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May 23, 2012

Are Hassidic Women Repressed?

I did not have time to do a roundup today of interesting links, but I would like to point out this one exchange of posts.

The exchange began when a Hassidic woman, later revealed to be a baal teshuva Chabadnik (a point that is relevant to the content of the exchange), named Chaya who wrote a post for xoJane.com entitled "What Women's Media Needs To Know About Chassidic Women". Chaya goes on to describe how Chassidic women are not oppressed, despite common knowledge otherwise. Chaya describes the freedom, the pleasure, the choices she has open to her and concludes that the Chassidic woman is not oppressed.

I thought Chaya's post was a beautiful description, even if not completely representative of all Chassidic women and even if not representative of every persons experiences, and even if perhaps a bit exaggerated in exuberance..

In response, Rabbi Fink wrote a post entitled "Dear Chaya" in which he tempers Chaya's post, describing where her descriptions fell short. Women are opressed and repressed. Most Chassidic women do not have the freedom of a Chabad woman, and definitely do not have the experiences of a baal teshva who has chosen such a lifestyle rather than having been born into it. There are problems, the community is not perfect, and progress on various issues must be made.

While obviously Chaya's post has a far more positive nature and Rabbi Fink's post has a far more tempered tone, both are important.

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  1. I read the article.
    First of all, the author is clearly a BT. had she actually grown up in Chasidic circles she would never have gotten the education or have the job that she does. She's be in a low end job somewhere trying to support her kollel hubbie and 14 kids.
    Her English is way too good for a real Chasid. How many of them describe their spouses as "hot" (a word reserved to describe cholent) or use the expression "effing"?
    Second, she lies when it's convenient. Gur uses a sheet. Enough denials.
    There are probably benefits to being a Chasid but her whole "And our life is so wonderful, better than yours!" is Izvestia propaganda.

  2. It was a good article, and Rabbi Fink's response made some good points as well. I think the main point to take out of these articles is this: There's a lot of people out there, with lots of varied backgrounds, and stereotyping is dangerous. You never know what's going on beneath the black hat or the sheitel, both for better and for worse.

  3. An even stronger response to "Chaya" from Deborah Feldman. Similar points, more strongly made. (Beware of "language".)


  4. The rabbi is a reform guy who hasn't even studied the issues at hand properly. i don't really think he even has a right to comment on issues like this when he obviously is completely against orthodoxy. when frum rabbi writes something against her i'll listen, but to say that women are second class citizens because they aren't counted for a minyan? this is ridiculous, this is the same old timeless femenist bull that has been trotted out time and time again.

  5. http://thepartialview.blogspot.com/2012/05/for-achdus-im-going-to-siyum-hashas.html

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