Monday, May 31, 2004

Women and Shoes and Blessings

Offspring Number Two, Lila, 19, is home from Stern College for Women. In New York City, Stern is one of the few campuses in the United States where the students do not organize "Take Back the Night" marches. They do not have to because the religious Jewish women in Stern have enough common sense not to: a)drink themselves insensible b)dress like Britney Spears, ie like sluts c) and then go back to a hormone driven boy's dorm room after a night of drinking, dancing and flirting, and expect the boy to be satisfied with a deep conversation about Kierkegaard's notions of sin and redemption.
In any case, on Shabbos several large boxes were delivered to the house. "It's my stuff," said Lila, "Books and some clothing." After Shabbos, I opened the boxes and found four books, and about twenty pair of shoes. Some clothing? Lila is a master of understatement. Living with three women I have learned an essential cosmic truth: women need shoes the way men need, well, sports programs. For women and shoes the relationship is even deeper. Women will buy shoes with absolutely no intention of wearing them. They realize that the last is too narrow, the heel so high that it induces a nose bleed, but the attraction is so powerful that to own the shoe becomes something of an obsession, a fetish. So, Lila brings home the loot from a year with a credit card in New York -- far more dangerous than a child and an Uzi -- and discovers that there is no place to keep them in her room in LA. Her room is not designed for a budding Imelda Marcos. Ever practical, Lila bought a shoe rack yesterday. "Daaaaaaddy, help me put it together. Pleeeeeease." I sat on the floor hammering together a six foot tower, a sculptural monument to display shoes. I hammered (my thumb all too often) and Lila read the instructions to me: "Insert part a into part b being extra careful that part c and part e are not parrallel to part f and g." Talmud is far easier. We were right outside Ariel's room. I looked up into his empty bedroom and I said to myself: If Ariel were here he would look at us and he would smile. No one could make Ariel smile and laugh like his two sisters. He loved the way they wrap me around their well manicured little fingers, once saying to me: "Dad, you should see your face when the girls ask you to do something for them." What do you mean?" I asked. "You're just so happy, so anxious to do anything for them, it shows on your face." "Well Ariel, that's what being a parent is, you want to give to your children. The more you give, the more you love. You'll find out when you're a father." "I can't wait," he said, "I want to have chidren" "How many?" I asked. "Many, many." He responded. Well, Ariel will not have children. He will not know the joy of hammering together a shoe rack for a shoe obsessed daughter. But when I do it, when I do anything for Lila or Chloe I remind myself that I am lucky. My heart may be broken, but I am still blessed with Lila and Chloe, and to forget this would be a sin. To neglect this would also mean giving less to the daughters I adore; and that I will not do. Not to them, not to me. Karen and I are broken vessels, but Hashem works with broken vessels and we must learn from Hashem.
I would like to thank those who have written to me over the past few days. Your generous words have given a beautiful gift to us; the gift of empathy, of shared experience and feelings. When I started this blog I worried that perhaps I was exhibiting an unattractive narcissistic element to my mourning, but now I know that my bottomless grief is all too common. To you who read and write to me: We are strangers in name only. A special thanks to Pup who linked me to his website: vintageknives.com

13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cecile Dubois again. As a female, I despise shopping--not all women are obsessed with their shoes--just to note. Is this blog going to be published as a book? It should, because the writing is very beautiful.

June 6, 2004 at 9:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suppose if young women dress and act modestly it does reduce the risk of being raped or attacked by men, but it would be naive to think that it completely protects them. If dressing and acting modestly were a complete protection from rape and assault then there would be a lot fewer victims in the world.

June 7, 2004 at 5:59 AM  
Blogger Seraphic said...

I hope that I am not naive. I never implied that dressing modestly will entirely prevent rape. God forbid I should be that silly. What I was saying is simply this: if a college girl dresses like a tramp, drinks and carouses with boys and then goes back to their room to "talk" the chances of rape are increased by about a zillion percent. It is simply common sense. My daughters dress modestly, they do not imbibe and they would never go back to a boy's room. They have studied far too much Torah to be naive about the essential nature of men. Therefore, thank God, my girls are safer than so many others. I thank you for reading my blog and hope that this has cleared up what I was trying to say.

