The other day I was watching Sex and the City and started thinking about Charlotte’s conversion to Judaism, and decided that it was time to introduce Sex and the City to from the rib? (After all, what kind of Feminist blog doesn’t have Sex and the City?)
Charlotte meets Harry, a nice Jewish boy, who bluntly informs her that he’s only willing to marry a Jew. And so, as she begins to fall in love with him, she decides that she, like Elizabeth Taylor, will convert to Judaism, and does (supposedly, with a somewhat great level of accuracy). But after her conversion when he doesn’t immediately propose, she gets upset, and tries to use her conversion as leverage.
Do you have any idea how hard I worked to prepare this meal for you? I went to Zabar’s everyday this week. I had to make 30 Matzo Balls just to get four that were the right size and shape, not to mention the months of studying and cramming like a maniac to convert to Judaism. And what have you done for me? Set the date! …You said you couldn’t marry me unless I was Jewish and now I’m Jewish. Set the date!
I have been raised, like Harry, to be wary of marrying outside of Judaism. All of my liberal-mindedness makes me unhappy to say that, but it’s something that I can’t fight, and so I understand what made Harry want Charlotte to convert. However, hearing Charlotte try to use her conversion to hook Harry into marriage makes me uncomfortable. Her Judaism does not seem to me to be her own, but rather a string that was attached to her relationship with Harry. And who does that benefit? Isn’t the point of conversion to form your own, personal relationship with God? If Charlotte’s only goal behind conversion was to win over Harry, then has she herself really taken on Judaism?
And as a Feminist, part of me thinks: isn’t religion something so personal that it should be something you choose for yourself, not something that a man asks you to do?
My problem is that I don’t know the answers to these questions; if I were Charlotte, I don’t know what I would have done. And if I were Harry, I don’t know what I would have done, either. I can honestly say that I’m not sure if love is a good reason to convert for someone or ask someone to convert, but that I’m also not sure what makes a “good” reason to ask someone to convert. Is there any?