Two days ago a woman was stoned because some boy decided she was dressed immodestly. This type of behaviour shouldn’t surprise us when there is an overall acceptance for the fact that women’s modesty is men’s business.
Two days ago a woman was “lightly injured” after a boy threw a rock at her for dressing “immodestly.” And while violence against women and girls for immodest dress is not new, I don’t think we can be angry at the Ultra-Orthodox for this deviant behaviour. We need to be angry with ourselves and we need to be doing something about it.
Modesty and Women in Modern Israel
In the modern state of Israel, women are in fact autonomous beings. But even in this day and age there are still issues of modesty that come up again and again.
Like when men refuse to sit beside women on planes or buses.
Or when soldiers walk out of a military ceremony because a woman is singing.
Like when women sit at the back of public transportation buses.
Or when women are banned from joining certain political parties.
Like when young women serving in the army are verbally attacked in a pre-army academy.
Or when Knesset aides are barred for entering the Knesset because someone thinks their skirts are too short.
Like when there are separate entrances for men and women to a state-run medical clinic.
Or when Smurfette disappears from billboards for reasons of modesty.
Modesty – the problem isn’t with women
The vast majority of the examples I have brought, have more to do with Israeli society’s acceptance of modesty norms than with the Ultra-Orthodox behaviour.
As a society we’ve steered ourselves in the wrong direction. By making modesty a constant issue, we have weakened women and we continue to weaken them.
The concept of modesty hurts women so much because it has no limits. A woman can always be more modest. Ever heard of Taliban women? The Jewish ones?
Let’s get one thing straight, the problem isn’t with the women. The problem is with the men who are constantly demanding that women be more modest.
And yes I’ve heard the apologetic argument that men are so weak that women must help them by being modest. I don’t buy it. Men made those rules. And most men I know are not sickos and they’re not obsessed with what women are wearing.
But if some men are so weak that they can’t control themselves, they can stay home. Or they can also check themselves into an asylum for sickos and they can leave the rest of us alone.
Fundamentalist loonies do not represent Orthodox people
I’m an Orthodox woman and there is an army of Orthodox women and men who agree that fundamentalist loonies and their anti-halakhic behaviour does not represent Orthodox people or our religious practice. And as a society we must stop thinking that they do.
Moreover, as a society we must stop accepting calls for more modest dress. We must stop accepting that billboards are being vandalized because they have women on them. And we have to stop tolerating governmental sanctioned segregation. And that includes political parties.
If there are political parties that ban women, per definition they shouldn’t be allowed to run for Knesset.
Because it’s hurting us. All of us. Not just women, but our entire society.