Monday, September 5, 2011

What JWA Means to Me

The Jewesses with Attitude blog recently had a makeover! I’m not used to the new format yet (it takes me a while to get used to change - when they remodeled my local Walgreens, I was confused for weeks), but I like what I see so far. The blog is much sleeker, and I love the addition of the photos of Jewesses with attitude at the top of the page. As part of the new makeover, JWA asked bloggers to write about what the blog means to them.

I first became involved in feminism the year before I went into high school, when I was working on a paper about the Second Wave. Dorky as it sounds, reading books like The Feminine Mystique lit a fire in me that I couldn’t extinguish. As a result, I began to identify as a feminist. I didn’t think it was compatible with Judaism, though, especially not Orthodoxy. It made me feel uncomfortable to think of one when I thought of the other. I completely compartmentalized myself: one box was for my devotion to women’s rights, and the second box was where I kept Judaism. The two were equal parts of my identity, but separate, never overlapping.

As I did more research on the Second Wave, the fact that so many feminists were Jews really interested me. As I did research on women like Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Alix Kates Shulman, and Shulamith Firestone, I stumbled upon the Jewish Women’s Archive. It greatly helped my research on many of these prominent women, and I still use it as a source when I’m writing historical papers. I’ll also log on every once in a while just to read up on assorted Jewish women from the past.

While I loved the Archive at first sight, it was the Jewesses with Attitude blog that fascinated me. I had never seen any sort of blog or website dedicated to celebrating Jewish women from a feminist perspective, and the idea drew me in. I began borderline-obsessively reading past posts, drinking in the Jewish feminism that I had been isolated from for so long. Since it was the first Jewish feminism I was exposed to, and the first feminist blog I officially followed, it greatly shaped my attitudes and opinions. Because feminism is something I want to dedicate my entire life to, I don’t think it’s melodramatic when I say that JWA truly changed my life. (Okay, maybe it’s a little melodramatic. But it’s still true.)

I eventually found other Jewish feminist outlets, and even went on to create my own, but I’ll always have a special place in my heart for JWA. I’m glad that I can call myself a feisty Jewess with attitude because of it.

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