As I’ve noted before, feminism keeps reinventing religion in a feminized version. The latest example, courtesy of NPR, is the feminist rediscovery of the mikvah — the ritual bath Orthodox Jewish women take every month after their period before resuming sexual relations with their husbands. Here’s the feminist take on this ancient ritual:
“I always felt like it suggested a woman was unclean, and that’s why she had to come and immerse,” Sher says. “But this is a completely different animal.”
Sher says it was her daughter who first introduced her to a modern interpretation of the mikvah as an affirmation of her femininity and fertility.
“It gives me a chance to appreciate the miracle of my body — and I’m not drawn to my thighs, you know, they’re too big,” she says. ” It makes me think about [my] three children, and the miracle that I was able to give birth to them, and I appreciate God’s work.”
Sher says she and her husband also find beauty in abstaining from sex each month until she goes to the mikvah — not because of any menstrual stigma, she says, but because they find it meaningful.
My suspicion is that the mikvah developed for a very practical reason. Contrary to Sher’s romantic “I am woman, hear me roar” view of women and their beautiful, earth-mother bodies, the fact is that, after a period, women in an era predating running water and regular hygiene probably were yuckily unclean. It was incredibly sophisticated of the Jews to make a lovely ritual out of this nasty fact. But the nasty fact remains. In ancient times and desert climes, I doubt any man would have been enthusiastic about approaching his wife in the immediate aftermath of her monthlies.
Not only is Sher’s observation silly, it points to a fatal flaw in feminist religion: this approach to religion has nothing to do with traditional religious concepts. It’s not about morals, faith, or God. Instead, it’s all about self-aggrandizement. Feminists use these attacks on (or co-options of) traditional religious doctrine as a way to undermine or ignore religious principles. In other words, although these feminist incursions are dressed up as religion, they are, in fact, un-religions, because they teach no faith or moral lessons. They’re just another excuse for women to claim their primacy over men.