Thursday, June 30, 2011

That Is, Frankly, A Lie

“However, this is just how they roll”. Oh how very enlightened and tolerant. “They didn’t Photoshop Ms. Clinton out out of a fear of strong women or desire to hide women, but for the sake of keeping their religion to the fullest extent.” The two are the same. Their religion, as they practice it, precludes strong women and requires the hiding of women. Also, it would behoove you to note that while Avi Weiss ordained Sara Hurwitz, he also announced he would never give another woman the title Rabba - and practically every single orthodox figure and organization denounced even that one deviation. And that’s “Modern Orthodox”. Not even talking about old school orthodox (hassidic and litvak). Sure, strong women exist even in the darkest societies - including some way darker than orthodox Judaism. But to say that Orthodox Judaism and Feminism are not incompatible is, frankly, a lie. So by all means, reconcile your own personal spirituality with feminism, but don’t be an apologist.

I found the above comment in my moderation folder on my cross-post to the All Girl Army, where I addressed the whole Hillary Clinton Haredi newspaper Photoshop incident. (You can read the article here, which I suggest you do before reading the rest of this article.)

When I saw the comment, I was more than a little upset, which is why I did not let it through. (The commenter later commented “Interesting. I spent time and thought replying to your post, but I guess having a conversation isn’t why you have a blog. Enjoy then!”) But no, I want to have a conversation. I want to give the person who feels like this a response, but I wanted to dedicate a whole post to it rather than giving him or her a short response in a comment box.

To go in the commenter’s order, I’ll address the whole Clinton Photoshop incident first. I didn’t want to write about it originally, since I felt that it was an embarrassment to the Jewish community, and I didn’t want to further the hillul Hashem (desecration of God). However, I wanted to address it on the All Girl Army in order to dispel the “Judaism is sexist” myth.

All Jews, both male and female, keep tzniut, modesty in dress. (See my interview with Gila Manolson about this.) How exactly to dress varies from one sect to another. For example, Modern Orthodox Jews will wear vibrant colors and patterns; ultra-Orthodox Jews like Hasids usually don’t wear colors, staying confined to black, navy, brown, gray, and white. Part (note: not all) of the reasoning behind tzniut is to protect men from being turned on by women who are not their wives. As a result, Hasidic men go to the extreme to keep this from happening, and avoid looking at pictures of women. This is why the Hasidic newspaper Photoshopped Hillary Clinton out. Do I think that this is a ridiculous way to keep Judaism? Of course. But as I stated in my original article, that’s why I’m not a Hasid. Also stated previously, I don’t want to defend the newspaper for doing this, I just want to explain why they did it.

Now to discuss Sara Hurwitz and women rabbis. In the original article, I used Sara Hurwitz as an example; I could have used women like Rachel Kohl Finegold, Dina Najman, or Lynn Kaye just as easily. Yes, Rabbi Avi Weiss has been banned from ordaining more women with the title rabba, and Sara Hurwitz will remain the only official one. Honestly, that’s not important. As I said in my original article, there are many more women in Jewish leadership who are not rabbas. The title isn’t important. What they do is what matters. So if the Orthodox community doesn’t want to call them rabbis or actually ordain them, sure, don’t. But they’re still standing in synagogues and giving sermons and helping women and men of their communities connect to God, and that’s all that matters.

“But to say that Orthodox Judaism and Feminism are not incompatible is, frankly, a lie.” Not only did that part of the comment make me really mad, but that is, frankly, a lie. I’ve given many examples of how Orthodoxy/Judaism and the Torah support feminism, and there are millions more. I don’t even feel the need to give explanations for how the two mesh; I’ve talked about it before. I know it’s the truth. I know nothing about this commenter except for the fact that he or she is wrong. I’m not an apologist. I’m just telling the truth. And if people don’t want to accept that, then I feel bad for them. They will live in a world filled with inequality. So be it, if that's how they want to live. But it sure as heck ain't the way I want to.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Perils of Driving Distracted

NOTE: This is fiction. I wrote this as part of a scholarship essay contest on the perils of distracted driving and driving while texting. Make sure to vote for me here! (It's the fifth one listed on the page.)

“She’s still not home.”

My mother’s statement is greeted with silence, except for the sound of the clock ticking 2:00 am. I don’t know why she bothers saying it. My father and I can see that Sarah hasn’t come home yet, and her friend Rachel said she left her house hours ago, after the two had a fight. The heavy rain pours onto the streets outside, lashing the windows. I watch the drops slide down the glass outside, glittery against the dark nighttime background.

