Thursday, February 07, 2008

Photos Which Depict Women

Over at Emes VeEmuna, an interesting post, with a bunch of comments, about Photoshopping of women out of news photos, and how this is related to the frum burka travesty. As he writes:
If one cannot even look at a picture of even a face in a newspaper then the logical deduction is that a real face must be even worse! Why not Burkas, then?
I am not going to go into all of the halachic sources regarding this (such as Avodah Zarah daf 20), but thought I would bring up one interesting source, on Avodah Zarah daf 44.

Jimmy, a commenter there, noted:
"First of all the difference between a picture and a real fae [sic] are obvious. One can't stare at a real face since the woman will see herself being stared at and the situation will end because it will become uncomfortable. However, a picture doesn't stare back and one can look at a picture for as long as they like."
What came to mind at this was the incident with Rabban Gamliel in the bathhouse of Acco, as related in Avodah Zarah 44b.

A translation of that Mishna is to the right. Notice that the statue of a female form, of a female deity, was in the bathhouse, and people were walking around naked in front of it, and urinating in front of it. Yet Rabban Gamliel has no problem using the bathhouse, and bathing there.

And furthermore, the only concern is idolatry, but not licentious thoughts. Here is a three-dimensional human form, which does not stare back, and with people walking around in the nude, and yet Rabban Gamliel holds it is allowed!

Furthermore, do a Google search on statues of Aphrodite, and you'll notice that many such statues of them have her only partially clad, and other's -- well, she is not wearing the most tzniusdik outfit. And even if fully clothed, surely her face was visible! OK, it is not color, but rather a statue, but perhaps at least compare with a black-and-white pictures. It seems just from this that the issue is deliberate gazing at a female face or form lustfully, but just having her face there is not a issue, such that women should be required to wear face-coverings, and such that newspapers cannot print normal, tzniusdik photos which include women.

This does not mean that other sources might not also inform a final determination, but I think this particular Mishna should give one pause.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A minor point - Greek marble statues were painted, but the paint has since worn off.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin