Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My Defense of Sarah Silverman

Today on Jewcy, I published a defense of comedian Sarah Silverman, who was recently publicly castigated by Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt for being political instead of maternal. He suggests--well that's actually too mild of a word--that Silverman should fill the void in

Part of me hesitated before writing this. After all, Rosenblatt and The Jewish Press were clearly trolling the Internet for hits, and wouldn't I be showering more attention on them? And for god sake, it's The Jewish Press. My zaidie used to call it the "The Jewish Mess." It wasn't even taken seriously in my Orthodox Jewish high school. One of my rabbis told the following joke:

A man approaches his rabbi with a question. "Rabbi, can I read the Jewish Press in the bathroom?" [In case you're wondering why this is even a question--the paper technically contains words of Torah, and bringing it into a restroom might pose halachic issues. Now back to the joke for the big finish.]
The wiseass rabbi responds, "The real question is whether you're allowed to take it out of the bathroom." 

And before you claim that I'm being unfair and all "liberal media elite" all over The Jewish Press, here's their just published "counterpoint" to Rosenblatt's piece. Yori Yanover argues that motherhood shouldn't be compulsory because it's the only path to femininity. Women should have babies because of GDP. In the words of James Carville, "It's the economy, stupid."

But like any faux feminist, he cannot resist taking a shot at women (even as he claims to defend them). Check out this choice morsel:

"Seriously, folks, it’s OK to pursue a career in whatever you want to do – but first make a few babies, while your bodies are still pink and juicy and robust, and babies can happen to you without fertility doctors and crazy-making hormonal treatments that will turn sweet, loving wives into homicidal maniacs. "

Why thank you for permitting me to have a career! You're too kind. But I'm glad that you kept it "real" for me by reminding me that my physical youth and "pink" body is what matters. And thanks for reinforcing the whole "hormonal women are crazy" stereotype. Why didn't you just write "Bitches be crazy" and call it a day?

Anyway, even if it adds to the attention Rosenblatt has already received, I'm glad I responded. Despite the progress women have made over the last century, we're still told that the only we can reach our potential is by marrying and having children. Men are not held to that standard. They're not asked how they will handle the rigors of a challenging job while also raising a family. (That's what wives are for, silly rabbit!) Tabloids don't recycle headlines about George Clooney's sad childless state. Those magazine covers were solely devoted to a single, unbetrothed Jennifer Aniston. And let us not forget this past decade of Republican anti-choice legislation, which all seeks to reinforce the idea that a woman's most important responsibility is to have kids. That's why they're all--"if she gets pregnant, she stays pregnant" and such.

This is not meant to insult women who do wish to become mothers (and I'm certainly open to the idea of becoming one myself even if some commenters have already expressed the desire that I do not procreate). It's merely to argue for the expansion of the definition of what it means to be a woman. It should not hinge on whether or not you choose to procreate.

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