June 7, 2004 at 8:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shalom. Just came across your blog, and I feel compelled to respond. As a religious person, I would expect your views to be tempered with reason, respect, and intelligence. Instead, you are spouting myths, stereotypes, and half truths.

Women are raped everyday, mostly by men they know. Rape is not based on what a girl wears, what she drinks, or whether she goes up to a 'boy's room'. These are sterotypes. The sad reality is that rape affects women in every segment of society, including, unfortunately, in our religious communities as well.

By writing about 'tramps' who 'drink' you are clearly perpetuating stereotypes, and showing a complete lack of respect for women. I don't consider my fellow women tramps or sluts, regardless of what they wear. I have compassion and respect for all of my fellow humans. Whom am I to judge what they wear?

Your posting sounds smug, biased, and not connected with reality.

Shame on you.

Ronit

June 8, 2004 at 2:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shame on you, Ronit.

Our actions have consequences, and while you are correct in stating that rape and assault occurs in all segments of society, you are wrong in your assertion that the way in which women dress has no correlation to how often they will be taken advantage of in college situations.

By the way, Ronit, I think I saw you at the feminist march in DC. Nice pink shirt.

June 9, 2004 at 11:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ronit was not at the March for Women's Lives in DC. I was, however, and was proudly wearing a pink ACLU shirt. However, I fail to follow your logic. Could you please elaborate on the link between feminist marches and/or pink shirts and the incidence of rape?
As for whether women should be held responsible for rape and whether dress is a determinant, your naivete is stunning and disturbing. Take a look at the statistics, follow your own purported logic, and *think* before you spout more misogynistic bombast.
Whoever you (the latest "Anonymous") are, I certainly hope you don't have children.

June 9, 2004 at 1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look, all: it's true that the way a woman dresses *shouldn't* affect how she is treated, and it's true that stereotypes are harmful. But they're there. And certain forms of rape-- date-rape, and those "under the influence" things that end up hurting everyone-- occur more frequently in certain situations, featuring certain people, doing certain things, behaving in certain ways, than others. And indeed, this is because of the stereotypes, and because of wrong conceptions, and lack of respect and all that. Now, to fight the stereotypes you can do several things: (a) you can teach people that they shouldn't make fast assumptions and rashly act on them [which is happening, and this is good], (b) pre-emptively avoid situations that frequently lead to trouble-- because (a) really isn't infallible and hasn't yet been drilled into everyone [which his daughter is doing, and of which he approves] or (c) going headfirst into these situations, taking the risk that (a) might give out on you before damage is done, and being alert and aware and careful, and relying on your own ability to command the necessary respect from drunk boys that you do when they're sober and you're having a heated intellectual debate about kierkegaard and blogs or whatever.

And really, choosing the middle option isn't treason, and being proud that your kids have chosen it isn't heresy. It would be wonderful if this discussion didn't have to happen at all, but you have to understand: if the education/respect/stereotype-eradication methods give out, because someone has issues, the only thing between yourself and a problem is... yourself, the danger, and your surroundings; if anything actually happens, you can seek redress [although those systems have their own problems]. So if you feel comfortable enough with yourself, alert enough, smart enough to see any problem and get out of it, more power to you. But not everyone is like that. And not walking after dark in certain neighbourhoods isn't perpetuating a stereotype, it's choosing to lower the risks you *know* are more likely.

This applies to all situations, of course, but to some more than others...

June 10, 2004 at 8:00 AM  
Anonymous Okie1 said...

It was sad to read of the lost of your son. You are right, the pain never fully heals. But I can offer hope in that one learns to bear the pain better. Rather like having one leg shorter than the other, you learn to accommodate your grief. You seemed to have learned the important lesson that some never do, do not refuse the love and comfort that you do have
because of the love you lost. You

also have the comfort of knowing
that although your son's life was
short, you made it as good as
possible by showing him your love
and appreciation while you could.
Sadly, some parents never give
this to their children. We can't
always control circumstances but
there is real comfort in knowing
we did all we could while we
could.

As to the other topic:nuns have been raped.

May 17, 2005 at 4:40 AM  
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