Your Monday Firestorm: Extreme Patriarchy Edition!

I tried to hold out a whole month, out of respect to John C and the voters in his poll, but I just can’t refrain any longer from posting about gender inequality. Like a moth to the flame! I’m back with a vengeance, bringing two appalling examples of the world we women live in. First up, an Orthodox Jewish newspaper photoshopped Hillary Clinton out of the iconic Situation Room photo of the Bin Laden compound raid.

What I find most maddening isn’t the fact that they did it–though that is maddening–but the statement they made in their defense after charges of sexism:

“Our editorial policies are guided by a Rabbinical Board and because of laws of modesty, does not allow for the publishing of photos of women. The readership of the Tzeitung believe that women should be appreciated for who they are and what they do, not for what they look like, and the Jewish laws of modesty are an expression of respect for women, not the opposite.”

Update: Here is another quote with a few groan-inducingly familiar sentiments:

The Jewish religion does not allow for discrimination based on gender, race, etc.

In accord with our religious beliefs, we do not publish photos of women, which in no way relegates them to a lower status. …. Because of laws of modesty, we are not allowed to publish pictures of women, and we regret if this gives an impression of disparaging to women, which is certainly never our intention. We apologize if this was seen as offensive.

To avoid saying something I will regret later, I shall refrain from drawing any comparisons between this statement and any other statements or attitudes I may or may not have encountered in my life.

Next is this very interesting series of news clips and interviews about the debate over whether Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving should be lifted (h/t Joanna Brooks):

What I find most interesting in this clip is the claim that women driving constitutes some kind of slippery slope to make-up and wild Western debauchery. I love the young woman’s rejoinder that if driving is so inexorably linked to immorality, why should men be allowed to drive? It applies just as well to the newspaper photoshopping case–if printing photos of women would cause people to not appreciate them for who they are and what they do, why are we not concerned about people not appreciating photographed men for who they are and what they do?

Let your firestorming commence.

Comments

  1. Mark Brown says:

    Three cheers for uppity women who defy posting moratoriums. (Although I have to say that I think John’s poll was brilliant. He gave the game away in the comments, when he wryly observed that lots more men than women participate in the bloggernacle. It is odd to see a bunch of college-educated white men complain about conversations like this, and whine about how often the topic of gender inequality comes up.)

    Exagerration and hyperbole are often used as rhetorical devices to make a point. In the case of the Tzeitung, we see the concept of living pornography taken to an extreme. It is nonetheless disturbing that our own version is simply an matter of degree, not of kind. The idea that you honor someone by simlpy erasing her is also disturbing, and has some uncomfortable parallels among us.

  2. I love the young woman’s rejoinder that if driving is so inexorably linked to immorality, why should men be allowed to drive?

    Nicely said.

  3. Unfortunately, this sounds all too familiar. I do like that the Orthodox newspaper treat Secretary Clinton the way we treat Heavenly Mother.

  4. I began wearing makeup about six months after I got my driver’s license. Who are YOU to say that women driving isn’t the first step on the slippery slope to such debauchery? Hmm?

    Besides, the best way to demonstrate appreciation for what a woman does is to never, you know, actually show a woman doing anything, right?

  5. Kristine says:

    “It is odd to see a bunch of college-educated white men complain about conversations like this, and whine about how often the topic of gender inequality comes up”

    “Odd” is a gentler word than I would have used, Mark. Thanks, though, for making the observation. May your tribe increase.

  6. Frankly, I’m surprised we made it this long.

  7. Come on, Cynthia; I was enjoying not having to think about gender inequality and just bask in my male entitlement. I say ban the topic another month! :)

  8. That first Saudi woman (she is also last) who is arguing that women should be allowed to drive (as it does not drag men down into debauchery) is TOTALLY wearing make-up! What is she going to do once she can drive?! Wear shoulder pads? Poor Saudis!

  9. Meh, I would have expected a better example, a more subtle one that demonstrates how the evil patriarchy is giving lip service to the problem of protecting women while offering them some level of liberation.

    Everyone knows the extremists are unwilling to bend on these questions. If you’re going to flaunt the ban at least make it something into which we can sink our teeth.

  10. When I see that Islamists complain or condemn contemporary *anything* as an un-Islamic innovation, I wonder why they don’t apply that same religious condemnation to machine guns and explosives.

