Unimpressed.

I was curious about this book until I saw this little gem by the author on Jewcy:

Whatever we say about women and men being equal now and tomorrow – I have three daughters who I want to see beat the world – throughout the whole human past, including the Jewish past, men and women have had different rules, different roles, different thoughts, and different lives.

Biology and common sense both tell us sex is something women have and men want. We can try as hard as we want to talk our way around this, but we can’t make it any less true–for the Jews or any other people.

But I’m sure your book is very smart. Jewish men? You guys have got a long way to go. (That goes for all you Gentile fellas, too.)

PS – So, when I feel aroused, is that really just the need to unload myself of all that pesky sex? Or maybe Judith Butler has just brainwashed me into imagining that I enjoy it.

Dang, think of the poor lesbians – so much sex and nowhere to put it.

UPDATE: The author has responded to a comment I left on the Jewcy post, defending what he wrote as “an exaggeration, but a useful one.”

(Cross-posted at Alas, A Blog.)

Edu-Dump

From the New York Times:

Prof. Marshall Grossman has come to expect complaints whenever he returns graded papers in his English classes at the University of Maryland.

“Many students come in with the conviction that they’ve worked hard and deserve a higher mark,” Professor Grossman said. “Some assert that they have never gotten a grade as low as this before.”

He attributes those complaints to his students’ sense of entitlement.

“I tell my classes that if they just do what they are supposed to do and meet the standard requirements, that they will earn a C,” he said. “That is the default grade. They see the default grade as an A.”

A recent study by researchers at the University of California, Irvine, found that a third of students surveyed said that they expected B’s just for attending lectures, and 40 percent said they deserved a B for completing the required reading.

James Hogge, associate dean of the Peabody School of Education at Vanderbilt University, said: “Students often confuse the level of effort with the quality of work. There is a mentality in students that ‘if I work hard, I deserve a high grade.’ “

In line with Dean Hogge’s observation are Professor Greenberger’s test results. Nearly two-thirds of the students surveyed said that if they explained to a professor that they were trying hard, that should be taken into account in their grade.

Jason Greenwood, a senior kinesiology major at the University of Maryland echoed that view.

“I think putting in a lot of effort should merit a high grade,” Mr. Greenwood said. “What else is there really than the effort that you put in?”

“If you put in all the effort you have and get a C, what is the point?” he added. “If someone goes to every class and reads every chapter in the book and does everything the teacher asks of them and more, then they should be getting an A like their effort deserves. If your maximum effort can only be average in a teacher’s mind, then something is wrong.”

What else is there really than the effort you put in? Well… you know, there’s the finished product. The one thing that I, the educator, actually see? But that’s inconsequential, right?

Here’s the bad news – I originally wrote a pretty detailed response to this article, including both my outraged reaction as an adjunct who has experienced this sort of behavior, and a more thoughtful response on how race and gender play into student entitlement. But I found I couldn’t write it without divulging details about past jobs. So no commentary for you!

Instead, here’s an education-themed tab dump (it’s been a fertile week at NYT):

The humanities continue to have to justify their existence to college administrators. The best justification, in my opinion: the humanities explore what it means to be a human being. It’s true that you don’t need to go to college to do that, but college would be a pretty barren place without it.

18 students have been suspended from NYU following a sit-in. The students were demanding, among other things, an annual reporting of the university’s operating budget and the right of TAs to organize. Oh, the horror.

Speaking of university labor and operating budgets, coaches, star faculty members, and administrators can make millions of dollars a year while adjuncts and TAs – you know, the people doing the actual teaching? – subsist on salaries as low as $4,000. (That last part’s not in the article – it’s the salary I received my first year as a TA, after tuition was deducted.)

(Cross-posted at Alas, A Blog.)

Shpil, Balalayke

While the feminist blogosphere devours its own innards, how about a little Yiddish folk music to take us into Shabbes? (Maybe at some point I’ll post my thoughts on the valid points and faulty logic in the Professor What If essay, but not today, my friends.)

I’m in a noisy coffee shop right now so I can’t attest to the quality of this version, but from what I can make out it seems pretty good. Legible lyrics and translation below the jump.


Continue reading

Q: What happens when a Jewish blogger doesn’t read Ha’aretz every day?

A: It takes her over a week to see this story:

A recent survey conducted by the Anti-Defamation League found that anti-Semitic attitudes in seven European countries have worsened due to the global financial crisis and Israel’s military actions against the Palestinians.

Some 31 percent of adults polled blame Jews in the financial industry for the economic meltdown, while 58 percent of respondents admitted that their opinion of Jews has worsened due to their criticism of Israel.

The ADL, a Jewish-American organization polled 3,500 adults – 500 each in Austria, France, Hungary, Poland, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom – between December 1, 2008 and January 13, 2009.

