If you could use a little chicken soup for the feminist soul, check out That Takes Ovaries! (edited by Rivka Solomon, Three Rivers Press, $13.00). This is a collection of anecdotes written by women who explore and assert their feminine strength. Ranging from cute to inspiring, these stories showcase women who are full of courage, rebelliousness, and self-confidence.
In “Diary of an Urban Guerrilla,” Kathy Bruin recounts her frustration and disgust at the depiction of women in the media. She creates “About-Face: a San Francisco group dedicated to combating negative images of women.” The group posters towns with images that challenge accepted portrayals of women; one of the posters depicts women in a circus cage, with the caption “Please Don’t Feed the Models.” Bruin describes the rush she felt as she took her stand against sexism, joined by other activists who shared her convictions. My personal favorite tale in this compilation is “Synagogue Revolt” by Loolwa Khazzoom. Here, a fourteen-year-old girl fights for the preservation of her Iraqi- Jewish religious heritage, despite being “just a girl.” She manages to unite the women and “passive men” in her synagogue by loudly opposing the established leader of prayer and leading the congregants in traditional Iraqi-Jewish songs. Her efforts result in a full-blown outburst and recognition of tensions that had been stirring within her community.
Solomon devotes 12 pages of instruction on how to set up That Takes Ovaries! gatherings, at which, she hopes, participants will tell their own stories and subsequently buy a copy of her book. The suggestion is, of course, a brazen That Takes Ovaries! act in and of itself.
Karen Kranson recently graduated from N.Y.U. with a degree in Religious Studies.