  11. Just think of the consequences of revoking women’s right to drive:

    Women can’t drive –> Soccer Moms go extinct –> Minivan sales plummet –> Auto industry declines –> Bicycle sales increase & public transportation improves, walking increases –> Fewer exhaust emissions; increased exercise –> Decreases in pollution & obesity –> Improved health & environment.

    So really, if you have a problem with these policies, you’re in favor of killing people and destroying the Earth.

  12. prometheus says:

    Very disturbing. I am all for cultural diversity, but not at the expense of human rights.

  13. As a woman living in Saudi right now and for the past 4 years, I live this every day. (BiV might want to comment too). More than anything it’s completely frustrating. I actually live on a compound where it is legal for me (and the Saudi women who live here) to drive on the compound, and I have to comment on the guy who said the line about women could still wear the hijab and niqab. Yeah – but it cuts their vision! The peripheral vision just isn’t properly there. What’s also weird is that we have Saudi women driving on my compound, but many (most?) of them don’t have driver’s licenses because they’re Saudi women!

    It’s a strange situation to be sure and VERY frustrating because more than anything you depend on a man for your very mobility. I disagree with the funny comment that it would get women riding their bikes and end obesity. Here, it does the opposite. Oh wait — women can’t ride bikes here either….

  14. Peter LLC says:

    Are these free-wheeling compounds in Saudi regarded as Las Vegas-like dens of iniquity for Woyzeck types with no morals?

  15. My other favorite part in the Saudi driving video is when they’re debating about camels, and how female associates of Muhammad rode camels, ergo women today should be able to drive cars, which are the modern-day equivalent of camels.

    It reminds me of all our talk about “But prophetess Deborah!” and “But Elijah Able!!” and “But female healing among the pioneers!!!”

  16. Kristine N says:

    meems–can women ride horses and camels in public?

  17. Hmmm. Not sure – I guess so. I’ve never seen anyone riding a horse, and the camels are usually riderless – just walking around or in a herd being guided by some camel shepherd.

    Women either stay inside, take a walk, walk and socialize in shopping malls, or are being driven around by a driver. And that’s another weird thing. Women can’t be driven by a guy who isn’t a male relative… unless he’s a hired driver, which makes no sense. When a friend was driving me to church, it was “okay” because my 7 year old son was in the car as my chaperone. !!!

    And Peter, I guess you could say what happens on the compound, stays on the compound…

  18. My bad html tagging…:-(

  19. There’s a slippery slope even if Saudi women are allowed to ride camels.

    Women riding camels –> Robot camel jockeys –> Stepford Wives –> Austin Powers Fembots Take Over the World!

  20. More seriously, we had our ward conference yesterday, and I am again surprised that the whole ward gets to sustain the AP quorum presidencies, while the YW Class Presidencies are just listed in the “FYI” portion with no vote. On the other hand, as HP Group Leader in my ward, I’m also in the FYI portion as well.

  21. nat kelly says:

    I just loved that explanation about taking Clinton out of those photos.

    We don’t want to relegate women to a lower status. We just want to literally erase them from public life and make them invisible. What’s so offensive about that?!

    Cynthia, I’m glad you broke the ban. :)

  22. meems, I’m sure there is zero possibility of indecency when you have a hired professional driving women around. Just look at the American equivalents: the pool boy, the UPS delivery man. Paragons of professionalism.

  23. Kevinf, I’m glad you brought that most important issue to the fore. Imagine the shortsightedness of that woman in the video, advocating for women to be riding camels out in the open where they might be seen. Next thing you know, Saudi women will be riding camels to the grocery store to buy food for the families, in the style of that Western Bacon Cheeseburger eating, mechanical bull riding hussy from the Carl’s Jr ad.

  24. kevinf,

    More seriously, we had our ward conference yesterday, and I am again surprised that the whole ward gets to sustain the AP quorum presidencies, while the YW Class Presidencies are just listed in the “FYI” portion with no vote. On the other hand, as HP Group Leader in my ward, I’m also in the FYI portion as well.

    If that is what happened, then I think your ward has got it backwards. Priesthood quorums presidencies (including the AP/YM) are not sustained by the ward, whereas YM presidencies are.

  25. CynthiaL, I’m not sure if you are taking me too seriously, or I am taking you to seriously, but I’ve become much more aware of late regarding the gender inequality issues, and wondering about the logic behind some of the practices we see. And starting to ask questions.

    I’m choosing my words carefully here, but I’m sure that some of the practices that just seem silly to me, are often more annoying or infuriating to women. My wife, who is the RS president, is quick to point out some of the issues that I miss.

