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The Big Jewcy: Amy Klein – Titus Andronicus

You might know Amy Klein from her time in punk smartypants band, Titus Andronicus, where she shreds on guitar and violin.  Or maybe you know her from Brooklyn-based feminist group, Permanent Wave, where she recently helped organize a protest against the acquittal of NYPD’s rape cops.  There’s even a chance you know her because you’re involved with the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls, where Amy is a member of their 2011 Think Tank.

Regardless of how you get there, Amy Klein is worth knowing.  She is quickly emerging as a role model for young girls in a time when it feels as if people like Amy no longer exist, and the fact that she’s also Jewish makes it that much sweeter.  Young Israel is telling women they can’t be President of the Board, but it shouldn’t worry you too much, because Amy and her contemporaries (of which there are few) are creating their own groups outside of the conventionally accepted Jewish or cisgendered institutions that are inclusive, self-aware, and more importantly, tuned into the needs of today’s youth.

When we met in person, I tried not to fawn over her, but of course I ended up dwelling on Amy’s stellar 2010 article for Flavorpill where she scolds Rolling Stone for excluding women from rock and roll.  In the process of writing that article, she reveals that it was girls like Liz Phair and Bikini Kill that inspired her as a kid–exactly the kind of role models that seem to be in short supply today.

I asked Amy for her top 5 Jewish lady role models, and this is her list, in no particular order:

Emma Goldman
Susan Sontag
Misc. female relatives
Sara Marcus (another Big Jewcy!)
Anne Frank
Honorable mention: Adrienne Rich
Honorable mention: Mindy Abovitz of Tom Tom Magazine. (Check out our interview with Mindy.)

It’s nice to see such a diverse mix–writers, political activists, poets and drummers–made by someone with such a diverse set of interests.  When I looked for some of the more typical markings of a Jewish upbringing, I found a history more along the lines of what you’d expect from a radical lady like Amy:  she graduated from Secular Humanist Hebrew school, she wants to have Iggy Pop at her Seder and her great-grandfather took piano lessons from “King of Ragtime” Scott Joplin.  Considering that most of us barely got out of Socialist summer camp alive, it’s hard not to be impressed.

Not that I’m surprised–when it comes to Amy Klein, she’s anything but ordinary.  Read her empowering take on rock and roll, gender inequality and most everything else here.

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