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Editorial: Where Are the Women?
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Podcast: Adrienne Cooper's Musical Life
America's Most Influential Women Rabbis
A subset of Women of the Wall leaders and supporters, who disagree with a plan to compromise on where the group can pray at the Kotel, has doubled in size from 10 to 21. Women of the Wall is a feminist group pushing to be able to sing, pray aloud and wear ritual garments typically worn by men at the women’s section of the Kotel.
The subset group announced last week that it rejected a plan put forth by Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky and conditionally accepted by Women of the Wall that would expand Robinson’s Arch, an area of egalitarian prayer.
The group released an open letter on Tuesday clarifying its dissent of the Sharansky plan and declaring that, “We are committed to our dream and to the work needed to fully realize and sustain it.”
Signatories include Rabbi Susan Silverman and Dr. Phyllis Chesler.
The dissenters wrote:
“The government proposes making structural changes at Robinson’s Arch to create a site to which all whose prayer practice is not tolerated by those who now control the Kotel will be relegated, leaving the Kotel permanently and officially in the hands of a segment of Jewry that suffers the presence of other Jews only on its terms. Regrettably, the Israeli government is yielding to intimidation, threats, and violence as the basis for policy making, rather than upholding the equality of rights of all citizens in public space that is enshrined in Israel’s Declaration of Independence.”
Rabbi David Saperstein, Director and Counsel of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and longtime supporter of Women of the Wall, told the Forward that the Reform movement officially supports the Sharansky plan, and that dissent like this was not uncommon in Judaism. “It’s not that we don’t think there’s a legitimate argument on the other side,” he said. “It’s a respectful difference.”
“Good moral caring people can differ on strategies and tactics, and how to achieve common goals, in this case, equal treatment of women at the wall,” Saperstein said. “Each of the locations has different strengths, and each of the locations has drawbacks. It seems that significant majority are willing to embrace the Sharansky approach.
“We’re sympathetic and appreciative of the majority of Women of the Wall who think that opening a larger area of the wall to be accessible to all people, all Jews, is most effective way of addressing need of having egalitarian, pluralistic, access to the Wall,” he said.
In an email to the Forward, Chesler wrote: “It occurs to me that we are not the dissidents. We are sticking to our fundamental and foundational principles. We are, oddly, the traditionalists and the current WOW Board have departed from our tradition. We hope we can get them to change their mind and come back to basics.”
Stay tuned for more updates on this developing story.
No self-serious feminist strain of thinking posits that it’s an act of resistance to binge drink. Philosophically speaking, getting inebriated beyond rational capacity is hardly an empowering or equalizing behavior — in fact by its very definition it is the opposite. Yet the mythical booze-pushing feminist is a straw woman who continually gets cited when writers make the “contrarian” argument, (which is actually the conventional one) that women could prevent their own rapes if they only stopped binge drinking. These writers claim that (again, mythical) feminists who want women to drink on par with men are encouraging dangerous behavior.
This spurious argument resurfaced in a link-bait article by Emily Yoffe at Slate last week tied to a horrible rape case in Maryland. Putting aside the fact that the young victims in Maryland were underage and say they were coerced into drinking more than they could handle, Yoffe’s thesis can be debunked by the fact that rape was just as prevalent (if not more so) during eras when “binge drinking” was not even part of our vocabulary. Rather than promoting binge drinking, feminists are simply stating that stopping binge drinking will not stop rape. As Amanda Hess, in a response also at Slate, notes: “Parents can tell their own daughters not to get drunk, but even if those women follow instructions, it won’t keep other people’s daughters safe.”
Yoffe’s strain of thinking replicates an unfortunate focus on women’s drinking as a risk factor, rather than men’s view of women, or even men’s drinking. Thus Ann Friedman created a reverse-gender rewrite of the Slate article using much of Yoffe’s language and rhetoric. Her version’s unusual-sounding advice demonstrated how rare it is to read articles that call out men — not just women — to stop the problem of assault. Friedman writes:
The real masculine message should be that when you lose the ability to be responsible for yourself, you drastically increase the chances that you will become the kind of person who, shall we say, doesn’t have others’ best interests at heart. That’s not saying all men are rapists; that’s trying to prevent more rapes.
There are other, deeper, questions we can ask that Yoffe doesn’t touch on. Why, for instance, does binge drinking occur so much? Much of it arises from pure adolescent impulse to obliterate the painful present, consequences be damned. But there are also other factors: the achievement-oriented culture we live in results in harder partying to “cut loose.” And then there’s another form of internalized misogyny: young women, are so discouraged from frankly articulating and acknowledging their desires in our sexually screwed-up cultural environment that many feel they cannot possibly “hook up” when sober. That’s not a drinking problem, it’s a problem with our sexist culture — one addressed by proponents of “enthusiastic consent” like Jaclyn Friedman, whom I spoke to for the Forward last year.
I’m thrilled to introduce myself as the new editor of the Sisterhood blog. As the deputy culture editor of the Forward, I’ve been covering gender and Judaism for the past two years, writing about topics like halachic infertility, Hasidic feminism and transgender Jews.
But my path to the Sisterhood actually began long before my time at the Forward. In middle school English class, I was given an assignment to instruct my peers on a topic of my choosing. Initially, I thought I would “teach” my classmates why girls are better than boys. (My logic at the time was that girls can grow up to have babies, an argument that today strikes me as rather sexist.) But in the end, I decided to go with a less controversial lesson: How to insult someone in Yiddish. (“Gai kaken oifen yam” or “Go poop in a lake” is still my favorite.)
From a tender age, it would seem, I was ruminating on gender and Judaism and the interplay between the two. Now, some two decades later, I finally have the opportunity to share my views in the public sphere. (I guarantee they’ve evolved beyond “girls are better than boys.”)
Of course, I’ll be joined by a talented bevy of freelance writers who will share their personal stories, analyze breaking news and, in the words of founding Sisterhood editor Gabrielle Birkner, “break ideas” on the blog. Speaking of Gabi, I have some big shoes to fill. Gabi and Abigail Jones, the immediate past editor, populated the blog with thoughtful prose and meaningful series, like “What Jewish Feminism Means to Me” and “Women in Mourning.” I am indebted to both of them — and their hard work and vision — as I helm the blog moving Forward.
Recently while talking with champion swimmer Diana Nyad, Oprah Winfrey expressed confusion over the concept of Nyad’s being both an atheist and a spiritual person capable of awe. David Edwards at Raw Story summarized their encounter
Oprah Winfrey recently spoke to atheist long distance swimmer Diana Nyad and told her that she definitely wasn’t an atheist if she believed in “awe” and “wonder.” In a conversation with Nyad on the Oprah Winfrey Network’s Super Soul Sunday, Winfrey seemed baffled that the 64-year-old swimmer could be an atheist and “a person who is deeply in awe.”
As a self-defined “spiritual atheist” this breaks my heart. I’ve received strong and varied responses to my sisterhood post about my non religious (or pseudo-religious) but spiritual and cultural Jewish life. These reactions came both from people of my generation, and older, who strongly identified with my declaration of “secular, Jewish and proud” —and also from many detractors who expressed unwillingness to see my story as indicative of anything larger, and who declared that my nonbelief somehow negated my intense connection to Judaism.
Secular Jews, Jews whose religious identification falls in a more nebulous category —occasionally observant, personally observant, erratically, iconoclastically observant — or even more religiously-inclined Jews whose views on Israel are more skeptical are loudly saying “we are Jews, deep in our beings” And our critics are saying “no you’re not, really.”
This strikes me as deeply illogical. If you want to get philosophical about it, what does the standard of “belief” or “religious practice” even mean? Dismissing humor, food and culture as “less than” praying with fervor is arbitrary. Dipping apples in honey or breaking a piece of matzo can be an action that’s deeply spiritual and emotional to a secular Jew; so can saying the Kaddish, listening to Leonard Cohen, or staying home from work — and also from synagogue —on a holiday.
Sixty years ago on September 19, my mother went into labor. Unluckily for her, it was Erev Shabbat and Kol Nidre night. As virtually all of the obstetricians in Philadelphia were Jewish — even the most secular would have been in synagogue — a retiree was brought in to deliver me. The good doctor had been enjoying a quiet Friday night at home with drink after drink; it was said that the delivery room reeked of liquor from his breath.
I was delivered with great difficulty as Mum was 39 years old. Nine days later, on September 28, my mother suffered a horrific hemorrhage at home. By the time she arrived at the hospital, she was, for all intents and purposes, clinically dead. Her blood pressure was nearing zero over zero.
What had happened? Evidently the thoroughly inebriated retiree had forgotten to remove the placenta.
Last week Malala Yousafzai charmed Jon Stewart’s, and therefore America’s, socks off when he interviewed the Nobel Peace Prize contender about her new book, a memoir about her experience as an education advocate and a victim of the Taliban.
Yousafzai, 16, was all conviction and grace when explaining to Stewart that she knew she was a target of extremists long before they shot her in the head, but had decided that it would not be worth fighting back.
“If you hit a Talib, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib,” she said. “You must not treat others with cruelty…You must fight others through peace and through dialogue and through education. … I would tell him how important education is and that I would even want education for your children as well. That’s what I want to tell you now do what you want.”
As touching as Stewart’s interview with her was, and it was touching, it did overlook a big part of what makes Malala Malala, and that is her religion. Yousafzai is a Muslim, and sees the potential for reform within the context of Islam, and not, like other prominent feminists from Muslim countries, outside of it.
Rafia Zakaria has a powerful essay on Al Jazeera America about why it is important that Yousafzai’s fans in the west don’t overlook the fact that Malala is a practicing Muslim. She says that for “Muslim girls and women around the world [her story] is more than just a tale of survival. … [It] is proof that feminism, or the desire for equality through education and empowerment, is not the terrain of any one culture or faith.”
Zakaria compares Yousafzai to Somali-born Dutch author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, whose memoir “Infidel,” about her journey from a repressive Muslim family in East Africa to the freedom she found in Netherlands, became a New York Times best-seller and turned her into an international celebrity. Hirsi Ali’s message was that Muslim women can only be free when they renounce their faith and cultures.
Yousafzai, on the other hand, offers a different model for reformation, one that better resembles the battles being waged by millions of Muslim girls, who long for emancipation too. “Their victories,” writes Zakaria, “lie not in renunciation but in resistance and reclamation of faith, culture and public space.” She ends her essay by urging Western feminists to take note of their blind spots that might lead them to believe that renunciation is the only way.
”The tradition of narratives that hold up the medieval backwardness of abandoned countries and pivot invasions on liberating their hapless women is a strong one, but it is built on the historical edifice of colonial subjugation. A Western feminism that asks Muslim women to leave their traditions at the door is fundamentally disempowering.”
While I can’t say for sure if there is widespread trend among Western feminists to ask Muslim women to “leave their traditions at the door,” I do know that talk of Yousafzai ’s religion was largely absent from the media coverage of her in the States. Because of this, we lost our chance to hear her speak not just as a feminist crusader, but of someone who has managed to negotiate her religious traditions with how she thinks the world should look. As Jewish feminists have long known, and still know, this isn’t a simple task.
I can only hope that this is just the beginning of Yousafzai-fever and that we will still have our chance to hear more specifics about how she makes her observance of Islam and cultural traditions and her activism fit together. All feminists, religious or not, would surely benefit.
Earlier this month, my social media feeds were full of comments about the recent Pew Study, A Portrait of Jewish Americans. Even more than the actual study though, it was the New York Times article about the findings that generated the most conversation, with its telling headline, “Poll Shows Major Shift in Identity of U.S. Jews.”
While the results emphasize that American Jews are proud to declare their identity, the more negative takeaways were captured in the second paragraph of the Times article:
The intermarriage rate, a bellwether statistic, has reached a high of 58 percent for all Jews, and 71 percent for non-Orthodox Jews — a huge change from before 1970 when only 17 percent of Jews married outside the faith. Two-thirds of Jews do not belong to a synagogue, one-fourth do not believe in God and one-third had a Christmas tree in their home last year.
I found this especially interesting because at the time I was reading the just-released book “My Basmati Bat Mitzvah” by Paula J. Freedman. “My Basmati Bat Mitzvah” follows the spiritual and social journey of 12-year-old New Yorker Tara Feinstein as she prepares for her Bat Mitzvah (or Bas Mitzvah as her Yiddish grandmother and Indian-born auntie refer to it).
And therein lies the rub: Tara likes to embrace both her Jewish and Indian identities, complete with chilis in matzo ball soup and a converted sari synagogue-party dress. But this also creates problems, as she deals with classmates who say she is not “really” Jewish, even though her Indian mother converted to Judaism before she was born, and that she is worshipping idols because she keeps an elephant statue from her grandfather in her room. As Tara wonders, when it comes to her Bat Mitzvah: “Was I about to become more Jewish, or less Indian?”
Last week I attended the funeral of a girl who was my age, 39. Jodi and I grew up together. We lived next door to each other as children, from when I moved into my house right before kindergarten until we left for college. For me she will always be that little girl that I played with for hours on her swing set, trying to break a Guinness Book World record for time spent on a swing. We were inspired by a “Brady Bunch” episode, and we played on the swings until it got dark and our parents called us in.
Jodi’s funeral was right before the days of Awe, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which are all about remembering and memories. As Dara Horn recently wrote in the New York Times, one of the central prayers in the Hebrew liturgy of the Day of Remembrance describes God as an ideal reader: “You remember all the forgotten things. You open the Book of Memories and it speaks for itself, for each person’s hand has signed it.” As she wrote, both prayer and fiction allow us to recreate, to re-live, to re-animate the past. Remembering is acting like God and, in essence, it is what a writer does. Remembering, or telling stories about our memories, I realized after my friend’s funeral, is the only way we can mourn — and the only way we can comfort mourners.
Content warning: The author has requested that there be a content/trigger warning as this piece talks about sexual abuse and rape.
You tell your editor you’ll write a piece about forgiveness and sexual abuse — about surviving being both sexually molested and raped, and then forgiving your abusers. And you’ll write it for Yom Kippur. When you pitch this story, first in spring and again in summer, you are certain you know what you’re talking about. You have no doubts. No unwavering concerns that this could be anything other than easy.
When Rosh Hashanah nears, you panic. Who are you to use words like “forgiveness” alongside your survival story when that word may not necessarily ascribe itself to any other survivor’s story? There is no right or textbook way to heal. Survival is as personal and intimate as that which was taken. I would know; I was sexually abused in high school and date raped in college. So finally, I forced myself to take a deep breath and write myself into understanding.
I started a new Word document. I cut and pasted links to articles about sexual abuse and forgiveness, but I knew I’d never read them. I didn’t need someone else’s thoughts to validate my truth. I’ve been in therapy. In college, I produced “The Vagina Monologues” and the V-Day Campaign. I’ve been publicly sharing my story through activism and art for over a decade. I listen as other survivors — women, men, genderqueer alike — share their stories. I’m not supposed to struggle with this anymore; I’m supposed to be certain in my healing.
Two new feminist t-shirts entered the world this past month and I am not sure which will incite more scandal, considering the context.
One is a tight, black, short-sleeved v-neck tee that has “’Daughters of Israel, Do Not Dress Provocatively” printed across it in Hebrew. This is the same language women find on signs posted around religious neighborhoods of Jerusalem warning them to not show too much skin.
This shirt was the brainchild of Jerusalem-based Joanne Ginsberg, who came up with the idea after being harassed for her “provocative” dress a few summers ago. She was wearing long sleeves, a long skirt sandals and a head scarf.
We humans are resistant to change. It unsettles us. Causes us discomfort. And anxiety. And yet, as first articulated by the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, change is the only constant. Whether or not we like it, things do change. What is in our control is how we choose to handle it. Do we deny its inevitability and cling to the waning status quo? Do we embrace the opportunity to evolve and enhance the experience?
This January, I will chant my Torah portion in honor of my 30th anniversary of becoming a bat mitzvah. It is an annual tradition and is a lasting gift from a one-time event that occurred as I teetered on the precipice between childhood and adulthood. Thirty years after the fact, I can so clearly recall the hours of practicing for my service. Digging into commentaries with my mom in order to write my d’var torah. Spending hours, learning with the rabbi, until I was able to make the text my own. When I stood on the bimah and received the Torah from the hands of my parents and grandparents, I was keenly aware that I was taking my place in a chain of tradition.
My bat mitzvah experience, however, was not the norm. Unlike most, I actually loved attending Hebrew School. My mother holds a degree in Hebrew from UCLA and my father is a rabbi. I was reared in a home where Judaism was a living, breathing, celebrated essence of who we were and how we lived. I, too, am a rabbi and I strive to create a home modeled after the one in which I was so blessed to grow up. So my experience, both personal and professional, borders on unique.
