What I Did Over the Holidays

January is well underway now and I haven’t written a thing.  It’s not supposed to be that way….

I’ve kept up with my bookmarks (see Happenings in the ‘Hood) over the holidays and into the new year.

I’ve also added significantly to my blogroll.  I took a virtual trip to the website Blogher and registered In the Sisterhood with the good ladies over there.  While there I perused the blogs under the heading “feminism and gender” and added those blogs that I thought fit what I’m trying to do, that is, engage in an exploration of what it means to be a woman, and among women, today.  So, have a peek at the work of some of our con-souers, an intelligent bunch of bright and brilliant feminist lights.  I’m organizing them according to currency – that is, who updates regularly (at minimum monthly) and who doesn’t.  I’m not finished yet…

On Christmas Eve, I went to the library to get some holiday reading.  It was going to be closed until after New Year, and I was off work until then and looking forward to losing myself in a couple of good books.  I was armed with a list of possibilities.  In particular, I was interested in archeology and recent developments in that field vis-à-vis women.

The beauty about history is that there is no other field, no topic, no thing that exists outside of history.  Everything has history.  So history can go anywhere.  I follow it to find out about how women lived in the past.  And at the beginning, there is archeology.  The further I look back, the more I expect to find the key to a better future.  I’m still looking.  There were two books that caught my attention:

The Invisible Sex:  Uncovering the True Roles of Women in Prehistory by J.M Adovasio, O. Sofer, and J. Page. (2007)

Archaeology and Women:  Ancient and Modern Issues edited by S. Hamilton, R. Whitehouse and K. Wright. (2007)

I’ ve added a new page:  In the Library.  I like to read and I like to buy books.  I have a library at home that is jam crammed with books, many of them I haven’t yet read, but will one day.  Maybe in my retirement.  Maybe tomorrow.

While at the library, my guy got a book for himself.  His thing is Kabbalah/Qabbala, a form of Judaic mysticism.  He reads what the rabbis wrote, so when he reads to me, it’s usually 2 or 3 rabbis talking.  I get exasperated with hearing about what the rabbis have to say all the time and have responded to him on more than one occasion:  I don’t care what the rabbis say, I’m more interested in what the rabbi’s wife says (as you can imagine, we sometimes have heated discussions about the nature and prevalence of the patriarchy).  So he found me a book.

Silencing the Queen: The Literary Histories of Shelamzion and Other Jewish Women. is a book, to quote the author, Tal Ilan “about the silencing of Jewish women from post-biblical antiquity in a long transmission process, down to our times”.   Queen Shelamzion, a 1st century bc queen who came to the throne of Judaea upon the death of her husband, King Alexander Yannai, was the only legitimate queen in Jewish history.  Professor Ilan reviews various documents in rabbinic literature and exposes how they have been changed over time by redactors who have purposefully altered the stories of women to write them out of history, to effectively silence the queen.  I wasn’t at all familiar with Jewish history and despite what I’ve come to know about mishnah and midrashic thought through my guy, it was all rabbinic to me.  So I learned a lot.  Enough to want to write some of it down.  See my new page Women and the Word, for a collection of reviews and thoughts on women and religion.

More importantly, perhaps, it opened up a whole area of new (to me) feminist scholarship.  I just love that.  Unfortunately, perhaps, in my reading I have tended to dismiss the topic of women in religion, having renounced my own religious upbringing (Catholic) as restrictive and the Church itself as misogynistic.  But I’ve come to think that maybe it would be better to understand the roots of the religious oppression of the female principal and the denial of her heavenly body by those who believe in a male god and a literal reading of the Bible.

I came across another of her books, What’s Yours and Mine are Hers (don’t you love that title?), another history of Jewish women by Professor Ilan.  I have that out of the library right now, but I haven’t done much reading lately, having gotten back into the routine of work, eat, sleep, work etc.  But it’s next on my list of books to read.

Take care,


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