Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Lesson in Anarcha-Feminism at Lush

Today, I said "yes" to three new gigs sort of kind of officially. One is with a Jewish school, one is with a Jewish author, and the other is with a really awesome Jewish project that I will blog more about later. In between all of that "yessing" I was running oodles of errands to fun places like Target and Whole Foods. I also happened to stop by Lush, one of my most favorite stores in the entire world. This isn't only because their products are amazing, but because to be honest, they have the best customer service and employees on the planet. Period. Moisturized hands down.

Oddly enough, while this trip to Lush -- where the amazing Sales Girl talked me into probably way more than I needed -- I had an educational experience. You see, I wear a lot of purple. It happened by chance that my MacBook cover is purple, my cellphone cover is purple, my favorite shoes and sandals are purple, and so on. In fact, I got rid of a purse that was purple because I felt like people thought I was nuts. But today I happened to be wearing a purple tichel from Israel, a shirt with black and purple headphones on it, and my purple sandals.


Sales Girl: You like purple?
Me: Oh, geez ... yeah. I do. It's become my favorite color recently.
Sales Girl: It's my favorite color, too!
Me: Oh nice.
Sales Girl: Especially purple and black!
Me: I seem to wear a lot of that.
Sales Girl: You know those are the colors of Anarcha-Feminism, right?
Me: Oh, really.
Sales Girl: Do you know what that is?
Me: Um ... no.

The Sales Girl proceeded to explain the idea behind Anarcha-Feminism, which left me feeling a wee bit weird. Why? Well, the concept of Anarcha-Feminism basically marries anarchy and feminism (and that's sort of a pun, because A-Fs don't really believe in marriage). It differs (according to my Lush gal) in the fact that Feminism demands equality, and A-F calls for a reevaluation of the establishment of patriarchy. Here, how about this:
Anarcha-Feminism views patriarchy as a manifestation of involuntary hierarchy. Anarcha-feminists believe that the struggle against patriarchy is an essential part of class struggle, and the anarchist struggle against the state. In essence, the philosophy sees anarchist struggle as a necessary component of feminist struggle and vice-versa. 
Interesting. And there I was, in my head covering, married, being that stereotype of what A-Fs argue as the stifling of "individual growth." As I looked over the amazing Lush dry shampoos, I explained how covering my hair has affected my hair, and she responded with some ideas. But from the moment she was rubbing Dream Cream all over my hands and explaining Anarcha-Feminism to me, I felt, as I said, weird. I also started to wonder whether lots of people know about A-F and think my purple-black combo means something more than it actually does.

Oddly enough, A-F was really championed by Emma Goldman, an Orthodox-born Jew who helped establish the anarchist movement in North America. When she died in 1940, she was against the war with Hitler, which makes me wonder whether, with as politically active as she was, really knew what was happening. Anarchist or not, I think there comes a point when your values can be challenged by reality. [Read more about Goldman on JWA Online, too!]

Either way, weird or not, learning about Anarcha-Feminism was interesting, despite it being a philosophy I'd never personally consider or take on. 

Have you ever heard of A-F? Would you call yourself a Feminist? Is there a place for Feminism in Orthodox Judaism?