A little over a month ago, I began an experiment in what I thought of as Doing Jewish Things. I wondered, if I observed certain customs or ventured into areas of Judaism I had previously ignored, would it have any discernable impact on my life? Would I feel better, more engaged, less inexplicably guilty about not doing stuff no one was pushing me to do anyway?
As the weeks went by I lit candles on Shabbat, made Gefilte fish, fasted on Yom Kippur, and bought my first ever tanakh. Then I tried to come up with a unifying theory of Doing Jewish Things and what it all meant.
The candles unexpectedly made me wish for an idyllic and meticulously scheduled family life, a life that was not only the opposite of my own but probably not even attainable outside of mommy blogs and Instagram feeds with deceptively shiny finishes.
The Gefilte fish was an enjoyable foray into traditional cooking methods that I do not particularly want to repeat. The fasting got me thinking about whether I should try that new 5:2 diet plan and, in retrospect, provided a mental connection to other Jews across the world. The tanakh, which I haven’t sat down and read any of yet, remains an important book I’m eager to peruse when I have the time. But how all of that fit together, I couldn’t really say.
But while I was contemplating this, the Pew Research Center came out with a study of Jewish Americans, and it seemed every Jewish American I knew was talking (and writing, and tweeting) about nothing else.
Feminism and motherhood continue to be the Ross and Rachel of the never-ending sitcom that is contemporary womanhood. We know they should get together, that they belong together, but its just not happening. Meanwhile, their little pas de deux is growing tiresome, and honestly we all have better things to do than wait for season who-knows-what to see how it plays out.
In a recent Modern Love column, Janet Benton wrote about how before being swept away by second-wave feminism her mother “inhabited the kitchen with care,” letting her and her siblings lick “drippy, sweet things off the mixing spoon.”
Then she got radical, ditched the kitchen for her studio where she could be found “wielding a torch of blue flame, shaping metal into sculpture. She wore a leather apron, elbow-high gloves, a polka-dot cap, a breathing mask and a plastic face visor. Her bushy red hair burst out the back of the cap, a sign of her uncontainable passion.”
Suddenly there was not only no more licking sweet things off of spoons, there wasn’t any food. Benton “went from being well fed and popular in third grade to near skeletal and often mocked in fifth.”
New York City just launched an offensive on yet another modern plague: low self-esteem in girls. The city started a new public health campaign aimed to encourage girls, aged 7 to 12 years, to challenge the unattainable notions of beauty foisted upon them by pop culture and advertising.
The campaign, which consists mostly of ads on public transportation, was the brainchild of Samantha Levine, the mayor’s deputy press secretary. Levine said she was moved to start the project after learning that 80% of 10-year-old girls report being afraid of being fat and most girls’ self-esteem drops at age 12 and doesn’t improve until 20. The Sisterhood spoke with Levine about what she hopes the campaign will achieve and why we need to redefine beauty.
We can now add something else to the long list of things that are not kosher enough for the Haredi authorities in Israel: rape crisis and mental health hotlines.
If you are the victim of sexual abuse or are having an emotional crisis and have signed up for your cell phone service’s “kosher” plan, then you’re don’t expect to be able to anonymously reach out toll-free for help. According to an investigative report by Ynet, a body called the Rabbinical Committee for Communications has threatened to hurt mobile service providers’ business if they do not block the ability to dial these hotlines on “kosher” phones. It seems that so far, the providers have acquiesced to the rabbis’ demands.
The user of a regular cell phone (one that has not subscribed to a kosher plan) can dial toll free to the rape crisis center (1202 for women, 1203 for men) and to the ERAN emotional first-aid hotline, as well as to the country’s other emergency numbers (police, fire, ambulance, etc.). Kosher phones allow calls to the other emergency numbers, but block ones to the hotlines.
When my oldest daughter had her bat mitzvah, one of my proudest moments did not occur during the ceremony, though she certainly invested time and hard work in preparing. It came early Sunday morning when we were deciding what to do with the leftover food from our huge Shabbat Kiddush. My daughter suggested that we bring it to a shelter for women and children that she had volunteered at with her school, the Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School.
