Author Archives: Sharrona Pearl

The Lilith Blog

October 31, 2018 by

Let’s Vow to Stand With Those Who Are Standing With Us Now

At first I thought: we need space to mourn. Eleven of our own have been shot. We need to cry together. Alone.

We know, of course, that it is all connected, that the attacks on our fundamental humanity and right to exist are connected to all the other attacks on people’s fundamental humanity and right to exist, that people chanting “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville (some of them “very good,” according to our President) were empowered to shoot two shoppers at a Kroger in Kentucky because they were black.  We know (of course we know) that others affiliated with those “very good people” sent pipe bombs to prominent Democrats and their supporters. 

And we know in our bodies, in our broken hearts, in our historical memory and the memories of our grandparents whose bodies have never forgotten, and in the cries and shock of our children who also now know what it means to have someone want you dead for an identity that is at the very core of who you are. And then that one of those people’s ideological brethren went on to massacre 11 Jews in shul on shabbat morning during a bris. During a bris, for God’s sake.

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The Lilith Blog

September 5, 2018 by

Rosh Hashanah Forgiveness for #MeToo Offenders? Not Yet.

MicWill no one think of the poor abusers in the #metoo moment?  Don’t they get a shot at redemption?

The question sounds like a joke, or maybe a gross parody at first. We’re nowhere near the point of spending enough time supporting and thinking about the victims survivors to feel anything close to an obligation to help their abusers. Not. Even. Close.  But right now, that damn question (phrased in almost exactly this way — I’m not kidding!) is everywhere. As the summer ended, Louis C.K. quietly showcased a new set at the Comedy Cellar, his first since he admitted, and sort-of-apologized , for forcing aspiring female comics to watch him masturbate, the question of redemption is everywhere. 

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The Lilith Blog

August 22, 2018 by

When a Queer Feminist Professor is Accused of Harassment

canada-ontario-toronto-front-campusWe defend our friends. It’s natural. It’s powerful. It’s what friendship is all about. Certainly Avital Ronell’s friends— the most powerful philosophers in academe, for what it’s worth—wanted to defend her from the recently revealed allegations that she’d sexually harassed one of her male graduate students. The Title IX complaint by Nimrod Reitman  resulted in her year-long suspension from NYU.

But she had high-profile defenders in the feminist world. Judith Butler. Slavoj Žižek. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Shoshana Felman. These are just a few of the famous progressive scholars who lept to her defense in a widely circulated letter excerpted in the New York Times. Presumably without all the facts, they chose to attack the survivor. That’s certainly not a surprise, human behavior being what it is.

But to be honest, as an academic, I expected more. From the most revered names in the humanities, people who would be expected to make conclusions based on evidence in the name of social justice, I expected more. 

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The Lilith Blog

June 26, 2018 by

If “Incivility” Makes You Sympathize with Racism, You Were Racist Already

When I was an undergrad, I sat on my Women’s Center Collective. We made decisions by consensus. All it took was one person to block something and it wouldn’t happen. So it took a while for things to happen. We had to talk about everything. And it could be super frustrating when something you cared about died in process because of the deeply held convictions (or intransigence) of some who maybe didn’t even totally understand the issue.

God, it was annoying. God, were we annoying. Believe me when I say that I fantasized more than once about a (benevolent, run by me) dictatorship of liberal ideals. Think about how much we (ahem, I) could get done! Imagine how quickly we could organize if we weren’t so minutely attuned to what might cause offense to…someone. Anyone. 

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The Lilith Blog

April 20, 2018 by

It’s (Past) Time for the Gun Conversation

We’ve never had The Gun Conversation with our kids.

Not because we don’t have strong feelings about guns. (We do.) Not because we don’t think it is important for our kids to know what to do if they see a gun, loaded or unloaded, in someone’s hand or not. (We definitely do.) Not because we think they are too young or too delicate to encounter the realities of what guns can do and have done. (They aren’t too young to be shot.)

We’ve never had The Gun Conversation with our kids because we didn’t quite realize that we had to.

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The Lilith Blog

March 13, 2018 by

What My Dislike of Book Clubs Taught Me About Feminism

reading-3088491_1920I’m not a book club kind of person. I love books, and I love clubs. I mean, I really love books. I read in the gym. I read in the bath (always have, as the history of sodden, fat books on my mother’s shelf attests). I read on my walk to work. I read at work. Sometimes I even read for work.

For some reason (who knows why?) book clubs just have not worked for me.

I’m lying. I know exactly why book clubs haven’t worked for me. It’s because I don’t work for book clubs.

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The Lilith Blog

February 6, 2018 by

Welcome (Back) to the Resistance, Mom

It was just a few minutes before Shabbat, and I was rushing to get everything done (read: running very late). Not an ideal time to talk to anyone, so of course the phone rang. And of course it was my mother. And of course she was very agitated.

Time to pause.

Take a deep breath.

And listen.

I’m glad I did.

My mother didn’t know what to do with herself. She was so, so angry. (Not at me). She was confused. She was genuinely and sincerely trying to understand how people she liked and respected could hold such terrible and selfish and fundamentally illogical positions on matters of basic human rights and dignity.

My mother was, it turns out, having coffee with some Trump supporters.

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The Lilith Blog

February 1, 2018 by

When Your Child Brings a Sexist Book Home from Jewish Day School

The truth is that I don’t remember the name of the book. Something innocuous, something to do with sewing and the first flag and maybe even Betsy Ross. Something nicely Philadelphian and, given that she brought it home from the school library, something certainly age-appropriate for my kindergartener.

Age-appropriateness isn’t the only kind of appropriateness to be concerned about with kids’ media, but to be honest we’ve never heavily screened the books that our children read. For the younger ones, we still do the reading with them, so we can talk with them about the messages that make us uncomfortable or with which we disagree. Sometimes it’s even a good opportunity to explain our values or worldview and how it differs from the book, or to ask them what they think about how something is presented or plays out. It’s rare though: most of the books we get are pretty great, and the other ones tend to fall out of (read: be removed from) circulation fairly quickly.

Library day is every Wednesday for kindergartners at her Jewish Day School. My daughter is always really excited for me to read her the book she’s come home with. They’re usually fine; classic kids’ stories or something nicely historical designed to appeal to just her age group. This one was a little older, a little more battered, with well-loved pages and the marks of time.

Just like a lot of classic kids’ books. Just like nearly every book I own.

She was so excited for me to read it with her: a book about sewing (which she loves), featuring a young girl with siblings (just like her), set in her very own city (not far from her house). I certainly didn’t think to read it to myself first—it was coming from her school library, from the section designated specifically for kindergarteners, with all the markings of a book that has stood the test of time.

Time’s a funny thing though. The books of the (recent) past sometimes have very different subtle (or not so subtle!) messages than the books of the present. Especially books about girls and sewing and post-revolutionary Philadelphia.

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