Friday, March 27, 2015

No apologies for being privileged בבועה ולא מתנצלת


Here’s how Ari Shavit described me and my ilk in yesterday’s Haaretz:
“Many of them [“sushi eaters”] don’t know a single Likud voter. Many of them have never heard the music of Amir Benayoun.
The economy of high-tech, natural gas, and business mergers has allowed some two million Israelis to live a very good life in a closed world, whose values are those of California. The prosperous liberal colony that they founded on the Mediterranean allowed them to live in an illusory incubator of advanced technology, totally disconnected from reality, the state, and the land.
Between Florentine and Arsuf, and between Ra’anana and the Peres Center for Peace, they launched startups, watched Channel 10, and didn’t know where they were living. They had no direct contact with Jews of Middle Eastern origin, traditional Jews, struggling Russian-speakers, Haredim, or Arabs (though they talked about them a lot).”
Well. I had no idea I was being awarded a Diversity Score on Shavit’s Divers-o-meter, or I would’ve made sure to listen to Amir Benayoun and make friends with some Likudniks. While I don’t reside in the area bordered by Florentine - Arsuf - Ranaana - PCP, and I don’t eat sushi when I can avoid it, I certainly count myself in the demographic that Shavit so witheringly describes. But I refuse to feel ashamed of belonging to that demographic.
I plead guilty to having friends who believe as I do, with whose politics I feel comfortable. I plead guilty to having chosen an address where I feel comfortable as a woman, as a non-Orthodox Jew, and yes, as a leftist. But if I’m guilty, so are the rest of Earth’s inhabitants, most of whom live in enclaves, whether they be liberal, conservative, religious, or ethnic. So no, I don’t count any Arabs, ultra-Orthodox, or Russians among my friends, and don’t interact on a regular basis with Mizrahim or those of low income, but I do strive to treat every individual with whom I interact with courtesy and kindness.
It is precisely having grown up as a minority member that informs my leftist views. Granted, growing up as a Jew in North America, I was able to blend, and rarely if ever encountered anti-Semitism. But that didn’t mean that I wasn’t keenly aware, practically every moment, of not being part of the dominant group. I brought that awareness with me when I made aliya, which is why the first thing I ask when encountering any policy or social phenomenon is “Where are the Arabs?” / “How will Arabs feel about that?” This, besides setting an example for my children by (multiple) attempts to learn spoken Arabic and (laboriously) teaching myself to read Arabic, which I’ve advocated be a required subject in all schools from 3rd grade (to little avail).
So I don’t have any Arab friends. Does that mean I can’t still act upon and speak out for the principles of equal rights and against segregation? Is socializing with minority members a requirement for voting Meretz? I’m Ashkenazi, comfortably middle class, and have a post-secondary education. I can’t erase any of those blessings, nor do I want to. And those data do not preclude me from “talking about” Arabs, or ultra-Orthodox, or any other group. In fact, we should be talking about them, and keeping their issues on the agenda, as I want mine on the agenda as well.
I’m annoyed with the self-flaggelation of the Left. I’m tired of it. I don’t need to refine or redefine – or whatever it is the pundits say we need to do – my vision. My vision has been the same since I hit these shores in 1981. Like Zahava Gal-On, I’m an avowed leftist and secular, a fighter for human rights, an opponent of the occupation, and a supporter of social justice who opposes religious coercion  the struggle for social justice also as a fight against the occupation, against the violation of Palestinian human rights, against continued illegal construction in the territories and excessive budgetary allotments to the ultra-Orthodox.
And what’s new as far as voter behavior? What we just saw happen here in Israel has been true in the US for decades: The poor continue to vote against their own interests; newcomers, especially if they’re people of color, naturally migrate to slums, where, predictably, they’re abhored by longtime residents and are believed to steal the latter’s livelihoods (while actually doing lowly work that nobody else – rich or poor – is willing to do). Right-wing politicians play on the poor’s fears and perceived weakness, and – surprise! – look at the results, in both countries.

I take issue with the critique of Meretz that it doesn’t appeal enough or target itself to the Mizrachim. This claim actually insults Mizrachis’ intelligence. What? They don’t have access to the same media as whites? They’re not targeted the same as the rest of us? If parity and leveling the playing field; if channeling funds away from settlements and toward the populations in need; if separating church and state don’t appeal to underserved people, then playing Amir Benayoun in the background of campaign ads certainly won’t convince.

