I am told a profile posted on "Frumster" (the major Orthodox dating site) (or any other dating site, Jewish or not) without a decent picture gets very few views.--- "MiMedinat HaYam" commenting here
I have heard this as well - heck, Frumster themselves will tell you it - but I still don't comprehend it.
Whenever I've ever used online dating, I've systematically gone through every profile that met my search parameters. The reason is obvious: any one of the women who meet my parameters could potentially be the perfect woman for me! So what difference does it make what she looks like? How will skipping unattractive pictures or profiles without pictures at all help me find the woman who's right for me? Statistically, any one of the women - attractive or not - could be "the one".
So what's the logic in cherry-picking profiles to look at, rather than - as I do - systematically looking at every profile that meets the search parameters?
Am I missing something? It isn't cherry-picking for the sake of attractiveness that stymies me - it's cherry-picking period that I don't understand. Why would anyone cherry-pick from the profiles based on any criterion?
In The Goyls Next Door, Jessica Pauline writes, inter alia,
Looking into our history and culture, it doesn't take much digging to speculate about the root of our [viz. Judaism's] unease with exhibitionism, or nudity for any reason besides procreation or showering. In the strictest branch of our religion [Judaism], a woman's sexuality is literally hidden from everyone but her husband. It hearkens back to the notion that men will be too tempted to control themselves when confronted with female sexuality (ahem, Adam), and so it's the woman's job to cover up -- which frankly doesn't give much credit to women or men.I personally fail to see how porn isn't demeaning to women. Essentially, the idea of porn is: women are nothing but sexual objects, so let's put them on display. Porn is a lot like the zoo, except in print rather than behind cages.
Additionally, typical antiporn arguments...rely heavily on the notion of respect, or lack thereof, for women. Porn results in men respecting women less, society as a whole repsecting women less, and women respecting themselves less...in short, the complete undoing of everything feminism has accomplished to date.
But I would argue exactly the opposite. What is disrespectful is assuming that women who pose for porn magazines don't know what's best for themselves. What is disrespectful is analyzing porn only from the point of view of the consumer, thereby taking away the voice of the subjects, and all the while arguing that porn takes women's voices away. And what is disrespectful is relying solely on stereotypes to understand the decisions a woman makes.
I’m disheartened, friends. I’ve always liked to think of Judaism as slightly more open-minded, but apparently we’re just another organized religion frantically waving our moral compass over the heads of our congregations (particularly, of course, our young women), and while we like to couch our panic in intellectual discourse, it seems we’re really no better than all the rest.
The whole point of tzeniut is to avoid representing oneself as an object, and/or to avoid seeing others as objects. (Rabbi Marc Angel's Losing the Rat Race, Winning at Life excellently makes this point, using Buber's I-Thou relationship as his springboard; we are to relate to others as "Thou"s, not as objects. For a more involved psycho-philosophical exposition of this thesis, see Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Berkovits's "A Jewish Sexual Ethics" in Crisis and Faith and in Essential Essays on Judaism (ed. Hazony). Berkovits's thesis is that Judaism aims at redeeming sexuality from animality, and instead investing it with humanity and personality. The climax of his essay is when he brings the famous Talmudic aggadah about the yeshiva student who visits a prostitute and gets slapped in the face by his tzitzit. Rabbi Berkovits notes that initially, the man and the woman are referred to as "the man", "the woman", in third-person. (For example, the man journeyed to "the prostitute", and the prostitute's secretary/bouncer called out to her, "the man who paid 200 zuz is here", etc.) It is only when his tzitzit slap him in the face and he and she descend from the bed and refrain from sex, do they begin to refer to each other as "you", as human personalities with biopsychic/psychosomatic reality, i.e. with body and soul. Cf. Tamar Biala in To Teach Tsni’ut with Tsni’ut: On Educating for Tsni`ut in National-Religious Schools:
Again, instead of confining the conversation to strategies for confronting the sexual impulse (regarded as threatening and uncontrollable), we sought to focus on strengthening the sense that one is capable of maintaining human relationships with another person to whom one is not married. In contrast to seeing the other primarily as a sexual object, we tried to emphasize the concepts of personality, soul, and self-control. ... Observance of sexual tsni`ut is part of the demand that one conduct oneself with tsni`ut in all aspects of one’s life in this world. As we have seen in the various sources, there exists in every one of us an impulse to see the man or woman standing before us as a sexual object; and there sometimes exists an impulse to present ourselves to the man or woman before us as entirely or primarily a sexual object. The sexual component of our selves is important and blessed, but we must take care not to place it alone at center stage in the connections we form with others. Connections of that sort constitute “objectification” (that is, they involve seeing the other or presenting ourselves exclusively as a sexual object) and disregard the full range of the personality of one created in the image of God. Sexual tsni`ut, accordingly, does not mean nullifying or even weakening the sexual impulse; rather, it means assigning it its balanced place within the full scope of our existence as human beings.Rabbi Berkovits also makes the crucial point that a human can never be a healthy animal, for even to consciously desire to be a healthy animal is something an animal cannot do. A human has both body and soul, and there is nothing one can do about it. Thus, one can either be a healthy human who appreciates his or her full biopsychic/psychosomatic/body-soul reality and that of others as well, or one can be an unhealthy human who vainly attempts the impossible task of becoming a healthy animal.)