A sudden knock on the door breaks the pained silence. We all jump up, but my mother, clad in a nightgown and robe, is the first to get to the door. Two very wet police officers holding broken umbrellas stand on the stoop.

“Is this the Miller-Green household?” the female officer asks. My mother nods, still in shock. “My name is Officer Fawcett, and this is Officer O’Grady. May we come in?” Mom makes room for them to come into the living room.

“I suggest you sit down,” Officer O’Grady tells us. Numb, we sit on the couch. I expect the worst.

“Is this about my daughter, Sarah?” Mom asks. Her voice is a thread of sound, barely audible over the pounding rain outside.

“I’m sorry to say that it is,” he replies. “Your daughter was in a car accident at about 8:00 pm. She drove her car, a red Kia, into the side of an apartment building about a mile away from here. An ambulance was called almost immediately by the tenants. Sarah was taken to a nearby hospital, where she was ID'd she’s on life support.” We all breathed a sigh of relief that Sarah was alive, but then froze when we realized it might be a temporary state.

“She was coming home from a friend,” I say after an awkward pause. “Her friend told us that they had an argument when Sarah stormed out.”

“Sarah was holding a phone when the EMTs got her out of the car,” Officer Fawcett says. “It was smashed to pieces along with the rest of the Kia, but we figure that she was texting someone, maybe her friend, when she crashed the car. Her mascara was a mess, and there were make up stains on her sleeves. It looked like she was crying, maybe because of the argument, which probably blurred her vision.”

“And she wasn’t wearing her contacts if she was crying,” Dad says, the first time he’s spoken since before midnight. “With the rain…” As if to validate his conjecture, a large clap of thunder booms outside the house.

“Do you know if she’ll make it?” Mom asks the officers. As soon as she says it, she winces, not wanting to know the answer.

They both look pessimistic. “We’re not doctors, so we can’t really say,” Officer Fawcett says, but it’s clear that even those not in the medical field can tell that Sarah won’t survive. All because of a stupid argument, a storm, and an ill-timed text. Sarah’s life was worth more than that.

She's not going to make it. My big sister's going to die. Oh my gosh. My sister's going to die, just because she was upset and driving and texting, all at the same time.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Shining Stars of Davida: Janice Hahn

Have there been a lot of elections involving women this year, or is it just me? I don’t know, maybe it’s just that this year is the first time I’ve actively been following elections, let alone those involving women candidates, but there seem to be a lot of them. (Not that I’m complaining! It’s awesome to get more representation in Congress.) In California’s 36th district, Janice Hahn is running as part of a special election for the recently vacated US House of Representatives seat.

The seat was previously occupied by Jane Harman. Harman, whose father escaped Nazi Germany, got her JD from Harvard Law School. After being active in politics for several years, she served three terms in the US House from 1993-1999 and 2000-2011. (The gap is due to an unsuccessful run for governor.) She voted against the ban on partial-birth abortions and supports the pro-choice movement. She resigned from Congress in February to head the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. (I find it ironic that such a feminist is heading an organization that commemorates Woodrow Wilson, who did everything in his power to stop women from getting the right to vote.) Because of Hahn’s resignation, a special election is being convened.

The Democratic nominee is Janice Hahn. Hahn is from a political family: her father was a Los Angeles councilperson and LA County Supervisor, her uncle was a member of the California Assembly and an LA councilperson, and her brother was the LA city attorney and mayor of LA. After working as a teacher and in the business sector for several years, she was elected to the Los Angeles Charter Reform Commission in 1997, helping create a neighborhood council program which gives community leaders the chance to have a voice in politics.

In 2001, she was elected to the Los Angeles City Council. As councilperson, Hahn has worked for labor rights by picketing with dockworkers for better pay, helping hotel workers get better wages, and working to provide healthcare for airport workers. She has also given assistance to truck drivers, grocery workers, court interpreters, and nurses, among others, to get better jobs.

She is also active in the environmental cause: she has reduced pollution as a result of port operations, advocates clean air, and supports the Clean Trucks Program, which will cut truck-made port pollution. Working to promote tourism in LA, she worked with her brother when he was mayor to build a waterfront promenade and was one of the first to support the modernizing renovation of the Los Angeles International Airport.