Don’t get me wrong: I was stunned and grieving last Wednesday morning. But I’m a glass-half-full kind of gal: Left-wing parties have historically sat in the opposition. Meretz winning five seats – one owing entirely to soldiers – is great. This Knesset has more women and more Arabs than any previous one: also great. And the Left certainly gave the Right a run for its money. Plus, the game’s not over: We will sit in the opposition and continue to speak out against injustice and in favor of democracy.

Sitting in Hot Mobile last week being helped by an agent, the customer next to me, a woman who looked about my age, announced she was expecting her 10th grandchild. I wished her beSha’ah tová. Then she said something about never dividing Jerusalem. I surprised myself by speaking up (reminding everyone that this is Eilat). I said, “Let ‘em divide it already!” to which she replied, “Divide it? You don’t divide your home!” To which I replied, “It’s already divided.” After all, who knows? Maybe it's she who lives in a bubble. Maybe she needs her assumptions challenged that everyone in a random public place at a given moment agrees with her views.

Ten or even five years ago, I would’ve been too timid to speak my mind like that in public. But somehow – age? “Tenure”? Feeling like we’ve got nothing to lose at this point? – I’m less inhibited about my views. Knowing that those five MKs are there, speaking for me – purely and without dithering – keeps me strong. No one will silence us.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

My daughter chose her dad's surname...and I'm fine with it בתי בחרה בשם משפחתו של אביה...ואני שלמה עם זה


When my daughter announced that she had requested that the emcee announce her name as “Hedy Slott” at her culminating show of her school’s fashion design major, she seemed ready for me to blow a gasket. Instead, to her surprise, I was and am fine with it. I believe that what made it a non-issue for me is the very fact that she’s been an unambigous Erez-Slott for 18 years, so to me it felt like a genuine choice on her part. In fact, I’m pleased that she was brave enough to make this move, knowing how strongly I feel about names and their implications. What better proof that she thinks for herself and doesn’t simply go along with others’ expectations? Hedy Slott, welcome to the planet!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

My 'poo-free life החיים ללא תחפיף


Time to once again deviate from my usual fare, to report that I have joined the No 'Poo movement, i.e., I've quit using shampoo. I was inspired to try this about 15 years ago in response to skimming one of those guides for curlyheads. I don't recall the instructions exactly – it may have advocated not even wetting your head – but I recall that I lasted four days.

Fast forward to 2015. What changed? you ask. Two things: I'm older, and so's my hair. It's just gotten drier and more hag-like 'til finally it was downright atrocious: Hated how it looked, hated how it felt. Second thing that changed: Now there's Internet. As is my wont, I visited around half a dozen sites that talk about going shampoo free, and aggregated the information therein. The consensus seems to be that hair care can consist of daily (or less frequent) wetting and using crème rinse (I refuse to call it conditioner); and a more or less weekly baking soda scalp scrub and apple cider vinegar rinse. All the sites also warned of a transitional period wherein your hair will be greasy.

OK, so here I went: I already use a crème rinse that I absolutely love: Hawaii Oil Intense. So I just went on using that. The thing you have to know about crème rinse is that it does one thing, and one thing only: It's a detangler with a grownup name. It doesn't "condition", it doesn't alter your hair in any way, nor does it change the properties of the follicle or cuticle. Ads notwithstanding, it won't make your hair shiny, or lustrous, or any other adjective. All it does is allow you to comb wet hair out comfortably. So use whatever crème rinse you love, just don't have any expectations that it will do anything but that.

After a week of daily wetting my hair and applying crème rinse (I comb it through before rinsing out), and my hair looking and feeling fine, and having zero scent, my scalp began feeling kinda gritty. Time for baking soda + vinegar! Following instructions I'd read online, I made two solutions: 1 cup water  + 2 Tbs. (plain, white) vinegar (hadn't yet made it to the store to buy apple cider vinegar) in a schpritz / spray bottle; and 2 Tbs. baking soda mixed with 1 cup boiling water (let cool!).

When that was all ready, I poured the baking soda solution on my hair. Despite my having used boiling water and mixed thoroughly, it still separated. More on that later. Anyway, I poured it all on the crown of my head and used my fingers to scrub it into my scalp all around. Then I left it on while I did my usual showering routine, rinsed it out thoroughly, and then schpritzed the vinegar solution all over my hair, on top and underneath. I rinsed that out thoroughly too, and then dried off. I combed it out as usual; no odor remained.

