Archive for : Gender & Sexuality

How to Successfully Ban Bossy

Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, has a track-record for coining catchy phrases that launch revolutions. Her book Lean In got women thinking in new ways about getting the most out of their careers and lives. More recently, she pioneered the notion Ban Bossy, which suggests that we do our daughters, and all women, a disservice by labeling women who speak up for themselves with a negative label like “bossy” instead of a positive one like “leader.”

“Words like bossy send a message: don’t raise your hand or speak up,” says the ban bossy website. “By middle school, girls are less interested in leading than boys – a trend that continues into adulthood. Sandberg’s campaign has partnered with the Girl Scouts of America and superstars like Beyonce and Jennifer Garner to spread their message.
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4 Jewish Women’s Blogs That Change the World

As Laurel Thatcher Ulrich famously wrote, “Well behaved women rarely make history.” Her words have become a rallying cry and an inspiration for women everywhere – including women bloggers, who make history through their words.

This Women’s History Month, here are 4 women-centric Jewish blogs that strive to give voice to the diverse, wonderful, rebellious, and inspiring stories of women.

The Sisterhood: This popular blog, housed at The Jewish Daily Forward, covers a far-ranging array of compelling topics from stories about modern day sex-trafficking, Jewish motherhood, and to how an Israeli beauty queen is fighting for women’s rights in her country.

Lilith: The pioneering Jewish women’s publication also has an awesome blog that brings the magazine’s “independent, Jewish, and frankly feminist” journalism online. Contributors range in background from secular to Orthodox, which means there’s room for every voice on the blog.

Jewish Women’s Archive: Titled “Jewesses with Attitude,” JWA’s blog is consistently sassy and smart. The organization recently launched a fellowship called Rising Voices, for outstanding Jewish teen girls who will, among other things, share their thoughts and words on the blog.

JewFem: Founded by Dr. Elana Maryles Sztokman, the former Executive Director of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA), this blog and website covers gender and feminism from an observant Jewish perspective.

Do you have a favorite Jewish women’s blog that we’re missing on this list? Let us know in the comments below, or by tweeting @repairtheworld.

Mayim Bialik, Women’s History Month, and “Princess Culture”

Maybe you remember her as the star of Blossom, the early-90s sitcom that launched her career. Perhaps you watch her today playing Amy Farrah Fowler, the adorkable neurobiologist on The Big Bang Theory. You may even know her as a regular contributor to the Jewish parenting website, Kveller.

However you know Mayim Bialik, you undoubtedly think, like we do, that she is awesome. After all, how many other Hollywood celebrities find the time to be super engaged parents, education activists, and cookbook authors (check out the newly released a href=”http://www.amazon.com/Mayims-Vegan-Table-Great-Tasting-Healthy/dp/0738217042″>Mayim’s Vegan Table)?

So in honor of Women’s History Month, we’re turning to one of our favorite contemporary heroines for her thoughts on women in culture today – and particularly on the “princess culture,” which seems to permeate so much of society. Check out the first part of Mayim’s thoughts below, then head on over to Kveller for the rest!

On the Big Bang Theory Princess Scene & Why I Don’t Like Princess Culture
By: Mayim Bialik

Last night’s episode of The Big Bang Theory featured my character, Melissa Rauch’s character, and Kaley Cuoco’s character dressed up as different Disney princesses. I was Snow White (since I’m the brunette), Melissa was Cinderella, and Kaley was Sleeping Beauty.

This would be a good time to tell you that I never once for Halloween or Purim ever dressed as a princess. I don’t remember having any particular fondness for fairy tales or the color pink. I despised the color purple and much as I enjoyed jewelry and trying out my mom’s makeup and even wearing my favorite robe (which happened to be pink) around the house, there is not one picture of me dressed like any sort of princess, Disney or otherwise.

I did, however, really enjoy being “character” females for dress-up holidays; most notably, my mother loved to dress me as a “gypsy.” I am hoping this isn’t perceived as racist in this culture of political correctness, but basically, “gypsy” meant fun fabrics, brightly colored belts, lots of layers, a bandana, and a darkening of a mole near red lips. I loved Japanese kimonos as a child, and once I went to a costume party in a kimono and traditional wooden Japanese shoes.

Read the rest of Mayim’s thoughts here…

Before the Olympics, Let LGBT People in Russia Know “It Gets Better”

The Winter Olympics begin in Sochi, Russia this Friday, February 7. In addition to all the typical bustle and excitement, this year’s Olympics has faced its fair share of criticism – particularly from the LGBT people and their allies, thanks to Russia’s recent crackdowns against and targeting of the LGBT community.
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This School Year, Say No to Bullying

August is “Back to School” month at Repair the World. Check back all month long for posts about inspiring education organizations, amazing educators, and ways to get your education on – whether you’re a student or not!

