Sunday, April 24, 2011

Summary of: Greenstone, Attenello, and Pruce

"Learning the Meaning of One..." (Greenstone)
This chapter by Greenstone explores how she came into her own identity. She begins by telling the story of when she was in middle school and one of her friends made an inappropriate common about being Jewish. When Greenstone defended herself to this friend she ended up losing the friendship, and was later bullied by her. Like Pruce, she went on a trip to visit the Nazi concentration camps. This trip made her identify very strongly with her religion and it’s history of oppression. She, again like Pruce, realized that she has a responsibility to never allow something like the Holocaust to occur again. The Holocaust can never be forgotten, not only for those who suffered from it, but also so it will never be repeated. Some would say that other genocides, like Darfur, have and are occurring though.
Greenstone continues her narrative of how she became a leader and a feminist by explaining how college inspired her to follow her dreams. After college she worked for an activist organization. Her age made her self-conscious but she learned to confront her fears as well as those who did not listen to her because of her age.
She began to work closely with young women and discovered how there is a great need for feminism work with young women. Adolescents (and even younger) face a media and society that tells them that their appearance matters more than anything else. Greenstone tries to teach young women that their self-confidence should not lay in their appearance but in their actions and thoughts. By dealing with insecurities of other females, Greenstone found the importance of having self-pride. Her message of having pride in oneself is one that can apply to everyone, not just to insecure teenage girls.

"Navigating Identity Politics in Activism..." (Attenello)
Like Greenstone, Attenello looks at how she became an activist and a feminist. She started to take classes in college that analyzed how race and gender operate in social movements, only to discover that women were mostly ignored. The gender inequality that was represented in the literature shocked her. She found her own literature about women and embraced feminism. Attenello focuses on identity politics and what this means for her and for others. She became an activist that is committed to combating gender-based violence.
How she began her activist career is really interesting. She attended Rutgers University at the same time as a serial rapist was attacking Rutgers female students and Mexican women. Attenello points how she realized that the newspapers and police focused much more of the Rutger's students than they did on the Mexican women. To do something to change how vulnerable women were, she joined a march in protest of how the rape attacks were being handled. In this she met a very important woman named, Lupe. Lupe and her exchanged numbers after Attenello expressed an interest in helping Lupe (and her organization).
Attenello worked closely with Lupe’s group because of her organizational and leadership skills. As time went on, though, she recognized that she should not be the vice-president because she did not represent the group well enough. The group was all Mexican, except for her, and she also wanted to focus more on women’s rights. She learned a lot about what it means to be a leader from her time, but moving on was the right decision. She is still engaged in activist work today for women’s rights.

"Blurring the Lines that Divide" (Pruce)
In this chapter, Pruce looks at how she identifies herself and how this results in her being a leader. She begins the chapter discussing how she grew up being told that she could do anything that she wanted to. Her identity as a Jew, a leader, and a woman is very important to her. It is her identity that has led her to where she is now. Her religious identity is very close to her. She writes how she went to Poland to visit the death camps, and realized the responsibility she feels for never allowing something like this to occur again. She goes on to write that she spent a year in Israel, before college, and how this experience made her identity as a Jew grow stronger. She gives a little of the history of Israel, but is very biased. Pruce says that she recognizes this, but in her writing does not seem to try and be more objective.
Pruce tells how when she went to college, she really began to take a role in active leadership. She founded a Jewish Zionist group, but received some really bad attention from the college and her peers. She recounts how she was called a fascist and a right-wing extremist. This did not stop her from leading though. Her identity as a woman became very important to her when she took her first women's and gender issues course. Seeing how gendered the world was made her change her own perspective on things, and she also recognized how much she wanted to change things for the better for women. She writes how she learned to protest with other women one day, and then the next protest against the same women because of their differing opinions. She says that she respects her "opponent" who is Palestinian, but never seems to give their cause much thought. At one point in the chapter she says how her opponents rally against Israel, but I have to wonder if it is really Israel they are rallying against or if they are rallying to support Palestine. At another point in the chapter she talks about not being openly a feminist in front of Christian leaders for fear of it undermining her goals, but from what I can tell from my religion class, Judaism and Christianity are very similar on their views of women. It confused me as to why it mattered that they were Christian.
She ends the chapter by looking at how her activism and her identity have made her choices for her. She is clearly a very strong woman with strong beliefs. She wants to create social change for the betterment of women and Jews. Pruce's character is one of a leader who is careful to stay true to herself.


  1. I enjoyed this synopsis of these three readings. I was able to relate particularly well to them because I too am Jewish. I have always been active within my jewish community. It is not so much that I feel an obligation to give back to the jewish community, it is more that I want to give back because I feel a connection to the Jewish community. I feel that it is crucial to identify oneself before you get involved in charity or anything for that matter. If you don't have a passion for what you're doing, you will not be successful at it. I also found it very interesting in the Greenstone reading when she says that women's self-confidence should lie in what they do and who they are, not their appearance. It seems that this is almost impossible in our society today. Almost every show, movie, video game, etc that is shown through any media source possesses the concept of a 'perfect woman'. The media has created a norm or a status quo for what women should look like, making it almost impossible for women not to care about their appearance. Also, with the new idea of enlightened sexism, looking good and pleasing your man are encouraged. This adds to the impossible standards created by society, making it almost impossible for women to judge themselves on internal rather than external entities.

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