Monday, May 09, 2011

Be Invisible, Please!

A Hasidic newspaper erased Hillary Clinton from that famous picture of president Obama and his advisers in the situation room during the bin Laden raid.

The reason? This: editorial policy stipulating that they "will not intentionally include any images of women in the paper because it could be considered sexually suggestive."
But the images of men are not considered sexually suggestive.

All this is familiar fare in the fundamentalist circles of many religions. Sexual allure is something only women have and the way to control that allure is by controlling women's visibility. Hence the strict dress codes for women, the sex segregation and the seclusion of women. Hence, also, the shaming of women who refuse to go along with those rules.

What would look odd about these arrangements to someone from another planet is this: It is the men who are the protected group in this kind of fundamentalism. They are seen as total slaves of their sexual desires, too frail and unreliable to be allowed to look at pictures of female politicians. But the conclusion from all this is not to seclude the men but to seclude the women.