Sunday, February 16, 2014

Do you have to be Jewish to be a feminist?

Daily Texan    A disproportionately high number of Jewish women influenced the second wave of feminism in the 1960s and 1970s, according to Daniel Horowitz, an American studies professor from Smith College. [Horowitz, D. (1996). Rethinking Betty Friedan and The Feminine Mystique: Labor union radicalism and feminism in cold war America. American Quarterly, 48(1), 1-42. PDF here.]

“There aren’t many prominent feminist writers of note in that period who weren’t Jewish,” Horowitz said. [...]

According to Horowitz, Friedan did not write about Jewish culture in “The Feminine Mystique,” but instead focused the book on the struggle of middle class white women. Horowitz listed several other Jewish women who were a part of the feminist movement but never wrote about American Jews.

“They come out of a cosmopolitan universalist tradition in which the notion of womanhood or protestor is more important than the notion of Jewishness,” Horowitz said.


  1. Perhaps because in Judaism the distinction between sexes is more pointed.

  2. Recipients and PublicityFebruary 16, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    Nothing to do with Judaism at all!

    There were a lot of Jewish girls AND boys who were raised very spoiled and privileged since their parents and grandparents wanted to give them all the "good things" that they were deprived of. Litlte spoiled princes and princesses. When those boys and girls went out into the real world they were hit by the reality that the majority of American gentiles were just plain blue-collar or white-collar one-dimensional people who worked hard and expected the same from everyone. Of course the Jewish boys and girls had no intention of working hard, they had no need to because their parents were paying for their spoiled-brat offsprings' lifestyles in high school, college and beyond. The Jewish kids went to college to have a good time unlike their parents who were more serious. PhD = "papa has dough"!

    So the Jewish spoiled brat entitled me-first generation rolled up their sleeves...or took off their Tshirts... not to work in blue collar and white collar jobs like all other straightforward people but to become radicals and feminists "fighting" the very establishment, institutions and country that had opened its doors to their grandparents and had given their parents all the opportunities to become wealthy and like all spoiled brats they "repaid" the host-country (meaning the USA where all this took place) with rebellions and radicalism across the board fueling student rebellions, anti-Vietnam War movements, ban the bomb, burn the bra, ERA, SDS, LSD, and just going crazy all around.

    Reputedly Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky ZT"L was once asked how does one understand Liberals and Liberalism from a Torah point of view? and his reply was that they are "bechezkas shotah"! ("presumed to be fools")

  3. There were many Jewish women in first wave feminism and in the second wave, the late Shulamit Firestone being the most dramatic example. But now that feminism is here to stay and we are in third wave feminism, Jewish women are a smaller percentage. Feminist Studies are in every university and no department hires just Jews.

  4. Horowitz, D. (1996). Rethinking Betty Friedan and The Feminine Mystique: Labor union radicalism and feminism in cold war America. American Quarterly, 48(1), 1-42. PDF here.

  5. not just feminism. Jews were historically at the forefront of all "isms". Hippyism -Abby Hoffman and Steven Rubin. Communism - Marx and Trotsky. Freudism (or whatever you call it) - Sigmund Freud. Anarchism - Emma Thompson. Rachel Carson was not Jewish but many leading environmentalists were. And of course Zionism.


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