Monday, November 20, 2006

Another Modest Proposal

Female modesty is apparently a hot issue in Judaism right now. A few examples:

Treppenwitz posted about a recent meeting of Haredi rabbis whose major concern was standards of dress within their community. He compares this "urgent" conference with the cancelled conference on the issue of Agunot (women whose husbands refuse to grant them a divorce). By contrast Orthomom says that she can "understand the reason behind this gathering," and suggests that it might signal the end of "Hot Chanies" at least in that particular community. OnionSoupMix doesn't advocate for or against greater modesty of dress, but she does suggest that the haredi girls should be more literal in their reading of the torah and include nose rings as a part of their attire. JustAnotherSWJF on her blog Want Some Cheese With That W(h)ine does seem to advocate a return to modesty, but struggles with what that modesty should entail. She comments that "women get the short end of the stick when it comes to guidelines for dress" but also that she watches "Pants off Dance off" when it comes on tv.

One specific aspect of female dress that gets a lot of coverage (no pun intended) especially in the current political climate is the mitzvah of kisui rosh or headcovering for women after marriage. There is a great deal of discussing of this in the blogosphere by Christian women, which sort of fascinates me. One such example is LisaM of Old Fashioned Lady. While I did go to a parochial Christian high school (Luthern Missouri Synod), and I sort of got that some Christian women wore hats to church, it didn't occur to me that there was an ideology behind it. Which I guess is sort of silly of me. At any rate LisaM says that she "came to understand that a woman covering her head is natural, submissive, modest, and even beautifying."

And last but not least, Michelle of In My Humble Jewish Opinion has a post, post and a half, about the issue of modesty and belly dancing, or other types of dancing, even in spaces where men are absent. She suggests that belly dancing is not really so acceptable, although technically according to the law it might be ok. She says: "Why do I deem it inappropriate? It just is." Which reminds me of the conversation that I had with CJ last night where his argument was "I'm not wrong here." As someone who as taken belly dancing classes (single sex, and modestly dressed, don't worry!) my concern was whether or not it qualified as avodah zara*, not whether it was modest. But then again, I also go jogging in Central Park.

*Avodah Zara is idol worship, or any practice which is the ritual of another religion. For instance, some people believe that it is forbidden to do classical Indian dance, even out of context, because it was used as a part of religious ceremonies.


harley said...

It hurts so much.

First, I'm going to have a good cry. Then I'm off to my co-ed naked belly-dancing class.

AnnieGetYour said...

You would take that kind of freaky class.


Anonymous said...

First, thanks for including my post. I always wonder who is reading my blog out there and now I know that at least a couple people do.

As for the Jerusalem Post article there seems to be an implication that women can't decide what to wear, that we need our fathers and/or husband's help in this important decision. Don't get me started on the fact that single men and women were not allowed in this meeting.

Anonymous said...

Hey, wow! Good thoughts here, and elsewhere in your blogs. And, ahem, my blog was mentioned in someone else's blog - have I arrived? Looking forward to reading more thoughtful stuff from you.