The website XOJane.com published a post by one of its regular contributors, India-Jewel Jackson, entitled “Let’s Talk Paula Deen and Apology Culture – Should Celebrities Be Forced to Apologize In Spite of Their Beliefs?”
However, it wasn’t Jackson’s post on June 24 that caused controversy among the blog’s devoted followers – it was one of her comments. In the comment thread on the piece, Jackson compared slavery to the Holocaust, arguing that black people had suffered more from slavery than Jewish people had from the Shoah.
“BUT, with the slavery vs. holocaust debate, it’s a bit different, as it was ultimately based upon race vs. religion, as in, Blacks were enslaved for hundreds of years, because they were Black. They couldn’t change or alter the appearance so as to escape and fly under the radar. Jews were exteriminated [sic] (@peachgrenade’s words–not mine) for not being blonde + blue and because of their religion–the hair and the religion, they could change,” she wrote in response to another commenter.
The thread then turned into what might be called the Oppression Olympics, with people complaining that certain groups had more right to victimhood than others. Turning systematic oppression into a contest where minority groups vie for the title of “People who had it the worst” serves only to diminish all of our experiences. The post racked up 421 comments, with commenters debating everything from whether Jewishness is a choice to whether Native Americans actually beat both black and Jewish people in the carnival of suffering. The original subject of the post, Paula Deen, was long forgotten.
Yesterday on XOJane, my favorite site for a good ol’ fashioned hate-read, there’s a first person post from Chaya Kurtz, a Chassidishe married woman, who writes in the response to the waves of negative press the Orthodox community has received in the wake of the gathering of 40,000 ultra-Orthodox men at Citi Field this past Sunday in order to protest the internet. Most notably, women were not allowed to attend the rally and this fact has resulted in charges of misogyny directed at Orthodox Jews.
Chaya is here to tell us that it aint so. She’s a married, Orthodox woman with a degree in women’s studies (no less) from a large, liberal university. And she’s totally happy with her life, and would like to disabuse the masses about the perceived misogyny in Orthodox Judaism.
Some of the things that she insists on, I won’t quibble with. Yes, I certainly hope that ultra-Orthodox women find their husbands attractive and it’s unfair to suggest that they wouldn’t. I would never suggest that a hipster male is fundamentally unattractive just because I don’t find him appealing so on that point, Chaya, we definitely agree: Attraction is in the eye of the beholder.
But even within that section, there’s already a problem. She writes: “In the Jewish marriage contract, one of the conditions of marriage is that a husband is obligated to sexually satisfy his wife.” While this is all well and true, there’s a part she left out — that in that same contract, he acquires her, like she’s a possession. You see, women are a protected class within Orthodoxy. Yes, you have to treat them right, but they are still subordinate. Don’t believe me? Read the last six months of articles in the general press about agunot.