    Camel riding just brought to mind the robot jockeys, which led to stepford wives. I should have stopped there, I guess. Or maybe never started. Mea culpa.

  26. Mark Brown says:

    Cynthia, I think you need to quit hiding your true motives with this post. You brought up all this unpleasantness because you are mad about the priesthood, right? Right?

  27. Scott B, our HC rep had substantial difficulty in the whole process of reading the sustaining form, so who knows the intent, but that’s what happened. Normal sustaining of AP quorum presidencies would take place in the quorum meeting with just the quorum members doing the sustaining, as was the case when I was sustained as HPGL, or for an EQ preidency. But for whatever reason, there was, as I remember from many times in the past, a sustaining vote for the AP quorum presidencies, the auxiliary presidencies, and then the FYI which included the EQ presidency, the HP group leadership, and the YW class presidencies with no vote. It would seem to me that all the PH quorum offices would be just FYI under current church policy, but I don’t have a copy of HB # 1 these days.

  28. kevinf, I had ward conference yesterday too, and the sustaining was exactly as you describe.

    Cynthia, thanks for defying the ban. It was merely a feeble attempt to erase you!

  29. Cynthia,

    I don’t see anything in your post that compels white Mormon men to feel guilt. The ban is still in place.

  30. Brother Evans has asked that I now read this letter:

    To all bloggers and commenters of the Bloggernacle throughout cyberspace:

    Dear Bloggernaclers,

    As we have witnessed the expansion of the writings on gender equality across the Bloggernacle over the past month over the earth, we have been grateful that writers from many different blogs have responded to the message of Zelophehad’s Daughters and Other Female Writers, and have joined the Bloggernacle in ever-increasing numbers. This, in turn, has inspired us with a desire to extend to every member of the Bloggernacle all of the privileges and blessings which blogging affords.

    Aware of the promises made by the permas of By Common Consent who have preceded us that at some point, in due time, all of our permas who can be bothered to actually generate a block or two of text, may post on any topic they desire, and witnessing the loudsuffering and constant complaining of those from whom topical restrictions had been applied, we have pleaded long and earnestly in behalf of these, our faithful permas, spending many hours in GChat, supplicating John C., the originator of the Non-Priesthood Ban, for guidance.

    We have read your instant messages, your emails, and your comments, and we confirm that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, active blogger at By Common Consent may post to their heart’s content on any subject, with power to exercise their non-authoritative writing, and enjoy with their similarly-minded commenters and followers, every argument, firestorm, and cleverness that flows therefrom, including the blessings of YouTube videos, LOLcats, and twice-monthly visits to fMh. Accordingly, all worthy members of the Bloggernacle may post freely, without regard to whether said posts relate to chicken patriarchy, opening prayers in General Conference, or even working motherhood. BCC Administrators are instructed to follow the policy of carefully reading all posts and comments on these and other topics, to insure that they meet the established standards for inclusion in the archives of BCC.

    We declare with soberness that the Almighty Bloghead has now made known its will for the blessing of all participants throughout the Bloggernacle who will promise to agree with all the words of all BCC permabloggers, and prepare themselves to receive every post of the Archipelago.

    Sincerely yours,
    The Bloghead

    Recognizing Steve Evans as the Founder, Leader, and Supreme Chancellor of By Common Consent, it is proposed that we as a constituent assembly accept this revelation as the word and will of the Bloghead. All in favor please signify by right-clicking on your mouse. Any opposed by the same sign.

    Teh Interwebz, May 23, 2011.

  31. Mommie Dearest says:

    Wait—there was a ban…?

  32. #31:

    Also, sign that comment up for a niblet.

  33. Re the Orthodox paper blotting out Secretary Clinton: Maybe they were actually trying to do her a favor, considering that in the undoctored photo she appeared to be vomiting into her hand, which didn’t project the steely resolve one wants in a national leader responding to the proverbial 3 a.m. call.

  34. I had something more to say, but after recognizing the validity of the proclamation on the affirmation of equality in # 31, disregard anything that I or others have ever said about this topic.

    Instead, let me just tell a quick story from a summer as an 8 year old on my grandfather’s farm. He used to tell me never to go into the cow pasture without my rubber boots, and when I would ask why, he’d just say “Don’t do it!”

    However, I persisted, sneaked off through the barbwire fence in pursuit of a kitten, and soon stepped into a cowpie. I tried to clean it off my sneakers, but that only got it all over my pants, and in the process I fell down, and my back landed right in a real Idaho cowpie, relatively fresh. No matter how I tried, I couldn’t get clean enough to avoid getting caught, and punished. That’s pretty much how I feel today.