I kept up this regime for a few weeks. Although I don't believe anyone else noticed, I felt my hair looked and felt better: less frizz, more curl, soft to the touch, a little shine. Don't know if I'd go as far as to say silky, but improved. Far less hag-like. Then today, after a heavy-duty outdoor cleaning job, I felt absolutely gross. I caved and shampooed, and followed with vinegar. Before it had even dried, I saw the difference immediately: My hair was flyaway even while still wet. So I'm a convert, but a Reform convert: Perhaps I'll shampoo once a month.

Meanwhile, two observations: Since the baking soda solution separates no matter what, I tried just sprinkling the baking soda on my head and then dripping water onto it from a mineral water bottle with a drip spout. Didn't work well: My hair ended up with a giant baking soda knot on top, and the baking soda didn't distribute over my scalp.

So I decided to make up a paste and used that. The paste seems the most efficient. I poured the baking soda into a small plastic bowl and dripped water onto it ‘til I got a mixture the consistency of yogurt. Poured that onto the crown of my head. At first it seems like it won’t distribute onto your scalp, but keep scrubbing / massaging it in, all over. Eventually it distributes.

Second observation: What's special about apple cider vinegar? I finally got hold of a bottle and not only does it not smell like apples as I'd expected, it has an even more pungent odor than does white vinegar, and its effect was identical. So no more apple cider vinegar for me: I'm going with plain white vinegar, whose price is about a fourth of that of ACV. Either way the cost is negligible; two cups of solution looks like it's gonna last me for months, if not an entire year. Good thing vinegar doesn't go bad.

Speaking of cost, many sites cite the savings in not buying shampoo. However, I notice that I use much more crème rinse now (see March update below). I don’t really understand this; it seems counterintuitive: If shampoo dries our hair out, shouldn’t not using it mean we need less crème rinse? But for some reason it’s the opposite. So as far as saving money, it’s a wash: Save on shampoo, but use more crème rinse. Oh well.

March update: My comb was collecting gunk, which I surmise was creme rinse residue. Yuck. So decided to quit creme rinse and just use vinegar, which does the same thing minus gunk. Then I tried using nothing, i.e., just rinsing and scrubbing scalp with water. Combed out no problem. So now I'm down to water only, with vinegar if tangled. I did "break down" again this week when the temperature rose and things got sweaty, and shampooed. But the results were less flyaway this time. I see a cycle shaping up: shampoo every few weeks, water + vinegar in the interim.

April update: Shampooed just before Seder, followed by vinegar. Basically we're talking a shampoo bi-weekly regime. My hair's fine but I'm thinking of looking for a laureth sulfate-free shampoo. I heard they exist for a price. I do like the sudsiness of shampooing. Stay tuned.

May update: Tried two sulfate-free shampoos: Avalon Organics Lemon something, which was fine but didn't blow me away. It lathered up only slightly less than sulfate-containing shampoos, and left my hair "regular"; and Ogx Tea Tree Oil, which -- wait for it -- dried out my hair! Worse than conventional shampoos! Indeed, I've always been suspicious of a plant called "tea tree", so I looked it up: Indeed, it's not even a tree and is applied to no less than five different shrubs.

OK, I'm starting to call bullsh_t on this entire business. For the sake of argument, let's say that shampoo -- both sulfate-containing and sulfate-free -- dries out our hair. If so, then duh -- just shampoo less frequently. You know? Like the sixties, when we all shampooed weekly? 

What's certain is that no one needs to "repeat" after lathering and rinsing. Does anyone still do this? If so, just realize that the only people it benefits are the kids of the shampoo makers, whom you're helping to send to college. Now, would anyone out there like a nearly-unused bottle of "tea tree oil" [rolling eyes] shampoo?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Overthrow ad cubes השמידו את קוביות החוצות



While many have observed that the boundary in Israel between public and private space is far thinner than in the rest of the West – in some cases non-existent – I believe that I may be the first to point out its manifestation in the form of – wait for it – street signage. To illustrate, let’s first look at this unencumbered street sign in Brisbane:

Couldn’t be clearer where you are, right? Now before we look at some street signs in Israel’s two major cities, recall that street signs are 1) a tax-funded utility aimed at the citizens’ welfare and 2) meant to convey important navigational information to locals and visitors (hey Tourism Ministry, that means you) alike. With those two purposes in mind, let’s see how we’re doing:



Recall that motor travel through cities takes place at speeds of 50-90 kph. A driver or navigator at those speeds is therefore not just not served by these travesties of street signs, but may actually be in danger of causing a collision while trying to figure out where the h_ll s/he is. Not to mention that many of our street signs are broken and / or illegible
, or simply incorrect:

But apparently the cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem so badly need the revenue from the ad cubes that block or obstruct street "signs" that they sell ad space at the expense of the citizenry. In other words, that’s your municipal taxes funding broken, incorrect, and obstructed street signs!

