Well, I’m back from 3 days of R & R in the Red Sea.

I’d never been to Eilat before, and it was pretty much what I expected: a lot of the trappings of Standard Resort-Type Place (cheezy boardwalk, rum company logos on awnings, lots and lots and oh lots of techno blaring everywhere), but done Israeli style (soliders on leave instead of college kids on spring break, lots of families, some kosher eats). Except for the techno, really, I had a great time. There was relaxing, there was swimming, there was much snorkeling (Coral reefs! Sea anemones! Purple and orange fish! Clownfish! Silvery fish! Parrot fish! Sting rays! Pretty fishies! Green fishies! Lots of fishies!), there was a passionfruit margarita, there was much sunblock, there was much mellow.

And yes, I snorkled with Az Yashir Moshe in my head.

It was sickeningly hot and unbelievably humid, but even so–then you just go back into the water and everything’s OK. For three days, it was great. The hotel in which I was staying was pretty severely on the “budget” side of things, but it had a pool, which was awfully Shabbos-convenient.

On the first half of the trip I inhaled Ariel Levy’s Female Chauvanist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture, found, happily, in the big chain bookstore in Jerusalem. She talks about the ways in which the ultra-femme-ization of femalehood and the appropriation of male chauvanism (straight women attending strip clubs to be “one of the guys” is an easy example; she gives many better ones) are two sides of the same coin, both justified (and commercialized) with the language of “female empowerment.” About halfway through the book she started making analogies to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which I think is the heart of her argument and proof positive that she was nailing it. Ways to respond to the dominant culture: to mimic it, or to enact exactly what you think they want you to be. Though I think she glossed over some places where there should have been more nuance, and though she perhaps focused too heavily on some things at the expense of others, and though I wish she had talked about some other things—it was still a pretty fabulous book, entirely worthwhile. She wove together a bunch of different strands of things that have been happening in our culture with a pretty deft hand, was not afraid to say things that might sound “prudish” in today’s faux-liberated culture, and owned her feminism and feminist history.

Now I’m reading Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and it’s just freaking me out. Don’t tell me how it ends–I’m still working on it, just not to be read before bed. Ooooeeee.

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