  35. Tiffany W. says:

    Meems, we’ll be moving to Saudi Arabia in a couple of months. If it isn’t too presumptuous, is there any way we could connect via email?

  36. ByTheRules says:

    31: Hoorah!

    I’ve been obediantly waiting to post a facinating conclusion to a short paper I read recently. With some explanatory prelude, the conclusion is as follows:

    All women were ordained to the Holy Priestesshood (spelling is correct?) after the Order of a Daughter of God in the pre-mortal life and hold full authority to function as Queens and Priestesses to God, actualization of which is conditional upon further annointing.
    It would be improper to ordain a daughter of God to the Holy Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God, and have her preside in the Church of Jesus Christ. Unless of course there is established a Church of Jesus and (Mary and/or Martha, etc.) Christ.

  37. Cynthia L. says:

    Kevinf: As far as I can tell, neither one of us was being serious seriously, though we were both being serious unseriosuly. Hope that clears it up!

  38. P.M. (Ponderous Male) says:

    Sharia law assumes that when a woman is raped that it is up to her tribe or clan to extract punishment or reparations for her debasement. This has the problem that if you go out and kill a man from another family for retribution, this will start a blood feud. This is beyond horrible because men are killed over a woman. So in God-sanctioned inversion, the woman is held guilty for being in a position, ie. in public, unchaperoned, where such a crime can be committed. The only fair thing to do is to kill the woman.

    Any man, then, seeing a woman in public with too much flesh revealed, and alone, is justified in raping her because it is her fault for tempting him beyond his capacity for restraint. (Male lusts are powerful and urgent and blessed by God in the service of producing more men.)

    Besides if you put a man’s life and a woman’s life in a balance, the man clearly wins. Really, a woman’s life is as light as a feather compared to the ponderousness of maleness. (Isn’t there some dispute about whether women even have souls?)

    Driving gives her the capacity to be where she should not be and alone, and could get her raped and subsequently killed by her father or uncles or brothers thus restoring her family’s honor. Thus how merciful is the driving restriction.

  39. Women shouldn’t be allowed to drive because you have to photoshop their picture off their license. Makes the thing useless.

    Say, Cynthia L., I can’t help but noticing that while the plight of Saudi women is not to be envied, you making the complaint is pretty weak tea. If you need some personal oppressing to juice your post count, call me.

  40. Could the permas give Tiffany my email?/ Pretty please? [done]

  41. Cynthia, I am very grateful you have commenced the gender inequality discussion. When I read about the ban on Saudi Arabian women driving, I felt my stomach churn in a very uncomfortable manner. If it is immoral for them to drive, why are men driving? Shouldn’t there be a ban on driving all together? Or even going out in public?

    It seems that these societies who perpetuate the thought “women are inherently immoral,” fail to recognize the blatant hypocrisy they present through their male lens. It’s the reason why women have historically also been considered less spiritual, more wayward, and blatant “whores” to be avoided. By that I mean, why the feminine is used to describe evil practices throughout scripture. If this is the case, why are men often seeking these salacious women out and purposefully using them?

    And I could go on and on.

  42. Just for clarity, is it Orthodox Jewish mores that bother you, that they don’t print pictures of women? Or that in this particular case, they photoshopped her out?

    Why are there no Asians there? No one under 40? Women of color? Why is no one agitating for those groups’ equal representation? It just seems that there’s more heat than light here…

    “We just want to literally erase them from public life and make them invisible.” Go to a Jewish neighborhood. There are plenty of women visible in public life.

    I’m uncomfortable with the knee-jerk attribution of wrong-doing here, instead of discussing it.

  43. Wow, you couldn’t respect the ban for even 3 weeks. That’s pretty sad.

    Also, what are you saying about the issues you address? You are obviously angry, but why? Because you don’t believe the Jewish paper’s explanation? You think they’re lying? I’m not clear on what the exact issue is.

    Finally, as someone alluded to earlier, I just don’t see how these examples are worth getting all that upset about. So some people with extreme, or at least extremely different, views think women should be photoshopped out of pictures or not be allowed to drive. Those are pretty extreme and limited examples.

  44. Ryan and Ben, if you think this post is about Orthodox Jews or Saudi misogynists, I have news for you. It’s about Robot Camel Jockeys. Seriously.

  45. Jacob M says:

    Ryan, your post is idiotic, and makes me pretty sad, too.