Moreover, if it were such a crucial revenue stream for the cities, how come multiple image searches for “street-level advertising” found not a single instance in any other city in the world? You’re telling me this revenue stream is efficacious in only two world cities?

And by the way, the atrocious ad cubes are not part of some neoliberal plot to divert all the middle class’s hard-earned money to the tycoons: The ad cubes have been there as long as I can remember (1976), if not decades before. So what’s the deal? Why are we taking this sitting down? Has it not occurred to a single other Israeli that the cubes ride roughshod over our rights?

If so, why aren’t the citizens pressuring the cities to remove them? Why aren’t tour guides and others in the tourism industry pressuring the Visitors’ Bureaus, Chambers of Commerce, and the Tourism Ministry to get rid of them? Where are Rotary and other civic groups?

I propose a solution that serves everyone: Leave the cubes in place and convert them into street signs! They’re ideally situated and highly visible, thereby expediting the flow of traffic and everyone’s travels. Each side of the cube could be divided into two vertically: The top half would tell you what street you’re now on; the bottom half would indicate the cross street, thusly:
שנקין

Shenkin
_________________________________________________________________________


(יונתן) הסנדלר
[العربية]                                                 
(Yonatán) haSandlár
OK, so you see that I’m neither a semiologist nor a graphic artist (tried multiple times to get the triangle arrows situated alongside the text), but you get the idea. Just lose the word רח' [“street”]. It’s superfluous: We all know we’re on a street. It’s simple, clear, and conveys much more, and much more useful information than do the present “signs”.

Cities still want ad revenue? Mount solar-powered, slowly rotating cubes atop bus shelters, each side bearing a different ad. There: quadruple bang for your buck, no one’s vision is impeded, win win. I hereby appeal to everyone reading this, especially if you’re a Tel Avivian, Jerusalemite, or work in tourism, to get the ball rolling. Time to take back the street signs!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Hebron Hills goes artsy אמנות בדרום הר חברון?

The article on the Hebron Hills art exhibit at Tel Aviv University was garbled, to say the least. This is precisely because our society is confused about its terms. Two terms, specifically: “apolitical”, and “neutral”. We Israelis are terrified of being political. Artists, institutions, and non-profits rush to proclaim themselves “apolitical”. What they mean, of course, is that they are non-partisan, i.e., not affiliated with a political party. But what everyone is missing is that very few things are truly apolitical, nor should they be. As we’ve learned – or not – from the feminist movement, “The personal is political”. This is particularly true of the settlers, which is why Nurit Gazit, organizer of Hebron Hills Faces Tel Aviv, is being disingenuous about the benignness of her exhibit: If you’re a settler, everything you do, every breath you take – every brush stroke, in Gazit’s case – is political. If you’re not willing to admit this, you shouldn’t be there.

But Gazit isn’t the only one missing the point here: Tel Aviv University told Haaretz: “The application to mount the exhibition contained only the artistic and location aspect without including or mentioning politics. The library lobby serves as a platform for a variety of exhibitions,” prompting me to ask: Why is a university, of all places, and an artist, of all people, hiding from politics? Historically universities and artists have acted as platforms for causes — ordinarily progressive causes, but in this specific case, a right-wing cause. And that’s OK. What’s not OK is to deny it and claim to be apolitical, which in our case is a euphemism, code for “neutral when it comes to the territories”.

It is probably a good idea for certain entities to remain neutral, examples being Magen David Adom and organizations that advocate for the disabled. Those are the only examples I can think of offhand. Everyone else should have an opinion and stand behind it, whether or not I agree with it. In the case at hand, if the university were truly neutral, it would have turned Gazit’s application down unless the exhibit included works by non-Jewish Hebron Hills artists, rendering it balanced and worthy of discourse. As it stands, a university that gives a platform to the right only and calls its choice neutral (“apolitical”, as we like to say) fools no one, not even the artists themselves.


