…sexy and funny

Our culture encourages us to use the milestone of “turning 30” as a time to make changes if things seem to be going awry. I don’t think that sort of introspection should end when I turn 31 next month!

Growing up in the Modern Orthodox community of New Jersey, I felt isolated as a nascent feminist. My mother suggested that I read Blu Greenberg’s On Women and Judaism. Before I read her book, I honestly did not know that anyone (besides myself) was thinking about issues of gender and Judaism.

Feminism, for me, is an ongoing project to ensure that women do not incur social, economic or political disadvantages on account of their sex. Unfortunately, in the popular mind, the term feminist has taken on negative meanings, connoting a woman who is man-hating, child-hating, humorless and cut-throat; who would never wear a slinky dress. This (mis)appropriation of the term feels like a way of using superficial (and blatantly false) stereotypes to chip away at the social and economic gains that feminists have earned on behalf of all women. Luckily, there are many people my age who continue to identify as feminists—most of them sexy, lovable, and funny. 

Rachel Kranson is getting her doctorate in American Jewish History from New York University. She is also a contributing editor of Lilith.