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December 18, 2008

Under A Coat Of Red: A Hasidic Woman's View Of Sex

"When I was seventeen years old I discovered my vagina…"

Under a Coat of Red

I lean towards the mirror, painting my lips with bright red lipstick, blotting carefully, watchful of my own reflection as I attempt to fashion a face that looks like a woman’s, not a girls. I like the thrill of lipstick, and mascara, and anything that makes me feel as if I were one of those women who stir inside, who are rooted in the physical nature of their own selves. When I’m done I pat my lips with a tissue and stare at myself. I look at the woman in the mirror and I am almost fooled by my own reflection. I am drawn to the red lips I see, they way they glare out of my face provocatively; they way they make that woman on the other side seem powerful and aware of herself in the most basic way. Standing on the other side I wonder if her red lips can turn me on, can find that secret switch and flick it. Red is the color of passion. I do not know passion in that physical way, I know passion in a theoretical way, the fire in my mind instead of my body that devours me with its insatiable curiosity to know and see. Red is the forbidden color, the color of Christmas, the color of audacity, the color of sex, and on my lips is it is a flagrant testimony, the melting, bleeding hope that I can nurture a little droplet of redness inside me into a full-grown flush.

To be a woman is to be sensual, to feel the furious workings of one’s body, the ups and downs and ins and outs, to be aware of one’s sway and swish. As a woman I should be rooted in my physical self, as a mother I should connect to the movements of my body and all it endures. Instead I float outside, I am aware only of my reflection, the skin and dimple of it. While giving birth I was conveniently numbed by drugs, and also by my own disconnection from my body, spared from any real rocking pain. When I was jolted out of my anesthesia for a brief moment by the sudden swoop of my son slipping out of my body and the cavern of my stomach collapsing, that moment of plunging into my body and its ability to feel intense physical sensations only lasted an instant before it slipped from my grasp like the slick head of a newborn child. It took me six months until I was able to look at my son and acknowledge that he had emerged from the silent depths in me, that I had nourished him and formed him and discharged him from myself in that sudden gush that had both frightened and thrilled me.

Growing up in the Hasidic community of Satmar deprived me of the process involved in becoming a woman, the mapping of the changes that occur in one’s body, the ability to mark them and celebrate them and contemplate what they mean for the future. Instead I went from a little girl in a little girl’s body to a little girl in a woman’s body overnight, and I don’t know my own flesh, my own juice, my own thrash. My body doesn’t belong to me.

When I was seventeen years old I discovered my vagina, but I never discovered my sexuality. How can I know if I am gay or straight when I do not feel like a sexual being at all? I don’t feel a lack, because I don’t really know what I’m missing, and I may never find out. However, I am angry that I wasn’t given a choice in the matter. I resent my sexuality being stolen from me. I wear red lipstick to project the image of the woman who’s got it, that air, that breath, that shuddering movement through one’s limbs that speaks of sensation in its entirety, the butterflies in one’s stomach, the racing heartbeat, the sudden heat in ones cheeks, the trembling of fingers, the aching shortness of breath. All this that people speak of when they speak of passion, all this I know only on paper, only on image. So I paint red on a canvas of white and passion is etched and marked into my face like two red petals blossoming out of my throat.

Even as I write this, I stumble over the sexual references, the scientific words for body parts that are as much our own as our hearts, our livers, and our kidneys. I still experience a very real and unsettling discomfort when I even have to think these words, when I must spell or pronounce them in my mind, or when I hear other people discussing sex casually. The stream of my thoughts cannot flow freely; they bump over and around the topic of sex as if it were a rock jutting out of a creek. If I cannot talk about sex, or think about sex, how can my body be expected to submit to sex? The mind and the body are united despite all our efforts to separate them, and if the mind revolts, so does the body. To overcome the numbness in my body, the deadness in my nerves, I must first overcome the deviations in my mind, the detours my brain takes around sex. I must begin to think about my sexuality and what it means, to confront it head on, face to face, without shame, without anger, with the mind of a woman who wants to know and who isn’t afraid to find out.

I replace the cap on the tube of forbidden red lipstick and pucker up at my reflection. I love that bright pop of red and all that it signifies. I know I fool many who see me with my mouth, my voice, my confidence. I fool myself. Only when I come home at night and wipe it off do I look in the mirror and see the unadorned little girl in me who glares resentfully, who does not want to be a woman, who is determined to keep her body clean. I must put that girl to rest.

Hasidic-Feminist.blogspot.com.

Comments

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Does Archie get the hat tip for this one?

Oh please. Every girl/woman goes through these changes. And what choice is she talking about?? the choice to be gay or straight?? there is no choice, its a product of our sick society. So let this charmng young woman not feel too deprived. To me she is only going through her own version of what every woman goes through. "Don't worry, honey, you didn't miss a thng".

maybe its too early in the morning for me to read about chasidic women's vaginas. I couldn't get through this piece.

"She was a long cool women in a red dress..." Now I know what the song is about.

Extreme repression, like extreme promiscuity, is not healthy. There is nothing in the torah against female masturbation (but I'm sure the rabbis read in something). It's a healthy form of expression, when not done in public, to frighten the horses.

It is no coincidence that repressive cultures favor black and white over bright colors. Again, not in the torah.

I don't understand this woman. Isn't it important not to feel anything until the moment you are engaged ? Isn't it more important to wear heavy thick bullet proof stockings on lee avenue in july ?

What about the rush of joy and excitement when your choson gives you thousands of dollars worth of gifts and jewelery ? (that's really given by his debt-ridden father)

What about that inner peace when you acquire all of the worthless gifts that your choson and his debt-ridden family have to give you before every yom tov in the first year of marriage. And your poor debt-ridden family are obligated to do the same for him. And for all of the 8 plus kids !!!

I just don't understand this woman.

I predict this blog entry will attract a much larger number of comments than average.

What about a part of this latest post from HF

Now on to my second story: You may have heard some rumors about the first one, but this one is a Class A secret. We’re talking hushed up under the ground like you’ve never seen before. Two years ago on an Erev Shabbos in KJ, Hatzoloh got a call. A man claimed his son had injured himself with a construction tool. Hatzoloh gets there and meets the father of the thirteen year old child, who shows them to the basement with an expressionless face, saying simply “he’s down there.” What hatzoloh found in that basement is truly too gruesome to think about. The thirteen year old boy had been castrated with a jigsaw and had bled to death. When Hatzoloh tried to question the father, he refused to cooperate, saying only that his son had deserved it and that he was a chazar, a pig, because he touched himself. Within 30 minutes that child was under the ground. No police report was ever filed. It was never talked about. Those who dared to question were hushed up. People of KJ, a murderer walks in your midst.
I have good sources for these stories. I may not know all the details, but I know what happened. I wait for the day when people will have the guts to stand up for what’s right instead of allowing corruption to overpower them.
Have any tips regarding these stories? Share them. Have your own stories that nobody ever talked about? Share them. Would you like to hear some more shady stories? Ask and I will tell. As I said, I keep my finger on the pulse. I hear the secrets.

Why do I get the hat tip when a sexually deprived blogger goes looking for a soliloquy that he finds titillating?

Shamta,

Great-I think you found a new low!!-just read the other stories she writes about-a conspiracy of missing and murdered children that hatzolah covers for- also what orthodox woman writes like its a "penthouse letter"-
We all know theres nuts out there-just look at this blog for proof

Within each of us, we fight our own battles... I'm straight, single, not in LOVE, but it is clearly not my place to point a finger at anyone.

Sex is an essential element of life; wonderful, sensual, beyond words...

But I have found sex without LOVE, quite empty, devoid of true pleasure. It is the intimacy of the LOVE that we share, that fulfills the void; making two, truly ONE.


To each their own...

But to deny another's curiosity, and possible associated depression, though many of you may have found your answers, doesn't mean all of us achieve, so-called sexual maturity at the same time. And what is sexual maturity, anyway? How can anyone really define it, as it is tied to our perception of life?

The author sites her cultural upbringing, as a potential mitigating aspect in her life... Implies no LOVE in her life... She seeks answers, perhaps where none maybe found...

She opened her soul to us, we could contemplate more on her situation, before jumping to conclusions. After all, we are, each one of us, unique.

"Growing up in the Hasidic community of Satmar deprived me of the process involved in becoming a woman, the mapping of the changes that occur in one’s body, the ability to mark them and celebrate them and contemplate what they mean for the future."

I know. Poor thing. It's just awful. And so terribly, terribly unfair.

If only you'd been born into a secular Jewish community, like I was, things would have been SO different. We had bonfires in our backyards and rosh chodesh ceremonies for all the girls who started menstruating each month. It was just like in the Red Tent, except better, because we got lots of presents, too. I myself got a color TV! Then we'd go out into the woods where our mothers taught us all about our sexuality, and all the woodland creatures magically created a sacred circle around us. And when we went to school, all the boys gave us great honor. It was perfection.

[/sarcasm]

Why do I get the hat tip when a sexually deprived blogger goes looking for a soliloquy that he finds titillating?

Because AB, you are a sick person.

"When I was seventeen years old I discovered my vagina,"

Most women have been having periods for five years by that point.

Unless she means some post-modern feminist definition of "discover" and "vagina."

Reminds me of Cecil Adams' answer when he was asked, "Did Renaldus Columbus discover the clitoris in 1559?" His answer was, maybe (this Columbus was an Italian medical professor), but it's a fair bet to say that women had discovered it a good while before that.

Archie,

You are right. Why talk about a basic need for sex. It can easily be replaced by thousands of dollars worth of jewelry, varicose vein producing bullet-proof stockings and a strategically well placed piece of kishka in the chulent.

Archie,

You are right. Why talk about a basic need for sex. It can easily be replaced by thousands of dollars worth of jewelry, varicose vein producing bullet-proof stockings and a strategically well placed piece of kishka in the chulent.

An unmarried teenager does not "need sex" and do you have any proof that opaque stockings foster varicose veins?

Anon, back to your molester accusations?

"When I was seventeen years old I discovered my vagina,"

That got me too. I recommend she loose some weight - might make it easier to find!

Satmar is a sick cult. I was looking up something on Google maps and saw an aerial view of KJ. One word came to mind:
Napalm

Rachel, your comment was priceless!

I'd like to see the reaction from the anti-religious Liberals if someone suggested blanketing a town with napalm if it was predominately Black as opposed to predominately Hasidic.

Hi everybody, it's me - Hasidic Feminist. I must admit I am very surprised to see my post on this site. I started my blog less than two weeks ago, and I did not expect this kind of exposure. To be honest, I'm not very happy about it. The comments on my blog are way more supportive since they are posted by people like me who understand what I am going through. Of course I cannot hope that people outside of the satmar cult could ever grasp what it's like and therefore I understand why your posts are mainly disparaging.

