feminism, human rights

The Lesbian Mizrahi: Unlocking the Israeli Identity Crisis

I’d been meaning to write something about activism in Israel-Palestine for a while, mainly because I knew nothing about it and writing is how I learn best. But it wasn’t until the end of 2015 that I finally had the time and motivation to get it done. This was largely because I’m privileged enough to be enrolled at an amazing research institution where I had the opportunity to take a course with Paul Amar, hear a talk from Jasbir Puar, and access the Davidson Library, where there is an impressive number of books on Israel-Palestine and queer feminism.

The following paper is the result of all my research. It is essentially a review of activism in Israel-Palestine from the 1960s to the early 2000s, with particular attention to lesbian Mizrahim and their work, so if you are already familiar with this topic you will likely find nothing new of interest. However, if you (like me last year) don’t know a lot about it, this could be a helpful introduction, and I encourage you to check out the sources I listed at the end of the post.

This piece is by no means perfect, and I should mention that most lesbian Mizrahim are not anti-Zionist activists, so this post does not in any way speak to the whole group. However, I did my best to examine and address the multifaceted identities (and humanity) of this particular segment of the people of Israel-Palestine, where all too often only one side of the story is told.

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feminism, human rights

what feminists & anti-feminists have in common

In the past few months, I have become increasingly aware of the two seemingly irreconcilable narratives about feminism online, created by and for self-proclaimed “feminists” and “anti-feminists,” respectively. As a feminist myself I cannot claim impartiality in this conversation, but considering that there isn’t much real “conversation” happening anyway–at least not on Twitter or in the blogosphere–I think it can’t hurt to clear up a few misunderstandings, even if many anti-feminists will not read beyond this point.

Compared to the worldwide epidemic of gender-based violence, the seemingly never-ending battle over reproductive rights, the still very real gender pay gap, and the ever-elusive Equal Rights Amendment (to name just a few examples), arguments on the web are a small facet of the women’s rights movement. Still, I think they could reveal a lot about what “feminism” means in public discourse today, particularly because feminists and anti-feminists often claim to be fighting for the same thing. From their names alone, of course, you’d expect the two groups to be diametrically opposed. The Oxford English Dictionary defines them as such:

feminist: “An advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women.”

anti-feminist: “One opposed to women or to feminism; a person (usually a man) who is hostile to sexual equality [more correctly, gender equality] or to the advocacy of women’s rights.”

And yet many members of both parties claim that they are fighting for gender equality and that the other group is against it. The #antifeminism hashtag on Twitter is full of statements like “Feminism or equality…pick one.” (I’m not talking about anti-feminists who actively hate women, by the way; they are not worth anyone’s time.) So what’s really going on here?

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