Thursday, February 07, 2013

Why Photoshop out women's shoes?

The Rambam in Mishneh Torah, Issurei Biah, 21:21:

כ  [כא] וְכֵן אָסוּר לְאָדָם לְהִסְתַּכַּל בַּנָּשִׁים, בְּשָׁעָה שְׁהֶן עוֹמְדוֹת עַל הַכְּבוּסָה; וְאַפִלּוּ לְהִסְתַּכַּל בְּבִגְדֵי צְבָע שֶׁלְּאִשָּׁה שְׁהוּא מַכִּירָהּ--אָסוּר, שֶׁלֹּא יָבוֹא לִידֵי הִרְהוּר.

In English:
Halacha 21
Similarly, it is forbidden for a man to look at woman while they do laundry. It is even forbidden to look at the colored56 garments of a woman one knows,57 lest one be motivated to [sexual] thoughts.
The footnotes in the English above read:
Our translation follows the authoritative manuscripts and early printings of the Mishneh Torah. This also follows the text of Avodah Zarah 20b, the Rambam's apparent source. The standard printed text of the Mishneh Torah employs a slightly different version.
When quoting this law, the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 21:1) clarifies that it applies even when the woman is not wearing the garments. The clothes themselves may prompt the man's imagination.
So, is it so surprising that a Chareidi paper Photoshopped out a woman's shoes from a picture? Yes, except nothing should surprise us anymore. Via Life in Israel:

A young child, a 1 year old baby, in Jerusalem opened up a cabinet door that prevented the room door from being opened. That meant the kid was stuck in the room. The parents called the Fire Station, who sent a team out that dismantled the door and rescued the child. Good job.

The funny part comes next.

Hamodia (Hebrew edition) reported the story yesterday, but altered the picture that accompanied it. They did not remove the image of the child's mother - she was not in the picture anyway. The  picture showed the child laying on the floor next to the open drawer. The drawer had various pairs of shoes in it. One of those pairs was a pair of womens shoes. Hamodia removed the shoes from the image.

They weren't even a pair of high-heeled sexy shoes, or anything like that, that their removal might be understood in some sort of crazy way. This was simply a pair of beat up old flats - nothing enticing or provocative, just a pair of beat-up old shoes.

Here are the pictures:

the original:

the Hamodia version:
Of course, this is not a woman that (most of) HaModiah's readership knows. And the prohibition is to look with intent to derive sexual pleasure, while no one (normal) would see the shoes in the above picture and have improper thoughts.

Tznius is often culturally set. A tefach of a place on the body normally uncovered is erva, such that if a community regularly covers some area (e.g. feet), it is erva, where if they do not, it is not. Because now, people in that society will regard that specific uncovered tefach as illicit and sexual.

By making common women's shoes into erva, they are not being holy. And this is not a greater level of holiness we should all aspire to. Rather, by making common women's shoes into erva, this newspaper is helping to transform the societal mindset, and fetishize everything about women.

Related, see the latest from Saudi Arabia:
A cleric has called for female babies to wear the full-body burka in order to prevent sexual molestation.
In an interview on Saudi Arabia’s Al-Majd station, Sheikh Abdullah Daoud explained that sexual molestation of babies was common in the country and cited unnamed medical and security sources, according to a report on the Al-Arabiya website.
Are they holier because they require this? And, will requiring baby burqas actually help reinforce this cultural attitude of considering female babies as sexual?


SPACE said...

There's secret midrash, that if some rabbi accidentally sees woman shoe, he must bang his head 10 times to the wall, or tree. He forgots all Torah, but it's better, than to make sin thinking about woman's shoe improper way.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree with you more, Rabbi Waxman. Sexualizing everything just leads to more decadence. Thanks for the Saudi story.


Avi said...

If everything is sexualized, the concept of Tznius loses all meaning.

Chana said...

This way lies madness. Try *not* to think about an orange elephant and see what happens.


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