I guess I just wanted to say, I'm not looking to kvetch, or rant, just to the freedom to write about what i am supposed to keep secret. Because you have no idea where i come from, don't judge until you've walked a mile in my shoes.

I am a normal person who is just trying to get over her issues. I haven't hurt anyone, and there is no need to mock me unless you feel somehow threatened by me, which was never my intention.

can someone tell me how this got posted here?

"can someone tell me how this got posted here?"

There is a 50 year old bachelor, who blames Jews & Judaism for his personal problems, running a blog called Failed Messiah.

He scours the internet for any story that he thinks he can spin into an attack on the Jewish religion, hoping that other souls will abandon religious practices and join him in his misery.

Wow. I discovered my penis when I was 18. Before that I just thought there was some small household pet living down there.

"Satmar is a sick cult. I was looking up something on Google maps and saw an aerial view of KJ. One word came to mind:
Napalm"

Whoa. That was a little over the top, at least to me. I grew up during the Viet Nam war and have very vivid memories of the photographs of children burned and disfigured by napalm.

There are many good people in Satmar, struggling annd suffering. I don't think condemning the innocent with the guilty is the way to go--even if the condemnation is just a throwaway line on a blog.

im not attacking religion, I'm just saying that growing up satmar can screw you up a little. Being satmar and being jewish is two different things. It's like the difference between the mormons, and the polygamist mormons.

Perhaps a gerbil?

"I guess I just wanted to say, I'm not looking to kvetch, or rant, just to the freedom to write about what i am supposed to keep secret. Because you have no idea where i come from, don't judge until you've walked a mile in my shoes."

You see, HF, many of us do know where you come from, because our experience is not that much different from yours. I don't have to be a Satmar woman to understand what you're talking about.

There are two things I object to in your piece: the tone of victimization, and the implication that the rest of the women in the world haven't had to suffer through the same things you have. Do you really think that because you grew up Satmar, you've had something stolen from you that the rest of us haven't? That just isn't true. You are no more victimized than any other woman. In fact, considering the brutality that many women in the world live with every day (rape, honor killing, disfigurement by acid attacks, etc), you are a great deal less victimized.

Perhaps you've just discovered your own voice, and that is a good thing, and you should keep using it. I just hope you'll use it to empower yourself and other women rather than just engage in the kind of self-pity that your piece reflects. Perhaps you didn't mean for it to sound like kvetching, but that's how it reads to me.

Shmarya, how old were you when you discovered your vagina?

"Shmarya, how old were you"

Maybe he's still on a journey.

"It is no coincidence that repressive cultures favor black and white over bright colors. Again, not in the torah"

Is too. Black fire on white fire. What's not to understand? I rest my case.

What's next for Shmarya?

http://www.lansingcitypulse.com/lansing/article-2432-cold-comfort.html

Wednesday, December 17,2008
Cold comfort

Michigan atheists huddle for the holidays
by Lawrence Cosentino

One guest speaker, avowed ex-Jew and anti-circumcision crusader Norm Cohen, showed the group a slide of himself, as a boy, standing next to his father, a rabbi.

“I’m speaking today as a former slave,” Cohen said.

Cohen gave the group a break from fuming over mangers on courthouse squares, excoriating Judaism as a “destructive group fantasy.”

“I am defined by my actions, not my parentage or heritage,” Cohen said.

When it came to apostasy, he scorned half-measures.

“You don’t have to say, ‘I’m a secular Jew’ or ‘I’m a humanist Jew,’” he said. “You can just stop being a Jew.”

Despite the day’s odd glitches and the edgy rhetoric, the only really uncomfortable moment in the day came just after Cohen’s speech, courtesy of a Lansing visitor to the convention.

Spike Tyson, a familiar figure at state Capitol protests against the Iraq war, sparred with Cohen over the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust. Tyson said the number was closer to two and a half million, not six.

Cohen and the following speaker, American Atheists legal director Edward Kagin, hastened to condemn “Holocaust denial.”

Tyson was unmoved. “Nonsense is nonsense,” he muttered as he left the microphone.

Rachel and HF: It's good to hear your brave voices. As the proud owner of a "household pet" I am not a self-hating male. But women should not be mistreated or made to feel that their bodies are shameful. "Male and female S/He created them."

Not that anyone asked: I approve of seperate roles for men and women in shul. Egalitarianism leads to a feminized environment that drives away men. (See how many men take Yoga these days; a male tradition in India). In America, apart from Ortho Judaism and a few others, religion is becoming feminized. My ideal would be to have women rabbis and leaders, but have men make up the minyan and lead davening. Without a sense of duty, men won't show up. But "rabbi" is a post-biblical idea (I know you disagree, Archie).

Again, no one asked, but I daven Ortho except for "lo a'sani ishah." I know the traditional explanation, but it doesn't convince me. IMO, men should say "sh'asani ish," and women should say "sh'asani ishah."

Archibald: It is intolerable for me to think that both Hitler and his victims share the same eternal nothingness in the afterlife.

Besides, I like holidays.

Rachel Batya:
"You see, HF, many of us do know where you come from, because our experience is not that much different from yours. I don't have to be a Satmar woman to understand what you're talking about."