Think school bullying isn’t really a problem? Consider this stat: in recent years, nearly 1/3 of all high school aged students reported having been bullied at school.

Bullying takes many forms from physical intimidation or violence, to verbal threats, and put-downs about someone’s academic performance, weight, gender or sexual orientation. Bullying can mean shoving someone into a locker, whispering behind a person’s back in the hallway, or spreading gossip about someone on Facebook – the actions may be different, but the feelings of shame and sadness they bring up for the person being bullied are the same.

This school year, make a commitment to say NO to bullying by supporting organizations that promote inclusivity and tolerance.

    • StopBullying.gov Watch StopBullying.Gov’s video below, then check out their interactive graphic about how to be more than a bystander to bullying.
    • The Trevor Project: This organization works to prevent suicide (much of it related to bullying) within the LGBTQ community.
    • Stop Bullying: Speak Up: Like the Stop Bullying page on Facebook to stay up to date on new and innovative ways to stamp out bullying.
    • Cartoon Network: Like drawing comics? Enter the Cartoon Network’s anti-bullying comic challenge.

Pride Interview: Alyssa Finn and Nehirim

During Pride Month, Repair the World published interviews with the people and organizations who are on the forefront of the LGBTQ movement. Pride Month 2013 is officially over, but we have one more interviewee who is too great not to share. (Think of it as a bonus feature!) New York resident Alyssa Finn talks about her transformative experience at a retreat led by Nehirim (a national community of LGBT Jews, partners, and allies), and how she transitioned from being an enthusiastic participant to a committed volunteer and board member.

How did you first find Nehirim?
It’s a funny story! Back in 2009 I was on J-Date and this person contacted me who said, “I don’t know if you and I would be good for each other romantically, but I think we’d be friends and I’d like to meet you.” So we met up and, as she thought, we totally clicked as friends. On our first meeting she told me about Nehirim and how they were hosting their first ever women only gathering. I’d never thought about combining my queerness with my Judaism, so this seemed like an interesting opportunity.

And how was the retreat?
It was incredible. I’ve never felt so whole in my entire life. Sometimes in life I think we inadvertently shine a light on different parts of ourselves depending on what the situation calls for. And by doing that, the other parts of our life grow temporarily dimmer. But at the retreat I felt like all my lights were on, and I didn’t have to dim anything. I found community I didn’t even know I needed.

What was it about the retreat that made it so powerful?
There was a good sized group of people all around my age, who were all experiencing a Nehirim retreat for the first time – so having a cohort to bond with and share the novelty of the experience with was really great. I was also blown away by the community as a whole. I’d thought everyone was going to be just like me – a bunch of Jewish queer folks all getting together. But we were all really different in ways I didn’t anticipate – religiously, our ages, socio-economically, racially. It gave me more freedom to be who I was because, while we came together with one commonality, we all had our own special take on it to share.

How did you stay involved after the retreat?
I actually kind of became a Nehirim junkie! I immediately signed up for a multi-gendered retreat, which was four months later, and ended up going to another retreat that same year. Along the way, queer Jewish community has become my norm instead of something I thought I could never have. It changed the way I viewed myself and also encouraged me to find Jewish queer circles outside of the retreats. In Massachusetts, where I was in medical school until recently, I also participated with a lot of Keshet programs – I actually met my fiancé Lisa through a Keshet shabbat potluck! Then about two years ago, I was asked to play more of a facilitator role at a Nehirim retreat. That’s when I started really owning the experience and realizing I could play a creation role in this work. There was this shift from just taking things in to being like, “wow, I can help give this experience to other people.”

What does it mean to facilitate at a Nehirim retreat?
We have these small groups that meet three times over the course of the retreat, which allows people to get to know some of the other participants really well and have a smaller, safe space to listen and be listened to. I helped facilitate one of those small groups. During the third meeting we do a “blessing circle” where each person steps into the center and asks for a blessing to bring with them after the retreat ends. So everyone stands around them and gives their blessings at the same time. With everyone talking over each other it’s not about individual words, but about the act of bestowing and receiving blessings. It’s really powerful.

When did you join the Nehirim board?
I joined last October. It’s been a pretty loose commitment so far, but we have a board visioning retreat at the end of June. We’re transitioning to a new executive director, so at the retreat we’ll talk about how to best move forward and transition with our new leadership. We’ll also envision what our roles on the board could and should be. I’m looking forward to it because our board members are spread all over the country, so this is the first time we’ll all be face-to-face. This is my first time on a board, and I’ve found it really interesting. Overall, it’s great to be able to help take something that has been powerful for me and try to bring that energy outward to other people.

Find out more about Nehirim’s work at their website.