8-Year-Old Called “Whore” for Long Sleeves, Skirts

Naama Margolese became terrified of walking to her second-grade class in a conservative section of Israel when ultra-Orthodox men began spitting on her, insulting her and calling her a prostitute because she wasn’t sufficiently modest.

Come on! As a (merely) Orthodox Jew, she wears long sleeves and long skirts.

And she’s 8!

But as we all know, men aren’t responsible for their sexuality, women – and apparently girls — are. This little girl is sexually provoking men? Who are tempted to engage in prostitution with her? Are they all pedophiles?

The New York Times reports that ultra-Orthodox zealots are increasingly pressuring strict adherence to modesty rules, including enforced gender segregation or excluding women altogether. As the Times describes:

Ultra-orthodox followers cordoned off one section of Beit Shemesh, Israel and proclaimed “Women are asked not to linger in this area.” Outside a synagogue in the Kirya ha-Haredit quarter a sign demanded females cross to the opposite sidewalk and not tarry outside the building. And orthodox male soldiers insist female soldiers not sing, since women’s voices are so beguiling. 

Meanwhile, female reporters – women with particularly high power and visibility — are assailed with epithets like “whore.”

No girls allowed! is the juvenile message.

Ironic, that the bullying is perpetrated in the name of God. Yet this happens all the time, across religions. Bullies commonly intimidate to create a sense of personal power and superiority over others. Who cares if little girls are abused and women are restricted. So long as men feel empowered and superior as they disempower and demean others.

Men can do what they want. Women can’t. Men are at the front of the bus. Women must go to the back. Both figuratively and literally.

Right here in America women who take the B110 bus in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods of Brooklyn must actually sit in the back of the bus. As the Times reported:

One father who sat in the front with his son and daughter and declined to give his name said men and women “need to be separated.” He looked down at his daughter dressed in a bright red raincoat, with her blue eyes frozen in amazement, and said: “She’s small. When she’s big, she will sit in the back.”

There was a time when Jews were forbidden to walk freely in Germany, becoming increasingly suppressed. Now a few wish to enforce such limits on their own women.

Only a small group of extremists have gone mad. Most Jews are outraged. Thousands have joined protests against the religious fanatics.

I’ve long argued that modesty enforcement is about things like power, control and creating a sense of male superiority. Modesty is not about morality, as claimed.

The reaction to little Naama is Exhibit A. And the rest yield exhibits B-F.

Related Posts on BroadBlogs
Modesty Objectifies Women Says Nude Egyptian
Men Who Hate Pretty Women
Men Aren’t Hard Wired To Find Breasts Attractive

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on January 6, 2012, in feminism, gender, psychology, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Rio Anne Calonge

    It is really a sad fact that women all over the world are still viewed as second-class citizens, if citizens at all even. These are grown men spitting and insulting an innocent eight-year old girl by calling her a prostitute and a whore for wearing long sleeves and long skirts! If long sleeves and long skirts are not modest, then I don’t know what it is. These men clearly believe they have the power and superiority to dictate the lives of these girls and women in the name of God, which is really ironic. When did bullying equate to love?

  2. Perhaps these folks can think up some easily-accessible religious garment that would meet even the most mind-boggling criteria for modesty; I’m sure the Taliban would offer their fashion design services towards this end.

    • They and the Taliban are certainly of one accord. I doubt the Taliban is any more interested in modesty than than these ultra-Orthodox Jews.

      Intersting how right-wing extremists all think alike.

      Thanks for your comment.

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