Frankly Fem­i­nist

  • Review
By – October 3, 2022

In Judaism, women’s voic­es have not always been ampli­fied. The same could be said for the gen­er­al lit­er­ary world as well. When their voic­es have been includ­ed, only those deemed accept­able” are high­light­ed. And too often, these voic­es start to echo each oth­er in homo­gene­ity. Not so in Frankly Fem­i­nist, which is a col­lec­tion of short sto­ries pub­lished in Lilith mag­a­zine since 1976.

The sto­ries in this col­lec­tion are bro­ken down into var­i­ous sec­tions: Tran­si­tions, Inti­ma­cies, Trans­gres­sions, War, Body and Soul, and To Belong. While the con­nec­tions or com­mon threads between the sto­ries in each sec­tion aren’t always clear and it can some­times feel dis­joint­ed, the sto­ries them­selves are pow­er­hous­es of prose.

In Michal Lemberger’s Lot’s Wife,” the Bib­li­cal woman does every­thing in her pow­er to watch out for her daugh­ters, patri­ar­chal wrath be damned. Ilene Ray­mond Rush’s sto­ry Bound­aries” explores Lily’s resent­ment and dev­as­ta­tion at the news that not only is her daugh­ter get­ting mar­ried the fol­low­ing month at age twen­ty-three, but that Lily’s ex-hus­band was told the news first. Amy Gottlieb’s Work­ing the Mik­vah” brings an inti­mate look to what hap­pens in a mik­vah, the sto­ries and secrets it can hold.

These are sto­ries about fam­i­ly, about loss, about sex and love, dying and birth, reli­gion and spir­i­tu­al­i­ty. They are about belong­ing and not, Jew­ish and sec­u­lar, and all have a fem­i­nist per­spec­tive. They span decades and con­ti­nents, and the voic­es are so var­ied that at times, it can be overwhelming.

How­ev­er, the edi­tors acknowl­edge that the fic­tion pub­lished in this anthol­o­gy does lack a cer­tain ele­ment of diver­si­ty. It’s not­ed that this is because the sto­ries start­ed being sub­mit­ted in 1976, Still, this is an impor­tant and beau­ti­ful­ly curat­ed col­lec­tion of short sto­ries. One hopes that if and when a sec­ond vol­ume is pub­lished, it will include a broad­er range of voices.

Jaime Hern­don is a med­ical writer who also writes about par­ent­ing and pop cul­ture in her spare time. Her writ­ing can be seen on Kveller, Undark, Book Riot, and more. When she’s not work­ing or home­school­ing, she’s at work on an essay collection.

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