Extremist Modesty – Part 1

Have you ever read a news article that just rooted you to your seat and left you slack jawed in awe and/or horror? That was exactly the experience I had upon reading this recent piece in Haaretz (care of twitter).

There are so many things I need to say, but despite having read it ten times in the past few days, I am still at a loss for words.  So for now, I’m just going to put it out there for you all to read and I will be back later with some attempts at expressing my reaction.

For the long time readers, I’m sure you’ll notice the parts which drew the most outrage from me without my even having to comment.

Let me know your initial thoughts….

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4 thoughts on “Extremist Modesty – Part 1

  1. I don’t really know what to say. I don’t understand the thinking here but it prevails in many different communities. It really has nothing to do with women or modesty.

  2. I live in Jerusalem and work close to Geula, a haredi area. Last year as I walked toward Geula I was horrified to see a small group of women wearing all black, with their heads and most of their faces covered with a heavy black cloak. They had to lift up the piece hanging over their face from time to time so they could see where they were going. Their dresses were loose, many layered so the skirts almost flounced around their legs. I saw one – and only one – walking “with” a man I assumed was her husband. She and their daughters, who were not veiled but were wearing black “flouncy” long dresses, walked several steps behind the son and husband (who were both dressed in the usual haredi fashion). It was a nauseating sight, to say the least.

  3. I don’t think any of us would argue the extremism of the custom itself, and whether or not it’s assur or mutar doesn’t seem to me to be the point. I think the most fascinating point that the article made was that this is coming from women who are internalizing messages of inferiority. Having been in a variety of sects, ranging from beis yaakov to chassidish to MO, I think that feeling is everywhere. Ultra orthodox fights against feminism and empowerment for fear that it will corrupt their women but the opposite extreme is taking hold. They’re putting clothes on instead of taking them off- they’re not breastfeeding their male babies which is crazy. But I think it’s really logical. They’re reacting to secular media that allows men to have no self control and tells women they need to trick men into caring. And then there’s the religious perspective that’s saying a lot of the same things in different ways. I think whatever sect we live in we need to begin addressing what we do that supports those messages which are really against the halacha and hashkafa of Judaism. How are we raising our own daughters and how do we end this complex environment of inferiority and stop making women feel like they need to apologize for being women.

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