Nurit Gazit, I throw down the gauntlet: I challenge you to mount a genuine Hebron Hills artists’ exhibit that contains artistic works by settlers alongside works by Palestinian Hebron Hills residents. When you do so, and when the university hosts such an exhibit, then I’ll believe in claims of balance and neutrality. Until then, this is as political as it gets.

Cork bathmat instructional הוראות ליצירת שטיחון אמבט מפקקי שעם

Departing from my usual fare here in an unexpected direction. I recently got hooked on, well, like it says in the title to this post: making cork bathmats. As is my wont, I researched all the instructionals I could find online and proceeded. What differs in my instructional is that I’m going to tell you all the stuff that no others do. I will put these tips in purple.

Note: I live in an area where the water supply is the Earth’s hardest (1,300 ppm calcium), so instead of tap water, I collect air conditioner condensate in 1.5-liter bottles all summer and my supply lasts me ‘til spring. Air conditioner condensate is mineral free and therefore the softest water available; it’s essentially distilled water at zero cost. So whenever I mention water, I’m talking soft. Worth keeping in mind depending upon your water supply.

I’m too lazy to insert photos, but I’ll explain it all in detail:

Collecting enough corks

You’ll need 150 for a mat measuring 60 x 40 cm, but collect some more, as not every cork makes the cut, literally. Save those that don’t, however, and keep them on hand when gluing, as they can be used to fill in irregularly-shaped spaces.

I’ve been able to keep up a steady cork supply by 1) telling everyone I know to save their corks for me and 2) scavenging in glass recycling receptacles. If you’re in proxmity to a bar(s), restaurant(s), or hotel(s), you can ask them to save them for you and pick them up reliably.

Soaking

None of the other instructionals tell you this: Soak your corks first* overnight. Then dry them thoroughly. I live in the desert, so this means spreading them onto a cookie sheet and setting them outside the southern side of my house, where they dry quickly. But they must be thoroughly dry, or else you’ll rust your knife.

Slicing

The other instructionals say to use a pen knife (?!) or don’t specify. Use a heavy-duty utility knife / box cutter, not just any old knife or Xacto knife. I bought a Workforce on the recommendation of the Home Depot sales associate, and it’s much better than the snap-off blade box cutter I started with, but I suspect there’s still something better out there. Reader recommendations are welcome!

Cover your work surface with a piece of cardboard or some other protection, unless you like knife scratches and glue residue on your table. Your knife will slip. Wear work gloves for protection.
Have a sheet of rough (I use grade 4) sandpaper handy. With few exceptions, the cut won’t be clean, and you’ll need to sand.

UPDATE: I've found that simply rubbing the two flat half-cork surfaces together is usually enough to smooth things out. If not, then I sand.



The other instructionals say to stand the cork on end and slice it in half. Like that’s going to happen – not. Here’s how to slice: Lay the cork on its side lengthwise. Hold one end between your thumb and forefinger. With your knife extended fully, make a cut a centimeter from the other end. Press your knife downward as far as you can. Now turn the cork on its end (the end you were holding) and continue slicing, turning, slicing, and turning ‘til you’ve split the cork in two.

I’ve found that I have to do this standing up. A lot of pressing is involved, and even wearing gloves, blisters formed. Forget regular Band-Aids; slap on the larger adhesive bandages used in burn clinics. You’re in the major leagues now.

For the sanding, I rub the cork halves back and forth and in a circular motion on the sandpaper, which is lying on my work surface adjacent to where I’m cutting. There will be crumbs. Even sanding doesn’t render a smooth, flat surface. That’s OK; sand regardless. Now you’re ready to glue.

Backings

I began with an old rubber / vinyl bathmat I wanted to recycle. I sliced all the suction cups off the bottom, put it in the bathtub, poured a few cups of bleach on it, covered it with water, and soaked it for a few hours. Then I rinsed it and dried it thoroughly. It’s not ideal, as it doesn’t lie flat, so I’m conducting an ongoing experiment:

I glued two thirds of its area using hot glue; then a line of corks using Gorilla glue; and the remaining third using e6000. Each cork in the Gorilla line got a big ‘ol black dot applied with a Sharpie laundry marker, so it’s easy to keep track of which corks were glued with which glue.

