An ultra-Orthodox woman reads a book next to her baby carriage on the beach
Whenever religious Jews make a stink about some cultural issue, the media moves in on it with a bizarre kind of vengeance. Like yesterday, Katie J.M. Baker published an article on Jezebel about the event, in which she actually compared Jewish men to ants!
See: "While men in traditional Orthodox garb filed into Citi Field as steadily as a never-ending line of ants approaching an anthill…" Um, where have I seen Jews compard to insects before? Oh, wait, WWII.
As a resident of Brooklyn, the epicenter of all things hipster and the home of many, many clad-in-black religious Jews, I'd like to clarify a few things for all of you. Here are a few things you need to know about Chassidic women:
1. We are not imprisoned.
The last time I checked (which was right now), I am free to do whatever I want to do. Nobody is making me do anything. If I want to leave the community I live in, whether to go grocery shopping or to put on a pair of pants and go to a disco and snort coke, I can. Nobody is going to stop me. Would I wear a pair of skinny jeans and snort coke in a disco? No. Why?
2. We like ourselves the way we are. And most of us are happy.
Poor Deborah Feldman got the short end of the stick. She got a dysfunctional family and a crummy school. But listen: That happens everywhere. How many (non-Jewish or secular Jewish) friends of yours come from dysfunctional families and crappy schools and just couldn't wait to leave home? Did they represent your entire hometown?
We call becoming lax in religious observance and adopting a secular lifestyle "frying out." People fry out all the time. Most of us, though, feel like we are leading pretty rewarding lives.
3. We find our husbands attractive.
You know those guys with the long beards and the black coats who are always reading something in Hebrew on the train and you're kind of freaked out by them? So they're our husbands.
My husband has a very impressive beard. He wears a black suit, and a kippah and a black hat. He is also the most handsome, hot, attractive man in the entire world to me. Nobody forced me to marry him. My father did not trade me to him for a flock of sheep.
Fun fact: Jewish law prohibits marrying someone who you're not attracted to. Another fun fact: In the Jewish marriage contract, one of the conditions of marriage is that a husband is obligated to sexually satisfy his wife. If my husband would deny "conjugal rights" to me, that's grounds for divorce. Pretty effing progressive if you ask me.
Judaism is the original sex-positive culture. What? You heard me right. Y'all need "sex-positive Third wave feminism" to help you feel like having sex is OK. Jews bypassed the whole Christian idea that all sex, even in marriage, is a sin. And Protestant asceticism just never happened for us.
G-d likes it when a married Jewish couple has sex. Jews never got a message that sex is dirty. We think sex is good. It is so good that having it is actually a commandment. No, we cannot shag "anything that moves." No, we can't sleep around or have sex outside of marriage. But once you're married, sex is totally cool and awesome and G-d likes it.
5. Mikveh is awesome. We don't go to the mikveh because we're "dirty."