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Ostensibly, it's a personal story. In practice, "Someone to Love," Zippi Brand's interesting TV series documenting the lives of three young single women (and Brand herself), is a sad comment on the bankruptcy of feminism in Israel.

These women, all of them living where the action is in Tel Aviv, are mortified and disappointed with the divergence between the dazzling image of the self-confident, liberated single woman they tried to sell, and their loneliness, hunger for love and longing for a man to lean on. Even worse is the way this dependence defines who they are.

Without a man, which is to say, a husband, they feel their identity as women is hazy and vulnerable. No matter how much effort went into building the careers and social success that made them who they are, all it takes is one comment from the outside - "So when will it be your turn?" or "What, don't you want kids?" - for the whole thing to collapse.

While the gutsy single woman of the late 1990s announced that she wasn't ready to commit, hated conventional frameworks, and hopped, like a man, from bed to bed, the single woman at the end of 2002 believes that guts means weeping in front of the camera and confessing that her life is not a life without love.

There is no reason to laugh at these candid young women. On the contrary. They deserve to be treated seriously. But we can be frank with them, too: Girls, you've got it all wrong. The shallow, phony image of the liberated single woman was not based on free choice but on a hollow imitation of the male stereotype. The trouble is that this imitation, in all its pitifulness, has been portrayed here in recent years as the preferred model of feminism.

Instead of cultivating serious feminist discourse and accentuating the fight for equality between men and women in various spheres - wages, subsidization of childcare, marriage and divorce laws, etc. - a discourse founded on gossip columns and celebrity news has elbowed its way to the forefront. While several (important) legislative initiatives on the subject of sexual harassment and job equality may have achieved a wider audience as a result of all the noise, this discourse has created the silly illusion that all girls, unlike their Polish mothers, are liberated young things because they live alone, like to party and think that marriage is for the birds and children are yucky. This discourse glorified young women who write about wild sex, blindly quoted lecturers from the ghetto of academic gender studies, and almost convinced us that feminism in Israel has triumphed.

But look at Sweden, for example, where 50 percent of the children born in the last few years were born to single mothers. In socio-economic status, these women are no different from anyone else. In Israel, apart from exceptional cases, "single-parenthood" is a synonym for hopeless misery in a society that continues to sanctify family above all else.

On Sabbath morning a few weeks ago, a handful of courageous and intelligent women dared to leave their places in the women's section of the synagogue in Tekoa and march into the men's section, threatening with excommunication a fellow worshiper who refused to give his wife a divorce (the men walked out with them, leaving the recalcitrant husband alone). But the gossip columns of the local papers are mainly interested in who is finally tying the knot and who, poor thing, got dumped.

This rowdy PR-type discourse has turned feminism, which is meant to be part of a comprehensive social revolution in which men and women take an equal part, into a glitzy fashion accessory that never actually covers the conservative pin-stripe suit underneath. And since the promoters of this discourse - male and female - are plugged into everything that is happening in America, the post-feminist wave sweeping that country at the moment, as evidenced in popular literature and TV, has also reached our shores and been copied immediately.

Thus, like every idea of social liberation that has come our way, feminism, the most important liberation movement of the 20th century, never stood a fighting chance in Israel. Its place was usurped by fake instant feminism. Before we have had a chance to seriously discuss the profound impact of the revolutionary changes in the status of women on relations between the sexes, women are already choosing to withdraw to a position of victimhood, drenched in tears of disappointment. Even more than their mothers before them, they are accepting the verdict, submissively and bitterly regarding themselves as flawed merchandise.