MeFi's own... May 23, 2012 9:22 AM   Subscribe

Once again, an FPP has attracted its subject to comment on the proceedings. Deborah Feldman has dropped in to offer many clarifications and responses to questions in this thread about her interview on xoJane and the ensuing drama.
posted by Help, I can't stop talking! to MetaFilter-Related at 9:22 AM (34 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Her first comment in the thread.

All of her comments: 5, so far.
posted by ericb at 9:34 AM on May 23, 2012


This is pretty neat. I first heard Deborah Feldman interviewed on CBC a couple of months ago. It's pretty cool to consider that her book is secretly circulated like Samizdat amongst girls in her former community.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:37 AM on May 23, 2012


Glad Taz cleaned up the trainwreck the thread was heading towards. It helped make the discussion more interesting, though more in a 'watching the traffic wreck carnage' sense. Oddly voyeuristic.
posted by k5.user at 9:42 AM on May 23, 2012


Glad Taz cleaned up the trainwreck the thread was heading towards.

Taz didn't make it late in Australia.
posted by Hoopo at 9:47 AM on May 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Taz didn't make it late in Australia.

Heh.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:51 AM on May 23, 2012


Tangentially and similarly, the creator of the blog Parabasis has shown up in an FPP about a feature on his blog.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:17 AM on May 23, 2012


This is very cool, indeed. I've seen her circuit various talk shows a while ago. She seems like a well spoken, interesting, and intelligent person.
posted by livinglearning at 10:20 AM on May 23, 2012


Thanks for mentioning that she's signed in and commenting. I started following the thread but then decided it wasn't worth bothering after hermitosis attacked Joe in Australia. Glad to see taz deleted it.

I'm curious to know how many people in that thread (or who will weigh in on this one) have actually read her book. It's worth reading. So was her blog, while she was writing it.

Her blog offended a lot of people, very. very fast. I remember seeing comments from orthodox men and women (of various sects) across a lot of sites just a few weeks after she started it, complaining that her experience was not universal and their communities should not be judged by her words alone. But few of those who complained bothered to address what she was put through, or discussed whether those practices are widespread. Since her book was published, various members of the Orthodox community have made strong, concerted efforts to smear her and counter the points it made. Individual blogs have been set up to do the same. And still, no one is talking about the elephant in the room, except to try and dismiss it.

The problem is, for outsiders who are familiar with the Hasidic communities she talks about, t a great deal of what she relates is not only plausible but quite likely. They could be taking this situation as an opportunity to examine what happens and is accepted behind closed doors. It could have initiated a dialogue. Instead, we get character assassinations and nitpicking, claims of victimization and lies -- efforts to deflect discussion away from a topic that could really use closer examination.

It bothers me as well that the Failed Messiah blog has attacked her. That site has done an admirable job of covering various scandals and problems that have plagued the Orthodox communities over the years. Their current top post is about a child abuse scandal in a Chabad school in Australia.
posted by zarq at 10:36 AM on May 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


I agree, Failed Messiah is very thorough in its digging for scandals. When someone said in the other thread "While there has been sexual abuse [in Chabad], I don't think it's covered up", I wanted to say, well, according to FM, they're covering up quite a bit. But I didn't want to fight in an already fighty thread.
posted by Melismata at 10:51 AM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


One other thing that may be worth noting. Traditionally, Jewish marriages are ended with a "get" (גט‎) which is a document presented by a husband to his wife that basically says, "You are permitted to all men." But if a man does not agree to grant a get at his wife's request, the divorce can't happen. When my own parents divorced, my father refused to give my mom a get. So they had a civil divorce, but by Jewish law they were still married. When he died a few years later, even though he had remarried civilly, per Jewish law, my mom became a widow.

When my wife and I were married, we used an egalitarian ketubah (marriage contract.) An updated version of the traditional version that among other things prevents me from doing to my wife what my father did to my mom. Not that I would. But still, it's nice to see the religion exit the freakin' stone age.
posted by zarq at 10:52 AM on May 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


As good as Failed Messiah can be, I find the blogger (Shmarya) to be a bit unpredictable at times. Anything involving religious Jews that even remotely smacks of deceit seems to be fair game, and the more high-profile, the better.
posted by greatgefilte at 10:55 AM on May 23, 2012


What's wrong with that, greatgefilte? Sometimes high-profile folks need to be taken down a few pegs.
posted by Melismata at 10:57 AM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nothing wrong with it, but as zarq was saying, it does seem odd that a blog devoted to exposing problems with Orthodoxy attacks an author who's trying to do just that. Even if Feldman's memoir does play fast and loose with the truth (and I'm not saying that it does, haven't read it myself), she's not exactly his usual demographic for criticism.
posted by greatgefilte at 11:02 AM on May 23, 2012


Insanely interesting articles and blue post.
posted by radioamy at 11:11 AM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


At the end of February, Jesse Kornbluth of headbutler reviewed the book. He then received a number of emails from people within the Satmar community about it. He posted a followup that included this:
"What's fascinating to me in all this is that the Satmars only want to engage on the smallest points:, like where Feldman went to school and the technicalities of her mother's divorce, I've received not a word of protest about the conclusion of my review, which was, I thought, the most damning:
"The real issue is sex. Not the act, but what it signifies --- male control of women. That old story. We see it in far too many places; dehumanizing women is a key component of fundamentalist cults, from hardcore Muslims to certain Republicans.

Men who oppress women --- they say they love them, but it seems more like they fear and hate them --- haven't been taught that sex is our reward for making it through the day. Like their women, these men have been sold the idea that sex is just for procreation. No wonder they feel like they're the ones who are oppressed.

