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In case any of you haven’t noticed (and by the number of views I’ve been getting lately, I’m pretty sure all of you have), there have been WAY too few posts here in the past few months. This has mainly been caused by a combination of my Israel trip and the realization that there are just so many other things I want to do with my time, and so many things I want to learn before taking another stab at putting my ideas out to the world.

So, goodbye to “From the Rib.” The blog will still be up here with all of our posts from way back in 2009, and maybe someday I’ll feel the need to revive it. If there are any young Jewish feminists out there, preferably in high school or college, who want to take over the mantle, send me an email at fromtherib@gmail.com. It’s been a fantastic run–blogging here has made me read, think about, and analyze so many interesting and diverse issues–thanks for reading, commenting, and helping me to realize how many people out there care about the same issues I care about.

And on that note, I’ll leave you with a link round-up of some interesting and relevant pieces that I’ve been reading and thinking about lately:

Farewell, fair readers. It’s been real.

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Thanks to Guttmacher for this brief, educational and important video

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No.

A law signed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard on Tuesday makes the state the first to require women who are seeking abortions to first attend a consultation at such “pregnancy help centers,” to learn what assistance is available “to help the mother keep and care for her child.”

The legislation, which passed easily in a state Legislature where Republicans outnumber Democrats by more than 3 to 1, also establishes the nation’s longest waiting period — three days — after an initial visit with an abortion provider before the procedure can be done. It makes exceptions for medical emergencies, but not for rape or incest.

Many states require counseling from doctors or other clinic staff members before an abortion to cover topics like health risks. What makes the new South Dakota law different is that the mandated counseling will come from people whose central qualification is that they are opposed to abortions.

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Get Out and Vote!

I know, I know, second post in one day, but this isn’t really a post. All it is is this: Go out and vote!

Voting matters–this is an important election (aren’t they all, really?) and you have a chance to shape the leadership of this country. Take advantage of that opportunity!

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There is a fascinating article in Monday’s New York Times about girls in Afghanistan who are referred to as “bacha posh,” literally translated to mean “dressed up as a boy.” The article describes the unquantified but seemingly (from discussions with Afghans from multiple generations) large number of girls whose families dress them up as boys at a young age and present them to society as boys. The families do it for many reasons, especially shame at not having a male son and the need for a child to be able to work to help support the family. The bacha posh, unlike a regular girl, is allowed to work outside the home and have significantly more freedom in public, and finds it easier to attend school and get an education.

I found the article to be fascinating. I was really surprised by the the idea that Afghanistan, a country that is typically associated with traditional mores and standards, would have so many people willing to engage in what is essentially cross-dressing. But apparently it has been going on for generations—the article mentions a woman in 1900 who dressed up as a man in order to guard a harem, playing a role than neither men nor women were allowed to do.

The article also raises many issues about gender identity: girls raised as boys are usually turned back into girls when they hit puberty, and are then left to struggle between who they are used to being and who they must be. In the article, a fifteen-year-old girl whose parents initially proposed that she become a bacha posh explains how she never wants to go back—that nothing in her feels like a girl. It makes me think about the idea of gender perfomance, Judith Butler’s idea that gender is not inherent but rather a creation of society:

Because there is neither an “essence” that gender expresses or externalizes nor an objective ideal to which gender aspires; because gender is not a fact, the various acts of gender creates the idea of gender, and without those acts, there would be no gender at all. Gender is, thus, a construction that regularly conceals its genesis.”

I haven’t studied the concept enough to have a sure opinion about it, but this article certainly points towards the idea that gender can be changed based on society’s expectations of someone; a girl whose parents decided for her that she would be a boy takes on the societal roles of a boy and learns to love playing the role of a boy. If that can happen, which it appears it does, then it would seem that gender could be an arbitrary thing that is separate from a body’s physical elements and function. A few personal stories cannot be taken as definitive, of course, but it is really interesting that these girls continue to want to act like and function as boys even when allowed or forced to return to their lives as girls.

Part of what makes the article so interesting and sad is the way it describes the difficulties that women in general face in Afghanistan, from being beaten by husbands to needing a husband’s explicit permission to run for political office, to the constant social pressure to have a girl and the subsequent exclusion and disappointment at bringing a girl into the world rather than a boy. One of the most poignant things I read about was the fact that many girls wish they could have stayed boys, but could not: when they hit puberty, they have to publicly go back to being a girl, get married, become a wife, and are thrust into the foreign and confusing world of womanhood. I find this quote from the article, a reflection of a bacha posh after having formally gone back to being a woman, to be incredibly sad: “Still, not a day goes by when she does not think back to ‘my best time,’ as she called it. Asked if she wished she had been born a man, she silently nods.” It’s sadness lies not just in the woman’s own personal struggle, but in the fact that Afghanistan is a place where women do not want to be women—that there is a place where women clearly feel that their lives would be better as men. That’s something for all of us to think about and remember: that even as feminism in the Western world grows and thrives, there are a lot of women out there without the privileges we have.

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A Goodbye Post

This is, clearly, long overdue. It’s been a while since I’ve blogged on this Jewish feminist creation. Life is very busy and exciting right now. I started college and I’m in the midst of the angst and fun of freshman orientation. Between preparing for college and being here, it’s been difficult to keep up with the Jewish feminist sphere as well as to blog in general.

That is why, after a truly rewarding and teaching eight months of blogging and learning, I will now say goodbye. The experience of blogging on Jewish feminism has been so rewarding because every time I wrote a post, I learned something new. Every time I read anything that could relate to this blog, my practices of Judaism and feminism grew stronger. I am so grateful for the readers that allow this blog to have a purpose. I am grateful to the commenters who transform Jewish feminism into an evolving discussion. I am grateful to the JWA for allowing our readership and commenters to expand and for showing me a new side of Jewish feminism. I am grateful to Dina because without her, this blog would not continue and would not have survived.

That said, in order for this blog to continue, we need more bloggers. If you are interested, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE email us at fromtherib@gmail.com. I might not be writing, but I intend to keep reading. Thank you for this rewarding experience.

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Yes, I am alive. It has been quite a while since I have posted here and I can explain.

People say that being a second semester senior in high school is all play and no work, but the truth is that being a second semester senior is a lot of play that makes you forget that the work exists…until it comes to bite you in the butt. That was my experience at least. I have finished this senior project I have been blogging about and I am thrilled to say that it completely consumed me these past few weeks. I am proud of the end result and I walked around school during presentation week referring to this 43-page “book” as my baby. That, along with end-of-year festivities such as prom and a trip me and my friends took to Fire Island have really made these past four years of endless homework and standardized tests worth it. Unfortunately, I have not had much time to blog, but I intend to make up for it this summer.

So tonight begins my summer posting, at first a gradual flow of excerpts from my senior project and, as I experience more feminist Judaism (I’ll be at my cousin’s wedding next weekend where I plan on taking field notes concerning the expected heteronormativity and casual sexism present in the rituals, as well as the potential feminism in the remaking of them), I will blog about that on a much more regular basis.

In short, I’M BACK!

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