We all see it everywhere. Overly sexualized billboards, television programs, movies etc. The types of sexualized images and movie scenes that our parents would never have allowed us to see, are now everywhere for our children to see, right in the palm of their hands, on their smartphones, just a click away. Whether still images, movies or television programs, these over sexualized images of women are everywhere.
Modesty, in all forms, but especially modesty for women, is a very important concept in Judaism. Jewish Parents, schools and whole communities are struggling to properly deal with the hypersexualization of society today. Some solutions put in practice today by those concerned are the restriction of smartphones, the use of filters for smartphones and computers and others.
However, there is one solution that has gone to the totally opposite extreme, totally erasing all images of women everywhere, and that is being done by parts of the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities. But, the impact of this extreme solution is much greater and harmful than just not seeing images of women.
Even though the issue of modesty is important, this solution of erasing women pictures goes too far to the other extreme causing great harm to many women.
Shoshanna Keats-Jaskoll is an Orthodox woman on the frontline of this issue.
Shoshana needs our votes to help proceed with her important work. All we need to do is click to vote. They are up for a grant of $150K and they need our vote.
As Shira Sheps of the Layers project has wrote about this issue on facebook:
Jewish women are being erased.
We have been deleted from billboards, catalogs, newspapers, magazines, political ads, simcha invitations, and more.
They claim the reason is to maintain, “A level of modesty” that has become fully extreme.
These attempts have only done the opposite. Jewish women are now so hyper-sexualized, that we don’t even see pictures of our little girls in ads for shabbos clothes. A woman that is honored alongside her husband at a school dinner, is erased from the invite. Female business owners who are being interviewed in a magazine are not allowed to include a headshot as their male counterparts can.
In certain parts of the Jewish community, we’ve become like ghosts. A shadow of existence in the public sphere. Limited contributions to leadership. Constant reminders that women are seen as secondary, under the guise of being preserved.
Like the fragile wedding dress you have packed away in the attic.
When women are erased, our losses are incalculable.
If you think that this is purely a problem of someone else’s community- you forget how we all are connected. I have watched this issue bleed into the corners of many spaces, and if we don’t stand up and stand for something, not just against something, we will lose the value of “kavod habriot” that we keep sacred.
We have an opportunity right now.
Chochmat Nashim חכמת נשים is in the running to win a grant to create an incredible conference that will bring Jewish leaders together to talk about these issues. To come to the table and listen to the women who are standing up and saying, that THIS IS NOT OK.
So far, all we have been able to do has been limited. We talk amongst each other about how it makes us feel. We stop reading magazines, newspapers that refuse to show women, because they are placating their advertisers. We keep taking pictures of each other and posting them for the world to see how whole, holy, and capable we are.
Mainly we just watch in horror as time and time again we see women being erased.
Right now, we have a chance to do something that will make a difference.
Chochmat Nashim needs as many votes as we can muster, so they can win this grant and begin a real conversation about what our values are and how we can preserve them. How we can protect the dignity of our daughters and our mothers, by giving them the space and respect they deserve. By modeling for our sons how to treat women like partners, as opposed to relegating them to sexual objects that are too shameful to be viewed.
We are all better than that.
Vote right now, and when you do, comment in the thread beneath and tell us that you are with us. Tell us that you are voting to give Jewish women a voice and what that means to you.
To our female and male readers: please share this post, to let your community of both men and women know, that we will not accept this as our new reality.
We need to stand up for each other more than ever.