Monday, May 09, 2011

More ultra-Orthodox sexism

One of the facially attractive rationales for maintaining our military operations in Afghanistan at one time was the way women are oppressed under Islam. I'm actually prepared to accept that women are severely oppressed under conservative forms of Islam, but Islam is by no means alone in this respect.

Today I'm focusing on another example of sexual oppression under extremely conservative Judaism. We have addressed this issue once before just over two years ago when an ultra-Orthodox newspaper in Israel deleted two women from a photograph of the Israeli cabinet.

Today it's happening in the United States.

The picture at the top of this diary is one you've undoubtedly seen dozens of times. It shows President Obama's national security staff watching the feed of the bin Laden attack. You will note Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and counterterrorism expert Audrey Thomasen in this gathering.

The second picture is Der Zeitung, a Brooklyn based Hasidic newspaper. Abracadabra, no women!

The stated rationale is familiar: any depiction of women in the newspaper runs the risk of being sexually suggestive.

When we hear fundamentalist Muslims say this we know that this is a transparent ploy to maintain women's oppression by preventing them from participating in the public life of their culture. After all, if women are virtual prisoners in their own homes, allowed to be seen in public only at the whim of a male relative, men have no reason to fear being supplanted by women in positions of power.

Is there any doubt that the true reason is the same here?

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