TW: I will be offending practicing orthodox Jews. If this is you, maybe don't read this.
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I just saw a flier for an event on taharat hamishpacha -- teaching women to do it all "right", not to make mistakes in their checking or their counting or their plucking or their dipping, offering women "refresher courses" in case they forget what they learned in their pre-marriage kallah classes, because counting days every single month every single day of your life and revolving your marital life around that EVERY SINGLE DAY is apparently not a strong enough reminder.... because women can be so feeble-minded, especially around their own bodies, and wow, how great that they have rabbis who know everything..... Sometimes rabbis even teach women so that women can then teach other women to make sure women do things with their bodies exactly the way the rabbis tell them to...
Even just reading the flier set my insides into a traumatic stress response. Pulse rate up, sweating, blurry vision, dizziness. This is actually happening, even as I'm writing this. I am finally at a place in my life where I can recognize what is happening. I see this language on this flier and suddenly I can't see straight.
I can't believe women are still being told that this is all somehow an absolute divine will, that this is "correct" and "torah", that the rabbis know everything and need to constantly instruct women about our bodies, and that this leads to a healthy sexuality and sex life, as if.....
And I can't believe that so many women buy into it.
Mostly, I can't believe that I bought into it for SO LONG. So. Long. I did it for soooooooooo looooooooooooooong. It took me so many years, decades to learn how to say NO, to really, truly, powerfully learn how to talk back to this whole system, to the people trying to own my life and my behavior and my body. To talk back to my socialization. And to say NO.
Learning to say NO to what we don't want and YES to what we do want can be a lifelong learning process. Well, at least for me it has been. Maybe other people are quicker studies, more independent-minded, or more courageous than me. I'm a slow healer.
But that's okay. i forgive myself. Now i just have to get my pulse to slow down.