In short: pornography exhibits women as being nothing but bodies, and reduces them to the level of animals. Like I said, the only other thing we put on display is animals in the zoo.
Another point: even those men who themselves look at porn, they would never suffer their daughters to be published in porn. Adam Carolla, on The Man Show put it well: every man fantasizes about having a loose scantily-clad girlfriend, but no man would ever actually want such a girlfriend in real life. Why? (The following is me, not Carolla.) Because he wants someone reliable and trustworthy. Every time a woman dresses scantily, she is selling herself short, because she (whether intentionally or not) is telling the other men that she is personality-less meat on display. Every man, when seeking out a real intimate relationship, will forgo the scantily-clad women, and will go for the woman he perceives as being wholesome and reliable and possessing of real personality and humanity, viz. the woman dressed modestly. Behind every woman who dresses immodestly is the lack of a father who taught her what men really think (see Dave Chappelle's What Men Want).
Therefore, even the men who look at porn, would be aghast and heartbroken if their own daughters were to be published in pornographic venues. (That is, assuming they actually respect women. In Hitch, a sexist pervert comes to Will Smith (who plays a "date doctor") to help him have sex with a certain woman. Will Smith replies that he only works with men who "actually like women", and the pervert replies, "Let me make one thing clear to you, rabbi...".)
Don't get me wrong; I'm not advocating that we seal up women in their homes as sexual objects. Just the opposite! In fact, the Haredim themselves are the most egregious violators of the ideals of tzeniut! For the object of tzeniut is that women present themselves as full humans, and that men appreciate the women as being more than just bodies. But Haredi tzniut hypersexualizes men and women, making women out to be nothing but sexual objects, and making men out to be nothing but seekers of sex. I prefer what (Orthodox) Rabbi Avraham Shamma says in Kol b’Isha with a Current Perspective:
If a person asks what the meaning is for us in our times of the ruling to "distance oneself from women very, very much", as the Shulhan Arukh rules, I would answer and say that if I were asked to express this [ruling] in a form that is relevant to our times, I would say thus: 'Women and men should behave in a manner that reflects great respect for one another; they should not consider one another in a crude manner such as sexual objects; they should not dress provocatively, nor should their body language be provocative; they should not digress to intimate conversations and they should not exaggerate their physical closeness when having a discussion, or the like; the wise person has his eyes in his head and not find loopholes in the Tora, but should know that no two situations are exactly alike and therefore should use good judgment with integrity and honesty, because the essence of these laws is not to observe them literally and formally, but rather their purpose is to improve society.' It was my intent at the outset to phrase my words in egalitarian language, addressing men and woman equally, [language that does] not objectify women or men: women are not defined as [objects of] lewdness nor are men [defined] as male animalistic or chemical creatures that are pheromonally attracted, without control, to females. Rather, the definition [of men and women that I suggest] recognizes their self-control and demands of them behavioral standards. Even more, this formulation does not attempt to 'defend the purity of men' at the cost of hiding the women and covering them.
Cf. Tamar Biala in To Teach Tsni’ut with Tsni’ut: On Educating for Tsni`ut in National-Religious Schools:
The conduct of “normal” activity in which men and women share the same physical spaces requires a degree of tsni`ut, and we tried to clarify that the tsni`ut is the responsibility of the one who is “looking” and not of his or her object. In doing so, we made use of halakhot and talmudic stories and of the responsum by R. Ben-Zion Me’ir Hai Uziel, dealing with the participation of women in elections for public office (Resp. Mishpetei uzzi’el, vol. 4, Hoshen mishpat sec. 6). ... Sexual tsni`ut is equally binding on men and women. Every person must take responsibility for his or her sexuality and not take advantage of or deprecate the sexuality of another person. Women must take care to avoid exploiting the sexuality of men, and men must take care to avoid exploiting the sexuality of women. In contrast to the concept that requires the other to limit himself or herself in order to avoid causing me difficulty or complicating my struggle with my impulse, tsni`ut is an action I take toward myself, an act of self-restraint, sensitivity, and concern taken as a result of maturity and health.