Just came across a guest post by Shoshanna Jaskoll on Life in Israel which is an eye-opener. It opens a discussion on the attitude of religious and ultra-religious men towards women, from the extension of the prohibition to hear a woman singing while a man is davening the "Shma," to a general prohibition of women singing, period, including zemirot Shabbat (no sexual intent or content whatsoever) in a mixed group. From condemning women for not being "tzni'us" enough to threatening to expose those women who dress in burkas; also disallowing photographs and ads depicting women (even of those modestly dressed) and essentially removing them from the "public sphere."
Nowhere do I see any religious and ultra-religious male indignation, however, towards men who emotionally and even sometimes physically assault women who dare to do the dastardly deed of sitting in the front in buses not officially designated as "Haredi" (ultra-religious) buses. Obviously, those who choose to ride a marked Haredi bus should know what they're getting into--although I am not condoning such behavior on those buses, either. It is simply criminal.
Here is a portion of her post, and links to various related ones. I believe serious change in Judaism on this issue is necessary and imperative.
Hi, its me, Woman. It’s... been a while. And even longer since we frolicked in the garden of Eden, huh? Was nice back then... before you told me that God said not to touch the tree, but actually, what He said was not to eat from the tree…
Such a world of difference between touching and eating- don’t you think? Like the difference between looking and lusting? Between appreciating and desiring? Between wanting and taking…
But I digress. When the snake proved that I would not die by touching the tree, I thought perhaps you had misunderstood, that the message somehow was incorrect. For you would never mislead me.
But, how to show you? So, I took of the fruit and gave you to eat too... and then, the world went black.
It was then that you revealed that the prohibition had been against eating from the tree and not as you had taught me, from touching the tree. You told me that we had just betrayed our Creator.
I wanted to die. I didn’t understand why you had told me something false; something that was not commanded of us. But I had no time to contemplate, for you told me to hide and to make us clothing.
And then He searched for us- called out and asked where you were. And you did the one thing I could never have expected.
You betrayed me- and as you did the world changed. The garden, so green and glorious, dulled to a shadow of what had been. The vibrant cobalt sky paled in shame of your act. The Earth hardened herself against you.
I was your other half, the being you longed for, the only other person in the entire universe. And yet, you screamed out:
‘The woman you gave me- She made me eat!’
I can still hear that scream; it resonates in my soul and in the pieces of my heart.
And it reaches through the years and translates into Yiddish, in the Pashkevilles plastered on the streets, in the tomatoes, eggs and stink bombs thrown at my daughters.
It’s the women! The women are our downfall!
You are still screaming. And I am still hurting.
More posts and articles on this subject, here, here, here and here.