The Wrong Approach

I'm so glad this website is still up and running. I known I've been AWOL for quite a while now, but I need to write, so here goes.

Judaism and Feminism: An Orthodox Feminist's Perspective

Hey, fellow feminists! My name's Talia, and I'm new to the AGA. Here's my intro post!

Still Taking Back the Night

After that enthusiastic last paragraph of my previous post, I feel more than a little annoyed to report that the empowered feeling lasted less than 24 hours.

In an older book, Alice Schwarzer described her dream of a utopian society: one where a woman can walk by herself after dark and not shudder at every noise. I hear her on that one. We're very far away from that.

I visited friends on Saturday afternoon and took the train back at 10pm. By the time I was on my train, it was dark, and my compartment was nearly empty. I hoped it would stay that way, but was disappointed: with about 45 minutes left to go, two obviously drunk young men got on the train and sat down close to me. Their conversation was loud and though I tried to concentrate on my book, I couldn't help but listen.

Sex Education

Like Em, I am going to participate in the Scarleteen fundraising drive a little by blogging about my experience with sex education. I am also a Volunteer at ST (all shiny and new) and I first came to the site about a year and a half ago, seeking advice. By now, I am there every day giving advice because I enjoy passing on the knowledge I have gained.

Growing up in Germany, I'd seen naked bodies on television before I was old enough to be able to name all the parts I was seeing. The first time we had sex education in school was in fourth grade. We were taught out of a book that told the story of a married couple who were expecting their second child and explaining to their daughter how the baby was conceived. The story was told with innocent but realistic drawings and followed the couple from conception to birth.


It’s a familiar story. Every couple weeks I find myself sitting in the living room of my apartment, with my three favorite girls in town, complaining about the men in our life as though we’re in an episode of Sex and The City. Sometimes we even turn on the dvd player and watch Sex and The City.

My friend E is getting married in May, to a guy she’s been dating for less than a year. I have no doubt that they love each other, but they are both depressive, he has been having other health problems and is in the middle of writing his dissertation. They are both trying to plan a wedding, but more importantly, fulfill their commitment to spend the rest of their lives together.

Culture Shock??

I'm looking forward to being around here more-I'm in Denmark for the semester, and it's been an interesting time. I'm learning more about authentic Danishness, and I've had some face-to-face confrontations with it, including one that I'm writing this blog about. :)

I was at a dinner party last weekend, all women just having dinner and drinking wine and eating together. It was a nice evening. We were having a conversation, and sex came up. The women were all extremely candid, speaking openly about sex, and it was interesting to me. Primarily because it was focused around women's pleasure. In other words, the conversation wasn't solely about what you can do for your partner, but about how frustrating it can be when your needs don't get met. All the women were heterosexual, so all the partners they talked about were male, but I could see the contrast between me and my own friends immediately. I can rarely remember a conversation about sex that was woman-centric. I think to a large extent it's a cultural difference. Me and my friends were never raised with any conception that healthy sexual activity where pleasure was given and received was something we should expect, much less demand. Most of the women I have met here don't think that way.

Sexual Freedom

I'm in Denmark now for five months for a semester of study abroad. It's been great so far, quite a change but an exciting one. As I begin to settle in a bit more, one of the things I'm noticing more and more is the attitude that Danes seem to take towards sex as opposed to America and the traditions of America I am accustomed to. In my program, they provide free condoms, and they made it very clear that they acknowledge that sex has happened in the past and will happen in the future, and they would rather it was performed safely rather than with a hope and a prayer that lack of protection would work. It's so different, and almost refreshing to be in a population that speaks of sex candidly, and isn't afraid to embrace it.

Adverse effects of women's lit?

I am beginning work to become a DONA certified doula, or labour assistant. One of the first steps I have to take is to read five books from a list, on breastfeeding, birth choices, and pregnancy in general. I just started reading a book called The Mother of All Pregnany Books. The author talks about how men should lay off the tobacco, drugs, and alcohol if they wish to have kids. She says "In other words, let him have all the sex and rock 'n roll he wants, just not the drugs!"

I couldn't help feeling betrayed by this woman. I take pregnancy as being quite empowering, if handled well, because woman's wisdom and bodies can do amazing things. But the author's use of the word "let" seems hardly appropriate. As if women lay around and wait for men to impregnate them. Maybe I'm reading into this the wrong way, but it just doesn't feel right to me.

Self esteem

This is based upon a friend of mine from camp. She's fourteen and she's had sex. Big. Deal. It had NOTHING to do with low self esteem. She may not be full of herself, but she is certainly not lacking in self esteem, either.