I let it dry overnight, then used it. Every few days, one or more corks comes loose, and I reglue it / them using Gorilla and mark those corks with a dot. The mat is slowly becoming populated with black dots / Gorilla. With one exception, every cork that has come loose was glued with hot glue; one e6000 has come loose. Draw your own conclusions. Here are my impressions of the various glues:

Hot glue

I thought using hot glue was hard core, i.e., it’s the ultimate adhesive. Yet my data proves otherwise. It appears that its advantage over e6000 is its lower cost. I’m lousy at arithmetic and haven’t performed a cost analysis, but roughly, a large stick of hot glue is enough to glue three or four mats; I estimate that a bottle of original Gorilla will go about as far, and a small tube of e6000 won’t go as far. My empirical data, for what it’s worth.

I began using hot glue wearing latex gloves, but it became annoying, so I took my chances gloveless. Being very careful, I’ve burned myself on the gun’s tip a few times, immediately applied ice, and there was no injury. There is something fun about hot gluing, so there is that.

Gorilla glue

Many Gorilla users complain that it dries out soon after opening. I live in the desert and have opened and closed my bottle multiple times with no drying, so I don’t know what their problem is. You only need to apply a small amount, as it spreads as it dries. Seems well worth its cost (not high) to me.

E6000

Everyone I talked to or read about warns of the odor and cautions to ventilate. I couldn’t detect any odor, used it indoors, and lived to tell the tale. Again, it grips like no other; it just costs more.

Back to backings

After starting with my old bathmat (see above), I moved on to some old vinyl placemats my dad had lying around. These were far easier to work with, as they lie flat. Gave the first one to friends; have not gotten any reports of how well / poorly it’s holding up.

Mesh shelf liner

Bought some at a dollar store. The glue seems to grip this material superbly. The only downside is the glue leaking through the mesh. I solved this by working on top of a sheet of contact paper peel-off (i.e., not the (sticky) contact paper itself, rather the layer you peel off). Every two rows, I gently lift the mesh off the sheet so it doesn’t dry onto the sheet. Works like a charm. We’ll call the sheet the inter-layer.

Another inter-layer idea I haven’t tried yet: the poop-catchers that come with your annual occult blood stool test kit, which I don’t use, as I have my own method. Stay tuned on these. If your HMO doesn’t send a home kit, next time you visit your clinic, ask for a few poop catchers (don’t know the clinical name).

I also found some foam shelf liner and plan to use it next. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Gave friends a mat glued with hot glue onto a plastic placemat backing. They said the corks started popping off after a week of use. Made a test mat the same way for my household. It's still intact weeks later, so I suspect her huge, active setter puppy of terror activity.






Wrapup

So there you are. You now have exhaustive instructions for making your cork bathmat. Please comment and tell me your experiences. I’m dying to correspond with other recyclers!

* Shout-out to my master crafter SIL, Lana Reiz, for this invaluable tip and for informing me of e6000’s existence!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

"Boys will be boys"...NOT "ככה זה בנים": ממש לא!


Boys will be boys. It sets my teeth on edge even to write, let alone hear, those words. Up ‘til now, whenever I’ve taken issue with the utterance of this despicable expression, I’ve been shut down with, “What do you know? You don’t have sons.” Well, no more. I call BS on that. Because I’ve thought about it and deconstructed it, and we all know what happens when I start thinking and deconstructing: I’m about to blast your myth wide open and send it packing. Ready to unpack it?

What behavior prompts us to remark, with mock resignation, “Boys will be boys”? It’s always undesirable behavior. Think about it: Have you ever witnessed a boy exhibiting admirable behavior and someone remarking, “Boys will be boys”? No. Because "Boys will be boys" is always used to excuse undesirable behavior.

It begins in early childhood with boys being rambunctious. We more or less tolerate rambunctiousness; after all, it’s just a stage, right? Well, it depends. We claim to approve of it, but do we really? We “approve” of it the same way we “approve” of babies defecating into a diaper instead of a toilet: because we can’t expect any more of them, and we know that they must reach a certain developmental stage before we can begin teaching them the socially acceptable way and place to defecate. But we do agree it must be taught; ceasing to defecate “wherever” with no show of control is not likely to just happen by itself; in other words, it’s not just a stage that’s going to pass, like teething; it requires our active intervention.