Hahn has also worked hard against gangs in LA, working with LAPD to reach children as part of early prevention programs. There was recently an extraordinarily offensive ad, depicting Hahn as a pole dancer with black gangsters calling her the b word and stuffing singles into her waistband, saying that Hahn really supported gangs in her effort to end them. Her opponent, Craig Huey, denounced the extremely sexist and racist ad.

In addition, Hahn supports Israel, stating on her Web site that “The safety and security of the State of Israel as a Jewish state - and a critical ally of the United States - will be a top priority of mine in Congress.” While she advocates for a two-state solution, she also says that “Israel should have the absolute right to choose the location of its capital and Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of Israel.”

Huey also supports Israel, stating that “I will be Israel’s number-one man.” However, a staffer of his called Planned Parenthood a “murder mill,” and Huey is pro-life.

The election will take place in less than a month from now, on July 12. I look forward to see the outcome of this election.

I dub Janice Hahn an inductee into the Shining Stars of Davida - strong women and men who make us feminists proud.

Friday, June 17, 2011

He Promised Her a Rose Garden

I've never been a poet, but here's an attempt.

It was 1976.
Peak of the women’s lib movement.
New York, New York.
Peak of the peak.
She was going for a PhD in psych.
She could, thanks to Betty Friedan.

“After you finish your PhD,” he told her,
“We’ll move to Long Island.
Have three or four kids.
Buy a house.
With a white picket fence,
And a rose garden.”

She was nineteen.
She fell for it.

A week after the wedding
He got fired.
It wasn’t such a surprise.
Between the mental illness
Never showing up
And long sick leaves
It was just a matter of time.

“I won’t get a job immediately,” he told her.
“You can type anywhere.
I have to do something important.
I have to have a career.
I’m the man of the house.”

She felt like she had been slapped.
You can type anywhere.
Well, she could.
And since he wasn’t getting a job,
She had to.

She couldn’t finish her PhD dissertation.
She was working too many hours.
When she wasn’t working,
She was cleaning his toilet,
Cooking his dinner.

You can type anywhere.
It would ring through her head for years.
She typed for thirty years.
He rarely worked.

She never finished her PhD.
Never moved to Long Island.
Never even bought an apartment.
There was only one child, a girl.
(After nineteen years. He was impotent.)
There was certainly no white picket fence.
Definitely no rose garden.

After 36 years of no rose gardens,
36 years of severe mental illness,
She finally couldn’t take it anymore
And put him in a nursing home.

She told all this to her daughter.
You can type anywhere.
She quoted it bitterly,
She would never forget it.
Her daughter wouldn’t, either.

Don’t be like me, she said.
Don’t fall for that.
Don’t fall for the picket fence.
Don’t fall for the rose garden.
Don’t listen when he says that you can type anywhere.
The only typing you’ll do is legal briefs.
You can, thanks to Betty Friedan.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Shining Stars of Davida: Orna Barbivai

Women have served in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) since before the state of Israel was created in 1948. Many women fought alongside men in pre-1948 militant organizations like the Haganah and Irgun, unofficial armies to protect the Jews of Israel and fight for independence. In the 1948 Israeli War of Independence, numerous women took up arms and protected their homeland, many of them Holocaust survivors. One such example is Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the famed sex therapist, who went to Israel after she learned of her parents’ deaths in the concentration camps. Despite the fact that she was 4”7 and 17 years old, she joined the Haganah and became a scout and sniper. In the 1948 war, she got wounded to the point that she could not walk for several months. She is one of thousands of brave women and men who have served the Israeli army and made Israel a safer country for Jews.

After 1948, women were barred from actual combat due to the fear that they would be sexually assaulted if they became prisoners of war. In the 1950s and 60s, some women did rise the ranks, like Yael Rom, the first female pilot, and Hava Inbar, the first female military judge in the entire world. Throughout the 1970s and 80s, women began consistently reaching higher positions in the military. Since 2000, women have been guaranteed the opportunity to serve in the same roles as men in the military with the passage of the Equality Amendment to the Military Service Law.

On May 26, 2011, Orna Barbivai was appointed as the first woman major general, the second-highest rank in the IDF, by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. She is currently a brigadier general (the third-highest rank), following in the footsteps of Amira Dotan, the first woman to serve in that position. Barbivai has worked hard to get to this point; after serving her mandatory time in 1981, she went on to become a member of the IDF Personnel Directorate (aka the Manpower Directorate and Human Resources Directorate), the military body that controls human resources. She has also been head of human resources in the Ground Forces Personnel Division and adjutant general (a military chief administrative officer).

Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has celebrated Barbivai’s appointment, stating that there is “extreme importance to integrating women in top positions in the IDF.” Netanyahu has made his support for women’s rights clear in the past. On International Women’s Day, he told female soldiers that “[Israel]…is especially prominent in that it is a democratic state in which women have equal rights.” When former Israeli President Moshe Katsav was found guilty of several sexual assault accusations, Netanyahu stated that “[Katsav’s situation shows that] all are equal before the law, and that every woman has exclusive rights to her body.”

Other women have rejoiced in Barbivai’s promotion. Miri Regev, a Knesset member who served as brigadier general and IDF Spokesperson, stated that “I have no doubt that this nomination will open the door to many women officers who wish to climb higher in the chain of command. I hope this nomination won't turn out to be a one-time thing.” Tzipi Livni, the Israeli Opposition Leader in the Knesset, said that “There is no rank that is too heavy for a woman’s shoulders.”

Jewish women in the military, whether Israeli or abroad, are living out the legacy that our foremothers left us. In Judges, Deborah fought against the Canaanites, and Jael killed the Canaanites’ fleeing general Sisera. The story of Judith beheading Holofernes has also been handed down from mother to daughter. I think all Jewish feminists look forward to seeing even more women reach the highest ranks in the military that protects our homeland.

I dub Orna Barbivai into the Shining Stars of Davida - strong women and men who make us feminists proud. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tikkun Olam: A Jewish View on Recycling

A common misconception is that Judaism has no opinions on staying green, or even opposes the concept. I find this ironic, as Judaism vehemently supports saving the environment, especially recycling.

Tikkun olam, which literally means fixing the world, is the Jewish theory that supports recycling. It is first mentioned in the Mishnah, part of the Talmud (Oral Torah), in the context of fixing the world from a social perspective. It is also mentioned three times every day in prayer, reminding the observant Jew of his or her obligation to repair the world on a daily basis. Part of the reparation every human being can do for the world is recycling.

The Bible and Oral tradition both support tikkun olam, even if they don’t mention it by name. The fact that God created the universe is a major reason that Jews need to protect it. There are many mitzvot (commandments) in Judaism that prohibit people from hurting themselves or mutilating their bodies because God formed them. The same concept applies to the world: we must protect it and fix it, especially through recycling, because it is God’s creation.

Judaism also has a prohibition called bal tash’hit, which prohibits wasteful practices. The basis for this mitzvah is in Deuteronomy 20:19-20, which forbids destroying fruit trees during war. While this is usually only applied to not wasting food, it also refers to not wasting anything. If God created it, the Holy One wanted it in this world, and it’s not up to us to wantonly destroy it if it can be reused. If you can recycle that plastic bottle or day-old newspaper, you are religiously obligated to do so.

There are many holidays that celebrate agriculture. When the Beit HaMikdash (Temple) was in existence, almost every holiday involved the giving of sacrifices, many of which involved grains of some sort. Tu B’Shevat, a holiday established in the Mishnah, celebrates trees. When it was first created in the third century CE, it marked the time of the harvest and tithe season. Today Jews celebrate Tu B’Shevat by planting trees and plants, especially in Israeli soil, and eat Israeli fruits. Shavuot, which is also known as the Harvest Holiday, commemorates the fact that Jews would bring the first fruits from their fields to the Beit HaMikdash at this time of year. Today, the Seven Species of fruit and grain associated with Israel are still linked to Shavuot. The fact that Judaism celebrates crop growing in many of its holidays show the importance of not wasting anything that comes from the ground. There are also many mitzvot related to the land, like the Sabbatical year every seventh year, the Jubilee year every fifty years, and pe’ah, leket, and shikhiha, laws relating to giving crops to the poor.

There are many Jewish organizations in existence whose missions are to fix the world, Jewish style. David Krantz of the Green Zionist Alliance stated in a personal correspondence, “Recycling and other environmental activities are Jewish actions since many aspects of Jewish tradition implore us to protect the land, the plants and the animals with which we coexist on Earth. For example, we have a long-ignored biblical imperative to care for nature. In the book of Breishit (Genesis 2:15), the Torah commands us to serve and to guard the Earth. Because of the concept that no biblical commandment is any less worthy than another, an act such as recycling may be just as important for Jews to do as observing Shabbat, the weekly day of rest.”

