that I think is necessary to hold deep religious convictions in modern society. My mom is not the only Southern Baptist or Pentecostal feminist I've known over the years, even though both sects overtly disdain feminism with constantly applied oratory and peer pressure.

Because I was raised in a Southern Baptist trending toward Pentecostal (but not the snake handling kind) household, and because I felt strongly about some incompatibilities between what my mother and what my preachers taught, I have come to mistrust conservative religion's ability to well regulate modern society. I don't think it's impossible to be a modern feminist in a conservatively patriarchal religion, but for me, labeling yourself that way will trigger some automatic negative associations that I will then work hard to overcome... as soon as I notice I'm having them.

I've lurked around some, and read other of your posts, Kressel, you're obviously an articulate and deep thinking person. Socially, I like to practice a puritanical libertarianism: as long as your beliefs and practices don't impinge on the beliefs and practices of me and mine, then more power to you, even unto the point of adding to your power by cooperating with you to accomplish mutual goals. I respect your choice to maintain both religious and feminist convictions, but will freely call you out when I think the religious convictions run the risk of treading on the mainstream(?) feminism I adhere to. I hope you'll let me know when you feel my anti-religion bias is clouding my judgement too much for me to hold up rational conversation on my end.

And after saying all of this, which I stand by, I will admit that I have no knowledge of Hassidic beliefs or practices, and recognize that the religion I was raised with might not be considered conservative when you take into account it's relative young age and reliance on mysticism. I was focusing on the conservative female dress code similarities, and an ingrained assumption (from the King James translation of Hebrew scriptures) that God is a specifically male entity, with a tendency to bestow power unequally upon human males.

message 18: by Heide (last edited Feb 28, 2016 02:45AM) (new)

Heide | 135 comments Do you already know Talia Lakritz? She's got an amazing playlist on her YouTube channel: "Orthodox Feminism and LGBTQ+ Issues" https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list... You should definitely check it out! She shows that feminism and her religion are totally compatible. I believe change that comes from within a community is always more effective than criticism from the outside.

message 19: by Tim (new)

Tim Olina wrote: "Hello Kressel

This is an interesting topic. I do not think that 'conservative feminism' exists since I do not think that feminism has to do with the whole conservative ideology. I mean, conservat..."

Hey Olina, I feel like I should have mentioned this in my earlier comment, and it is directed to everyone, but you helped remind me of it, so thank you for that.

The spectrum that is being created here seems a bit two-dimensional; "liberal feminism" on one side and "conservative feminism" on the other. Now, I take it that Kressel is from the U.S., and I'm aware that things such as "liberalism", "conservatism" and "libertarianism" have different meanings there than in other palces (in my opinion, incorrect meanings, but that's not important). All the while, there is one particular form of feminism that is being left out: anarcha-feminism. As such, I think I should give some explanation for it and let you see how you feel abot it.

Anarcha-feminism is different from liberal feminism in the sense that liberal feminists mainly wish to use a certain power structure as a means of achieving and/or enforcing gender equality, mainly by having more women fulfilling powerful roles, such as in governmental forces and market forces. Anarcha-feminists argue that these power structures are inherently unequal in and of themselves.

Now, I'm not going to give a whole walkthrough as to what anarchism exactly is, given that I've done so on many a thread and I don't want to repeat myself any more than I need to, and also given that you can simply find its basic elements on wikipedia. Also, there is basically no way to give a short version of anarchism, because it isn't a fixed idea; it is merely a consistent scepticism of authority and hierarchical institutions.

Anyway, liberal feminism is, in my opinion very much different. If you've any questions or counter-arguments, feel free to express them.

message 20: by Aglaea (new)

Aglaea | 987 comments I think I'm still confused about these variants within feminism. I really had no idea the definition "the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men" could be interpreted so vastly differently. Why even keep fighting for increased equality, if we can't even agree on a simple definition like this? To me equality is "yes" or "no", not on a sliding scale "more equal" or "less equal" in terms of feminism.

message 21: by Bunny (new)

Bunny We don't need to agree on every detail in order to still have common cause.

message 22: by Kressel (new)

Kressel Housman | 436 comments Wow, I'm so pleased that so many people responded on this thread! Bunny did indeed hit the nail on the head in the multiple meanings of conservatism. I am NOT politically conservative; I'm a Democrat. But that does indeed make me a bit of a rare breed in my own community.

Interesting to read about a devoutly Christian feminist. As I pointed out on another thread, the original Suffragettes in the U.S. were Christian temperance activists.

