Living in Interesting Times

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Sisters in Arms

My mum was just telling me about a new reality TV show in Britain. Basically it is the UK version of the Apprentice with Allan Sugar in the Donald Trump role. She said that she noticed in the first episode, when the group were split into teams of men and women, that the men instantly sat down and started strategising. They worked together coming up with team names and aggressive plans to ‘kill’ the competition. By contrast the women immediately started bitching. Instead of working together they worked against each other, back-biting and fighting. That is exactly the same thing that happened with the American version of the show, and with the Israeli version ‘HaShagrir’.

What is it about us women? Why do we so often seem to see one another as competition and find it so hard to support each other?

I have some really affirming friendships with women and I deeply believe in the power of women’s gathering. This is why I have never been an egalitarian when it comes to Judaism. I like the idea women sharing some religious experiences with each other and separate from men. For example each Pesach two friends and I arrange a women’s Seder. This experience is one of the high points of my year and I draw deep inspiration from it. I also have some very close male friends but I know that I am different with them than I am with other women.

I think when women want to, they can provide invaluable support and inspiration for one another. I just wish that we wanted too more often. This line of thought made me think I would like to do something more frequently than the Seder. I therefore decided to put into action something I have been thinking about for a long time. I am going to start a women’s Rosh Chodesh book club. As I was thinking this, by coincidence my mother was going through a similar process. She had recently read an article about the
Red Hat society for women over fifty. The society draws its inspiration from the poem Warning, by Jenny Joseph.

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.

My mum was inspired by this article to want to start her own chapter. In our society when women age they tend to become invisible. This Red Hat Society is about women having fun, being frivolous and generally being visible. It also about women finding support and affirmation from one another.

I love that my mum and I were going through the same thought process at the same time, but it is hardly surprising. Although she would deny it, I think I get all my feminist inclinations and values from her.


  • Rest assured that you provide me with "invaluable support and inspiration"...

    Beautiful Post

    By Blogger tafka PP, at 1:27 PM  

  • Red Hats! The place where I eat lunch on Wednesdays is always full of ancient ladies in their red hats, talking 90 miles an hour. I don't know if this is a "good thing" or a "bad thing" but they sure drive everybody else in the place crazy.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:35 PM  

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