Another organization, the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), states on its website that it “has helped tens of thousands of Jews make a connection between Judaism and the environment. COEJL has put environmental protection on the agenda of the organized Jewish community and made the case to elected officials and decision-makers that protecting the environment is a moral and religious obligation.” Canfei Nesharim (a Hebrew term that means “on the wings of eagles,” referring to Exodus 19:4) wants to bridge the gap between Torah values and the environmental cause. Some other organizations are Hazon, Jewcology and related Teva Ivri (literally meaning “nature of a Jew”), Jewish Farm School, the Jewish National Fund, and the Teva Learning Center.

Recycling is truly an action supported by Judaism and the Jewish community. Three times a day in prayer, every Jew recites “We thankfully acknowledge…Your miracles which are with us daily, and for Your continual wonders and beneficences.” God gives us amazing blessings on a daily basis, doing miracles we don’t even notice. We have to give back to God and do our best to protect the world that our Creator has given us. Tikkun olam.

This post was written specifically for a scholarship provided by Castle Ink about celebrating recycling. The article with the most hits gets the scholarship, so please share this with all of your friends!

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Lesson in Equality From Adam and Eve

“So let’s learn about Shavuot,” my teacher said, and I dutifully began to take notes on the holiday. “Shavuot [which begins Tuesday night] commemorates God giving the Torah to the Jews. When God was telling Moses to instruct the Jews how to prepare for Matan Torah [Giving of the Torah], God said to Moses, ‘So shall you say to Beit Yaakov [House of Jacob] and Bnei Yisrael [Children of Israel].’ Rashi says that Beit Yaakov refers to the women, while Bnei Yisrael refers to the men. Okay, great explanation. But why does it say the women first?

“A woman’s father has a fruit field, and it becomes part of her dowry. She gets married and her husband is out on the field, picking fruit. A guy passes by and wants to buy the field. Can the husband agree to sell it before the wife, since it was part of her dowry?” My classmates nodded noncommittally, unsure of the answer. “No. He can’t sell it without her permission, and she needs to give her permission first. Why? Because a kosher woman listens to her husband,” my teacher said, and I gagged. “So if her husband wants to sell the field, a kosher wife will sell it. However, since it’s her field because it was part of her dowry, she needs to give her permission too.” I continued gagging.

“So it goes for Matan Torah,” the teacher continued. “If the men had accepted the Torah first, then the women, being the kosher souls that they were, would have said yes simply because they were listening to the will of their husbands. Thus, the women had to accept the Torah first to make sure that they were really accepting it with all their hearts.”

As soon as she finished the lesson, my heart fell. At first I thought it was so feminist to put the women before the men! Of course, women are looking for equality with men, not to be before them, but considering all the times where women are ignored in the Torah, putting them first here equalizes it a little bit. But no; even that my teacher had to take away.

Men and women were commanded together several times in the Torah. However, there was at least one time where the commandment applied to both men and women, but was not directly commanded to woman: to abstain from eating from the Tree of Knowledge. God said to Adam, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad, you must not eat thereof; for on the day you eat of it, you shall surely die” (Gen 2:16-17). However, it’s five verses later in Gen 2:22 that God created woman. The commandment is never specifically relayed to Eve, but it’s obvious she knows of it, as when the snake asks her about whether or not she is forbidden from eating from any tree, she replies, “Of the fruit of the tree which is in the center of the garden God has said: ‘You shall not eat of it and you shall not touch it, lest you die’” (Gen 3:3). Eve, however, misquoted God: she said that God had said not to touch the Tree, while in the original commandment to Adam, God said simply not to eat from it. Eve also said to the snake that God “has” said; i.e., God said it once, but not in her hearing. One can assume that Adam relayed the message instead of God telling Eve directly.

We all know how the story ends: the snake persuaded Eve to eat from the Tree, Eve had Adam eat from the Tree, God got angry at them, then expelled them from the Garden of Eden. The punishment for later generations is that women have pain at childbirth and humankind has to work hard for sustenance. In short, the results were disastrous.

Eve had an equal obligation to Adam in the prohibition of eating from the Tree of Knowledge. Yet God did not bother commanding Eve against eating from it, simply allowing Adam to pass the message on. Seeing how it didn’t work out so well, God addressed the women first at Matan Torah, making up for the fact that God did not address woman at all about the Tree of Knowledge.