It was also interesting to see "anarchism" come up. I was a big fan of Emma Goldman at one time. She herself believed that marriage was an oppressive construct, but she had plenty of heartbreak in her own relationships. It seems people never seem to get free of that.

As for Talia, who I do not know, show me a woman who decries the Torah's approach to women, and I'll show you a woman who loves keeping the laws of modesty as an antidote to this hyper-sexualized society. The best book I know on that topic is A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue by Wendy Shalit. Adding it to the list here was one of the first things I did.

And to the person who lives in NYC, I hope to see you at the meet-up this afternoon!

message 23: by Aly (new)

Aly | 37 comments I'm a "conservative" feminist but I do not prettend other people to be "conservatives " with their bodies too. I try to support "liberal" feminist bcs I think that you are the only owner of your body , you are the one who makes the rules and you can dress yourself as you want to, nobody can make you think different.

I feel more comfortable wearing one type of clothes and my body is only mine so i wear those clothes , I don't feel more or less feminist by wearing them.

And also sometimes i feel like wearing tight dresses , or short skirts and I do. Because basically I dress myself and wear makeup or high heels so i can watch my reflection as I walk on the street and smile or walk on the street with large skirts and still smiling bcs I'm comfortable and wearing what i want to wear. And I also smile when I see a confident woman wearing what she wants to wear.

(ok i kind of messed up with words, i reppeted everything like 3 times, sorry for my bad english)

message 24: by Sandra (new)

Sandra | 269 comments Aly wrote: "I'm a "conservative" feminist but I do not prettend other people to be "conservatives " with their bodies too. I try to support "liberal" feminist bcs I think that you are the only owner of your bo..."

may i just say that anyone who posts in a language that is not their native language has nothing to apologize about. i know this because i live in a different country than that of my birth, and struggle at times to speak their language - i also apologize for not being very good at it - but have been told that making such an effort needs no apology. it's a sign of respect that is, in turn, respected.

message 25: by Kressel (new)

Kressel Housman | 436 comments Ditto to that last comment about posting in your second language. My Hebrew is pretty bad, and I'm too lazy to practice, so anyone who can read and write in a language they weren't raised with has my admiration.

I saw that Tim addressed the issue of authoritarianism, so I wanted to address it. Tim has been reading a book I read two years ago called The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. It likens morality to a human tongue on which different taste buds pick up different tastes. Most people like sweets, but some people like it more than others. Some people like hot and spicy food, and others won't touch the stuff. Author Jonathan Haidt identified six moral "tastes," but he himself said these aren't set in stone. I don't remember all of them, but anyway, the ones at hand in a discussion of liberalism and conservatism is care vs. harm and authority vs. subversion. Liberals emphasize that everyone should be cared for, which is why they (I can say "we" in this case) support a strong safety net. Conservatives care about "law and order" and "authority." Religious people are indeed supposed to accept divine authority, and often the authority of religious leaders. But authoritarianism is when religious leaders abuse their power, which, unfortunately, does happen, though it can happen in atheist societies, too, as in communist rule. How to prevent it is a big problem, but my feeling as a religious person is that it's okay to question authority a bit, but not to write it off completely, which has become the general fashion in our post-60's world.

message 26: by Bunny (last edited Feb 28, 2016 08:28PM) (new)

Bunny That does sound like a very interesting book, Kressel. I definitely agree that different personalities can have different innate needs which influence what seems reasonable or desirable to us. Also those different innate characters are then further influenced and shaped by our life experiences.

As an example I knew someone who had experienced a lot of confusion and dislocation as a young person in WW2 Europe and always afterward wanted strong authorities to establish order and keep it because it was very hard for him if things weren't settled and predictable. Then I knew someone else who emerged from the same situation with a powerful need for freedom of action at all times and never to be subjected to authority that would limit or constrain him. Two different people with very different reactions.

I suspect that one of the reasons I am not particularly conservative is that I am not comfortable with authoritarianism. My personality doesn't suit and my life experience has generally reinforced that trait, as I have often experienced authority as unfair or unreasonable. So I tend to be very suspicious of authority and very much of a "prove it," mindset.

message 27: by S. K. (new)

S. K. Pentecost | 63 comments Bunny wrote: "So I tend to be very suspicious of authority and very much of a "prove it," mindset.

That, in my mind, is where religion fails the leadership test most frequently. In matters of faith, the importance of proof is very often marginalized. I come from fundamentalist roots, so "because God said so" was a common frustration to my honest inquiry.

But I am also a casual student of history, and I can think of at least two periods in western culture when established religion, in theocratic states, fostered learning and experimentation. Though in one very famous period, there was always a fine line drawn between faith and too much learning.

