Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Feminism: The kollel's best friend

I've heard many charedim decrying feminism, expressing the notion that it's a secular value, that men and women were given different roles, and that the woman's primary purpose is to raise Jewish children and show quiet strength and wisdom in that private, rather than public, role.

It occurs to me that one of the main contrinutions of the feminism of the late 20th century was enabling women's entry into the workplace in massive numbers and in roles and salaries previously denied them.

The irony is that it is this very success that allows wives of kollel members to work while their husbands learn. Sure, there were a few women in the workplace before feminism, but there weren't enough jobs available to women to support an entire generation of charedi men while they learned. Feminism gave all those women jobs and relatively decent salaries to support their typically large families.

So kollel guys, the next time you're tempted to bash feminism, think about the fact that your whole way of life wouldn't exist without the hard-won rights that women in the 60's, 70's and 80's campaigned for.

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