The Israeli newspaper Haaretz shines a spotlight on a disturbing trend, and describes a religious-Zionist kids’ TV show called Asi & Tuvia to illustrate the point:
The show is actually pretty relatable, even for a secular audience. The language is contemporary; each episode is pleasant and entertaining. It’s only when watching a whole batch of episodes in a row that one notices something startling: None of them feature a single girl or a woman.
Arutz Meir caters specifically to families from the religious Zionist sector, a population which has moved more and more in recent years toward gender-segregation and the exclusion of women (both of which are already common among the stricter, ultra-Orthodox communities).
But it’s not just TV.
The absence of women has become especially prominent in illustrated Jewish texts, such as the Passover Hagaddah and the Megillat Esther for Purim. “It’s absurd that there are now Hagaddah books in which it looks as if only men left Egypt,” says Rachel Azaria, a Jerusalem councilwoman who represents the Yerushalmim Party and is one of the leading figures in the struggle against gender-segregation and the exclusion of women.
“Our religious Zionist kindergarten had a Passover Hagaddah in which Pharaoh’s daughter is pulling Moses out of the water. Only her hand could be seen; her face was hidden behind bushes,” says Azaria. “And this is the lenient version of such books. They only show women with their heads lowered or facing away.”
Religious texts, partly on account of how old they are, excel in misogyny and in marginalizing women. It’s tempting to think that equality marches ever onward, and it’s good to see that sexism becoming less draconian in most major faiths. Too bad that some fundamentalists, on the other hand, are succeeding in squeezing the toothpaste back into the tube.
[image via alarabiya.net]