Orthodox Jews, along with various sects within Islam ironically enough, call for women to cover themselves in public.
In a fascinating oped today Dov Linzer, an Orthodox rabbi and dean of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, calls into question whether the male appetite for sex should be the responsibility of men or women under the strictest interpretation foundational Jewish scripture.
By saying that all women must hide their bodies, they are saying that every woman is an object who can stir a man’s sexual thoughts. Thus, every woman who passes their field of vision is sized up on the basis of how much of her body is covered. She is not seen as a complete person, only as a potential inducement to sin.
Of course, once you judge a female human being only through a man’s sexualized imagination, you can turn even a modest 8-year-old girl into a seductress and a prostitute.
Linzer comes down hard on the side of men taking responsibility for their own actions rather than enforcing the segregation of genders on buses and dress code currently being hotly debated in Israel.
The Talmud tells the religious man, in effect: If you have a problem, you deal with it. It is the male gaze — the way men look at women — that needs to be desexualized, not women in public. The power to make sure men don’t see women as objects of sexual gratification lies within men’s — and only men’s — control.
I wonder what the rabbi would have to say about overt sexualization of our girls in America, from Lady Gaga to Kristen Stewart? If men forcing women to cover up to compensate for male sexual desire what about a culture in which underage girls so often appear in pornography?
I am assuming that Linzer would point out, again, that is up to men to deal with their own sexuality and not objectify women.
What do you think?