Jazz and I have finished reading A.J. Jacobs' book "Year of Living Biblically." (Hi A.J., if you're still googling your name on a regular basis).
Jazz flatters me by thinking I am a great writer, and he is usually good at coming up with ideas for me to write a book about. Some things, I'm not particularly keen on, but others are intriguing. He thinks this book ought to have a female counterpoint. With a woman trying live for a year biblically. What flashes through my mind is a much of the cleanliness issues and the rampant sexism. A woman living biblically will have a tougher time of it in our culture. We aren't designed any more as a culture to have a woman be unclean for 10 days a month. And the unclean length of time varies with "how to be purified after"- there was one temple bath I remember seeing on a documentary of this was the bath where women came at the end of their uncleanliness and came to be cleaned and blessed, before they could go back to their lives. They did no work while unclean- no cooking, no cleaning, and set themselves apart. While I've had Jazz's cooking (and he's pretty good), I don't think separating myself like that would be good for our relationship or my mental health. Since I work from home anyway, it would have little impact on my job as it is. Yet I can see the look of horror and disgust on friends' faces when I explain why I'm skipping a casual gathering of friends, even if it's just women.
I am no muslim, but I have often talked of taking the veil and I've thought long about the social implications of this. The original Hadith reads, as my understanding of it, as "Do not dress in a manner to attract attention to yourself." This can mean dress modestly and non-revealing fashion- just like everyone else (and indeed, this is what my dearest muslim friend does, as it does not draw attention to her like a head scarf would in rural upstate NY), or cover your hair and throat modestly, or wear the full burka leaving nothing visible at all. Personally, I find the full coverage to be more lurid- that flash of eye, the glimpse of an ankle or a hand can be more sensual than some bimbo in a string bikini- it leaves room for the imagination to take over, and that's the more dangerous animal. This is, of course, all moot when living biblically, because it's a *hadith*- part of the Muslim tradition. Or is it? Most orthodoxies will have some form of hair covering for modesty. Since I like hats, I'm all for it.
This is a subject I may research out of my own comfort and interest, but I know I would not manage to live a year biblically. My inner feminist cringes at much of it. Yet also, I know at the root of some of the biblical things- it's not as sexist as some of the fundamentalists make it. "Submit to your husband" is often quoted, but I've also felt this misinterpreted. And "Be fruitful and multiply" will be outright ignored in this household. We add pets when we can afford them. That's good enough for us- as we are stewards of all the animals of the earth, and I do what I can for our pack.
It's a good book, with food for thought. I recommend it.