Tuesday, July 08, 2008

He's a He, I'm a She

At some point in Orthodoxy--heck, in all of life--the lines are drawn: men to the left, woman to the right. I just never thought it would happen to us so soon.

All the time that Chamudi was a baby-even when he was a nursing toddler-he belonged more to the world of the feminine than that of the masculine. But all that is rapidly changing, every day he gets to be more of a rough-and-tumble little boy, kicking balls and making messes and trying his very best to emulate every little thing that his Abba does.

And then on Sunday I saw the future: that being a boy in an Orthodox community sometimes means leaving Ima behind. We attended a beautiful wedding with very separate dancing. Chamudi kept wanting to be with Abba (who can blame him, the men's dancing is always better) and so off they went to the other side of the mechitza, dancing up a storm. Abba even danced a rolicking Yiddin with Chamudi on his shoulders!

"It was great," kvelled Abba, "Chamudi was just one of the guys."

I'm thrilled that Chamudi is beginning to be initiated into the community of men. But it's bittersweet. Right now he's as happy to sit with me at shul as with Abba, but pretty soon he'll start realizing that the men's section is where all the action is. Before long they'll be giving him opportunities to do things they don't allow me--an adult woman--to do, and he'll realize the privilege--and power--of being male in Orthodoxy.

Thankfully, we are members of many religious communities, and hopefully the different approaches of these minyanim will give Chamudi a more nuanced and evolved sense of gender in Judaism. But we shall see.

Chamudi is a good boy. But he is also a man in a man's world. Mostly I just pray that he follows in his Abba's footsteps and uses his privilege to help win the same for the women of his community.


mamalady said...

I find myself staring at my 2 boys in absolute wonder. So many of the issues I have dealt with in life, both within and outside of judiasm, relate directly to my being a woman. As they grow I wonder how I will be able to help them with issues I never confronted and how I will help them see the other side.

Jack said...

This post is going to be included in the next edition of Haveil Havalim.