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Ask Shifra

Something Different... Answering questions and making curious observations (online) since 2005.


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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

From the files of Shifra

As promised I did some digging around and I did find my notes on the book I'd started to write.

It's in one of those bound composition books and I actually pasted my "list of 50" into the front cover!
In the notebook itself I've furiously written (with no editing whatsoever) about 5-7 essays of varying completeness and length and a bunch of ideas for other essays. It's almost a diary really - I see that a lot of what I wrote, I wrote to and for myself.

I also forgot that I'd given the book a working title which is much too lame to publish here. The writing style is a little "Dr. Phil" for my tastes these days. It sounds like I was doing an uncomfortable impersonation a therapist.
Nowadays however, thanks to my blog, I am QUITE comfortable impersonating a therapist so I intend to fix that.

My writing only made it about 1/4 of the way through the notebook but toward the end I wrote what I guess was meant to be my introduction (although it seems to start in the middle of another broader essay) but I'll post it here anyway.

In addition to posting on my old ideas and notes I'd also like to spend an equal about of time fighting sterotypes, flawed logic, dangerous assumptions, and unequal treatment of women from a frum perspective.
Please send alongs any links to small minded, stereotype-y, anti-female, charedi propaganda (or apologetic, weak, equally offensive pro-female MO propaganda if you swing that way) here to shifraq at gmail dot com and I will give it the karate chop head it deserves here on the blog.

So without further ado, an introduction circa 2002 edited in 2006:
(Although all my essays were originally written for women I think that some of the things can definitely be true for men as well - or can help men to understand women better.)

As frum women we are taught to fight ourselves at every turn, deny our instincts, and conform. Many of us live in a tight knit community, like specimens under glass, our private and public life being one in the same. We often worry and care more about what other people might think of us than what we think about ourselves. Worse yet, all this denial and fear leave us no room for us to consider what we really want out of life. These essays are for strong, brave women, or for women who want to be strong and brave but are too afraid - afraid to change, afraid to feel, afraid to be themselves. As I write (both in 2002 and today) I am on the same journey. Each essay beings with questions I have as I learn, or discover really, some truths about life or about myself or develop some tools to help me get to where I want to be. A place where I am happy, relaxed and purposeful. A place where I am free to be myself whoever that may be.

Is it possible to be a frum woman and be true to yourself?
I think it is. Let's find out.

10 Comments:

At 11:21 PM, Anonymous the one who will soon become known... said...

I'm a little afraid of where this will end up. I was starting to really like your blog. I hope it isn't going to turn into one of these frum feminist blogs where they constantly bash the frum world etc.

 
At 11:30 PM, Blogger Shifra said...

I wouldn't worry one, I always like to mix it up.

I've always been an advocate of Jewish women on this blog - whether at the mikva, at home, or in the office.

You'll still see "ask shifra" questions, random observations, stories about my kids, and my other various adventures and maybe (maybe) I'll even get back to my soap opera.

I'm just testing this out for a bit, but I am looking for feedback so I appreciate your comment.

 
At 1:37 AM, Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

I'm happy you're sharing your essays, and I think you have enough of a sense of irony to wryly observe when you've stepped over the line of astute societal observations to gratutious soapbox rantings about patriarchical injustice.

 
At 6:26 AM, Blogger Shifra said...

SW, I sure hope so...
I'm a little concerned about that, but I'm not a hater by nature so hopefully that will be helpful.

 
At 7:46 AM, Anonymous the one who will soon become known... said...

Still wonderin said it well... As far as I am concerned there are enough blogs with "rantings about patriarchical injustice" and there is a reason why I don't read those. There are definitely some areas in which the norm in frum judaism dictates something that is unfair to women. But I think that gets blown out of proportion by people who have an agenda. I guess i'm just hoping that you will stick with observations and not step over the line to rantings and generalizations about certain groups/genders.

 
At 10:35 AM, Blogger Ezzie said...

Since you're asking for comments... I'd edit out one line, and then I think it makes all the points you want without people feeling that it's going in the direction the previous commenters said.

Take out the "we are taught...conform". I'm not sure that people are necessarily 'taught' it, I think they're pressured by the people around them.

As frum women, many of us live in a tight knit community, like specimens under glass, our private and public life being one in the same. We often worry and care more about what other people might think of us than what we think about ourselves. Worse yet, all this denial and fear leave us no room for us to consider what we really want out of life. These essays are for strong, brave women, or for women who want to be strong and brave but are too afraid - afraid to change, afraid to feel, afraid to be themselves. As I write (both in 2002 and today) I am on the same journey. Each essay beings with questions I have as I learn, or discover really, some truths about life or about myself or develop some tools to help me get to where I want to be. A place where I am happy, relaxed and purposeful. A place where I am free to be myself whoever that may be.

Is it possible to be a frum woman and be true to yourself?

I think it is. Let's find out.


It takes away that negative aspect in the beginning, but still makes all the salient points...

[Sorry! I used to edit a lot of my friends' papers...! I can't help myself. :/ Don't shoot!]

 
At 4:35 PM, Blogger Air Time said...

Ez -

I think that it is important to keep the line in that frum women are taught to conform. Since her goal is to fight the status quo that encourages conformity, she needs to say where that conformity comes from.

Even if conformity is not expicitly taught, it is implicitly taught.

 
At 5:15 PM, Anonymous the one who will become known... said...

That's irrelevant. Everyone is taught to conform whether it is implicitly or not. It has nothing to do with frum females. Depending on what environment you live in, you learn to conform to certain standards. If you are a police officer, you come in to work wearing a uniform, badge and gun. No one needs to teach you this. You learn it from your surroundings.

 
At 5:20 PM, Blogger DTC said...

Is it possible to be a frum woman and be true to yourself?


What does this mean? Does this mean there is something specific about "womenhood" that is rejected by halacha?

OTOH, the flip question would be even sillier: Is it possible to be a frum man and be true to yourself?

I don't get it.

 
At 10:06 PM, Anonymous Ariella said...

The answer to that question, of course, depends on how you define "frum" If you limit it to the charedi society, the answer is one thing. If you look at it as what the Torah itself says, then you have something else.

For examples of the former, see articles directed at women of the sort carried in Mishpacha Magazine.

 

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