Is that so Rachel? How many women "of us" do you know who (forgive the bluntness) literally didn't know they had an 'extra' hole called a vagina -- not to mention the slightest inkling what it might be used for -- until days, or perhaps weeks, before their wedding night? Because in Satmar and similar communities, this happens often, as I know personally. (Not having taken a scientific survey, I can't really say just how often.)

Do you really understand the emotional repercussions this might have, as you claim? Given your supercilious and smug self-righteous tone you adapted in this thread, I'm willing to bet that you don't.

HF:
Posting your material here without your permission violates U.S. copyright law (not to mention common decency). You are perfectly within your rights in demanding Shmarya take it down. (He can still leave a link to your blog even without your permission, though.)

I think Shmarya should remove this post since HF doesn't appreciate it being here. He should replace with a post about the day he went to kallah classes and discovered his ass.

"IMO, men should say "sh'asani ish," and women should say "sh'asani ishah."

The Men of the Great Assembly codified the blessings 1000s of years ago.

They were certainly much wiser than anyone today and took all the various viewpoints into consideration.

This is the same as taking exception with anything in the Bible like homosexuality that "post-posts" don't happen to agree with.

"the day he went to kallah classes and discovered his ass"

You mean like Bilaam having relations with his donkey?

What makes you say Hitler's victims share his fate?

Yochanan: As it happens, a 1500's Italian womens' siddur has the bracha as "sheasani isha v'lo ish."

"He can still leave a link to your blog even without your permission"

That is the subject of much legal debate.

National Council of Young Israel lawyer Marty Samson leads the chorus that it is still illegal. He of course takes advantage of his viewpoint to take big retainers from various plaintiffs.

Samson is also suspected in being behind legal threats to Blogger-parent Google to take down a post on UOJ that was highly damaging to Young Israel.

Attributed to one William Sievers:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPBS7dVrE1U

You're a mean one, Bernie the Grinch
You really know how to "filch" and steel,
You're a cuddly Ponzi scheming cactus, you're a charming Wall Street "khazer", Bernie the Grinch,
You're a big Palm Beach banana with a greasy black peel!

You're an asset management "loch in kop", Bernie the Grinch
Your business is a "gelt" black hole almost as big as AIG,
Your brain is full of "ferkakdeh" trades, you have garlic in your "fershtinkiner" soul, Bernie the Grinch,
Investors shouldn't have touched you with a thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole!

You're a foul one, Bernie the Grinch,
You say the dog ate your "bupkes" records,
You have all the tender sincerity of a typical "filching" Wall Street "shnorrer", Bernie the Grinch,
Given a choice between the two of you I'd sooner drink East River bottled water!

You're a rotten "s--hmuckster", Bernie the Grinch,
You're the king of hedge fund scamster "dreck",
Your heart's a rotten "gefilte" splotched with moldy purple spots, Bernie the Grinch,
You're a triple decker synthetic CDO and CDS toadstool sandwich with arsenic Wall Street bailout "shyster" sauce on top!

You nauseate me, Bernie the Grinch,
You're a nauseous super Wall Street "momzer!",
You're a crooked Alpha "schlockster" and you run a crooked "shandhoiz", Bernie the Grinch,
Your trading books are an appalling dung heap overflowing with the most disgraceful
assortment of "chazere" rubbish imaginable mangled up in tangled "kishka" knots!

You're a foul one, Bernie the Grinch,
You're a nasty wasty Wall Street "goniff",
Your heart is an unwashed "shmanta", your soul is full of bogus "schmaltz", Bernie the Grinch,
The three words that best describe you are as follows, and I quote,
"Shtunk, shtup, shlemiel"!

Bernard Madoff
"Tsen shifn mit gold zol er farmorgn, un dos gantse gelt zol er farkrenkn."
Ten ships of gold should be his and the money should only make him sick.

"Do you really understand the emotional repercussions this might have, as you claim? Given your supercilious and smug self-righteous tone you adapted in this thread, I'm willing to bet that you don't."

Baal Devarim--

I hope you didn't bet much, because you'd be wrong.

I'm a survivor of physical and sexual abuse, which started when I was 4 and ended when I was 19. The first episode of physical abuse was in a shul. The last was in the childhood home and community I finally left and never looked back on. I was disinherited and lost my entire family and community to denial when I finally stood up for myself.

So, yes, I understand the repercussions of growing up with a completely distorted view of myself, of my own sexuality, and of what it means to be a woman. I know what it means to be afraid, and to know that the price of becoming a full-fledged human being is almost unbearable grief and loss.

I also understand the repercussions of thinking I'm so terminally unique that no one else could possibly understand. That's the road of victimization and self pity. I've been there. There is nothing noble about it. The only nobility is in taking control of your life and your power and making the world better by your presence in it.

HF:
Posting your material here without your permission violates U.S. copyright law (not to mention common decency). You are perfectly within your rights in demanding Shmarya take it down. (He can still leave a link to your blog even without your permission, though.)

It does not violate copyright law for several reasons, one of which is HF's failure to claim her copyright when she published the work.

Secondly, the way I learned about her blog was from a comment left here yesterday by…HF herself:http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2008/11/cbs-secret-live.html#comment-142976174

check out this blog hasidic-feminist.blogspot.com for the dishShe has no right to complain.

Rachel Batya:
"I'm a survivor of physical and sexual abuse, which started when I was 4 and ended when I was 19."

That is terrible. However, it is not the same thing at all. Yes, that fate is a worse fate than growing up in an extremely insular community, but the claim that being a survivor of sexual abuse automatically means you understand the issues of growing up and being married in such a community is false. Clearly, these are different issues.