As does rambunctiousness, which if not contained or properly channeled in early childhood, emerges later in the form of frat boy behavior (which among others, occasionally involves defecating…wherever). So at what point do we stop excusing undesirable behavior with "Boys will be boys"? I say it should never begin; those words – as well as “boys and girls: different” – should never be uttered, because both are used for the same purpose: to excuse antisocial behavior on the parts of boys.

By antisocial behavior I mean behavior that is unacceptable for an adult. This is why I draw a distinction between rambunctiousness and rowdiness. Frat boy behavior = rambunctious. It’s 12yo and even toddler (see above) behavior being exhibited by individuals who are biologically men but whose upbringing undoubtedly contained utterances of "Boys will be boys". Do we adults tolerate rambunctiousness in each other? No. If and when it’s exhibited, we reflexively recoil and distance ourselves therefrom. Not so with rowdiness.

Rowdiness differs in its connotation from rambunctiousness. Rowdiness 1) has its time and place; and 2) is engaged in by both genders and all ages, even octogenarians. Unlike “getting rowdy”, we rarely if ever hear of girls being rambunctious, and that’s not a coincidence: It’s because the latter is a behavior of which we disapprove, if not in little boys, then ultimately in all socialized adults.

After rambunctiousness, boys who hear "Boys will be boys" move on to undesirable behavior that involves only boys: fistfights, lack of impulse control, destructiveness, viewing pornography*. Subsequently, "Boys will be boys"-eliciting behavior starts to involve young women: snapping girls’ bra straps in elementary school; peeking into girls’ bathrooms or locker rooms in junior high. Then it progresses to relating to and treating young women as prizes or objects; and after that it’s not respecting “No”; overpowering women, assault, abuse — all behaviors that we simultaneously condemn explicitly and condone implicitly every time we say "Boys will be boys". And notice: All behaviors that elicit "Boys will be boys" have a perpetrator and a victim.

Like Soraya Chemaly, I’m not saying that the son of every parent who has ever uttered "Boys will be boys" is destined to become an abuser; I’m saying that these words serve no one: It’s time we excised them from our vocabularies. I for one will no longer be silent when I’m told I have no standing to oppose them because I have “only daughters”. On the contrary: I precisely have standing to oppose them on behalf of my daughters, and all daughters, everywhere.

* I know this last is viewed by many as proof of healthy sexual development; whether or not that is true, it can’t be argued that it involves objectification of women, of which we (hopefully) disapprove.
 
"ככה זה בנים": ממש לא!

"ככה זה בנים". רק לקרוא את המלים הללו, שלא לדבר על לשמוע אותן, מעלה לי את הסעיף. עד כה, בכל פעם שהבעתי התנגדות לשימוש בביטוי המתועב הנ"ל, תמיד הושתקתי בטענה, "מה את יודעת? לך אין בנים." אז זהו, עד כאן. קשקוש אני קוראת לזה, כי חשבתי על הנושא ופירקתי אותו לגורמים, ואתם יודעים מה קורה כשאני חושבת על משהו ומפרקת אותו לגורמים: אני עומדת לנתץ את המיתוס שלכם, לארוז אותו ולשלוח לכם בחבילה. מוכנים לפתוח?

איזו התנהגות גורמת לנו להפטיר, במעין קבלת-גורל מעושה, "ככה זה בנים"? מדובר תמיד בהתנהגות פסולה. חשבו על כך: האם ראיתם פעם בן המתנהג באופן ראוי לשבח ומישהו מעיר, "ככה זה בנים"? לא. כי "ככה זה בנים" תמיד משמש כתירוץ להתנהגות פסולה.

זה מתחיל בשלבי הילדות המוקדמים כאשר בנים משתוללים. אנחנו פחות-או-יותר מתירים השתוללות; אחרי ככלות הכל זהו בסך הכל שלב התפתחותי, נכון? אנחנו טוענים שזה מקובל עלינו, אך האמנם? זה "מקובל" עלינו באותה מידה שבה "מקובל" עלינו שתינוקות עושים את צרכיהם בחיתול במקום באסלה, משום שאי אפשר לצפות מהם ליותר מכך, ואנחנו יודעים שעליהם להגיע לשלב התפתחותי מסויים לפני שנוכל ללמד אותם איך והיכן לעשות את צרכיהם באופן המקובל בחברה. אולם כולנו מסכימים שצריך ללמד את זה; הגמילה מעשיית הצרכים "איפה שלא יהיה" מבלי לגלות שום שליטה בכך לא תתחולל מעצמה. במילים אחרות, לא רק השלב צריך לחלוף, כמו  בקיעת השיניים; הדבר מחייב מעורבות פעילה.

