Jul 18, 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?


Melissa S-G said...

I strongly identify as a Feminist, but in the old school way of what it really stood for. That women should have equal opportunities and access, but that all people should make their own choices.
As for feminism in Orthodoxy -- jofa.org :)

Drew said...

Never heard of it. . . Interesting history though.

I adore Lush and have to restrict my visits there but it sounds like after all of those "yesses" today you desreved a trip!

Just curious, how has covering for the last year affected your hair? It seems to affect some but not others.

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

It feels less lively than before. Of course, my hair was super short before and I spiked it so it always had a cool body to it. But now, it's grown out so I feel like it's flat and lifeless. Also, I think my bangs get oiler much faster than they used to ... but that just might be me :)

Batya said...

I wasn't feminist at all when I was young. They were anti-family and all I ever wanted was to be a mother. But with time we've all changed and I guess I'm more feminist and they're more maternal...

Shira said...

If you're washing your hair more often than you used to, that can can cause more oiliness. And even if that hasn't changed, washing less might help. The tichel might have something to do with spreading the oils around more? I'm not sure.

Never heard of Anarcha-Feminism - but when I studied Anarchism a bit at university, it turned out to be a very interesting idea, with the same ultimate goals as socialism.

Talia Ben Ari said...

I recently read something about Lush and was very disappointed. Here are the links that I found from "Stand with Us" and "United With Israel" I encourage everyone to check the links and decide for themselves. I tried to copy and paste into the comment, but it didn't work so well.



Suburban Sweetheart said...

Frankly, I think there's a place for feminism everywhere. You don't have to be an unmarried bra-burner to believe that women deserve equal rights, to believe that you are just as powerful as any man, to feel that women should be able to choose their own destinies (education, reproduction, religion, all of that). Feminism is what you make it. People who tell you you're doing it wrong are probably doing it wrong.

sheldan said...

When you started with the comment that you love purple, my first thought was that it's one of the most distinctive clothing colors you can wear. But this post was very interesting--maybe you could avoid the black-purple combination if it sends out signals to the "A-F" community...

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

@Talia I knew someone was going to mention that. I didn't know about it until AFTER I went to Lush, but I'm doing some investigating.

Chana said...

The Curmudgeonly Israeli Giyoret says:

Well! Now we can't wear purple and black because it "belongs" to the anarcho-feminists. And they sound like a rea fun bunch of girls, too."Alles klahr, Frau Kommissar?"

I am reminded of Groucho Marx's letter to movie mogul Jack Warner. Warner Bros was threatening to sue the Marxes for using the movie title "A Night In Casablanca", claiming thet they had stolen it from their movie, "Casablanca". Groucho pointed out that not only did their movie have nothing to do with the Warner Bros film, but that Casablanca predated them both.

Anticipating that Warners might well sue them for also being Brothers, Groucho added that they had also been brothers for at last a long as the Warners.

The feminists annoy me. The "movement" has long since ceased to represent the interests of actual women. The Left always prefers the interests of a theoretical group to those of actual human beings.

If I'm going to be Annoyed, I will o so as an individual, not as a "class".

Voltairine de Cleyre said...

Thank you. I always enjoy your posts...
Some additional information for everyone. :)
Goldman believed in the anarchist principle that the state has no right to make war. The state's use of the draft during times of war is also an example of the state's use of coercion.
Consequently, Goldman was deported as a result of her courageous efforts to protest the draft. As L. Susan Brown states: "As anarchism is a political philosophy that opposes all relationships of power, it is inherently feminist."
Goldman was a lifelong atheist.
Anarcha-Feminists are not opposed to committed relationships, marriage, ect. They oppose the hierachical/coercive nature of certain relationships/systems.


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