Wednesday, May 11, 2011

So how's that work, then, exactly?

In the Boston Globe today is an article (interestingly, it's in the Business section) called, misleadingly, NY Jewish paper sorry for altering White House pic. Misleadingly, because what they're sorry for is violating the terms of usage for publishing the picture, not for the actual alteration.

Here's their take-away point:
Di Tzeitung said it has a "long standing editorial policy" of not publishing women's images. It explained that its readers "believe that women should be appreciated for who they are and what they do, not for what they look like, and the Jewish laws of modesty are an expression of respect for women, not the opposite."
That's what they say. But.

I gather that in fact many Hasidic publications - including children's books - shy away from any pictures of people at all. For instance, while the prose tells who did what, the illustration is of a house or an empty room. lectern in empty White House roomOn Di Tzeitung's website recently (May 6) was this photo, captioned "Obama's dramatic speech Sunday night". As you can see, no Obama, just the lectern. And had they chosen not to print the war-room picture at all - or to Photoshop out everybody - that would be a far different message. This isn't a message about graven images.

And it isn't a message about "respect" or a wish not to put women "on display". This is a message that in fact says that "on display" is all a woman can ever be in a photo. This is a message that says women are fundamentally sexual objects, even when they hold high political office (and even when the editors point out that the Orthodox Jewish communities of New York supported her strongly as Senator). This says that showing two women doing their jobs is disrespectful, although those women should be "appreciated for ... what they do".

Do they really think people looked at that picture and "appreciated" Clinton and Thomason for "what they look like" instead of "what they do"? You know, little jobs like Secretary of State and Counterterrorism Director? (I wonder if Thomason even got a mention.) What about the guys? Why print their picture? Doesn't that encourage people to "appreciate" "what they look like"? Or doesn't that ever happen? Or is it okay if it does? Or - maybe - is this picture actually representing "what they do"?

Which raises the question: How are women supposed to be appreciated for "what they do" if they're never seen doing it?

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At 10:40 AM, May 11, 2011 Blogger Barry Leiba had this to say...

I find the whole flap to be so ho-hum. They're religious-fanatic nutters. They're not substantively different to other religious-fanatic nutters — Jewish RFNs, Christian RFNs, Muslim RFNs... whatever.

Their editing women out of photos just gives us something (else) to laugh at them about. Nothing more.

At 9:41 AM, May 12, 2011 Blogger The Ridger, FCD had this to say...

Perhaps so. All I can say is that I don't find it funny.


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