Feminism | Posted by Shira and Dina on 02/1/2010

Coming of Age

Source: Rachel Papo, “Hanging Out on the Weekend.” 2005.

Source: Rachel Papo, “Hanging Out on the Weekend.” 2005.

I have always thought the Jewish coming of age ritual for a girl was a Bat Mitzvah, the grasp of the Torah in ceremoniously manicured hands a rite of passage. Rachel Papo’s photographs show me that the coming of age for Jewish women in another hemisphere is the army, the positioning of a weapon in expecting hands a passage to a nationality that overrides patriarchal assumptions of femininity.

The United States military continues to be dominated by men. Masculinity continues to be conflated with violence and weaponry with notoriously phallic connotations. Maybe because of their minority status (women make up 20 percent of the US armed forces) and maybe because of the rampant macho-ism army institutions promote, one in three

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