How come people make assumptions? How can you ASSUME that a fourteen year old girl who had sex with her boyfriend of her own free will has low self esteem? It's like any other assumption you could make. Not. Always. Right. Now, I won't argue that a lot of times it is right, but it's not always right. AND she uses condoms and birth control.

So tell me, how come people ASSUME that she has low self esteem? And why, if proper precautions are taken before and after, is it so bad for a fourteen year old to have sex? She was just as mature as either of our other friends at camp, who were sixteen and seventeen. I was the only one out of us four who was a virgin. But we all had one thing in common: a rough life, hard times, and maturity.

Plan B (aka the morning after pill) Goes Over and Behind the Counter

Its official, the FDA has approved Plan B for sale over the counter. However, unlike some other over the counter medications, plan B will be kept behind the counter under lock and key. Only women over the age of 18, with state issued IDs will be able to purchase the drug. Women under the age of 18 will be able to access the drug, but only with a prescription from their doctor.

The reasons why women under the age of 18 cannot get Plan B, according to the director of the FDA, without a prescription are confusing to say the least. He claims that although their own studies showed the drug was safe for women of all ages, they believed women under the age of 18 would not be able to follow the directions for use of the drug. He continued to attempt to back that opinion up, by saying that we have lots of laws which exclude teens from adult activities. I find this interesting coming from the director of the FDA. Is he unaware that doctors frequently give medications tested only on adults to teens and pre-teens? Is he unaware that physically a woman IS an adult by the time she reaches her teens?

More Hairy Thoughts

Hair. It seems to come up a lot (no pun intended). Whether you are trying to find the courage to shave your head or to not shave your armpits, it seems like a lot of us are struggling with the enormous importance that hair holds for women in our society.

One of my friends walks around proudly with her head shaven. In addition she does not shave her legs and she has hair growing on her chin and between her breasts. Yesterday she wore a dress around campus. Usually confident, yesterday she felt the need to go back home to put on a chunky necklace that hides the hair and marks on her chest. She told me that people had been looking at her strangely and that she had been made to feel uncomfortable.


I've mentioned before how extremely difficult I find it to trust anyone. Surprisingly, I was really open with Nikki right after we became friends. I've become more and more open to her over time; we're almost like sisters. After six months or so, I began to trust most of the people I see every month once or twice at Pagan events.

I knew Ashley for half a year before I really trusted her at all. We were best friends for a while-that fell apart though, as these things usually do. There are thirty or forty people I know who I half-trust. They don't know my darkest secrets, nobody knows these.

Sex Appeal...

I have about three blog entries in progress saved in Word, but I just felt the need to post this one now. With all the talk about PDA, I have been reflecting more about my own feelings about sex in general.

Previous post aside, I have never felt entirely comfortable with almost any sort of sexual activity. My first kiss began with me cowering on a couch, terrified that the male sitting across from me was going to hurt me, eventually leading to me hitting him in the genital area, ending in him telling me that I kissed like a grandmother and shouldn't do it anymore. I didn't kiss anyone else for almost a year, fearing that I was bad at it. I am afraid to feel desire, and to acknowledge that I may have the power to incite desire in others. I think I am so uncomfortable in my own body that I can't believe that others might find it attractive, might find me attractive.

I just want to be normal!!!

At a very early age, I learned what would become of my sexuality. Frustration, the inability to comfortably orgasm, and constant guilt is the only thing I know of sex. Most of my life has been spent hiding my sexual energy, while the last three years of my first and only relationship has been spent trying to hide my pain with lies. As I closed my eyes to the pain, I forced myself to have wild crazy sex, dead to my own feelings of angst.

I wanted to be the girl he couldn’t keep his hands off of, even though it was his hands that terrified me the most. His hands tortured me with pain and pleasure. One moment I’m completely under the spell of his pleasure and the next, I’m back at age four, being violated again and again, by those whom I was supposed to be able to trust. I’m so lucky to have him, another man might continue without a care or bolt when I start to sob, but he just holds me… protecting, loving and comforting.

Dirty Dancing?

Ever since I decided I wasn't countercultural enough to refuse to go to school dances on principle and realized that I do, in fact, enjoy dances, the question of how much is too much on the dance floor has been present in my mind.

Looking around at my classmates at a school dance, I wonder: When did dancing become equivalent to dry humping? Why is that boy dancing with/dry humping his female friend while his girlfriend sits on the side looking upset about it? Why are the chaperones only breaking up a token number of couples? Why is there a girl bending over against the wall and not even really dancing at all just so a boy can hump her butt? Do the girls enjoy rubbing themselves back and forth against their partner's likely erect penis, or do they just feel obligated? Do all these people who aren't humping but are sort of pretending to be engaged in a sex act actually enjoy dancing like that, or do they just feel like that's how they should be dancing?

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