Women Rabbis in Orthodox Judaism: The saga continues


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This post is written by a guest contributor, Chavie G. 

While women rabbis are fully accepted within the Conservative and Reform movements, the legitimacy of women Rabbis, or even of women taking on roles traditionally associated with those of rabbis, is hotly contested among followers of Orthodox Judaism.  The disagreement intensified when, last week, the Rabbinical Council of America, currently the major Jewish Orthodox rabbinical council in the United States, released a statement forbidding its members from ordaining or employing women rabbis or any women taking on a role that resembles being a woman rabbi.

A quiet-yet-stern backlash ensued from liberal orthodox Jewish communities, with some orthodox Jewish leaders declaring the RCA vote of having been more political than religious.  Others pointed out the importance of women’s formal involvement in legal interpretation within a religion so heavily based upon a traditional legal code.  The controversy continues to reverberate even into this week, and a lot of really good writing has come out of it about the importance of formal opportunities for women’s leadership in Orthodox Judaism, and about the experiences of the women who are forging the way toward new roles for women in Orthodox religion and society. Continue reading

Speak up and stop this shit

Content note for police violence against children of color.

Last week in South Carolina, a white school officer, Deputy Ben Fields — or officer slam, as he has been known among the school’s students prior to this incident — attacked a non-resisting, silent teenage girl by violently throwing her from her seat, causing her multiple physical injuries and emotional trauma.  Her crime?  Earlier in the class period, she did not immediately comply with a teacher’s request to put away her cell phone.  Additionally, she was black.

Fortunately, one of her classmates took out his phone and videotaped the encounter.  In the video, as many have pointed out, it is clear that the officer made no attempt at intervention, other than to move the girl’s laptop off her desk, indicating that he had decided to attack her (which is the proper verb for when an adult man throws a teenage girl onto the ground) from the very beginning of the encounter. Continue reading

Hi I’m a Trans Person Please Stop Reminding Me I’m Different

Sometimes I like being different. Sometimes it gets very, very tiring. Recently, I started living in a house full of trans people. Three out of five of us are trans. Living in an atmosphere of people who get it makes me even less patient with people who don’t. Kinda not sorry about that. But because I’m one o’ them accomodatin’ transsexuals* I’m going to give you some educational tips.

Here’s a list of things not to say to trans people. Continue reading

A brave new world

Content Note: Aftermath of abuse, related feels

It’s been a while since I’ve written about my history with intimate partner violence.  It was my first post for the blog and came at a very intense time in my life when I was still in the throes of working my way out of that relationship.  A lot has happened since then.  A lot of struggles, but a lot of good things.  So many good things that I wrote a post about how I wanted to stop writing about the bad things.  And by and large, that does reflect my focus now — going forward, trying not to look back.  Taking each day for what it is.

But a lot of the things that I most appreciate about my life right now are things that I appreciate precisely because of the things I’ve been through — though let’s be clear, that is not to say that I am grateful for those events.  If I could arrange to have not gone through those things, I very often think that I would choose to have not experienced them.  Still, many of the things I’m currently so grateful for are tiny details whose significance makes no sense without the context of the things that came before them.  So for this post, I’d like to share some of those small victories with you, dear disruptors, especially for those of you who are in an abusive relationship or who may have just left one.  Or who have left one long ago, but still sometimes get those painful feelings tugging you back in a direction that you’re trying not to go. Continue reading

Intentional Sex: When saying yes is only the beginning


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You know how the story goes. Two characters have a something, the heat in their eyes when they look at each other, the occasional flick of the gaze toward the other’s mouth. Eventually, they give into their desires and fall in bed together, and we get the movie’s climactic sex scene.

Note that the characters don’t really talk before or during the sex scene. They just exchange a heated look and they know the time has finally come for sex.

Contrast this typical sex scene from movies, TV shows, books, video games, etc., to the passage below, from the short story “Make Tonight a Show” by Rose Serrano*:

“Simon,” she says, very seriously. “You might not be interested in the kind of things I want.”

“What, like Fifty Shades type stuff?” He tries for a laugh; she catches his eyes and pins him with her gaze. He drops his voice and leans in. “Look, I’m kinky.” He’s probably a lot kinkier than her, to be honest. “I’m almost definitely into whatever you’re into.”