Since originally joining this discussion, I have watched one badly pirated National Geographic documentary about Hasidism on youtube. The subject was not addressed in that show, but I have read elsewhere that Judaism continually reinterprets holy scriptures to find how they apply to ever evolving modern life. This is a vastly different experience from how I was raised to relate to holy scripture.

The fundamentalism I was raised in taught a nearly two hundred year old, arbitrary mix of mystical and literal interpretation of scripture, even when doing so raised irreconcilable contradictions. Paul's advice on women's roles in one church, in one city state, a little over two thousand years ago was deemed wholly applicable to women's roles today. My mother attempted to change her church's attitudes toward feminism from the inside for many years, but there was no culture of revision to even wedge a foot in the door.

Does Hasidism reinterpret scripture to fit itself to changing times? If not, how optimistic are you, Kressel, and other Orthodox feminists, of changing your community's views on the role of women in that community?

message 28: by Kressel (new)

Kressel Housman | 436 comments S. K. wrote: "Does Hasidism reinterpret scripture to fit itself to changing times? If not, how optimistic are you, Kressel, and other Orthodox feminists, of changing your community's views on the role of women in that community? "

It's not correct to say that the Ultra-Orthodox are reinterpreting scripture as applying Talmudic law to changing circumstances. For example, when lights were invented, the rabbis of the time had to determine whether or not their use violated the Sabbath or not. (The answer is yes.)

As far as the changing role of women, that varies depending on where you are in Orthodoxy. The modern sects of Orthodoxy are more open to having women carry formal authority, but even amongst the Ultra-Orthodox, where you will NEVER see a woman ordained as a rabbi, there are plenty of powerhouse women around. Most of them end up becoming principals of girls' schools, and many are popular speakers amongst women.

Interestingly, there was recently a civil court ruling in Portland, Oregon where rebbetzins (usually, the wife of a rabbi, but any female leader in Orthodoxy) were recognized as having clergy-client privilege. A woman in the midst of a divorce confided in the two (quite young) women who were hired as rebbetzins of the town. The two young rebbetzin claimed privilege so they would not have to divulge any confidences. The husband's attorney argued that since a rebbetzin doesn't get formally ordained the way a rabbi does, she has no authority and therefore, no privilege of keeping confidences. But the wife's attorney argued that the relationship between these women was entirely like a clerical relationship, and the judge (a woman) agreed. It's really a landmark ruling in the Jewish world, and it's all kind of amazing because one of those two young rebbetzins is my friend's daughter.

message 29: by Aglaea (new)

Aglaea | 987 comments Interesting. I'm curious why the prominent women aren't popular speakers amongst men?

message 30: by Kressel (new)

Kressel Housman | 436 comments Women don't speak in front of men. That's part of the laws of modesty.

message 31: by Ruth (new)

Ruth (missyrs) | 24 comments Hi All,

This is greatly interesting to me too!! You've all got huge amounts of wisdom from varying perspectives - which I not only find helpful but I just love!!

I'm hoping that as I read more connected to feminism through this book club, I'll discover more about it - I feel I know precious little! I think I've just grown up knowing that being female isn't a hinderance in any way. But I know that there are still many areas where this is not true.

In terms of religion and conservative - I think I'm both too in a variety of ways - as a product of my upbringing as well as my faith choices - and just life!

Ultimately I feel that there is great liberty in both faith and equality - without this liberty impinging on the liberty of others - but I think this is true no matter what the issue - I'm very equality focused and seek it in all areas of life.

Kressel this ruling about the rebbetzin is awesome - and very encouraging! That without the 'formal' procedure of ordination these is equal weight to the role - that's fab!! It seems to me like a move forward without upsetting the apple cart - if you see what I mean?!?!

Cheerio just now,


message 32: by Kressel (new)

Kressel Housman | 436 comments Ruth wrote: "Kressel this ruling about the rebbetzin is awesome - and very encouraging! That without the 'formal' procedure of ordination these is equal weight to the role - that's fab!! It seems to me like a move forward without upsetting the apple cart - if you see what I mean?!?!"

The thing is, these two young rebbetzins didn't do what they did for women's rights, or at least, it wasn't their primary reason. Their primary motivation was the religious duty they felt to keep a confidence. They risked being found in contempt of court for it!

message 33: by Ruth (new)

Ruth (missyrs) | 24 comments Kressel wrote: "Ruth wrote: "Kressel this ruling about the rebbetzin is awesome - and very encouraging! That without the 'formal' procedure of ordination these is equal weight to the role - that's fab!! It seems t..."

