Avoiding Alliteration and Altercations - Oops, I Did it Again
Alliteration can be a dangerous poetic device. This is what I learned from reading the recent response to my article, “When ‘Feminism’ Goes too Far.” While writing my recent piece, which I, too, will dub SSS:FFF, my Women’s Studies minor and focus on feminist literary criticism in much of my academic work were far from my mind. Instead, I was attempting to share a story that expressed my frustration at the silencing I felt I had to undergo when I ended my blog, Far From Frum, during my year in Israel. The goals of my article were merely to express the roadblock I faced—that I could not be an Orthodox woman and an honest journalist simultaneously—and the ways in which I dealt with my challenge. While my experience may have an element of universality in that other women, both in my community and around the world, continue to feel the need to be silenced to fit into the mold of their expected gender stereotype, I was certainly not looking to be cast under the feminist catch-all phrase, “the personal is political.”
Feminism, while a vital social movement to which I owe much of the liberties I am afforded today, is not the lens through which I examine every facet of my life experience, nor does it capture the diatribe that perpetually rolls off my tongue. Certainly, I am a feminist, and while I did invoke the name of this goddess in the title of my piece, my article was not intended to be sacrificed on her altar. Though I certainly relate to bell hooks in her description of being told that her words had no place in her community, and thereafter breaking through the cultural and social barrier that had been placed upon her, the words that I posted in my blog were certainly not feminist in their nature—and I never indicated that they were. Additionally, this sacred word only appears a single time in the course of my article, in the title.
Here I will include a favorite quote of mine by Kurt Vonnegut, who is no Evelyn Beatrice Hall, but a rather intelligent fella: “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.” I will not pretend, as I stated earlier, that my excitable eighteen-year-old self was sensitive to all the words that she had at her disposal, nor their potential effects. I will, however, defend to the death my right to express my thoughts. This, of course, as was noted, has limits. I wholeheartedly agree that feminism and freedom of speech are not cards that enable one to enter into any form of public discourse with an attitude of “social norms be damned.” That being said, I feel that an innocent schoolgirl crush, expressed anonymously, a home wrecker does not make. While I mentioned the infamous “McRabbi” post that I included in my blog because it was the selection that Luke Ford chose to post in full on his own website, I made certain to inform my reader that my blog was not simply about attractive faculty members. It concerned a pivotal year of my life and how I experienced it.
Though I was not careful enough to protect my anonymity, I believe that I was careful, at this stage in my journalistic career, to be clear that I did not intend to glorify my “mistake.” Having been impregnated with the idea of my blog by a short conversation with my editor, I admit that my sentiments were not entirely appropriate; however, I certainly don’t think that aborting them was the objectively proper course of action. If I had desired to glorify my writing of yore, I would have resurrected it in the pages of The Commentator, rather than sharing my experience. While this may be more mortifying than glorifying, I would hope that it would show my readers that Yeshiva Girl’s purpose was not to threaten the family of my McRabbi, nor his wife’s probable affinity for kugel.
“Each woman has the right to define what ‘feminism’ means to her.” I could not agree more. For me, my experience with my blog, and the years of thinking about it that followed, have informed my own feminist thought. The content of my blog, while it serves for humorous conversation on first dates and in groups of friends, was not informed by my feminist sentiments. Ultimately, I wanted to display an evolution in my own thinking and progress that my blog did not get to see. I now have the forum to express my thoughts openly, while employing the proper forms of censorship and editing, in The Commentator. And I wished to thank them for providing a refuge for my words—which I will now make sure to deploy with utmost care. But just in case I make another mistake: ladies, guard your McRabbis.