According to the survey, 40 percent of polled Europeans believe that Jews have an over-abundance of power in the business world. More than half of the respondents in Hungary, Spain and Poland agreed with this statement. These numbers were 7 percent higher in Hungary, 6 percent higher in Poland and 5 percent higher in France than those recorded in the ADL’s 2007 survey.

How much can we trust a survey put out by the ADL? Is this organization at all interested in documenting and challenging anti-Semitism? How much has it dissolved into a right-wing propaganda machine?

Because if almost a third of non-Jewish Europeans believe that Jews are controlling the world’s money, I’d kind of like to know that. But the ADL has rendered itself so irrelevant to actual Jewish concerns that I simply don’t know what to do with this information. What questions were on their survey? Whom exactly did they poll? What do they plan on doing with the results?

I do think Moshe Kantor has a point, though: the rise in anti-Semitism almost certainly has more to do with the financial situation than with the attack on Gaza. Most people in countries with significant Jewish populations don’t actually care about what happens in Palestine. (If they did, they’d spend more time trying to end the occupation and less time vandalizing synagogues.) It’s just easier to set up a binary – They Are Nothing Like Us! – when you point to the Jews with the guns.

What to do when you’re jobless

From Day to Day:

“Make really nice breakfasts. I mean, breakfast is one of the most underappreciated meals in the world…. So the first day you wake up after you’ve been laid off, go to the market, get nice fresh ingredients, and make yourself just the biggest, banginest breakfast you could ever imagine. Get a real paper, read it, and enjoy yourself, you know, because the reality is you can send a cover letter at 10 p.m. the same way you can at 10 a.m. So you might as well enjoy it.”

- John Henion, co-creator of unemploymentality.com

I know few jobs give you the severance package necessary for “the biggest, banginest breakfast you could ever imagine,” but I like the sentiment behind the advice. Check in with yourself. Make sure you’re all right. Your job shouldn’t be your identity.

UPDATE: Looking at what I wrote in this post, I feel like I still didn’t quite get at the privilege in the quote. I know this advice is probably only relevant to people with class privilege. I’ll leave it at that.

A banner day for Venezuela

Four days ago, a constitutional amendment passed by referendum eliminating term limits for Venezuelan politicians – specifically, the President, governors, mayors and deputy mayors. According to some news sources, as much as 20% of the Jewish community in Venezuela has already emigrated, and this was while term limits did at least exist. Now, since such limits have been removed and it looks very little like Chavez has real opposition, this might mean that there will be one more centuries-old Diaspora community diminished and depleted, another victim of scapegoating from a dictator looking to consolidate power, and the world of Jewish culture will be lesser for its loss. You could call this a premature requiem, I suppose, but it seems a little more like the writing is on the wall, since we’ve seen this so many times before.

“What is bad for the Jews is better for Zionism.”

This review originally appeared at Feministe. It’s taken me forever to haul it over here, as usual.

The Holocaust Is Over; We Must Rise From its Ashes by Avraham Burg
(Palgrave Macmillan)

When liberals and radicals discuss the occupation of Palestine, two soundbites tend to emerge: “How can Jews persecute Arabs when they themselves were persecuted? They know better!” and “It’s like when an abused child grows up to abuse their own children. It’s just something that happens.” There are elements of truth to both assertions, but each one shaves off so much of the complexity behind Israeli aggression that neither one is very useful in understanding how to end it. Auschwitz survivor Ruth Kluger, in her memoir Still Alive, addresses the idea that “Jews should know better” in a scene where she takes a group of university students to task for comparing Israel to the Nazis. “Auschwitz was no instructional institution,” she scolds them. “You learned nothing there, and least of all humanity and tolerance.” And it’s true. When you experience violence, you learn violence. The idea that genocide turns people into enlightened beings is preposterous.

However, the opposite assertion – that Israel is like an abused child – can be shallow and insulting. A human being operates on emotion and impulse just as much as logic and rationality; we forgive individuals for acting without thinking. A government, on the other hand, must be held to a higher standard. To say that Israel is just an abuser and that’s all there is to it is to give up on Israel’s capacity for good, and to give up on that is to dismiss the possibility of a Palestinian state and peace in the region.

Avraham Burg, former speaker of the Knesset, doesn’t flinch from the complex web of trauma, pride, anger, sadness, and paranoia that has led Israeli citizens to condone the slaughter of Palestinians. The Holocaust is Over; We Must Rise From Its Ashes doesn’t address the manipulation of Holocaust remembrance by Israeli and American politicians, the Christian Zionist movement, global anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim sentiment, or the other external factors that fuel Israel’s various military endeavors; instead, his half-memoir, half-polemic dissects the psychology behind Israel’s preference for violence over diplomacy, and makes the case for why Israel cannot achieve peace and stability until it stops seeing every threat as a potential Shoah. Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.