HADASSA MARGOLESE meets with Tzipi Livni_390.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
My eight-year-old daughter, Na’ama, experienced firsthand the violence of men
who think women should be excluded from the public sphere. According to these
men, it is acceptable in the name of modesty to spit, yell, curse, throw objects
and humiliate women and young girls. Ironically, their efforts to not think
about women seem to require they think about nothing else. Following her
experience in Beit Shemesh on her way to school in December last year, Na’ama
suffered nightmares, stomach aches and anxiety.
A few weeks ago, an
advertisement booklet from Ramat Beit Shemesh was put in my mailbox. I was not
shocked to see that the girls’ faces were blurred, because we’ve become used to
this. However, following my daughter’s experience, the phenomenon took on new
meaning for me. Things seemed to click; they hide our faces in magazines, as
well as trying to hide us in real life. This time would be different, I said to
myself. I would actually do something about it, because I could not keep quiet
So I went to the website of this specific store and posted
the picture, telling them I found it shocking and that if the store agreed to
have girls’ faces blurred in their advertisements, I would not shop there. The
store responded by saying it was not them who made the decision but rather the
advertising company, to suit the booklet’s target demographic. The store said it
would not advertise that way again. I thanked them, and felt as though we
accomplished something, and encouraged my friends to frequent the store and
thank the owners.
But when I looked through this week’s booklet, not only
girls’ faces but also boys’ faces were blurred in the store’s advertisement. The
store was apparently so desperate not to offend the extremists that it now
allowed the blurring of all children’s faces. Did the store’s owners thinks this
was some kind of compromise? I do not see it as a compromise. We pointed out a
problem, they acknowledged it – and then decided to work around it rather than
fix it. “Working around” a problem like this is unacceptable. Resolving the
issue is what is necessary. And as if that weren’t enough, this week’s issue
included another toy store ad with girls’ faces blurred. The extremism was
In the past I ignored these pictures, thinking they
were just idiotic, but I now see – all too well – how they affect me, my
daughters and all women. This issue is at the core of the problems we face. It
starts by blurring faces, which becomes acceptable and normal, continues slowly
onto other things that become acceptable and “normal” and goes on and on until
abnormal is the norm. We must stop this before it spirals out of
These men look at my sweet, innocent daughter in a sexual way.
She is eight years old! She has gone through an experience no child (or adult)
should have to ever go though. We have to stop this craze, and stopping it
begins by not allowing the blurring out of faces. It starts by being normal,
civilized, good human beings. We must speak out – through social organizations,
political movements and even boycotts of those who cave in to extremist demands.
We must fight this before we lose an entire segment of Jewish women to the idea
that women have no value.The writer is the mother of eight-year-old
Na’ama, the Chicago-born girl whose fear of walking to school in Beit Shemesh
after being harassed by haredi men sparked a furor in December last year.