Monday, April 6, 2009

Photoshop: protecting women's modesty?

Israeli cabinet ministers Limor Livnat and Sofa Landver were in the photo taken of the Israeli cabinet last week, along with their 28 male colleagues. But you wouldn't have been able to spot them in the photos that were printed in Yated Neeman or Shaa Tova, two conservative Israeli newspapers, because they were either photoshopped or just blacked out. This is because in the ultra-orthodox Jewish community, publishing pictures of women is considered a violation of female modesty.

The ultra-orthodox community distinguishes itself from mainstream society through traditional religious practices, including distinctive (and proscriptive) attire for men and women. Their lifestyle is certainly different, and I want to support their desire to live outside a society which they believe to violate their religious beliefs - but removing cabinet ministers from a photo just because it's a violation of their "modesty"? This seems to me to be both offensive to the female ministers and really, a case of burying your head in the sand - there are women in the cabinet (although not enough), and they get their pictures taken - and whether or not you think that's a violation of their modesty, removing them from the photos yourself will not change anything.

Thanks to Flora for the tip!

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