Bad feminist

Having grown up in a houseful of men--and women--I've always been something of a male apologist. Can't help it, I  like the suckers. Generally speaking.

As a second-generation feminist, I've always been nonplussed by the world handed us by our foremothers: Upended, gender roles confused, endless opportunities and a sexual revolution that favored, you guessed it, men. Thanks for the access to medical school ladies, but for the rest of what?

I was reminded of my less-than-orthodox feminism by my response to this: "What Women's Media Needs to Know Abourt Chassidic Women."

We have Chassidic friends and I've always liked the idea that men need to pray more because women are considered closer to g-d. I've asked our friends the secular questions, and it appears, Chassidic women have great freedom and power in their marriages that are defined by law--not our willy-nilly cultural norms.

Could I be Chassidic? Probably not. But do I respect it? Absolutely.

Religion can be challenging for liberals. It's so easy to lump evangelicals, orthodox Jews and Muslims into stereotypes. I've spent a fair amount of time in the evangelical community and have found believers to be kind-hearted, polite and respectful. On Sept.11, 2001 I was working at a small Baptist college. When the news came in about the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, this school gathered togehter as a community not only to pray but also to learn from its Middle East experts about radical Islam and the instability in the region. I'd never before (or since) experienced a more tangible instance of community.

The major faith traditions practiced in this country are by definition patriarchal. Yes, religion can be used as a rationale to subjugate women, and men, for that matter. It can also be used as a way for people to become their best selves.






Comments (3) -

May 24. 2012 11:01

Stephanie Geyer

Great example, Leslie. That experience, which I'm grateful that I had you to share it with, has stuck with me too. Labels and partitions can make it hard for people to just connect well with people.

Stephanie Geyer |

May 24. 2012 11:23

Jo Morgan

It is a joy to hear a moderate and loving voice on the topic of religion.  My church is a source of inspiration and community for me.  it is not a source of judgement or classifying anyone as " the other".

Jo Morgan |

May 24. 2012 15:51


What kind of freedoms do these Chassidic women have?

Mindy |

Comments are closed