Proofreading, part 27

Of course, people say “um, no actually” to me, being female. It wasn’t the handless guy’s fault he had no hands, it’s not my fault I’m female. He just didn’t have the physical makeup to write a valid Torah and that was too bad; I don’t have the physical makeup to write a valid Torah and that’s too bad also.

Really, I do know a lot of decent people who have to say “um, no actually” to me, and they do act like yesterday’s posited rabbi – feeling really sorry that he’s got to say “um, no actually” to this person who’s put in so much effort and so badly wants to be part of the community and it isn’t their fault they can’t participate through this activity.

So why’s it different? why am I expecting the handless guy and the Braille-writer to suck it up, while I go right ahead and write Torahs?

You could say I’m just a hypocrite, a case of “one rule for us, one rule for them.” Some people do say that. I see where they’re coming from.

Way I see it, women doing men’s things isn’t exactly a physical makeup thing, it’s about how gender affects one’s communal status. Women are barred from Torah writing in the context of societal strata; some classes of people may participate, some may not. In particular, the full citizen, the adult male in good standing, may participate in the transmission of the community’s symbolic centre, and the adjunct classes of women, children, and slaves, may not.

This is perfectly sensible as far as it goes, except that in our days it is a matter of principle that women not be an adjunct class.

Such a statement requires some unpacking. More on that tomorrow.


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