"I also understand the repercussions of thinking I'm so terminally unique that no one else could possibly understand. That's the road of victimization and self pity."

I think you are engaging in a fair bit of projection here. I see no evidence that HF is doing that; in fact, she is clearly engaging in a bit of cathartic writing aimed at a community of people she suspects had the same experiences she did! How did you get from her writing that she thinks herself terminally unique?

Shmarya:
"I does not violate copyright law for several reasons, one of which is HF's failure to claim her copyright when she published the work.

Yes, it does. Your claim is immaterial. See here:
http://www.cls.yale.edu/page.asp?file=2/169

"Secondly, the way I learned about her blog was from a comment left here yesterday by…HF herself:"

How is that an invitation to re-post her material on your own blog? As I said, that shows a lack of common decency.

"She has no right to complain."

Well excuuuuse me.

Even if she has no legal grounds to stop you, are you saying she cannot express her feelings?

Shmarya:
"I does not violate copyright law for several reasons, one of which is HF's failure to claim her copyright when she published the work.

Yes, it does. Your claim is immaterial. See here:
http://www.cls.yale.edu/page.asp?file=2/169

1. It is NOT immaterial.

2. If you do not understand why, go ask an attorney. Better yet, have HF sue me.

"Secondly, the way I learned about her blog was from a comment left here yesterday by…HF herself:"

How is that an invitation to re-post her material on your own blog? As I said, that shows a lack of common decency.

The only "lack of common decency" here is yours.

Now, let me help your feeble mind process:

1. HF posted here SOLICITING readership for her blog. This is generally considered bad form in the blog world, akin to spam.

2. Rather than delete that comment, I followed the link she left and read some of her blog.

3. I thought, being that that HF herself had left a comment HERE ON MY BLOG SOLICITING READERSHIP that she, indeed, wanted publicity for her blog.

4. I gave her that publicity.

Now, to further help you process, check out the Fair Use Doctrine.

What HF wrote is important because haredi leaders like Marvin Schick, for example, deny people like HF exist, that the problems she writes about exist.

Very many of these haredi and hasidic (for want of a better term) exposé blogs disappear from the web because their owners fear being outed or receive threats.

Dozens have already been lost this way.

In order to document the problem HF writes so well about and haredi leadership denies, it is necessary to preserve what she has written.

If you doubt this, or doubt my legal position, please get HF a lawyer and sue me.

Just A Goy--

I don't think so--it spoke French and began to smoke unmentholated cigarettes stirring restlessly whenever Jean Paul Sartre's sole directorial cinematic effort "Bulemean Escapades" (with Marlene Dietrich as Amelia Erhardt) came on the television. By the time it developed a hankering for lap dancers and professional poker my life in the seminary was over and my reputation a ruins.

Even if she has no legal grounds to stop you, are you saying she cannot express her feelings?

Note her complaint is a bit disingenuous:I started my blog less than two weeks ago, and I did not expect this kind of exposure. To be honest, I'm not very happy about it. The comments on my blog are way more supportive since they are posted by people like me who understand what I am going through.…can someone tell me how this got posted here?You got posted here because you left a SPAM COMMENT HERE SOLICITING READERSHIP.

I hope that's clear.

Baal Devarim,

You asked me how I could possibly understand the repercussions of growing up with a distorted sense of one's sexuality and I told you. Then you tell me that your issues and mine are completely different, that the Satmar experience is unique, and that I couldn't possibly understand it because I was never Satmar.

It's a big world, my sister, and we have a great deal more in common than not. If you want to say that I couldn't possibly understand the experience of a Satmar woman, then you're being just as insular and separatist as the community you criticize. If you can't reach across boundaries and see the commonalities in our experience, your version of feminism is not going to bear much fruit.

I prefer a more natural shade in a lipstick.

What makes you say Hitler's victims share his fate?

Posted by: Archie Bunker | December 18, 2008 at 10:53 AM

I don't believe so, because I believe in an afterlife. Athiests would believe so if there is no afterlife.

I was expressing one reason of many why I took the leap of faith.

I wrote:
"...saw an aerial view of KJ. One word came to mind:
Napalm"

Archie responded:
"I'd like to see the reaction from the anti-religious Liberals if someone suggested blanketing a town with napalm if it was predominately Black "

Rachel responded:
"Whoa. That was a little over the top,...
...There are many good people in Satmar, struggling annd suffering"

Yeah, I agree with the criticism, but I did have that thought, and I asked myself why I would feel this about Satmar and not some other destructive cult.
Reason is that Satmar passes themselves off as Jews so when I read about their shinnanigans in the news it know it reflects baldly on all jews including myself (classic chillul hashem)- it's personal.

Yup I agree with you Rachel, and I've met some good Satmar. Makes it more painful to read about the pain they cause within themselves.

I was skeptical about HF's comment
"When I was seventeen years old I discovered my vagina,"
But after reading some of her blog I see her point. Odd how humans can have an almost autoimmune reaction to our sexuality. Not part of judaism as I was taught (and what happened to the joy in hassidus?).

"I started my blog less than two weeks ago, and I did not expect this kind of exposure. To be honest, I'm not very happy about it. The comments on my blog are way more supportive since they are posted by people like me who understand what I am going through"

The comments on your blog are largely positive because you have a policy of not posting any critical or negative comments. That is your right, and frankly, I think it is a good idea when the aim is emotional support rather than a random free for all.

