Fear the vagina

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 9.58.45 AMNot sure how many people noticed this, but the day after the unity march in Paris a newspaper named Hamevasser—which serves the Orthodox Jewish community—did something quite quite and interesting.

It got rid of the vagina.

Actually, not merely the vagina. It got rid of the world leader with the vagina. Angela Merkel is the German chancellor. She is a woman. She attended this past weekend’s march, and stood arm in arm with myriad world leaders in a show of strength and courage and togetherness. The newspaper, however, deleted her from its image. Literally, it used its breathtaking Photoshop skills to make it as if she never existed. In short, it changed history to its liking.

There’s an irony here, one the editors of Hamevasser surely do not understand. Let’s think of it this way: There was a march in response to a terrorist attack. The attack was against a media entity. The attackers did not like the way the media entity freely expressed itself. Hamevasser is a media entity covering the event. It is uncomfortable with the way people (well, one person) at the event protesting the attackers of those freely expressing themselves are, eh, expressing themselves. So it whites it out—thereby limiting freedom of expression. Which is exactly what the terrorists were trying to do.

Or something like that.

I’ve known Orthodox Jews. Some very nice ones. But the approach toward women is, at best, a joke. The basic thinking is: See no evil and hear no evil—and there will be no evil. No women have to dress like black flags so men aren’t tempted. Women can’t work alongside men, so men aren’t tempted. Men can’t have female friends, because they might be tempted. It’s a sick existence and a pathetic was of living; one that, instead of teaching self control, teaches denial of rights and equality.

Just ask Merkel.

If you can find her.

PS: My friend, an owner of one of America’s great coffee shops, rightly made this point to me after reading the above: I read your piece on the Hamevassar article. Of course I agree with you but would have thought that with all the time you spent at Swirl with a predominantly Orthodox crowd, you would not generalize about Orthodox people the way you did. Happily there is a sizable group of modern Orthodox Jews that are much more open to women’s equality.

2 thoughts on “Fear the vagina”

  1. Shelagh Connor Shapiro

    I wonder if they did it because men and women who aren’t married should not come into physical contact with one another (says them). (A Lubavitch Rabbi here in Vermont totally freaked out when my then un-knowing daughter-in-law held out her hand to shake when they were introduced. He had a completely infantile reaction, rather than calmly and respectfully explaining his belief system and declining her outstretched hand.) So my guess is that this paper didn’t want the image of that Orthodox rule being broken on their front page. Fascinating. They simply shouldn’t have used the picture, if that was their issue. But text alone doesn’t sell papers, does it? Wow.

  2. I think it’s because “haredi” Jews — like many fundamentalist Muslims, BTW — observe the rule of “negiah,” which forbids physical contact with a member of the opposite sex (except for one’s spouse,children, siblings, grandchildren,parents, and grandparents). Still, if it happened, it happened, and there’s still no excuse for photoshopping Merkel out of the picture. If they objected to it on religious grounds, they should have just s#$&canned the photo entirely.

    What about photoshopping someone INto a photo? Obscure whacko radio host Bryan Fischer claimed that’s exactly what happened to the famous photo of the pols and generals in the Situation Room watching the Bin Laden takedown operation. Yep, according to him, Obama was nowhere near the Situation Room that night,and the White House photoshopped him IN. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/15/bryan-fischer-obama-photoshop_n_3765232.html

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