Kolech: Jewish Woman's Voice
Discussing Haredi men forcing women on El Al flights to relocate their seats, in order to accomodate the Haredi misogyny.
In fact, the flight attendants were reluctantly complicit in this:
I [the author] went to speak to the flight attendants, who were anxiously huddling as they observed the haredi men. "I have never felt like this on a flight," I said, "like I’m a woman and therefore I shouldn’t really be here."
"Imagine how I feel," said one of the women. "I have to serve them."
"We agree with you," said the second. "But what can we do? It’s our job to make every passenger comfortable. If this is what they want, we have to accommodate them. We have to do it."
"No you don’t," I countered. "You can tell your supervisors that this is NOT a legitimate policy."
It is NOT a legitimate request. In fact, El Al needs to understand that women’s basic need not to be slighted and insulted are part of the mission of "making everyone comfortable." Imagine how these haredi men would react if they were asked to move because some white supremacist on the plane was "uncomfortable sitting next to a Jew." Would that be a legitimate request? Would the flight attendants rush to ask Jews to move in order to accommodate a racist request? I highly doubt it. That would not be considered a legitimate request. So why is it legitimate to ask the same thing of women? Why is it still okay to say to our faces, "Women, you need to make yourselves scarce."? Why are women the last ones to be granted the most basic forms of human dignity?
Unfortunately, I suspect El Al is motivated by financial incentives, i.e. the Haredim would boycott were El Al to refuse them.
Separation of the sexes -- violent and extreme
Kolech: Jewish Woman's Voice
Continuing the discussion of sexual discrimination and segregation in Israel.
Although the notion of “separate but equal” was formally dismissed in the United States back in the 1950s under the understanding that separate is not equal, the concept still retains a fiercely resistant presence in certain sectors of Israeli society. I am referring not to racial but rather to gender segregation, particularly in the Jewish ultra-Orthodox segments of society, much of which has spilled over into public spaces as well.
These practices are often justified on grounds of maintaining sexual “propriety,” but I submit that there is more at stake here. These are not expressions of sexual abstinence but of the removal of the female from the public sphere, and from the “male” world. It is about men creating a space free of all women and girls, as if women and girls are contaminated, dirty, evil, sinful, and threatening to “society” – read, men.
This legitimization of violence against women who are perceived to be in violation of sexual norms follows a moral logic almost identical to those of honor killings in the Arab world. According to the reasoning underlying this behavior, a woman’s body is a form of public property – seen, viewed and observed by men on the street whose needs vis a vis this body must be fully adhered to. Women, whose spirit and person is completely absent from this reasoning, are perhaps responsible from protecting (male) members of the public from the sinfulness of seeing these bodies improperly displayed or presented – that is, until their failure to properly care for this “public property” revokes their responsibility for this task. Thus, when a body is seen as improper in dress or behavior, the body becomes property of the “community”, which is then charged with “correcting” the violation using any means necessary and available. Beating up another human being may against the Torah as well as the Western moral code, but it is deemed legitimate in this correction of female bodily incorrectness. Since the modesty patrol sees itself as free of already absolved itself from Jewish law in the face of a perceived non-normative female body, it is only a moral hop, skip, and jump away from the taking of a life. Given recent events and their surrounding rhetoric, such a possibility is no doubt on the horizon.
I was especially flabbergasted and disgusted by the following:
Perhaps most disconcerting is the support some of these behaviors receive from an unlikely source: secular, liberal Israelis. “This is their culture,” some have argued. “The Orthodox have the right not to have their cultural practices infringed upon.” This argument was heard most vociferously around the gay march riots. “You can’t blame the Orthodox,” an acquaintance of mine argued, to my horror. “The gays are offensive to their entire way of life.” The invocation of cultural relativism to support dictates that are culturally absolute is a terrible distortion of notions of freedom and liberty. The gays – or women, or non-Orthodox citizens – are not infringing on anyone, but merely living their life. The ones who “infringe” are those who use violence and abuse to “correct” public displays of gender.For the left, staunch and dearly-held values are apparently out, and valueless moral relativism is in.