She matches him beat for beat, mimicking his posture until she’s in his personal space, her lips just inches away from his. “I’m almost definitely into being on top.”

“Well, I’m almost definitely into being hurt,” he whispers, and closes the gap. It’s a light kiss, nearly chaste, but Leila grabs his hand and digs her nails in – yeah, just as good as he imagined, better than any kiss could be.

What’s the difference? Continue reading

Five Family-Friendly Feminist Fights


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Let’s talk about family values, y’all. I’m not talking about the so called “family values” pushed by the religious right. This isn’t some anti-marriage-equality Focus on the Family nonsense that keeps families from accessing legal rights. And it’s not about pressuring hetero couples to maintain gender norms for the good of the children, nor is it about taking reproductive choices away from people. No, the anti-feminists have falsely laid claim to the political realm of the family for too long.

Families are important, and family values, real family values, are feminist values. To prove it to you, here’s a list of five family-forward policies feminist are pushing for and taking action on–and way that you can join in the work.

It's a cute baby in a ruffly dress, kinda sad or confused facial expression, tongue slightly out of mouth

Please enjoy this marginally relevant stock photo of an adorable baby.

Continue reading

Disrupt for Planned Parenthood


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Hello Dear Disruptors,

A lot of fun things happened this past week.  The U.S. Congressional House’s decision on Friday to stop funding Planned Parenthood for a year was not one of them.  That funding enables approximately 2.7 million people to access free and affordable healthcare, enabling both women and men in low-income areas to control their reproductive health, as well as providing other needed healthcare services.  Infuriatingly, the move to deprive these people of access to these services was grounded in a slew of inaccuracies, and the claim that low-income individuals can readily access these services elsewhere is simply not the case.

That brings us to this week’s Promote a Petition.  Except instead of just a petition, we’re calling on our community of disruptors to step up to the plate and promote Planned Parenthood in whatever way we can.  This issue — all people’s right to reproductive healthcare regardless of gender or income — is at the heart of intersectional feminism.  It gives women and people with gestational anatomy the rights to their own bodies, provides healthcare to people who cannot afford it, and promotes upward mobility by preventing girls, women, and people with gestational anatomy from having to choose between parenthood and their education / financial stability. Further, it helps prevent survivors of sexual assault from having to deal with further trauma as a result of the violence that they have already experienced.

Even though each of us individually may feel that our efforts don’t matter, when we band together, they most assuredly do.

Planned Parenthood Logo. Slogan reads "Care. No matter what." Continue reading

Musings of a dead salmon


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Soooo it’s happened again.  There’s another pop science article arguing that there are “real differences” between “female and male brains” and citing hormones as the root of gender differences in cognitive ability.  There are so many of these that I usually just scowl at them as they go by, but every so often there’s one so blatantly terrible that I can’t help but swing at it.  This recent Slate article was one such doozy.  Get out your baseball bats.

The Synopsis

According to the initial report of the study that the Slate article is writing about, these researchers took pictures of the brains of 18 trans individuals undergoing hormone therapy as part of their transition to living as male.  Over the course of 4 weeks, these researchers found statistically significant decreases in the gray matter of two brain regions involved in language processing.  They also found significant increases in the white matter connecting with these areas, which they say they found “surprising” — translation: “does not support our conclusion.”  Their conclusion, of course, is that hormones, specifically testosterone, may contribute to gender differences in verbal ability. The pop science article extends this to imply that hormones could totally explain all such functional gender differences.

We’ve got great stuff to work with here. Continue reading

Walking the Walk

I’m on the diversity committee at work and am basically a walking diversity yelling machine outside of work too, so I take keeping my own mind open (and my cultural humility robust) very seriously.

It’s relatively easy for me to work on certain prejudices I have within the context of the social justice movements I’m involved in–race, sexuality, size, gender, class, etc…these are commonly discussed, and I am constantly engaging with people from these communities. However, there is one noticeably absent group of people in my social justice world: people with cognitive disabilities.

Superman figure standing next to a megaphone with text “You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?”

Continue reading