This was a truly meaningful statement: My daughter embraced her role as an adult Jew who is able to see herself as capable of making the world a better place. That morning, before her bat mitzvah party, we delivered the food to grateful recipients at the shelter.
Something similar happened a few days before my second daughter’s bat mitzvah. We took a walk and stopped to talk with an older neighbor. She told us that she always made blintzes on Shavuot but hadn’t been able to this year. Without prompting, my daughter went home and selected some of the blintzes that she and her older sister had made themselves to share with our neighbor.
Until recently, I was a poster-child for the kind of attrition from Jewish life that the recent Pew Study, subject of so much angst in the media, describes. I eschewed nearly all organized Jewish activities in the decade after my first Hillel dinner at college, which I fled screaming.
Okay, I wasn’t quite screaming, but I certainly didn’t go back to more Hillel dinners.
An early stint at Jewish day school — supposedly a guarantee of future involvement in religion — hardly indoctrinated me. Instead, it put me in an odd position: It gave me affection for many of the customs and ideas that are associated with Judaism, but it also turned me off of hyper-organized religion forever.
There was a level of competition and sanctimoniousness involved in the religious part of the synagogue and day school experience that I never wanted to replicate. I loved being a Jew, but not listening to people brag about having the Rabbi over for shabbat, about being Jewisher than thou.
It’s true that, over time, I also became an atheist. But I would argue that my non-belief alone wouldn’t have kept me from practicing religion — I enjoy prayer and ritual and find them meaningful. Rather, what I disliked was the condescension that the allegedly more pious offered towards the less.
Today, the Jewish world mourns a great loss: Rav Ovadia Yosef, a spiritual leader of the Sephardic community and founder of the Shaas Party has passed away.
The Baghdad-born rabbi, who died at the age of 93, will be remembered as an active political player and major Torah scholar. And although not all of his views towards women were progressive, his efforts towards helping Jewish women is something not to be overlooked. Indeed, he was heavily involved in permitting more than 1,000 agunot — literally, women chained — to remarry after the Yom Kippur War.
While Rabbi Yosef was serving as Tel Aviv’s Chief rabbi in 1973, he was approached by IDF General Mordechai Piron regarding a serious problem: nearly 1,000 women were left in a state of limbo. Their husbands had not returned from the battlefield, but there was no way to confirm their deaths. Without obtaining evidence of death, or a get, a religious divorce, these women were left as agunot — “chained” and unable to remarry.
This is the fourth post in a series by Johnna Kaplan exploring aspects of Jewish life outside of her own experience.
Last week I opened an Amazon box containing a Stone Edition Tanach. It is the first tanach, or tanakh (or Bible, or Old Testament, or whatever you want to call it), I have ever had.
There’s no particularly good reason why before this moment I never owned the book that’s so central to the history and practices of the Jewish people. It’s certainly not due to an aversion to books, which I accumulate to an embarrassing degree. You could say that if the Jews are the people of the book, I am the person of all the books but that one.
My first encounter with a Bible story involved several illustrated children’s books, school library cast-offs that I quickly conflated into one large volume in my head. They told tales of different peoples, from Roman myths to Native American creation stories to Scandinavian folklore. One of them had a Jewish section; I vaguely recall dramatic drawings of figures like Moses. There was something about those stories that seemed important somehow, but not alive. I ignored it, and all the others, in favor of the bits about ancient Greeks, which grabbed me instantly.
Still, I knew somehow that the biblical stories were different than the others. Although they bored me, I was aware that they were “mine.” But I didn’t directly encounter them again until I grew old enough to become obsessed with musicals, and learned every word of “Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat.”
Women were caught in the crosshairs of the government shutdown this week, which, as this much-shared stunt photo of a group of eight white male Republicans demonstrates, appears to be as much about testosterone and saving face as it is about helping America move forward.
Look into the causes for this week’s shutdown, and you’ll find dogged conservative opposition to women’s healthcare. And look at the current and future impact of the impasse — you’ll find women’s lives, particularly poor women and moms, will feel the brunt of the pain that the shutdown brings.
Of course, this giant mess is essentially a continuation, or maybe a culmination of the status quo: a several-years-long attack on public workers (largely women) and on reproductive health care. It would probably shock me more to hear that women and their health care were not being held hostage in a budget-related fight in D.C., but that doesn’t make the results any less devastating.
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