Crossposted from Haaretz
Canadian women did it, American women did it and even Singaporean women did it. Soon Israeli women will do it, too: This month will see Slutwalks (Mitzad Sharmutot in Hebrew ) in Tel Aviv (on March 16) and in Haifa a week later. A third Israeli Slutwalk will take place in Jerusalem next month.
The first Slutwalk was around a year ago in Toronto, prompted by a policeman said at a crime prevention safety forum that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”
His remarks reflected a very commonly held view that a woman who dresses in what is considered sexy attire is basically asking to be assaulted or harassed.
Women, fortunately, are no longer willing to accept this attitude. Following the march in Toronto, over the year many other Slutwalks were held all over the world, where some of the participants were scantily clad. The marchers’ message is clear: We will wear what we please, we do not need to apologize for our sexuality, and it does not matter what you think of what we wear or what you think we mean: When we say no, it means no.
In your recent critique of Deborah Feldman’s new book,”Unorthodox,” you point to the clothes that Feldman has been photographed in as a sign that she lacks maturity. You write:
“Whatever the truth, something about Feldman still seems very young, though she is now 25 and the mother of a nearly 6-year-old son. In photos in the [New York] Post, posing in a sequined, sleeveless mini-dress, and in pictures on the ABC News website, where she sits on a park bench, wearing high heels, tight jeans and holding a cigarette in her hand, she looks like nothing so much as a young girl posing the way she thinks grownups are supposed to. … She reminds me of 13-year-old girls I see at some bat mitzvahs, teetering around on stiletto heels and wearing minis so short they can’t safely sit down.”
I took a look at the pictures in question, and in them Feldman looks no different than many young women I see on the streets of New York and in my Facebook scroll everyday — including myself. I am talking about women in their 20s and their 30s, who don’t think twice about throwing on a pair of skinny jeans or a mini-dress on a weekend night.
In light of an email tirade in which Tea Party congressman Allen West called Democratic National Committee chairwoman (and proud Jewess) Debbie Wasserman Schultz “vile,” and wrote that she has proved that she is “not a Lady,” The Daily Beast’s Michelle Goldberg pulls back the curtain on what she sees as West’s history of misogynistic behavior.
As much as journalist Rebecca Traister wants to embrace the new phenomenon known as the SlutWalk — in which scantily clad women take to the streets in hopes of taking the sting out of the moniker “slut” — she writes, in this New York Times magazine piece, that the gatherings seem “less like victory than capitulation (linguistic and sartorial) to what society already expects of its young women.” (Listen to a recent Yid Lit podcast featuring Traister here.)
JTA’s Sue Fishkoff — who in September will become editor of the Bay Area Jewish newsweekly j. (Mazel tov, Sue!) — writes about the unforeseen complications of non-Jewish mothers raising Jewish children.
Our Sisterhood bloggers have long mulled the appeal of having “Big Love”-style “sister wives.” In this recent New York Times op-ed, law professor Jonathan Turley defends the polygamous marriage of the Utah family that stars in the reality series “Sister Wives,” and calls state laws banning plural marriage examples of “unacceptable government intrusion.”
The rise of Slutwalks — anti-rape marches that started as a reaction to a Canadian cop’s comments that dressing slutty encourages sexual assault, and have since spread across the world — has incited a debate on the use of the word “slut.” Some, like Gail Dines and Wendy J. Murphy over at the Guardian, rail against the term, because the “term slut is so deeply rooted in the patriarchal “madonna/whore” view of women’s sexuality that it is beyond redemption.”
Meanwhile Chloe Angyal at Feminsting defends the use of the term by activists, explaining that the term “Slutwalk” has been incredibly successfully in getting women “angry and active and inspiring them” to take no more BS. The debate is a good one, but, all in all, it is nothing new to Jewish women who have long been subjected to stereotypes about their sexuality. I’m with Angyal, on Team Sluts — and here’s why.
For generations J.A.P.s were seen as asexual and/or frigid, a stereotype that provided much fodder for Jewish humor. Take for example: “What’s a Jewish American Princess’ favorite position? Facing Tiffany’s.” Or: “A Jewish American Princess’s husband was making love to his wife when suddenly, to his intense surprise, she wiggled and let out a short cry of delight. ‘My God, honey!’ he exclaimed. ‘What happened?’ ‘It’s wonderful,’ she said. ‘I finally decided that those curtains would look much better in peach.’”
But then, over the past decade or so, we have been relocated to the other side of the spectrum and now are considered, well, kinda slutty.