#MeToo, Mansplaining, and the Power of Jewish Women’s Intuition
#MeToo, Mansplaining, and the Power of Jewish Women’s Intuition
When I heard that one in every four women are sexually assaulted, I was shocked, but not shocked. You know that horrible, creeping feeling of knowing and wishing you didn’t? We all have our fingers in our ears and are singing as loud as we possibly can with our eyes squinched closed. If we can’t see it, maybe it can’t see us.
It’s always been this way. Little known fact: Freud began his career saying that women were hysterical because they had been molested. You know why it’s so little known? Because he got such rancid, mocking feedback from his (male) peers that he did a complete 180.
He changed his theory to say that women secretly wanted it. And isn’t that what they all say? Key & Peele have this dope snippet on a girl-power popstar who talks about how empowered women should feel while her lyrics are all about how women should be giving it up to earn boys’ love.
Key and Peele, Mother Majesty
We’re manipulated into thinking that desperation is empowerment. We’re trained to weaponize our sexuality for everything from politics to used car sales. We’re told to “own it”. But if we really owned it, wouldn’t we get to decide what we want to do with it?
Wouldn’t we rather just be respected instead?
Enter the Jewish Woman in Egypt
Enter the Jewish woman in Egypt, circa 1650 BCE. Pharaoh was throwing all little boy babies into the river. Imagine carrying your son inside of you for nine months. Feeling the first kicks. Feeling the anticipation. The birth. The first look into his eyes. Innocent. Perfect. Tiny.
If there was ever a time when they would have given up in despair, that was the time.
But they didn’t. Their men did. The men wanted to go celibate for as long as the decree continued, which seems like a perfectly rational, linear, logical mansplanation for what to do under the circumstances except for the fact that the men were dead wrong.
The linear did not encompass the big picture. And the big picture was painted in colors of hope.
Not only did the slave woman in Egypt not accept her husband’s call for celibacy, she started having more kids than ever. The more the Egyptians tortured and murdered her and her children, the more she refused to buy into the Egyptian narrative. The Egyptians said, you have no future.
The women said, want to bet?
Jump to the Golden Calf
Jump to the golden calf story a few years later. There go the men, collecting all the gold and jewels and throwing them into a whopping big magical fire to be melted down into the shape of a calf idol. They’d worship it. It would pull some heavenly strings for them. Spiritual tit for tat. Back then these things worked. Linear, logical, reasonable.
After all, their savior Moses had disappeared into heaven and had not come back down. He’d said he would be back forty days later, but according to their calculations, more than forty days had passed.
The Midrash says that the force of evil tricked the men with a vision of Moses dead. Literal? Allegorical? The bottom line is that the men thought, for whatever reason, that their savior was gone. And they had their reasons!
Men always do.
The thing is that they were wrong. Moses wasn’t dead. They had miscalculated the date of his return. All the Talmudic thumb swinging had led them down the wrong path. And, boy, did they follow that path to its logical conclusion.
No Moses, no savior, no Torah, no nothing. Obviously G-d had brought them into the desert to die! Obviously G-d was just playing games with them! Obviously G-d was just like that other mighty ruler they had known so well, Pharaoh! Better get some spiritual backup.
Oh, the men.
The women knew otherwise. Could they explain it in a linear fashion? Maybe not. But they were right.
The P.S. on the golden calf story is that the women refused to give their gold and jewelry to the crazy project. Their husbands stole it against their will. It was a disaster. “The Jewish people sat to feast and rose to play.” (Exodus 32:5) Rashi, the prolific commentator on the Torah, explains that in this case feasting and playing meant rape and murder. #MeToo.
A Women's Intuition
Women know. The Jewish sources call this binah yeseirah. It’s usually translated as intuition, but it isn’t about watching for signs or holding séances or superstition.
It’s about listening so deeply to yourself, having such profound self-awareness, that you pick up on data others miss. Then you can count backwards – once you trust yourself enough to pick up on what your binah yeseirah is telling you, the linear mind can kick in to connect the dots between the question and your answer.
It’s a good idea to follow through and check yourself before you wreck yourself – sometimes what we think is binah yeseirah could just be a bad trip – but if you quiet down, listen to your inner birdie, and then think through why what feels right feels right, you more often than not end up finding your yellow brick road back home.
Oprah put it this way: we are missing out on half the human resources in our world. Realistically, it’s a heck of a lot more than half. The women knew then and the women know now because we connect the dots on an information superhighway deep inside every neuron and nerve in our somatic brains and spiritual essences in a way men can’t ever understand. Call it the moon. Call it women’s wisdom. Call it intuition.
They can’t understand it but they can learn to respect it.
Instead of giving our power away, women are finally saying time’s up. The world’s seats of power have been dominated by the masculine approach, but the Midrash says that when the world is redeemed the moon will shine as bright as the sun. The linear and the intuitive, the masculine and the feminine, the sun and the moon, will have equal influence.
Women, Fashion Has You Covered
Redemption starts when women refuse to “give it up”. When we refuse to “own it” and instead start acting like actual owners, the ones who call the shots on what to do with what we own.
Redemption starts when our sexuality, our femininity, our bodies and minds and ways of being can no longer be weaponized or co-opted or manipulated or stolen or in any other way turned into something they are not.
And She Persisted
The Jewish woman in Egypt was an agitator. She persisted. She was a true partner to her husband because she did not buy into gender warfare, she just assumed that her thoughts and feelings mattered. No apologetics needed. Her surety and confidence motivated massive action that changed the course of history.
That’s a powerful woman. That’s us. That’s you.
Braha Bender Braha Bender rocks socks and walks the talk from Jerusalem, Israel, where she works as a coach for women who are ready to turn their lives around. Braha's favorite moment is when the light goes on in the eyes of a girl suddenly realizing that her business, career, and personal dreams are actually within reach. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and loves to schmooze. Permission granted to be a creepy stalker at @brahabender.