Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Being an Ultra-Orthodox Woman


Being an Ultra-Orthodox woman, means hearing other people talk about me like I’m a fish in an aquarium.

Being an Ultra-Orthodox woman means being told by Ultra-Orthodox male politicians that I am not interested in having women representing me in government. That I should vote for men, and they know best.

Being an Ultra-Orthodox woman in Hi-Tech, means working for 15+ years, holding a graduate degree, and still hearing secular men, professors of sociology, lecturing in conferences about promoting my participation in the workforce, like I am some kind of science project.

Being an Ultra-Orthodox woman in Hi-Tech married to a Kollel student means paying taxes, but reading in Facebook comments that I’m a parasite. Because somehow, despite feminism, households with stay-at-home-moms are fine, but heaven forbid the mother should be the one working, not the father. 

Being an Ultra-Orthodox woman means paying city taxes and school tuition, and sending my children to study in caravans instead of a school building. Terrified when the sirens go, because they don’t have a bomb shelter.

Being an Ultra-Orthodox woman means that if I want to write for the magazines I read, I have to self-censor every word I write, and most of what I say I need to erase before it ever hits the keyboard.

Being an Ultra-Orthodox woman means being told by magazine editors that I don’t want to see photos of women in the magazines I buy. Looking up to female role-models while all I get to see is their hands, their homes, or their husbands.

Being an Ultra-Orthodox woman means needing to tell my seven-year -old daughter, when she builds a magnatile castle with her brothers – that her brothers’ photo can be in the kid’s magazine, but hers can’t. I can’t bring myself to use the word immodest, talking to my seven-year-old little girl. She must remain the builder behind the scenes.

Being an Ultra-Orthodox woman means that anything I say that doesn’t jibe with the party line- means I’m not really Ultra-Orthodox. I can go to the right schools, wear the right clothes, pray in the right Shul, and send my sons to a Talmud Torah - but if I think anything I'm not meant to -and kal v'chomer if I say it or write it - I'm obviously a fraud. 

Being an Ultra-Orthodox woman, means staying silent.

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