April 08, 2009

In Orthodox Judaism, Newspaper Reads You!

From The Guardian: Israeli papers brush women out of cabinet
Limor Livnat and Sofa Landver, the two [female] ministers, simply "disappeared" from a photograph of the new cabinet in the [ultra-orthodox] weekly newspaper Shaa Tova, with black holes visible in the spaces where they had been standing. Meanwhile, in the newspaper Yated Neeman, male cabinet members were blown up and superimposed on to the images of the two female ministers in the frame.

Shaa Tova told the Israeli daily newspaper Maariv: "Anyone who is acquainted with the ultra-orthodox press knows that from time immemorial, ultra-orthodox newspapers avoid publishing pictures of women."
"On the fifth day, God created censorship"?

The Beeb has the pictures, doctored and otherwise, and I have to say, the ultra-orthodox Jewry have some pretty incredible… Photoshop artists.

I suppose I should be outraged by this flagrant sexism and oppression of women, but to be honest I'm having trouble getting worked up about it. Like I said about that Outremont YMCA a few years ago, it's not as if the these ultra-orthodox Jews are actually imposing anything on anyone. Okay, so to us Secularised, Enlightened Liberals™ it might seem a little kooky to pretend that female politicians don't exist, but honestly, who reads ultra-orthodox Israeli newspapers except for the ultra-orthodox Israelis who already think that, anyway? My impression is that the ultra-orthodox Jewry actually go pretty far out of their way to make sure that they do keep their own values and beliefs to themselves, which, in the grand scheme of things, makes them about as dangerous as the Amish.

So why is everyone making such a big deal about this? To be honest, if the most horrific news to come out of Israel this week is a few scandalous Photoshops, that's fine with me.

Tomorrow: penis jokes!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"it's not as if the these ultra-orthodox Jews are actually imposing anything on anyone."

Would you not say that the papers are imposing an ideology on Orthodox women? Namely, that they shouldn't be represented. Sure, that's not *new*, as you pointed out, but that doesn't make it less bad. Pretending that women politicians don't exist has a straighforwardly normative effect, as you noted, so it's not unreasonable to consider this as reinforcing (in a particularly blatant way) an oppressive division of gendered roles.

Certainly there are other ways gendered roles are maintained on a daily level -- but perhaps what's attention-grabbing about this one is what it *means*: women should not be represented, and in fact they should be disenfranchised. That's a big deal for an Orthodox woman.

"My impression is that the ultra-orthodox Jewry actually go pretty far out of their way to make sure that they do keep their own values and beliefs to themselves"

Actually, most ultra-Orthodox groups practice some degree of proselytism among other Jewish groups. The Chabad are notable for this.

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