Thursday, August 23, 2007

2006 part 1

2006 was pretty much a year of self-exploration for me. Around the end of 2005 I decided that I didn'tk now what the hell I wanted, i wasn't happy by myself, and i needed to work on that. So my solution to that was to take a year off from dating. I had the theory that I couldn't be in a good relationship until I was happy on my own, outside of the relationship (as it happened, it did work out that way, but i'm not sure that's why). Also I grew dreadlocks, which turned out to be a great jewish guy repellent. :) It turned out to be a great year...although i broke the dating rule a few times (maybe 4 or 5 first dates?) , i spent most of the year going to concerts (31 over the course of the year...i kept track) and spent less and less time at the jewish grad network events. Around september time i cut my dreadlocks off and taught my first class (social statistics lab) which was an awesome experience as well, and which made me realize that i DO want to be a professor for sure! (prior to that I was kind of ambivilant, and was considering the research industry instead). Around september I went on my first date with someone who was not jewish. It turned out i didn't like him for other reasons (like that he was really boring), but it definitely broke that self-imposed tabboo i had wherein I didn't date people who weren't jewish. Also in the begining of the year I took a course on fertility and the family for my demography program, which is where some of these first entries are coming from. But yeah the happiness thing...reading over the entries i definitely see a difference between angry/bitter me prior to that year, and happy/for the most part ok after that...also that year, in June a (male) roommate moved in, who ended up staying nearly a year without my parents ever finding out about him.

Why is childbirth painful for women? (as opposed to other mammels, who do not have childbirth that's horribly painful and who generally do not require more than a few minutes of recovery time)

The bible says:
Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden of eden for eating from the tree of knowledge. Part of their punishment for becoming all knowladgable was that childbirth became painful for women

The Demography book I'm reading for class says:
It's an evolutionary balance. Why wouldn't evolution make the pelvic bone just an inch or two wider, thus saving the pain of childbirth, and possibly preventing infant mortality? Wel, the thing with humans is that they evolved into bipedal organisms before they developed intellegence. The pelvic bone is not only the place where babies come out of, it's also the place that supports the legs. A wider pelvic bone would lead to awkward movement, which would impede survival among hunter gatherer tribes who depend on their legs for transportation, and running away from lions and stuff. After bipedal motion was evolved, human intellegence began to evolve as well, leading to larger fetal heads (that had to cover their larger human brains). The pelvic bone widened, but only to the point where the fetus could JUST get out, so as to limit the impedement on movement as much as possible. Hence childbirth is painful.

These two sources are saying, in effect, the same thing; that the developement of intellegence caused painful childbirth. Which is ironic, given that women with higher education levels (who are presumably more intellegent, although I certainly find that point debatable) are prone to having less children.

Demography vs. the bible part 2
the bible says:
Taharat Hamishpacha, or purity of the family, is a tradition that orthodox jews follow. basically when women have their periods, they are unpure, so they can't have sex that week. or the next week. 2 weeks after they started their period, they go to the ritual bath, and that night, sex is required. or if not required, a very good thing. Also mastrubation=bad.

Demography says: Women become pregnant by having sex in the 2 period around ovulation. Men have a higher sperm count if they have not had sex in a while. So in order to have the best chances of pregnany, women have to have sex when they ovulate, with a male partner who has abstained at least a few days. There's some way to calculate the probability of pregnancy, given the frequency of intercourse, under the assumption that women know nothing about ovulation and have sex at random intervals.

I say: Well, if you're having sex exactly 2 weeks after you first get your period, and you are on a 28 day cycle, given the whole nature of the biology thing (women generally ovulate exactly 2 weeks before they get their period, which is also two weeks after they get their period if they are on the 28 day cycle), you are most likely ovulating that night. And men have been saving up their sperms for 2 weeks at that point. No wonder jews who don't use birth control (ie. some extreme orthodox and hassidic) have so many kids.

why is my family full of baby machines? Here's a tip ladies; when you have a kid, and you're breastfeeding, EVEN if you haven't gotten your period back YOU CAN STILL GET PREGNANT. My cousin A., is due to have ANOTHER child in August. She just had a child last august!!! And now since she's become a baby machine she's giving up her sweet job as a high school talmud teacher (which followed her sweet physical therapy job) to move to georgia and be a housewife. And all the other women in my family are baby machines too! My 20 year old cousin B. is due in April. She's 20 years old. 20!! My cousin C. is getting married in May and will probably be pushing out the babies ASAP. She's also 20! Her sister Y. also got married when she was 20 and now has like 3 babies (at 26 or 27) and is a housewife. 3 out of 4 of my cousins in Israel are married and have tons of kids and are housewives. The one exception is the one who got divorced 2 months after she got married becuase her husband turned out to be not religious enough.

Not counting the divorced one, i have 4 cousins in my generation who are not married and popping out the babies/about to be married. All of them are too young to get married (the oldest is around 17). My prediction is that only 1 of them will have a career- the one who is the daughter of the only woman in my parent's generation to have a career (My Aunt H.- she's a lawyer)

Why am I the only woman of my generation who is actually going to have one of those "career" things? (except for that one cousin, and that's still up in the air) What is wrong with jewish women in my generation? Well, even if i'm doing it alone, I am NOT going to be a baby machine/housewife. This I declare. It would be nice if I had at least one cousin who joined me though....

What race are Jews?
On my little demographic survey I had below, I find it interesting that 4 out of the 5 jewish respondents chose "don't like this question" as the answer for race. So they were 4/6 of the people who chose "don't like this question". I happened to be one of those people...

