This article has been fused together with my love for Lily Allen and my Buzzfeed addiction.
We all know that Jewish mothers are renowned for health, overreactions and of course a lot of food, but I want to explore this generalisation. There is so much concentration on ‘Mrs Stiencohenwitz’ that the man whose name she takes in marriage seems to have no stereotype at all. Why is it that Jewish father figures appear to have no label, yet a Jewish mother holds many?
This question became prominent to me after reading Buzzfeed’s ‘27 Things Jewish Moms Love’. From Jewish mothers caring for their grandchildren (which is not JUST a Jewish thing), to complaining (which is probably more of a Jewish thing), I’ve learnt that I have a lot to look forward to in my later life. More to the point, where are ‘27 Things Jewish Dads Love’? Is this a case where religion proves that women are actually more important than the male species?
Some may say that Buzzfeed’s article has broken the Jewish glass ceiling. Wives appear to be at the forefront of their offspring’s life and clearly the matriarch of a household. The fact that a mainstream website highlights only the mother’s role in Jewish families turns male dominance on its head.
HOWEVER, the claim that patriarchy has been abolished is rather rash, seeing as Buzzfeed’s list revolves around women cooking, child bearing and being awful at technology. The feminist in me believes that patriarchy has never been so strong in the 21st century, and the only thing I want to be chopping in the kitchen is Mr Male Chauvinist’s head off. The gender stereotype of women cooking and being addicted to gastronomic reality shows are clearly reinforcing the separation between men and women to a great extent. I’m afraid these womanly stigmas have to go, and equality must be on the front burner.
The debate revolving around the kitchen has been ongoing since cave men realised that their road kill tasted better marinated with their wives touch, and has never really evolved. Even Lily Allen has brought feminism to the music scene by singing in ‘Hard Out Here’ that women “better be rich, or real good at cooking’”, highlighting the patriarchal society we still live in. (I think listening to that song on repeat may have got my feminist blood flowing to write this article in the first place).
The Jewish mother stereotype enforces female generalisations with a religious twist. Add a little bit of chutzpah, chicken stock and bring it to the boil. Leave it to rest for 30 minutes and soon you will smell the bitter truth that Jewish mothers in the media still present women with only feminine traits. Of course this is not always the case and it shouldn’t be. There are many Jewish husbands who are good at cooking, but this doesn’t remove the idea that women should be constantly in the kitchen. I’m a Jewish girl and I don’t want to spend my married life salivating over cooking T.V shows and cleaning Shabbat candlesticks. So what does this make me? A secular Jewish woman? Yes.
This may sound like a juxtaposition, but the beauty with Judaism is that some Jewish culture can be at the apex of my life, yet tying myself to the fridge handles does not. The everlasting light for Judaism in my heart will always be ignited, but my inner candle is moulded to my own beliefs and judgments. My flame burns bright for culture and community. It melts away the belief that I will be the only master chef of the kitchen in my marriage. Ironically, I actually like cooking, but this shouldn’t be a hobby only women clutch at.
Saying all this, I am sure many people believe I would make a great stereotypical Jewish mother seeing as this whole article is clearly a huge complaint, and it has given me a headache. The pain in my head probably means I am going to die because ALL Jewish mothers are massive hypochondriacs. For this reason I must sit down and watch some Great British Bake Off before I start working on the Kneidlach. Oy vey. (Can you taste the subtle hint of sarcasm?)