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Interesting Modern Orthodox article on rethinking modesty


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www.jewishideas.org/marc-d-angel/modest ... ng-tseniut

There is some technical language in this article (that I'm happy to translate), but for the most part it's reasonably understandable.

I like the focus on equality (because really, the rules should apply to both men and women) and on the idea that modesty related to changing societal norms.

OTOH, I still take issue with the line about some styles reflecting a conscious or subconscious desire to be an object of attention. My view is that NO automatic assumptions can be made about intentions, period. Perhaps it's a really hot day. Perhaps someone has a curvier figure. Perhaps that's how the clothes available happen to fit. Whatever the case, you can't assume the reason without actually talking to the person themselves.

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Why does God care so much about modesty and not about restitution or healing for the victims of rape and abuse? Orthodox Judaism must have very few serious problems if so much time is spent on modesty.

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Dress is a marker of being orthodox, you stay separate because you keep your dress and your language, etc. However, there is nothing modest about the way Chassidic men dress. It calls a lot of attention to them.

I think they have grossly mishandled the abuse cases, but you can care about two issues at once. The comments at imamother were frankly appalling. And they seem to come up with these terms (rebellious! at risk!) whenever someone is raped by one of their upstanding erlich citizens.

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Yeah. Dress is a uniform - you can tell by the specifics of half the clothing questions on the mommy forum, there's always loads of people asking about clothes that are definitely 100% tsanua by official rules (no knees/elbows showing, high neck, maybe even down to the wrist) but ZOMG, it's not black, or oh, is the skirt too LONG? or oh, it has a different style of pleat that's not exactly like what every other woman on the street is wearing, so (most important thing!!) "will I get side-eye for wearing this in my community?" It's all about conformity.

Same thing with the hysteria about jeans, or heaven forbid the men who like to wear BLUE dress shirts rather than white (there were some comments referencing that about the internet).

Heck, even separately from dress, there's 2304501246 threads about "is this name (usually some Israeli name) too modern to use in my community?" Because heaven forbid someone think you're not exactly as traditional as the people next door. Mustn't stand out, evar evar EVAR.

And yeah, that thread on Weberman was disgusting. Surely they'd be horrified to know I read it...

ETA: The people defending him, that is. I was happy to see the arguments calling out the trashing of that girl's name.

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3. If the rules of tseniut are to protect men from falling into sexual sin, why are most of the restrictions placed on women? The rules could have been formulated in an entirely different way. Since men are so passionate and women are so arousing, then men should cover their eyes in the presence of women and should avoid public places where women might be seen. If men have the problem, why should women be forced to pay the price for men’s weaknesses? Let the women conduct themselves as they wish, and let men guard themselves from falling prey to temptation!

I wish all fundies had to read that paragraph. Maybe they'd realize that they ought to just teach some self-control.

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Yeah. Dress is a uniform - you can tell by the specifics of half the clothing questions on the mommy forum, there's always loads of people asking about clothes that are definitely 100% tsanua by official rules (no knees/elbows showing, high neck, maybe even down to the wrist) but ZOMG, it's not black, or oh, is the skirt too LONG? or oh, it has a different style of pleat that's not exactly like what every other woman on the street is wearing, so (most important thing!!) "will I get side-eye for wearing this in my community?" It's all about conformity.

Same thing with the hysteria about jeans, or heaven forbid the men who like to wear BLUE dress shirts rather than white (there were some comments referencing that about the internet).

Heck, even separately from dress, there's 2304501246 threads about "is this name (usually some Israeli name) too modern to use in my community?" Because heaven forbid someone think you're not exactly as traditional as the people next door. Mustn't stand out, evar evar EVAR.

And yeah, that thread on Weberman was disgusting. Surely they'd be horrified to know I read it...

ETA: The people defending him, that is. I was happy to see the arguments calling out the trashing of that girl's name.

There's been a bit of a shift toward sanity at imamother. In 2007, when I flounced, it was bad enough to literally drive me to the verge of a breakdown. Since then, there seems to have been more of a focus on child abuse and spousal abuse (including special forums), and more willingness to criticize the religious establishment. Some of the posts on that thread were disgusting and made me want to smash my head on something (because really, I deal with abuse cases for a living and have never, ever had a case where it was possible to exclude abuse simply by "making inquiries" and hearing that the accused was respected and that the girl may have had issues. In fact, I have personal experience dealing with a molester who was widely loved and admired by people who had no idea what he was doing, and I had no idea that the abuse was occurring prior to the disclosure). OTOH, I was pleasantly surprised by how many spoke up against the attacks on this girl.

I have a theory that it will be this issue - defending children - that finally causes a major shake-up and forces real change. I'm seeing situations where women who would otherwise never challenge the status quo are getting passionate and vocal and active.

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There are definitely posters over there whom I enjoy reading for the voice of sanity and sincerely interesting comments, and they were doing a good job in that thread, absolutely. (And then there are some others... :D)

I hope along with you that this issue ends up calling into question some of the extreme non-sustainable aspects of certain modern practices in particular. If there's anything GOOD to come from the internet, that's a big one - word gets out (including about things like this), ordinary people can speak on stuff.

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I'll also say that imamother, whatever its other faults, does give Orthodox women a place to connect that isn't controlled by the existing male power structure. It also gives a voice to voices that generally aren't heard in Orthodox circles, feminist circles or general society.

I've noticed, both online and in person during my trip to Israel in December, that Orthodox women will suck up a lot and can be critical of non-Orthodox "feminists" - but when it comes to someone hurting kids, it's a huge red line. The reaction to 8 yr old Naama Margolese being harassed and spat on in Ramat Beit Shemesh was VERY different from the reactions to incidents in which adult women were harassed or attacked. The typical victim-blaming disappeared, along with the apologetics, and people got really angry and came out in protest. I'm also seeing abuse issues being dealt with on amotherinisrael and jewishmom - again, these are Orthodox women getting angry because they are worried about kids. I'd love for women to force a change in the disgraceful Agudas Israel policy on reporting abuse, and to insist that their children will not attend any school or camp that doesn't have a decent written policy on dealing with abuse or that follows the existing Agudas Israel position.

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