Sunday, May 26, 2013

Feminism of the Orthodox Variety


I was reading a few articles on the Aish HaTorah site and one of them moved me to comment. The Feminist Rabbi spoke of his definition of Feminism. And, while I agree with some of his perspective, I disagree with other parts. Here is the comment I made:

Yes, but what about those of us who never found an appropriate mate, never had the opportunity to have children? What about those of us who, for one reason or another, are left without a man to support us; the young widow or divorcee, the woman whose husband is not able to financially support her?

Feminism, to me, means that a person's choices in life shouldn't be limited by his/her gender. I, for example, besides being single all my life (and at a point in my life where children are no longer an option), also love to sing. I'm a pretty descent singer. But because I'm an Orthodox Jew, I can't get a job singing in the secular world ("What? You can't work Friday night and Saturday? Those are our busiest days!") nor can I get a job in the Jewish world (since the concept of "Kol Isha" keeps me out of the spotlight).

I think, with the above and the issue of recalcitrant husbands, the Orthodox world needs to see feminism in a new light. Halakha needs to be reexamined through the lens of the 21st century's needs. Halakha isn't monolithic. Halakha is elastic and we need to see how we can reevaluate the position current halakhic paradigms to meet the current needs of our people.

I would like to add to this my perspective on women as Rabbis. Because there are some laws that are very personal, I think it's not Tzniyut (modest) for women to discuss these issues with male Rabbis. I, therefore, think that women should be permitted to study to become Rabbis. I, myself, am learning in this area. I think it's important for there to be women, learned in the ways of Halakha (Jewish Law) to be there to guide women in particular (but men also, on issues that wouldn't be an issue of Tzniyut) in their Jewish lives. I know this is a controversial opinion, but I think it will become less so in the future.