Inevitably, Sigal Samuel has retorted to my earlier post on her “pro-slut” position. It’s my problem, not hers, she wrote.
To encapsulate, I criticized the action of Sarit Hashkes who decided to express her opposition to a group of Chabad Hassidim dancing late at night in downtown Jerusalem during Succot by, at first, trying to join the group while holding hands with her secular male friend and then, after asked to stop, she did what, we can presume, came natural to her, she took off her shirt and displayed her lingerie. And after Sigal expressed not only support but added, at Peter Beinart’s Open Zion blog, that the ecdysiastical activity of Ms. Hashkes was something she couldn’t
help wishing more Israeli women would have the guts to do: she took off her shirt, leaving the men to ogle at her bra in silence.
I cannot fathom that Ms. Samuel would seek to have females expose themselves in their lingerie, thus proving to the Chabadniks, even if they are of the messianic sect, and other more mainstreamers that modern secular women are basically disrespectful immoral sluts. Is that the form of dialogue liberal Zionists want to pursue? That would seem to be a denuded vision.
I added, “Sigal Samuel
seems to be pro-slut."
My comment, Ms. Samuel now asserts, “wasn’t that surprising…it was typical of the responses feminists incur when they attempt to reappropriate a word, image or meme that’s being used against them.”
I will be the first to admit that I am no expert in the politics and linguistics of feminism - and except the back-handed compliment that I am typical. So when Sigal would have us believe that what is being used against Hashkes in joining a men-only dance party in a public street in Jerusalem is nothing but
Her body: the annoying femaleness of it. That’s it. That’s all.
she is less than honest. It isn''t all.
I had used the word “slut” to describe her decision to shock and even, yes, rape, the consciousness not only of the men there but the young boys.
Sigal avoids that. My first reaction was this:
Nevertheless, I now realize how dangerous a feminist scorned can be. One example, you write: "what was being used against Hashkes the night she tried—and failed—to join a men-only dance party in a public street in downtown Jerusalem? Her body: the annoying femaleness of it. That’s it. That’s all."
Wait a sec. Wasn''t it she who used her body, her feminism in a very physical sense? I have nothing against a woman in a sports bra - on the running field. Or in a bikini on the beach. Or in short-shorts in a park. But, truth told, I really don’t think a scene like this from the San Fermin Festival
should be the norm in Jerusalem.
(By the way, if one is “Wearing inappropriate clothes or footwear for the run”, one cannot participate).
My opinion is that trying to protest a men''s-only dance of semi-religious character during Succot by purposefully dancing in a mixed format and then, when told to stop, to remove her shirt and display her underwear is being sluttish because it exploits the female body to shock, upset and disturb.
In which direction is this form of behavior leading? I caught this at Ma’an:-
Israeli settlers in the south Hebron hills assaulted Palestinian villagers on Friday evening, residents told Ma''an…[one] settler took off all his clothes, and a third insulted the Prophet Muhammad, in order to provoke the villagers, Hathalin said.
Are our public places to be turned into private parts? Melanie Phillips expresses it well:-
These narcissistic stunts [i.e., slutwalks] are yet another frivolous distraction by those who take advantage of the unprecedented freedoms won by others as they wrap themselves in the mantle of victim. It’s absurd that they cannot see the contradictions in what they are doing. For even though they demand that women should not be judged by what they are wearing, such a judgment is precisely what dressing as ‘sluts’ requires the watching world to make. And the absurdity is deepened by their insistence that clothing — or its absence — has no effect on other people. By this logic, if a woman walked down the street naked except for a thong and a pair of stilettos, this should be assumed to have no effect whatever upon men.
I am not of the ultra-Orthodox. Nevertheless, this recent "got it, flaunt it" approach, whether Hashkes denuding, whether a slut-walk, whether a gay parade, all this is unnecessary and symbolic of a systematic insertive tactic which has nothing to do with any form of modesty and surely not any coexistence. Acting in a slutty fashion is simply trying much too hard to overcome and to dominate.
Sigal asks that her reader note
the conflation of immorality with “sluttiness”—a cheap move designed to perpetuate the notion that…a woman “who presents herself in an alluring way is somehow morally bankrupt.”…For Hashkes, stripping was a political act…[and so] to insist on putting her body front and center [is] to reclaim it, to reappropriate it…[part of] a broader feminist program…that reinscribed the original premise…
This pernicious circularity, this vulnerability to misreadings, is a real and enduring problem for feminists
For Sigal, if men have a problem with a woman and especially her physicality, it’s the men’s responsibility to deal with it. It is the male gaze—the way men look at women—that needs to be desexualized, not women in public and sums herself up:
if [Hashkes] protest strikes the likes of Medad as the behavior of a “slut,” I’m inclined to say…“It’s your problem, sir; not hers.”
The extensive use of excerpts is necessary first, because I do not want to be accused of misrepresenting Ms. Samuel, second because I need to have my readers understand my come-back and third, I will admit, I find her fulminations, if not funny, well, quirky (I cannot use queer in these circumstances). I also have on my agenda Beinart’s liberal Zionism which permits such drabble to be considered as part of the serious conversation he wishes to conduct.
If this is the type of onslaught Beinart and cohorts propose, in the name of a liberalism of some sort of which I admit I am perhaps unfamiliar, to wear down traditional Jewish values and to subvert the ethos of the Jewish state as developed by those who moved to Eretz-Yisrael, who fought and worked for it on the battlefields and in the orchards. They wish to turn Israel’s streets into a new standard of irresponsibility which, I fear, spills over into politics, military and security concerns, culture and spiritual matters.
I suspect Ms. Samuel wishes to strip Israel of much more than the blouse of Ms. Hashkes and friends. With what will that leave us?