Wow! That is so good!!! I think a great deal of important battles have been fought because it is the battle that is important - without much (if any) active thought being given to the war!! Kudos to them both!!

It is such works like this (imho) that just show how an equal life and society should be - and that we can only continue to hope will happen again and again!

Ciao. Rx

message 34: by Bunny (new)

Bunny Kressel wrote: "Women don't speak in front of men. That's part of the laws of modesty."

Gender segregation is really uncomfortable for me and I would find it very difficult indeed to live in a community that practiced it. Which is not to say that I demand everyone else feel the way I do. Some of my friends who went to all-girls schools feel that girls do better if they are allowed to work without boys around.

message 35: by Tim (new)

Tim Thank you for noticing the book, Kressel, but I must admit, I've had the book for a year and a half or so, only read about half of it (approx. 200 pages for those who don't know) on and off, over the course of a few months, and I've basically not read it in over half a year since. I will, however, brag and say that I actually managed to make a convincing review about it for my English course last year, when I had only read as much as the first 30 pages and no third party reviews (I have no idea how my teacher bought it, but I'll be cursed if he didn't).

I'll say it's a decent enough book in terms of explaining psychology behind and/or formulating hypotheses of it, but it's one tough read, especially when you pick it up after an extended period of time without reading it, considering all the psychological and neuro-biological phenomenons it refers back to, long after they've been explained and I forgot about them, not to mention all the different names, and all the labels for certain kind of reasoning.

Nowadays, I've several books to read at the moment, so I just find myself not reading any, plus I've one or two ordered books on their way right now. I've borrowed Dracula for the third time in a year and still I'm only at page 300 of about 410... I know, it's sad, but I've only really picked up reading in the late spring of last year.

Thank you for the comment on the book though; reminds me I should pick it up again soon. :)

message 36: by Aglaea (new)

Aglaea | 987 comments Kressel wrote: "Women don't speak in front of men. That's part of the laws of modesty."

Well, that one slammed like a freight train into my consciousness. It isn't often that stuff shock me to the core anymore, but like Bunny said, I was very uncomfortable and still am.

I'd like to understand, though. What is immodest about addressing men as a woman? Is it indecent? Sexual? Offensive? Why would they not want to hear you, your thoughts and hopes and dreams and visions? I imagine it could be a talk on building community together somehow, if a public speech. Are your thoughts not valuable enough to pay attention to? It makes me surprisingly sad to imagine the latter.

message 37: by Bunny (new)

Bunny Having spent some time living adjacent to ultra orthodox communities in Brooklyn and the Catskills I was less surprised because I knew it was a possibility.

message 38: by Kressel (last edited Feb 29, 2016 02:36PM) (new)

Kressel Housman | 436 comments The reason for the prohibition is indeed so that men can keep their thoughts pure. A married man should think only of his wife.

It is also considered dishonorable to a woman to be in front of men in such a context. In a more informal context, however, like at a family Shabbos table, there's no prohibition whatsoever against women speaking up.

However, now that I think about it, Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis speaks to mixed audiences. There may be professors at Yeshiva University who do it, too. Yeshiva University is on the liberal side of the Orthodox world, but Rebbetzin Jungreis tends to be more right-wing. She surely got a rabbi's ruling to do what she does, so perhaps it's permissible in some contexts. I rather hope so because I'm a member of Toastmasters, and I do give speeches to mixed groups, but they're such small groups, they're pretty informal.

message 39: by Michael (new)

Michael (michjarv98) | 7 comments I think it's ok to be Conservative and a feminist. i just feel like you as a women should have rights and the Conservative feminism is ok. having rights for yourself should not automatically scream liberal. I say this as a left wing gay liberal.

message 40: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth | 82 comments The rule about women not speaking in front of men in a religious context doesn't surprise me either. Many Christian churches have this stance. The concept of "modestly" ruffles my feathers, though, especially when it's applied unequally to women and over men. I assume there are must be things men are required to do in Hasidic Judaism in order to avoid stirring up desire in women, because we're it's not like we're immune to lust.

message 41: by Aglaea (new)

Aglaea | 987 comments Elizabeth wondered about how men shield women from unpure thoughts. I'm curious about that part, too, because lust appears in other than men as well.

message 42: by Kressel (last edited Mar 02, 2016 06:14AM) (new)

Kressel Housman | 436 comments Raizel wrote: "Kressel wrote: "The reason for the prohibition is indeed so that men can keep their thoughts pure. A married man should think only of his wife.

My husband is quite angry about this argument.

Raizel, shalom aleichem! I'm so happy to meet you!