  46. Mark Brown says:

    Ben S,

    Let’s turn the question around a bit. If they had ‘shopped Asian people out of the picture, then said they did it out of respect for Asians, and because they want Asians to be noticed for what they do, not for what they look like, do you think Asians would feel respected, or not? In other words, it isn’t so much about equal representation as it is about the reasons (or I would say rationalizations and excuses) for the actions they took. I do not doubt they are sincere, and mean well, but we should at least be able to recognize extreme sexism when we see it. And when LDS people use the same thetoric it should give us pause.

  47. Jacob M,

    Your comment is meaningless. Unless it’s intended to provide an example of what a fallacious ad hominem attack is and how someone lacking the capacity to engage in substantive debate might use it. In that case, your comment is great.

    kevinf,

    That subject would be worth breaking a ban.

  48. ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem ad hominem

  49. Why has this post not been Photoshopped out? Cynthia clearly does not know her place.

  50. #44 – “Those are pretty extreme and limited examples.”

    Maybe in your world, but not in the world of millions of women.

    Can’t you understand that difference? (not meant sarcastically – I really want to know.)

  51. Jacob M says:

    Ryan

    Or it could just be a mockery of your own comment, particularly in it’s tone. I originally was going to say more, but sometimes brevity is worthwhile.

  52. I’m just glad that people are FINALLY getting into the real spirit of a Firestorm! More ALL CAPS and over-punctuation (e.g. “?!?!!!?!!!1!!”), please!

  53. Ryan,

    To engage you more seriously, I’ll quote Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr, from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” These may be extreme examples of misogynistic thinking draped in the faux robes of religious theology and false respect for women, but there are many lesser, but still harmful, examples everywhere.

  54. Ryan & Jacob M,

    Knock it off.

  55. Excuse me–

    Knock it off “please.”*

    *That was for you, Antonio.

  56. Ray,

    I understand your question, and I think that legitimate discrimination exists in the world. But photoshopping someone out of a photograph is (a) absurd and (b) so strange that I’d like to know why it was done before assuming it was done with some type of negative discriminatory intent. The original post seems to make a big deal out of it and assumes it was done with negative intent despite the paper’s contrary statements.

    Women not being allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia is an extreme example limited to that country and while that may affect the women of that country, I don’t think that has any relevance to the LDS Church or the US or any other country outside of Saudi Arabia. It’s still wrong, but very limited.

  57. Jacob M.,

    If you have an issue with the merits of my post, say it and I can address it.

    Scott B.,

    I don’t know what exactly you’d like knocked off. You’ll have to be more specific.

  58. Ryan #58: I have no reason to believe that they did it for any reason other than that stated reason, i.e., that they view any photographic depiction of a woman to be per se immodest. Are you saying that you don’t think that that view is a “negative discriminatory” view?

  59. Cynthia L.,

    The article references the “laws of modesty,” but I think you mischaracterize what the paper said when you state that the paper’s editors believe that “any photographic depiction of a woman to be per se immodest.” I think that the use of the word “immodest,” particularly in an LDS-related context like this blog, carries with it very negative connotations that I don’t think can fairly be attributed to a Jewish paper. They stated that the photographic depiction of women violates their laws of modesty (not necessarily the same thing as being “immodest” in the sense that we think of modesty) and that it was done out of respect for women. I think that you have to take their words at face value unless you have some type of evidence to show they’re being dishonest. It’s not really fair to assume your interpretation of their actions is correct and then to castigate them based on your interpretation, especially when their stated intentions are directly contrary to your interpretation.

  60. Ryan,
    Your #44–saying that we’re “sad” for doing something you don’t like–is obnoxious.
    Your #48–where you make a comment that has no hope of doing anything but fanning flames–is obnoxious.
    Your #59–in which you claim you can’t figure out what I could possibly be talking about–is obnoxious.

  61. Scott B.,

    If you’re going to limit my comments to what you subjectively find obnoxious, I’m not sure how I’m going to know what is and isn’t OK. I’ll sincerely try to make my comments less obnoxious for you. (Oops, I think I might have done it again.)

  62. Mark Brown says:

    Ryan,

    You are obviously angry, but why? Because you don’t believe Cynthia’s explanation? You think she’s lying? I’m not clear on what the exact issue is.

  63. Mark Brown,

    Nice try.

  64. First let me say that I’m a relative newcomer to BCC so I’m a bit uncertain how things work around here, and I apologize for any offense. I was a bit surprised (and amused as a newcomer) to read the “banned topic poll” thread a few weeks ago and I was curious as to why gender inequality won. But I’m now thinking that perhaps this post provides an explanation.