But you can't control what people on other blogs say about you, especially if you post a link to your blog on other sites. If you want to keep away from the negative comments, don't read anyone else's blog. That's the only solution, and it's a perfectly valid one.

now that she has discovered it, is she sharing this wonderful find?

--I was skeptical about HF's comment
"When I was seventeen years old I discovered my vagina,"
But after reading some of her blog I see her point.--

I can too, and this isn't just in the Satmar world. When I was growing up, it wasn't uncommon for girls to have a very limited sense of their own bodies. The book my mother gave me on menstruation had a drawing of the uterus and ovaries and lots of information about how to use menstrual pads, but it never once mentioned the words "vagina" or "sex." Kinda ridiculous from our current perspective, but there was a great deal of sexual repression in those days. It might seem absurd to guys to think that it takes some girls a long time to figure out their anatomy, but given that most of it is actually inside our bodies, it's not terribly surprising either.

yochanan, i enjoy your posts and humor. as for 'shelo asani isha' its obviously a reflection of the society they lived in, where women were your property, inherited less than men, daughters could be given up or sold into (sex?) slavery, cant be witnesses, and a law book supposedly written by god that has no problem with rape. the torah punishment is that the man ,if caught must marry the rapee. in such a sexist ,male controlled world isn't it obvious why the women's corresponding bracha isn't 'shelo asani ish' in fact it isnt even 'she'asani isha' because who would want that. and it also isn't 'she'asani keertsoni' which would imply that women are at least happy to be women, no... women thank their imaginary friend for making them according to 'his' will.
and the fact that you might find it intolerable to believe that we are all going to the same place after we die, i.e. the ground, doesnt make it not so. i find it intolerable that many dishonest people live like kings,but that doesnt make it not so. dont be afraid to face reality. its much more beautiful than you fear.

I have yet to reject a single comment on my blog, except the ones where people ask me not to post it. I plan to reject only threats and obscenities, and so far I am fortunate in that i have not received any. As for this spam comment, how did that happen? I had never heard of this site before and suddenly I turn up on it? How did that comment get here? Is that like a spammer or something?

hasidic feminist: what did you expect? people found your blog very vaginalating, i mean tittilating.

I had never heard of this site before and suddenly I turn up on it? How did that comment get here? Is that like a spammer or something?

You're mistaken.

You left the comment announcing your blog here. The IP address matches the IP address for the comment you just left.

In other words, you left both comments.

Shmarya, can you tell where the original link to HT's blog came from?

are you sure? because i dont remember doing anything like that. what time was it posted?

(sorry im nudging you Im just worried someone else used this computer while my stuff was still open, its a public computer0

uh-oh , sounds like hasidic feminist not only discovered her vagina, but now her lack of credibility is showing.

spam? posted here? to the blog in general? webmaster's e-mail? to a particular topic?

well, whose credibility etc.

are you sure? because i dont remember doing anything like that. what time was it posted?

(sorry im nudging you Im just worried someone else used this computer while my stuff was still open, its a public computer0

I doubt it.

Try telling the truth.

Shmarya, it's precisely when you start insulting posters that intelligent people know there's a good chance you are talking out of your hat. But then that's the end game of your blog.

Pissing matches.

Right on topic.

or just reproduce the blasted spam

Shmarya, it's precisely when you start insulting posters that intelligent people know there's a good chance you are talking out of your hat.

What are you talking out of, Paul?

"I have yet to reject a single comment on my blog, except the ones where people ask me not to post it."

I guess first you discovered your vagina, now on this site you've discovered assholes...

or just reproduce the blasted spam

I wrote that she left a spam COMMENT here promoting her blog.

I linked to it above.

Ultimately, we all decide how we wish to live our lives. If we are stuck in a repressive family, community, or nation, we must either resign ourselves to the dictatorship and live a life of submission and mediocrity, or we can leave the surroundings, painful as that may at first be, or try to change them.

When you are stuck in such a dilemma, realize that there are many others like you, thinking they are alone, trapped in the silence of their thoughts. One person can- indeed, must- step up and rally others, and lead the way.

"One person with courage is a majority" --Andrew Jackson.
They don't put 'nobodies' on money, at least not in the USA.

Nowadays, maybe a blog is a good way to start. Be prepared for a lot of hate from those who resent your efforts at freedom of thought and freedom of expression. (Spend a day or two reading the threads here on FM and you'll see what I mean).

I've noticed that many of the people on this site have undergone their own spiritual journeys, especially those of us who (I think) are at least 40-50 years old. Many started in the orthodox world, some passed through it, others still stop by that world from time to time. Religion does not have to be 'all or nothing'.

I will not let a bunch of middle aged Jewish guys from thousands of years ago decide that they know what God wants, that they know how I should pray, eat, sleep, get dressed, and have sex. Yes, at that time somebody had to write a rule book, and get the practical aspects of religion organized. They did a great job, considering the times and circumstances in which they lived.

But what gives them the audacity to proclaim their rules immutable for all time? Our 'sages' thought the earth was round, but flat like a coin. They thought that diseases happen because you didn't pray hard enough. They thought that if you didn't put your socks and shoes on right-left-right-left, you would develop memory loss.

I can respect the original codes as historic documents that are part of our heritage as thinkers and scholars, indeed, People of the Book. But I was given the power to reason, and that's what I'll keep doing, as long as God still lets people do so.

Good luck to you HF, and everyone else here on FM, as we continue our spiritual journeys.

My last comment was #69! Must be some sort of gematria.

WoolSilkCotton |: beautifully said. break free of the tyranny of religion. the torah is just a tool for controlling peoples actions and minds, as are all other books attributed to our as well as others imaginary friend.

this blog should stick with kashrus and financial scandals.

WSC I am impressed by your maturity

My last comment was #69! Must be some sort of gematria.

No, but very apropos for the topic at hand.

Hey, chickenman, what do you have against exposing sexual predators?

Shmarya:

Whether or not HF is telling the truth about never hearing of this blog before doesn't really matter, practically. Nor does the legal issue of whether or not you are allowed to repost her intellectual property.

The prominent factor here seems to be that she regrets it NOW, and wants you to take it down. Why don't you? Is there something so groundbreaking about ANOTHER foray into the world of Hasidic sexual repression that you have to keep it up?

At any rate, if she truly did spam your site, the last thing she'd want you to do is to take down her article, so it's a win-win situation.

I agree with your assessment, David. It's really a shame that this turned into such a mess, because Shmarya seems to respect HT's writing and the purpose of her blog.

I can believe that HT posted a link yesterday on FM. But I don't think she counted on her piece being reproduced here, and it's clear she didn't count on all the grade-school level comments she got. She seems rather new at this.

Given the content of her writing, she's vulnerable to all kinds of puerile responses, and it's only human that she's trying to backtrack her way out of here. I don't blame her a bit, even if she is being disingenuous. In fact, I feel badly, because my original response to her was sarcastic; I should have learned more about what she was trying to do before I launched into her. I still have the same issues with her POV, but I could have been more even-handed about it.

I'm not sure the solution is to pull the article at this point, but it would probably be best if this were the last article of hers to appear here.

November 25, 2008

+++CBS: Secret Lives Of Hasidic Jews

check out this blog hasidic-feminist.blogspot.com for the dish

Posted by: hf | December 17, 2008 at 05:21 PM+++

I believe this is what started the ruckus here.

I would politely refer to this as looking for free advertising here on FM. One could also call it spamming, which isn't kosher.

WSC, we know what started the problem.

HT says she didn't post the original link. Maybe she did, maybe she didn't. It's immaterial at this point. As David said, if she did post the link, she regrets it now. She has certainly taken her share of abuse today, so if she was spamming, she's paid for it and then some.

Maybe we should just let this be.

Dear Hassidic-Feminist
I bookmarked your site
Isa

In keeping with the feeling of my initial comment to this piece, I am totally unsynmpathetic. I don't know what this writer thinks goes on in the rest of the world, but its not too different from what goes on in her world. Stop kvetching and start coming to terms with your reality. Nothing one can do about erasing the past. Just do one's best with what one has in this life. I don't particularly like all this fuss over rites of passage, of self-discovery, of developmental rituals. Very self-centered and self-important attitudes. I don't like it. It reeks of specialdom. How special are you to write of your female feminine glitches in life, like its only you?/ Is that what you think?? You're wrong. Much ado about not enough.
And why did this article get so much attention?? Because it dealt with sex, and we just all fell for it. Much ado about not enough.

OMG, take it easy.
Self-discovery after a lifetime of repression is a good thing.

Being a little self-centered and feeling that you are special is also a good thing after a lifetime of being told you are shameful.

There is always room in this world for another essay, another poem, another song, if it comes from the heart.

Take a look at the other essays and poetry on HF's blogsite.
Our man Shmarya took what is probably the raciest one, juiced it up with a provocative title, and here we are.

Yes, our man Shmarya also can't seem to provide a reasonable excuse for keeping it up. It breaks no new ground as far as his coverage of Hasidic sexual repression, and it stands against the wishes of its author who, at least CURRENTLY, seems to want him to take it down.

Care to chime in, Shmarya?

David, today I discovered a new blogsite with a new voice about the problems and frustrations of growing up hasidic.

A lot of the negativity and mean-spiritedness you find here has not made its way to her blog (yet).

I would not have discovered it had not HF put her post on the other FM thread, and had not Shmarya went with the story here. Learning more about other formerly-hasidic people's thoughts and feelings is intriguing to me. I doubt if I'm the only one here who feels this way.

Has Shmarya handled it perfectly? No. But I think that HF will eventually be glad that her voice was heard here today by a new audience; ok, a rough crowd of critics here, but I suspect she's smart enough to learn how to handle it.

I can understand if she does not want her blog to be saturated with notes from religious a-holes like the ones who sent so many comments to New York magazine after the article about Gitty Grunwald.

WSC: I agree with you on religion. But I respect other pov's, from Archie on the right to Ah pee chorus (great name!) on the left.

The way I see it is based on Pascal's wager:

"Pascal's Wager (or Pascal's Gambit) is a suggestion posed by the French philosopher Blaise Pascal that even though the existence of God cannot be determined through reason, a person should "wager" as though God exists, because so living has potentially everything to gain, and certainly nothing to lose. It was set out in note 233 of his Pensées, a posthumously published collection of notes made by Pascal in his last years as he worked on a treatise on Christian apologetics." (Wikipedia)

Basically, if God exists, and I live a religious life (a truly religious life, not mere ritual practice devoid of ethics, etc.), I will win because presumably I will be rewarded.

If God doesn't exist, and I live a religious life, when I die it won't matter. But meanwhile, I will have a code of ethics, a community, and delusional happiness. That too, is a win. (I'll be happy as long as I live, and afterwards I won't know the difference anyway).

