It’s mid-July, easily 100-degrees Fahrenheit outside and I have spent several long, hot days with 39 other Jewish ‘kids’ from South Florida. Oy vey…
Tonight, we stay in the nicest hotel yet: Kfar Maccabiah in Tel Aviv, Israel. A group of eight Israeli soldiers and students (former soldiers) join our group for our final five days. They bring much needed insight into the lives of Israeli men and women between the ages of 20 and 26. They are peers from what seems like an alternate reality. They see more war, devastation and restriction than this group of privileged Floridians ever have or will. However, one thing remains the same… and unfortunately, it’s no surprise here.
As breakfast time approaches, far too early during our one night stay in Tel Aviv, I find myself at a table with S (initials will be used as to protect privacy), a 24 year- old Israeli intelligence agent, and E, a 26 year-old former American Marine.
How this 23 year-old, sleepy lesbian ended up here is anyone’s guess.
As coffee is inhaled and some Americans decide between lettuce and hummus for breakfast, S, E and myself strike up a conversation about an electric car factory we visited the previous day. The conversation goes something like this:
S: Electric cars are a big deal. A great improvement. Yada yada yada about the benefits of electric automobiles.
E: Yes, but they will never replace gasoline fueled cars because you won’t have the roaring engine or the same pickup. You get rid of the gusto (Ok, so E doesn’t really use the word gusto, but he should).
Me: I agree with E. What about throttle and fuel injection? You’ll never get the same feeling with electric batteries.
S: Did you just say fuel injection? You know you’re a girl, right?
And there it is. A look of bewilderment and astonishment because a girl just threw out some automotive vocabulary like she actually knew a little something about cars. Shocking!
My response includes a chuckle and acknowledgement of my gender. S goes on to explain how awesome he thinks my possession of this knowledge is, albeit basic vocab to many.
He says, “Women in Israel don’t talk about cars. They cannot change a tire; they cannot change their oil or water. If they get in the car and it turns on, everything is good. If not, they don’t know what to do.”
The statement hits me like sludgy Israeli coffee. Men and women will always be different, but are they too divided for their own good? There has got to be at least a handful of women in Israel who know a thing or two about automobiles.
Are women in Israel encouraged in some way to stay away from masculine hobbies and professions; or is this a generalization in the same way Americans claim women love shopping and men love sports?
The answer is both.
Part Two: How Religion Promotes Gender Bias