Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Subtle Mother Fuckers

Maybe it's just because it's so hard to make a feel good movie when abortion is involved, but I'm starting to think the pro-life lobby is infiltrating the multiplex. I first noticed this phenomenon with the release of "Knocked Up." A fantastic movie, if for no other reason than it gave Seth Rogen his breakthrough performance. But still, not too many women in America would have a one-night stand with a shlub like that and decide to give birth to and raise the child that was spawned through such a union.
Now, my hackles are raised again with a new movie called "August Rush." For those who haven't been forced to sit through the trailer on this one a dozen times over the last week - let me give you the synopsis, courtesy of the MSN Web site. A "charismatic Irish guitarist" and a "reserved cellist" share a "passionate night" but are "forced apart by fate." Otherwise known as - he was hot and foreign and she was the perfect hard to get mark. They fucked, she got pregnant and probably never even told him.
The pro-life twist (yet again) is that she gives birth to the child and charitably gives him up for adoption. A few years down the line, his musical genius is bringing cheer and joy to the massses in a "We are the World" worthy worldview that music connects us all.
So the lesson we take away is that you shouldn't abort your totally unwanted kid whose father was in all likelihood a drunk and low wage earner because he could be the universe's gift to symphonic peace and harmony. Or who could cure AIDS. Or who could turn out to be a little shit who prevented YOU from curing AIDS because you were too busy changing diapers. Just a little thought and movie judgment for the holiday season from the Shtetl Fabulous perspective.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I choose my choice

The avid "Sex and the City" watchers among my readers will recognize the title of this post from a particularly profound episode where Charlotte decides to exit the workforce and to devote her energies to volunteering, home redecorating and bowl glazing. Naturally, her friends question her choice after so many years devoted to her career.
It seems since the inception of the feminist movement, we women have found a way to use our new-found choices as weapons against one another. The decision to work, not to work, to work part time, to job share, to have kids, to not have kids, to telecommute, to adopt, to surrogate, to marry, to marry someone with kids, to marry someone with a vasectomy or hysterectomy, to marry someone of your gender, to marry someone of the opposite gender, to marry yourself and register only at Manolo Blahnik - the possibilities are endless.
Whatever choice women make for their own lives, other women seem capable for the most part of using those choices to chastize one another rather than to celebrate the diversity of options that a generation or two ago simply did not exist.
This all came to a head in the last few weeks on a blog created by high school classmates of mine. For the first few months, everyone who posted comments and pictures on the blog had chosen to marry and have more than a few kids (one had 5 and we're only 27!). So, I posted a shout-out to those who had made different choices and had instead gotten advanced degrees and delayed the kid/marriage thing. Several supportive posts from friends who are either doctors, lawyers, or lobbyists followed and all seemed equalized. Until some anonymous fuck posted that there's clearly a "reason" my friends and I are unmarried or without kids. My reply - yeah, I CHOSE that!
As long as women denigrate the choices of others, call each other sluts or fail to support one another - we all lose. At the risk of ending this post with some total Girl Power-esque bullshit message here's my final thought: Make your choice and stand by it!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Splitting Hairs

Admittedly, I've struggled with making time to post lately. My apologize to whatever three or four loyal readers I have who actually check this site periodically. And mad props to people like Josh who manage to write every day. So without further ado...

The following post is excerpted (and slightly modified) from an email I sent to an Orthodox Jewish female friend of mine struggling with her interpretation of the halachic commandment that a woman cover her hair. After a few weeks of engagement, my friend was having a difficult time finding a wig that matched her dark hair color exactly.

Maybe it's Hashem's way of telling you to wear a tichel (head scarf)... or change your hair color. I think if I had to cover my hair I would totally play with it. I could see you looking really cute with dark brown hair that had some solid red undertones/highlights in it.

While I cannot relate to the challenges of undertaking this mitzvah, I can certainly understand that it must be very difficult. We as women spend a great deal of our lives managing our hair and it's an extremely personal part of who we are. How we choose to wear our hair says a great deal about us and how we want to portray ourselves to the world. Plus, there are all the implications of what it means to be covered and that our bodies can be imbued with such erotic power - whether real or imagined.

Also, what you choose to do with your hair and the extent to which you choose to cover it is a fluid thing. I know women who wear a sheitel (wig) and then switch to a hat/fall/tichel or do the baseball cap thing. Don't look at this as a permanent, set-in-stone mitzvah like not killing people. Take it as something that you will still have to work out the parameters that work best for you. And that, I guess is THE most important thing - you have to do what works for YOU, not anyone else. If you hate it, then you and your husband will work it out to whatever works best.

What always strikes me most about this mitzvah is that it places so much of the burden on the woman, arguing her modesty shows allegiance to her husband and makes her less an object of erotic interest than a woman who doesn't cover her hair. Unfortunately, the reality on both sides of this argument is that Orthodox women still cheat on their husbands (sometimes with women, but that's a subject for another post) AND that women of all levels of religous observance are still raped.
Why don't we place some of the burden of modesty on Orthodox men? I mean, they don't even wear wedding rings as a general rule.
Besides, real hair looks bad some days. Real hair often looks a lot worse than wig hair... so why is a sheitel more modest?
Finally, as I've mentioned before, women and the ways they relate to their hair can have political ramifications. In the black community, a woman who chooses to relax her hair can be seen as trying to "pass" in American society whereas one with dreadlocs may be seen as more "savage" or "dangerous." So when that argument is placed in this context - what does it mean when Jewish women are covering up entirely, and with another person's hair at that?!