After Matan Torah, Moses went up Mount Sinai to receive the rest of the Torah. When he didn’t come down on the expected day, the Jews built the Golden Calf. The women refused to participate, meriting the holiday of Rosh Hodesh in reward. Once again, the people commanded second messed up.

This shows that neither men nor women should have supremacy. There shouldn’t be one sex with more privileges than the other; there should be total equality. I am infamous for yelling at people when they use the word lady to describe a woman when they wouldn’t use the term gentleman, since it patronizes women. “But don’t feminists want to be better than men?” my uneducated friends will ask. “NO! Equal! We want to be equal!” I will exclaim. Women don’t want to be idolized or patronized; we want equality. Not above, definitely not below. EQUAL.

I’m not saying that God made a mistake in the Garden of Eden; God gave Adam and Eve all the tools to succeed. God doesn’t choose the path we decide, so it’s not God’s fault that the original humans erred. However, this just proves that our Creator is aware of the fact that women and men need to be equal. As you eat your cheesecake this Shavuot, remember the lesson in equality we learn from Adam and Eve.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Star of Davida Interviews Alicia Jo Rabins

Women have always been important in music. In biblical times, women like Deborah and Hannah composed songs of thanks for God. In more recent times, women have consistently been a hugely important presence in the music industry (for the good and bad). I recently blogged about Girls in Trouble's new album Half You Half Me, and got the honor of interviewing Alicia Jo Rabins, the singer of the band.

Talia bat Pessi: Do you attribute Girls in Trouble as part of the feminist movement? Are you yourself a feminist?
Alicia Jo Rabins: I do consider myself a feminist, and I guess although I would characterize Girls in Trouble primarily as an art project/song cycle, I would call it feminist art - although we usually think of that more in terms of visual art, for some reason.

I understand that your music was influenced by some time you spent in Israel. Could you tell me some more about that?
I grew up in a secular Jewish home, but got really interested in the texts and the spiritual content of Judaism in college. So after I graduated, I got a scholarship to study at Pardes, in Jerusalem. I sort of jumped in full force and ended up staying for two years and getting super-deep into Talmud and Chassidic thought. It really changed my life. So these songs are definitely influenced by that time - by having had the tremendous blessing to spend two years fully immersed in these texts and traditions.

I'm borderline-obsessed with Lilith, and love that she influenced the album so much. Why did you choose her as your muse?
I too find Lilith incredibly fascinating - but I should say that although her song ended up being the album single, she’s not necessarily my muse any more than the other women I write about. I feel connected to each of them, and after 20 songs, they begin to form a system in which they are all parts of each other, or perhaps all refractions of some sort of divine woman, like that Tree of Life map of God which contains sefirot associated with different characters. But it’s true that Lilith is sort of fundamental: after all, she’s the first woman, or maybe predates Judaism altogether as a legend, and since she’s not actually mentioned in the Torah, there are such wildly varied legends about her! I was interested in the idea of medieval Jewish women making amulets to keep Lilith away so that she wouldn't kill their babies - it seemed so lonely to me, the thought of this woman first being banished by God because she wouldn’t submit to Adam, and then being doubly exiled by women who were afraid of her anger and power. I entered her character through this sort of awful imagined loneliness, and somehow ended up on the other sid of it, with the luminous power of that original love.

As I listened to “Rubies” and “Emeralds and Microscopes,” I was strongly reminded of my own grandmother and great-grandmother, respectively. Did you draw inspiration from any women in your own life?
Sure, and the men too!

Did you expect to have a career in music, or did you fall into all of this?
I grew up playing the violin and writing music, but what I expected to do was to be a poet (which I still am, as well). Music was always a huge part of my life, so I should have known it wouldn't just disappear one day - and I'm glad it didn't - but I still do occasionally get pretty surprised at the path my life has taken.

What advice do you have for other young women who want to pursue careers in the musical industry?

Trust your instincts, work hard, and have fun. A lot of people will tell you “how things work,” but they’re usually wrong - there are no hard and fast rules in this business. Be as creative about your career as you are about your work - for me that means a lot of DIY thinking, which is really helpful in transcending barriers and just making things happen. And above all keep taking in new work (music, literature, visual art, dance, film) and making your own work. That’s what makes us artists.