The non-Jewish press has taken a great interest in the Haredi internet sobfest held on Sunday. I guess that’s bound to happen when 40,000 black-suited men take over a baseball stadium on a hot day in May and no bats or gloves are involved.
Over at Jezebel, Katie J.M. Baker and Sam Biddle have a scathing post. Leaving aside a few of their inaccuracies (not all Haredim are Hasidim), they hit the nail on the head by identifying misogyny at the core of all of this:
According to the Guard Your Eyes organization, the so-called “number one resource for dealing with the growing problem of the struggle with/addiction to inappropriate materials on the Internet,” more men struggle to “break free of lust related behaviors” than women. (But divorce is not a “proper solution” for the wives of porn addicts because “temptations are so great, it is easy for a man to get hooked.”) It’s easy to see why the Orthodox community would be puzzled at the idea of porn-loving women, because that would imply that women are sexual beings, a theory that doesn’t fly in a community where women who are menstruating are considered so impure that they are forbidden to touch even their husbands. …So when the Hasidic community pushed to ban women from the Asifa (Yeshivish for “gathering”) because the stadium could not be divided for men and women as according to custom, few people complained.
As I’ve pointed out about a million times, it’s not just about misogyny, though it is very much also about it. It’s about knowledge in general. They might cite sexual imagery as their primary reason for “shrying gevalt,” but they’re just as scared (maybe more) of Talk Origins. In Israel, where they have more power, they’ve even managed to get “kosher” devices that block internet and even text messaging.
One person who just doesn’t get it is Chaya Kurtz. Blogging at “XOJane” she writes:
When you slam Orthodox Jews because you think you’re defending or somehow liberating the women of our communities, you’re actually doing us a huge disservice.
Hi. I’m Chaya, and I am a Chassidic Jewish woman. I am also a media professional with a degree in Women’s Studies from a large, very liberal university (magna cum laude, baby!).
In the past few days, I’ve been reading the backlash against “the asifa,” a recent mass meeting of religious Jewish men meant to draw a few boundaries around Internet use in our homes (meaning religious Jewish homes; not your house).
She goes on to talk about how wonderful life is for Haredi women and all the usual drivel you hear about that. (See Dvora Meyers at the Forward for a rebuttal.)
Here’s what Chaya doesn’t understand. Maybe she’s had the privilege to attend a liberal university and make up her own mind about the world. And perhaps she’s also so wonderfully insulated from Haredi reality that no one in her shul minds that she writes for a blog that features posts about tattoos or labiaplasty.
This is not typical of most frum women’s (or men’s) lives. And newsflash for Chaya: The men who were screaming and crying out to the Lord for protection from the evils of the internet were talking about you.