There are flaws with this argument: What about the negative aspects of religion; which God, etc. As for the former, people always pick and choose. And Judaism has a tradition of bargaining with God. We ask Him to be consistent, etc., and not be an a-hole. As to which god: start with y/o tradition first. For me, it was sufficient (although I respect other faiths).

Without religion, I would have no community, no identity, no tradition, no moral anchor, few friends, and no sense of purpose. I would probably kill myself to embrace oblivion now, rather than live a meaningless and difficult existence. (I am not actually suicidal, but I think I would be if I lost all my faith).

And although I accept evolution as a well proven fact, philosophically I think we are indeed made in God's image (intelligence, sentience) and therefore I could never hurt anyone except in self-defense- not for ideology or religion. I demand consistency from my god.

Maybe Archie is right and I should return to normative Orthodoxy. Maybe AP Chorus is right and I should stop deluding myself. Maybe we're all right, and as long as we lead meaningful lives, the God that I cannot prove, yet believe in, will accept us all.

New Yiddish translation: Der Vagina Maiysehs.

YL, good thoughts.
I see religion like insurance. You hope you don't need it, but you don't want to be stuck without it, just in case.
So I go for basic coverage.
I suspect a lot of us here are not too dissimilar in daily practice.

There are a lot of good decent people at my shul (Chabad), and we're all searching.

Have to wake up at 5am, so will say good night.

If you would like to know how other chassidic and yeshivish repressed people live and think, why don't you get a job within such a community that deals with the community and you will learn a very lot. Until eventually nothing will shock you.

[I guess I just wanted to say, I'm not looking to kvetch, or rant, just to the freedom to write about what i am supposed to keep secret.]

Hasidic Feminist,
Posted by: | December 18, 2008 at 09:14 AM:

The "Good Girl" image follows through in the Catholic Faith as well. I guess I never thought too deeply about it . . . though confession was a bit difficult at times. Revealing transgressions to the parish priest was not high on my comfort list.

I found it easier to express myself regarding sexuality after taking a course, Human Sexuality, in college.

You might be interested in Google (ing) the~Vagina Monologues.

Re: 'I hope you didn't bet much, because you'd be wrong.

I'm a survivor of physical and sexual abuse, which started when I was 4 and ended when I was 19. The first episode of physical abuse was in a shul. The last was in the childhood home and community I finally left and never looked back on. I was disinherited and lost my entire family and community to denial when I finally stood up for myself.

So, yes, I understand the repercussions of growing up with a completely distorted view of myself, of my own sexuality, and of what it means to be a woman. I know what it means to be afraid, and to know that the price of becoming a full-fledged human being is almost unbearable grief and loss.

I also understand the repercussions of thinking I'm so terminally unique that no one else could possibly understand. That's the road of victimization and self pity. I've been there. There is nothing noble about it. The only nobility is in taking control of your life and your power and making the world better by your presence in it. "

i am sorry for what happened to you and the unending complications and sequelae of such repugnant acts. I hope your case was the exception and that what HF said is true that the girls live in (not so) blissful ignorance of their femininity

Seems as if the males know more about what its used for since the rebbes give em a live demo, not so for the females, but we cant increase the # of female child molesters to = that of the male ones just to have gender parity.. Or..can we??

is that the hassidic version of sex education?

HF,
If you're still checking this thread, one thing that jews have used to cope with the bitter realities of life is humor.
There are many sources, but if you want to see the master of enjoyable insults
go to google video (or youtube) and search "don rickels"
Warning: don't watch those clips if you have food in your mouth (it might end up spattered on your computer!)

The woman who supposedly wrote this...If you are married and you haven't matured sexually then you probably don't have the physical nature for it. No religion can interfere with nature for long.

Shamarya can you email me please, really would like to discuss something offline

Thanks
Dinah

This post really is astounding.
I have to go back and find archival posts in her blog.
For any woman interested, who may have experienced similar sexual repression, I highly recomend the book;
'The Hite Report' by Shere Hite.
Because it was written during the beginning of the feminist movement in the 1970s, it is quite easy for a Chassidic woman to identify with the hundreds of women's accounts of being baffled by what a female orgasm is.
At the end of the day, I think the best way to connect with one's body is through freedom.
Freedom of movement and thought.
Freedom to love, hate or desire whatever and however you want.
I know the price of that freedom can seem frightening, at the beginning and end of the day, this is your lifetime.
It began and will end at a specific date and no amount of will, will bring it back.
As for G-d, I am no expert on dictating the constructs of the female mind, but I have studied Torah, and it seems to me, that appreciation and desire for the beauty of this world is the only true way to know and praise Hashem.
What will you say after 120 years?
'You created all that beauty and pleasure for me?
I was too busy living to notice.'

well... I got it
and I think it was a beautiful insight on the plight of women all over
who are ashamed and do not know their body

I don't understand how you were 17 and just finding your vagina. I suppose Americans are more open to masturbation... we just overlook it and laugh

I found my vagina at three and we have a very close relationship. IF you feel as if you are being held back, escape.

good luck

i cannot believe the unbeleiveable cruelty, ignorance, and ugliness of some of these comments. its horrifying. what a beautiful piece of writing this is. It is so clear to me, every part of it, though I come from an opposite background with an opposite experience. I loved this. And no one may ever see this comment but I felt just I had to write it anyway.

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