I have been a bit under the whether, partly because of my current “man problems” which are, however, too personal to talk about. However, thinking about the guy I have a crush on at the moment, I cannot help thinking of those fateful words in Genesis, condemning Eve’s daughters to servitude, “her urge shall be for her husband and he shall rule over her.” I have always loved the Bible, but those words cause me to shudder. I never really wanted to think my world would revolve around a man. I always wanted to believe–and discovered it articulately expressed when I finally read Freidan–that there was more to a woman than love and sex and marriage. That is part of why I wrote The Bible According to Eve, though nobody I know seems to find it as feminist as, say, The Red Tent. This saddens me, but I guess it can’t be helped.
I always wish that people understood that my writing is work. People seem to imagine that since my job hasn’t brought in much money yet, it is only the equivalent of being a homemaker. I wish people would understand that male authors often stay at home writing for hours, too. It is true, I live with my mother, and this is perhaps a weakness on my part to be lamented… but I am sure I shall finally make enough money to enter the middle class if not the upper–and then I shall have my “freedom.”
Another thing I never like to talk to with feminists if I meet them… is that I am not sexually active. I hate admitting all of the reasons why so I won’t here. Yet I don’t think that it should be said that even a nun cannot be a committed feminist. Although until recently, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church has been too conservative to me–I believe that to prohibit even married people from using birth control in the world’s present state is reckless at best–even figures as diverse as Joan of Arc and St. Clare of Assisi prove that Catholicism itself has feminist possibilities for women. Could it be that Mother Teresa without knowing it is a self-actualized woman and feminist?
Of course I am not Catholic. I am still looking for feminist possibilities in Judaism, like the book Found Treasures, about Yiddish women’s literature of the 19th Century. Could there be a Shalom Aleichem among writers of the female gender? More, could Glückel of Hameln be a prototypical feminist worthy of study in both Jewish and even German literature classes? Jews, I believe, should not ignore the rich history and literature of the diaspora. And we should look for female and not just male heroes and heroines to read and read about. I remember finding out about the Jewish Queen Kahuna in North Africa who fought the invading Muslims, and wishing there was a book about her in English.
I will finish with an early female scientist whose name I believe everyone should know: Maria Sibylla Merian. Though barely literate, this painter and early entomologist discovered the life cycle of the butterfly. She should be a model for young girls about those field which it is still uniquely difficult for women to break into: the sciences. If Virginia Woolf said someday there needs to be a female Shakespeare, I say there also needs to be a female Einstein. Of course, it goes without saying: there should be a black Shakespeare and a black Einstein, too. There should be nothing impossible through talent and hard work in America. That is what our founders wanted.