Sunday, January 22, 2012

Covered and Disappeared

When I was in a train station in Tel Aviv recently, I stopped at a stall where books intended for religious audiences were being sold. One of the books was a guide for women about how to tie kerchiefs.

Curious, I decided to take a look... and was shocked to see that in every illustration, the woman’s face had been digitally altered. The backgrounds were real, the clothing was real, but the women’s faces were not. Apparently it is now considered unseemly to show even the face of a woman in a photograph. It must be digitally altered or blurred in order to be acceptable.

Here are two examples:

Covered and disappeared 2

Covered and disappeared

I will say again what I have been saying for years about the increasing strictures on the visibility of women in Jewish society here: it is not about modesty and has never been. It is about turf, power, control and entitlement. It is about one group of people forcing their restrictive view of Judaism on others, halakhic scholarship be damned (or, at the very least, severely distorted). It is unbalanced, unhealthy, dangerous and very frightening.