כך גם ההשתוללות, שאם אינה מוכלת או מתועלת בשלב מוקדם של הילדות, היא תופיע מאוחר יותר בצורת התנהגות גברברית מתהוללת (שבין היתר מתבטאת לפעמים בעשיית הצרכים... איפה שלא יהיה). אם כך, באיזה שלב צריך להפסיק לתרץ התנהגות פסולה בטיעון, "ככה זה בנים"? לדעתי אסור בכלל להתחיל; מלים אלו – כמו גם "בנים שונים מבנות" – מוטב שלא ייאמרו בכלל בשום שלב, כי אלו גם אלו נועדו לאותה מטרה: לתרץ התנהגות אנטי חברתית של בנים.

התנהגות אנטי חברתית היא, לשיטתי, התנהגות שאינה הולמת אדם בוגר. לכן אני מבחינה בין השתוללות לבין השתובבות. התנהגות גברברית מתהוללת = השתוללות. זו התנהגות של ילד בן 12 או אפילו פעוט (ראו לעיל) המתגלה אצל מי שמבחינה ביולוגית הם גברים, אך החינוך שקיבלו ללא ספק כלל את האמירה "ככה זה בנים". האם אנו הבוגרים מסכימים לסבול השתוללות מצד בוגרים אחרים? לא. כשהיא מתרחשת, אנחנו נרתעים מוכנית ומתרחקים ממנה. לא כך כשמדובר בהשתובבות.

השתובבות שונה תפיסתית מהשתוללות. ראשית, השתובבות היא התנהגות סבירה במקום ובזמן המתאימים; ושנית, בני שני המגדרים בכל גיל, כולל אפילו קשישים, משתובבים לפעמים. לעומת ההשתובבות, כמעט ולא נשמע תיאור של בת כ"משתוללת", ויד המקריות אינה בכך: הסיבה היא שהשתוללות היא התנהגות שלמעט בקרב זאטוטים ממין זכר אינה מקובלת עלינו,  כמובן לא בקרב אף אחד מבוגרים בחברה.

 לאחר שלב ההשתוללות עוברים הבנים השומעים מסביבתם ש"ככה זה בנים" להתנהגות פסולה הייחודית לבנים בלבד: הרבצות, איבוד שליטה בדחפים, הרסנות וצפיה בפורנוגרפיה*. עד מהרה מתחילה האמירה "ככה זה בנים" לעודד התנהגות שבה מעורבות גם נשים: משיכת רצועות החזיה בבי"ס היסודי והצצה בשירותי הבנות או בחדרי ההלבשה שלהן בחטיבת הביניים.  משם זה מתפתח להתייחסות לנשים כאל פרסים שזכו בהם או חפצים; ומשם הדרך קצרה לאי-כיבוד ה"לא" של הנשים, להשתלטות כוחנית עליהן, לתקיפות, להתעללות – כל סוגי ההתנהגות שאותם אנו מגנים במפורש אך למעשה מעודדים במשתמע כל פעם שאנו אומרים "ככה זה בנים". ושימו לב: בכל סוגי ההתנהגות הנובעים מ"ככה זה בנים" יש מבצע ויש קורבן של הביצוע.

כמו סוראיה צ'מאלי, אינני אומרת שכל בן של כל הורה שאי פעם יצאו מפיו המילים "ככה זה בנים" יהפוך בהכרח לגבר מתעלל; אני אומרת שהמילים הללו אינן מביאות שום תועלת לאף אחד, ושהגיע הזמן לסלק אותן מאוצר הביטויים שלנו. אני, למשל, לא אשתוק אם יאמרו לי שלא מתאים לי להתנגד להן בגלל ש"יש לי רק בנות". להיפך: דווקא לי מתאים להתנגד להן בשם בנותיי, ובשם כל הבנות באשר הן.

*אני יודעת שרבים מחשיבים את הצפיה בפורנוגרפיה כעדות להתפתחות מינית בריאה; בין אם זה נכון ובין אם לאו, אי אפשר להתווכח עם העובדה שגלומה בכך החפצה של נשים, אשר (יש לקוות) אינה מקובלת עלינו.

תרגם באדיבות: עמי ארגמן