There are claims in this book that Hasids have disputed. I can't tell what's true. But I'm sure of one thing: Men who can't live equally with women aren't worth living with."
Why didn't the Satmars take me on about the blatant sexism that oppresses both women and men in their community? I can only conclude this: It's a problem for Deborah Feldman --- not for them."

posted by zarq at 11:16 AM on May 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


The whole thing was ugly and weird. It read like a fight about a fight somewhere else and then one of the original combatants defended herself and her position and the other one did not.
posted by ambient2 at 11:41 AM on May 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well, Feldman's Hasidic "combatants" are also allowed to sign up for MetaFilter and comment in the thread... unless they're women, of course.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:55 AM on May 23, 2012


Definitely kudos for the surgical moderation. The "shout at everyone" style of Grand Thread Entrance has always unnerved me, and it'd be great to see less of it.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:57 AM on May 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Controversy to generate views. Rather than truth. News has become the new medicine. There's no profit in a cure, at least not relative to endless treatment.
posted by Eideteker at 12:16 PM on May 23, 2012


Feel free to elaborate on what "the truth" is here. Don't hold out on us, please.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:20 PM on May 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


What the hell are you talking about.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 12:22 PM on May 23, 2012


¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:23 PM on May 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


I thought that thread went amazingly well given the subject matter. (I missed the clean up, so my opinion might be different if I'd seen it at a different time.)

I'm not Jewish and didn't read Deborah Feldman's book, so I stayed out of it.
posted by nangar at 12:25 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


then decided it wasn't worth bothering after hermitosis attacked Joe in Australia. Glad to see taz deleted it.

I didn't see the deleted comment before it was, well, deleted, but we should be honest enough to see that Joe in Australia was not quite kicking the ball either before that, by heavily implying that she was a bigot, e.g. saying that "Finally, there's a lot of unpleasant bigotry in this thread and the ones over on xoJane", then calling her out.

That's not the sort of comment that helps keeping a sane, calm discussion and it from here it looks like hermitosis got punished for reacting to provocation, but the provocateur got off scott free.

I know deleting comments (or posts) isn't meant as punishment rather than an attempt to enforce community standards, but in this context it might've been helpful to establish that this sort of not quite crossing the line is not appreciated either.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:03 PM on May 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


it from here it looks like hermitosis got punished for reacting to provocation, but the provocateur got off scott free.

How can you make such an assessment when you literally don't know what you're talking about?
posted by Dano St at 2:15 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


How can you make such an assessment when you literally don't know what you're talking about?

Because it's plainly visible what at least one of them was saying, even if the offending reply was deleted.
posted by Hoopo at 2:32 PM on May 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


What Hoopo said.

I'm not saying that what hermitosis did was right or the mods were wrong in deleting her comment, just that in my opinion some attention should've been paid to what went before it.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:36 PM on May 23, 2012


Some attention was paid to it. But it didn't go over the line. That's why it wasn't deleted.
posted by Melismata at 2:44 PM on May 23, 2012


That's not the sort of comment that helps keeping a sane, calm discussion and it from here it looks like hermitosis got punished for reacting to provocation, but the provocateur got off scott free.

I totally understand the deletion, and even appreciate it. I said exactly what I wanted to say to him, in a way that directly (if perhaps too colorfully) addressed the mealy-mouthed clarification of his bigotry accusation, but once it was out of my system I was glad to have a chance to regroup and proceed with that particular comment stricken.

The deletion was a reminder to me of where the standards for this conversation ought to be set. I took taz's guidance to heart and went to bed, determined to not make the same mistakes when I looked back in there today.

Mind you, I still completely resent what he said, and he is off my Christmas list.
posted by hermitosis at 3:06 PM on May 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


MartinWisse: " I'm not saying that what hermitosis did was right or the mods were wrong in deleting her comment, just that in my opinion some attention should've been paid to what went before it."

I saw Hermitosis' comment. It was over the line. Whether you or I agree with Joe or not, he didn't engage in a personal attack. Herm did.

Hermitosis is one of the best people here. I have a great deal of respect for him -- it's not just what he says, it's how he says it. He's often been a beacon of reason and intelligence and empathy in threads that sorely needed it. But also, he's also been someone who keeps threads on the rails, rather than derails them.

I happen to agree with him about Ms. Feldman. But yes, he could have addressed Joe differently -- as he showed later in the thread.

As for Joe's comment being problematic.... I didn't see bigotry in hermitosis' comment. And I feel him calling it out as such rather than addressing the actual issues being discussed is unhelpful.
posted by zarq at 3:22 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hermitosis quickly dropped by a thread the other day to call me lazy, and then flitted away, never to return. I was motivated enough to replace the batteries in my remote, so I could finally change the channel on my tv. Thank you hermitosis.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:57 PM on May 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


he is off my Christmas list.

That's probably a good thing, because I'm not good at presents.(*) I don't think I actually saw the deleted comment so let's take it as unread.

(*) Why is she giving me this? Does she not know that gifts create a deadweight loss? Maybe she does know, but believes that I am not perfectly informed? This isn't an unreasonable assumption, but it wasn't a very nice thing to imply. Or ... hang on ... perhaps it isn't a deadweight loss! It is a special and symbolic gift, so bestowing it upon me actually creates value! I had better say something. "Oh wow! This is great! Thanks so much!"
[Her, three days later] You know if you don't like the shirt I can always have it exchanged.
Me: No, it's a special shirt.
Her: But you haven't worn it.
Me: No. Because it's special.
Her: ???
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:45 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


What?
posted by cjorgensen at 5:46 PM on May 23, 2012


That's what she said.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:40 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


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