Paper Title

Activist Bodies, Jewish Identities: Profiles of Jewish American Feminists in the Women’s Health Movement, 1968-Present

Panel

Race, Politics, and Health

Location

Room 221, DiGiorgio Campus Center (DiGs)

Start Date

31-3-2016 3:30 PM

End Date

31-3-2016 4:45 PM

Keywords

Jewish Studies, Women’s Health Movement, Jewishness, Feminist activism, Patient rights, Reproductive rights, Ethnic identity, Healthcare, Cultural identity

Abstract

In the late 1960s, the women’s health movement in the United States emerged from the women’s movement with the understanding that healthcare can be a site of gendered oppression as well as self-liberation and empowerment. Prominent among the founders of this movement were Jewish American women who arrived at gender and health consciousness through their experiences as patients and as Jews. Moving into the new millennium, Jewish women continue their work on behalf of patient rights and health education. However, within histories of health activism, Jewish women are not discussed in-depth as a distinctive minority and their narratives are absorbed into mainstream whiteness. This paper will emphasize the intersection of religious, cultural, and ethnic identity and health activism among Jewish women and expand scholarly discussion on the impact of Jewishness on activists’ motivations. The dedication and numerical representation of Jewish women in the women’s health movement points to more than coincidence; I suggest there is a link between understandings of Jewishness and an individual’s activist behavior. Drawing on oral histories and personal papers, the voices of Jewish women are at the forefront in this piece. Though Jewish identities can be infinitely complex, intersectional and interdisciplinary methods provide a framework to explore diverse minority identities as they influence and motivate feminist activism.

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Mar 31st, 3:30 PM Mar 31st, 4:45 PM

Activist Bodies, Jewish Identities: Profiles of Jewish American Feminists in the Women’s Health Movement, 1968-Present

Room 221, DiGiorgio Campus Center (DiGs)

In the late 1960s, the women’s health movement in the United States emerged from the women’s movement with the understanding that healthcare can be a site of gendered oppression as well as self-liberation and empowerment. Prominent among the founders of this movement were Jewish American women who arrived at gender and health consciousness through their experiences as patients and as Jews. Moving into the new millennium, Jewish women continue their work on behalf of patient rights and health education. However, within histories of health activism, Jewish women are not discussed in-depth as a distinctive minority and their narratives are absorbed into mainstream whiteness. This paper will emphasize the intersection of religious, cultural, and ethnic identity and health activism among Jewish women and expand scholarly discussion on the impact of Jewishness on activists’ motivations. The dedication and numerical representation of Jewish women in the women’s health movement points to more than coincidence; I suggest there is a link between understandings of Jewishness and an individual’s activist behavior. Drawing on oral histories and personal papers, the voices of Jewish women are at the forefront in this piece. Though Jewish identities can be infinitely complex, intersectional and interdisciplinary methods provide a framework to explore diverse minority identities as they influence and motivate feminist activism.