The negative impact of early marriage on girls’ psychosocial well-being is well documented in the literature, but little is known about the girls’ motivations and experiences within marriage. A phenomenological case study approach, combining artwork and semi-structured interviews, was used to investigate the motivations and experiences of early marriage among 10 engaged and married young Muslim women who married young in Israel. The findings regarding the engaged women point to their decision to use marriage as a way to fulfill their need for freedom, their wish to experience love in a culturally respectable frame, and to escape from poverty and from difficult family. Conversely, the married women’s narratives point to the heavy price and limited benefits of early marriage, in creating intense new problems and not providing relief from former problems. The regret over having not studied, intense loneliness, lack of money, and the search for a more respect-based marriage are predominant themes. The financial and social motivations for marriage found among the women studied suggest that in their decision to marry young, they were not passive victims of love or society but were rather taking an active pragmatic decision within the very limited options open to them.
Gueta, Keren, and Gila Chen. “‘I Wanted to Rebel, But There They Hit Me Even Harder’: Discourse Analysis of Israeli Women Offenders’ Accounts of Their Pathways to Substance Abuse and Crime.” International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology (early view; online first).
This study examined women offenders’ accounts of their pathways to substance abuse and crime and the intersection between them, to reach a holistic understanding that captures the dynamics of victimization, agency, and gender. Discourse analyses of the accounts of 11 Israeli women offenders indicated differential use of two discourses. Five participants used the victimization discourse, which viewed substance abuse as an attempt to medicate the self that was injured following victimization experiences; two used the agency discourse, which viewed substance abuse as a way to experience pleasure, leisure, and control over their destiny. Four of the participants used these two contradictory discourses simultaneously. The findings indicate the absence of a cultural discourse that encompasses women’s complex experience of gender, victimization, and agency. Possible implications for intervention are discussed.
Existing studies of the mother–daughter relationship have focused mainly on the transfer of negative body image messages or on risk of eating disorders, and have paid little attention to how this relationship might serve as a resource for building body-acceptance or resilience to disordered eating. On the basis of a secondary analysis of four qualitative samples, we examined how mothers and their now-adult daughters reflect on the ways in which the mothers tried to promote positive body image and resilience to body dissatisfaction in their daughters. Using a content analysis, we have identified five strategies: (a) filtering – being cautious and sensitive in communicating about body image issues, (b) transmitting awareness of the dangers of eating disorders, (c) positive reinforcement – providing affirmations in regard to daughters’ bodies; (d) discussion – providing tools for criticism of the dominant body-related social discourse; and (e) positivity – shifting the focus from food, body-size and weight loss to making healthy choices and taking pleasure in food. Identification of these strategies emphasizes the many potential avenues for growth and development inherent in mother–daughter relationships.
Lavie-Dinur, Amit, Yuval Karniel, and Tal Azran. “‘Bad Girls’: The Use of Gendered Media Frames in the Israeli Media’s Coverage of Israeli Female Political Criminals.” Journal of Gender Studies 24.3 (2015): 326-46.
The study examined news media coverage of Israeli female political criminals to determine how the media construct and portray women who commit ideological crimes against the state, ultimately to discern what these framing choices suggest about women involved in political crimes. Studies show that the media tend to rely on stereotypical gender frames to portray female criminals and their motivations to the public. These frames depict women perpetrators as motivated to commit political crime for personal reasons as opposed to political reasons, which are often cited for male criminal behavior. The study examined the Israeli news media’s use of stereotypical gender news frames when reporting on three Israeli women who committed ideological crimes against the state. The study compared the coverage of these cases among three Israeli newspapers representing different political affinities. As a country with a long history of political conflict, Israel offers a unique opportunity to examine gender bias in the media’s coverage of female actors in the public sphere. The study’s theoretical contribution lies in its analysis of Israeli female political criminals who, by definition of their crime, acted within the political sphere. The study confirms previous research on the subject – mainly that the media rely on gender frames and explanations of personal motive in its portrayals of female criminals.
This study explores how religious women become legitimate actors in the public sphere and analyzes their agency—its meanings, capacities, and transformative aims. It presents a novel case study of Israeli Modern-Orthodox Agunah activists who engage in highly politicized collective feminist resistance as religious actors working for religious ends. Embedded in and activated by Orthodoxy, they advocate women’s rights to divorce, voicing a moral critique of tradition and its agents precisely because they are devoutly devoted to them. Such political agency is innovatively conceptualized as “devoted resistance”: critique within relationship, enabled by cultural schema, and comprising both interpretive skills and “relational-autonomy” capacities. This study contends that understanding agency within religious grammars reveals its underlying logics, highlighting how structures shape the meanings and realization of women’s varied “agentive capacities.” It challenges current dichotomies like feminism/religion, resistance/submission, and autonomy/dependence. Overall, the author argues for a nuanced, culturally specific, capacity-based, relational approach to analyzing religious women’s agency.
Rosenberg-Friedman, Lilach. “National Mission, Feminine Identity and Female Leadership in a Mythical Masculine Organization: The Story of Ada Sereni, Head of the Mossad: The Story of Ada Sereni, Head of the Mossad Le’aliyah in Italy during the 1940s.” Women’s Studies 43.5 (2014): 589-618.
Before the establishment of the Mossad, Israel’s mythological secret service agency (formed in 1949), another secretive organization operated in the region. This organization, known as the Mossad Le’Aliyah Bet (henceforth the Mossad), was responsible for helping Holocaust survivors immigrate illegally to Palestine. Few people are aware that a woman, Ada Sereni, headed the organizations’ important Italian division from July 1945 to May 1948, an intense period during the struggle for the establishment of the State of Israel. This article seeks to present the characteristics of Ada Sereni’s actions, the new identity she developed during this period, and her complex leadership style.