It began when The Gender Agenda’s founder, Dalit Kaplan, was told off for singing too loudly in synagogue. The Rabbi had invoked a principle called “Kol Isha”, which literally means “voices of women” but is interpreted by some authorities as a rule that prohibits women from singing in front of men in the name of modesty. In other words women are not aloud to sing within earshot of a man because it could… turn him on!
Well, Dalit thought this was crap. She walked out of the service never to return. But this experience marked the beginning of an interrogation of the place of gender both inside and and outside Jewish culture. Along the road she has met queer South Asian men, African women who have survived Female Genital Cutting, Muslim feminists causing havoc in their own religion and many other people pushing boundaries in the space where gender meets culture.
Today in the mainstream media, we see Western feminists talking about work, family, relationships, and gender. The conversations are rich and vibrant. But within the many cultural communities, there are equally vibrant discussions about how culture and religion are evolving in the face of new ideas about gender.
The Gender Agenda provides a meeting place for all these of conversations. You can hear stories about Indonesian feminists, Sri-lankan Australian men who are primary care givers, trans-gender Jewish men, African American Jewish Jedis (yes, there is a gender angle there too), and more.
The Gender Agenda is a place to examine how gender affects the way we experience the complex and multilayered world. Enjoy!