I gather from your posts that you're an FFB. I'm a BT. It's an unfortunate thing, but the way we BTs are educated about tznius, it's the most empowering thing, especially after we've come from the secular world and have seen all its faults. But I understand that the way the Bais Yaakovs teach tznius amounts to shoving it down the girls' throats, which is why we're seeing the rebellion we now see.

Re Toastmasters: My Rabbi said that if it were absolutely forbidden, he would have told me so, but he wasn't particular enthusiastic about my joining. I actually didn't ask the question until I was in the club for a year and giving my fifth speech. That one practices the speaker's use of gestures, which got me thinking of tznius. I didn't even think of asking before then.

message 43: by Kressel (last edited Mar 02, 2016 07:38AM) (new)

Kressel Housman | 436 comments Aglaea wrote: "Elizabeth wondered about how men shield women from unpure thoughts. I'm curious about that part, too, because lust appears in other than men as well."

It's true, and men are supposed to be modest in the way they dress, too. (No topless women, and no shirtless men.) But the Torah asserts (and I think reality shows) that men are more stimulated by visuals than women, so a woman's modesty is more on how she is seen, and men's is on what they look at. In the words of historian Rabbi Berel Wein, "Our Sages had a healthy respect for the sex drive."

message 44: by Kressel (new)

Kressel Housman | 436 comments Not all labels are necessarily rankings. In this case, it was a short-hand for describing a life experience because it IS a very different thing to learn about Yiddishkeit as an adult and as a kid. (BTW, I've got an OTD kid, too.)

I totally agree with what you've written about love and chinuch. Have you started All About Love: New Visions yet? I've got a feeling that we're going to have a lot to say to each other about it.

message 45: by Kressel (new)

Kressel Housman | 436 comments Michael wrote: "I think it's ok to be Conservative and a feminist. i just feel like you as a women should have rights and the Conservative feminism is ok. having rights for yourself should not automatically scream..."

Thank you for expressing that sentiment.

message 46: by Bunny (new)

Bunny Raizel wrote: "My husband is quite angry about this argument....

It really upsets my husband that the suggestion goes that every man is getting unpure thoughts as soon as there is another female around and therefor he needs to be protected. ..."

I like what your husband is saying there Raizel.

message 47: by Aglaea (new)

Aglaea | 987 comments Kressel wrote: "Aglaea wrote: "Elizabeth wondered about how men shield women from unpure thoughts. I'm curious about that part, too, because lust appears in other than men as well."

It's true, and men are suppose..."

Oh. I'm very visual.

message 48: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth | 82 comments Kressel wrote: "Aglaea wrote: "Elizabeth wondered about how men shield women from unpure thoughts. I'm curious about that part, too, because lust appears in other than men as well."

It's true, and men are suppose..."

One in three porn users is female. It's not as much as men, but it's enough to be significant. We need to look closer at research which seems to confirm the cultural norm that "men are more visually stimulated, women are more emotionally/environmentally stimulated" or whatever the current mars/venus theory is. It's a lot more nuanced than that. I know I've talked to people who grew up in conservative christian churches and their youth group "sex talks" really did a number on them, psychologically. Boys were separated from girls and counseled on how to deal with "urges" and to look down at their shoes when unexpectedly faced with "immodest" images of women in a public space. Girls were told how to avoid stirring up immodest thoughts in guys by dressing and acting in appropriate ways. The ommission of talking about sexual desire in women seemed to imply women just didn't HAVE desires, and so girls felt like deviants for having such feelings growing up. Guys didn't do much better, but at least most straight men didn't think they were apart from the norm. They just thought men were animals driven by raging hormones who can't be alone with a girl or they'd probably rape her, but also men are somehow the most rational, less emotional sex and better designed by god to be leaders at home and at church? It doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

message 49: by Aglaea (new)

Aglaea | 987 comments Elizabeth wrote: "Kressel wrote: "Aglaea wrote: "Elizabeth wondered about how men shield women from unpure thoughts. I'm curious about that part, too, because lust appears in other than men as well."

It's true, and..."

I'm an animal, I have urges. Not too bothered by this though. Wonder why it is assumed that people can't be productive, honest members of society unless the urges are stifled?

message 50: by Kressel (new)

Kressel Housman | 436 comments Aglaea wrote: "I'm an animal, I have urges. Not too bothered by this though. Wonder why it is assumed that people can't be productive, honest members of society unless the urges are stifled?."

Where did I say they can't be productive or honest members of society? All I said is that men aren't supposed to look at women, other than their wives, for extended periods of time.

« previous 1 3 4 5 6
back to top