So why is that? I can tell you my own personal reason for not liking that question, and why I always cringe when I see it on any sort of survey i'm taking- I really don't identify as white. The first reason is empirical; my skin color doesn't look like most white people you see. It doesn't really have those rosy undertones that white people have. It's more golden/olive/yellow looking. I have really dark hair and eyes (both are almost black) while white people tend to have lighter hair and eyes. Although I know according to most demographers I would be "white". And the reason I look like this is my eastern european (Romanian) heritage. And the difference between my skin color and white people's isn't that big of a difference at all. Although I get mistaken for Latina fairly frequently.

The second reason is political; Jews can't be white people, because white people kill Jews! Sorry white people, but the reason I have like one great aunt and uncle on my dad's side, and the reason my dad only has 3 first cousins when his parents both started out with over 6 siblings each, is because white people killed my grandparents' families. And they killed them precisely because they weren't "white"- they were jewish. So to be assimilated into the "white" catagory is to forget what my family has gone through becuase they were not white enough.

And yes, I would feel kind of like a fraud if i checked off "other" in the race cataogry. I mean, for all intents and purposes, when demographers were writing "white" as a catagory they definitely meant to include me in it. But it makes me very uncomfortable to check off "white" as well (and i actually feel physically ill whenever faced with this question). So mostly I don't check anything at all.

So yesterday I'm at my cousin's engagement party. Here's the final tally:

People who told me I should get married: 3 (Grandfather, Aunt, other Aunt)
People who made a snarky comment about my hair: 4
People who made a racist comment about my hair: 1

Apparently, according to my grandfather, getting married is a prerequisite of "settling down". I think i'm pretty settled...not planning on going anywhere soon, have some nice furniture, I have my two pets, and i'm well on my way to an awesome career. Why do I need a guy to be considered "settled"? Oh right, cuase according to my grandfather me getting an education is nice and all, but I should be focusing on what's really important. IE making babies I guess. Like my freakin 9 month pregnant cousin. We sat in the corner and picked some names for her kid, which is due in 2 weeks. She's 20 years old.

so for one of the student teachers tommorow we had to write an essay about our "identity". My essay sucks, but I thoguht i'd put it here

My identity is comprised of a lot of smaller sub-identities, some of which conflict with each other. I can divide it up into three major categories. First the graduate student / academic / sociologist / feminist category. As a grad student, I spend a good deal of my life doing activities related to grad school. I plan on remaining in academia until I retire, and insofar as “what you do” defines one’s identity, I’m an academic. Additionally, the particular subject matter I study- sociology of gender and the family- has greatly shaped my identity as a feminist. This affects my activities when engaged in non- academic endeavors, such as talking to friends, and how I act when I’m in a relationship.
The second major category is a Jewish person. I was raised orthodox Jewish, and although I’m no longer religious, I still participate in many Judaism-related activities, and a large proportion of my friends in the area are Jewish people I met at religious events. However, because I am no longer religious, I am also the black sheep “not Jewish enough” person to my family and community at home. This is something I’ve struggled with a lot; I don’t believe in the religion, but I don’t want to completely divest myself of a Jewish identity. Right now I’m at a balance where I celebrate Jewish holidays, occasionally go to Shabbat dinners, and basically celebrate the parts of the culture I agree with, and try to think of it as a culture rather than a religion. [the essay is longer than this, but this is the relevent part]

one of my friends really pissed me off this weekend. he was all "people who arn't religious have no meaning to their lives". and he actually believes this! This guy is becoming religious again lately or whatever, but it's like when my gradmother is all "people who arn't married have no meaning to their lives"

Just because people are different than you doesn't mean they have meaningless lives! I don't mind if you decide to become religious, but don't go around telling people their lives are meaningless cause they're not like you! I'm neither religious nor married, and i have a awesomely meaningful life. Also, way to sound like a crazy fundie.

you know this whole thinking about how orthodox people are judgemental assholes and have treated me like shit my whole life just because i'm a little bit different has gotten me very bitter. I'm going to see my ENTIRE family next weekend- both sides. My mother's side on sunday for my grandfather's 80th birthday party and my father's side on monday for my cousin's wedding. And I KNOW i'm going to get shit for having dreadlocks, and for not being married or giving a shit about whatever lifestyle they think i should have. And i know i shouldn't take it personally, because they've been brainwashed into being assholes, but i'm pretty sure if anyone gives me shit i'm going to tell them to go fuck themselves. Ok maybe i won't tell the first person that, or even the second or third or fourth, but i'm definitely going to tell the 5th person to go fuck themselves.

Gah I hate my fucked up family, i hate that i grew up with a bunch of intolerant assholes, and I hate that I can't let it go, and that I fucking care so much about what they think. I hate that they have the ability to make me sit in my apartment on a sunday night stewing in bitterness over all the shit i've gone through just cause i wasn't a zombie jew who did everything i was told. And I hate that I just sit there and take that shit whenever they talk to me, and that i've never told anyone in my family to just leave me the fuck alone.

I wonder if i just told them all to fuck themselves, and they subsequently disowned me, might i not be happy and free? I want them to love me for who i am, but that's never going to happen. I look at people who enjoy spending time with their families, even 1 or 2 members of their family, who they willingly hang out with, and who is supportive of them, and i'm horribly jealous. I will never have that. I have never heard any supportive statement come from a family member without a critisism coming out a second later. Like my grandfather- "I'm proud of you that you're doing well in school. But when are you going to get serious about your life and settle down with a nice boy?" WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT. I've never had a personal conversation with my family about anything (excluding my parents and stuff) cause our relationships are so stilted and's like a relationship with a coworker who you don't really know that well.

Sometimes I wish my family was just dead. Not in the sense that i wish them death. But i just wish i was free from all this pressure, and could live my life without fucked up people breathing down my neck all the time.
and on that happy note, i have to go make a business call so I'll be continuing 2006 in an hour or so

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