In her 30s, my mother was busy defining herself against her own lovely mother who seemed too passive, deferential, and self-sacrificing…and who wore nailpolish! My mother is a passionate feminist (academic). For a time, I really rebelled. I saw feminism as the territory of the academic who speaks in semi-colons. It was not until I realized how different my feminist strength was from other women around me that I had no choice but to say, “Fine. Yes, I am a feminist!”
At the same time that my mother continues to study the place of women in society, I struggle to catch up on the Girly Studies my friends of non-feminist mothers experienced early on—like how to apply makeup properly, or…moisturizer. A month away from 30, I see that life is not linear but episodic, and that it’s the journeys, shifts and changes that are exciting and not the search for sameness.
When I met my non-Jewish boyfriend, I thought “uh-oh, I didn’t plan for this to happen!” Now, two years later, it’s pretty clear that his sense of civic responsibility and his interest in analyzing Jewish texts make me a better Jew. He’s just the kind of Jewish partner I have always wanted, just not Jewish.
Lauren Antler, a comedian, performs her show, “How to Fight the Patriar-chy: Lessons from the Daughter of a Jewish Feminist” with her mother, Joyce Antler.