    As to the post, I agree with everything the OP says. It is patently absurd, offensive, and just plain ridiculous. That said, I’m trying to discern a mormon connection that goes beyond the existence of sexism in organized religion. Unfortunately, we can find examples of injustice to women (and men – not nearly as often but no less real) almost everyday. Indeed, there are numerous blogs whose whole purpose is documenting these injustices. And they serve a valuable function. Sexism of any kind anywhere is wrong. But I’m having to read into this post the assertion that “see, other religions/groups can be sexist too” in order to find any relevance to mormonism.

    If something can qualify for posting on BCC by relating to misogyny, absent any mormon connection, I can see why people would like to take a month off. But again, I’m new here and it’s entirely possible that I’m wading into the middle of a long-standing discussion on this. If so, I would very much appreciate a bit of enlightenment! I’ve been following the comments trying to figure out what’s going on, and while there does seem to be a bit of “insider information” referenced; I’m still at a loss for what’s going on. Again, I apologize for any offense and thanks.
    I agree with everything the OP says. This is patently absurd, offensive, and just plain ridiculous. That said, I’m trying to discern a mormon connection that goes beyond the existence of organized religion. Unfortunately, we can find examples of injustice to women (and men – not nearly as often but no less real) almost everyday. Indeed, there are numerous blogs whose whole purpose is documenting these injustices. And they serve a valuable function. But I just don’t get what the “mormon angle” is supposed to be here.

    If something can qualify for posting on BCC by relating to misogyny, absent any mormon connection, I can see why people would like to take a month off. But again, I’m new here and perhaps I’m wading into the middle of a long-standing discussion on this. If so, I would very much appreciate a bit of enlightenment! And again, I apologize for any offense.

  65. Sorry for the weird mid-post double-posting. Again, I’m going to plead newbie ignorance on this. Sorry all!

  66. Mark Brown says:

    Ryan, no, it wasn’t a nice try, it was an idiotic comment. I just hoped you might recognize it.

  67. Hi Drew,

    I think typically there is a stronger, more explicit Mormon connection to things that we post here. These were just two examples that particularly raised my ire, so I thought it would be fun to make a big splash of breaking the (not really serious anyway) “ban” with these extreme examples.

    That said, it’s not as if there is no connection or nothing to be learned. The object of the exercise was to throw out examples so egregiously wrong that everyone would agree they were wrong (unfortunately there appear to be a couple who are impervious to even these extreme examples), then maybe we can ask ourselves, well, are there analogous things happening in our own culture that escape our notice because we are too close to them, too accustomed to not seeing it.

    I think some of the comments in this thread have borne that out, at least some of the earlier comments.

  68. Mark Brown,

    Your words, not mine. But to the extent your comment is idiotic, it is only because you took my quote, which was not idiotic, out of context and placed it in a completely different context in which it made no sense. Unlike Cynthia L.’s comments regarding the Jewish paper, I do not make any judgment about, or even attempt to interpret, her motives. I only disagree with her interpretation of others’ motives.

  69. Mark Brown says:

    LOL!

  70. Cynthia L.,

    >>The object of the exercise was to throw out examples so egregiously wrong that everyone would agree they were wrong (unfortunately there appear to be a couple who are impervious to even these extreme examples)…<<

    Of course you're not required to address my point, but I would like to know why you are so sure that the Jewish paper had negative discriminatory intent. They stated that they believe women should be judged based on who they are and what they do, not their looks. I assume you agree with that sentiment. So, as I understand it, you only agree with the manner in which that sentiment was expressed, not the sentiment itself, is that right? If not, what evidence do you have they were disingenuous about their motives? And if so, how can you label their actions as "egregiously wrong" when they're based on a very "gender equal" idea with which you would agree? I think at most the Jewish paper's actions were a misguided attempt to show respect to women, not some egregious example of gender inequality.

  71. Ryan, what is my interpretation of their motives? I said I took them at face value when they said that they were doing it because showing women in photographs is, in their opinion, not modest.

    It is my opinion that their sincere sincere belief that any photo of a woman is not modest, is a bat guano insane belief that–regardless of intention or sincerity–has the practical effect of spitting on women.

  72. > They stated that they believe women should be judged based on who they are and what they do, not their looks. I assume you agree with that sentiment.

    Ryan, why do you believe that the newspaper disrespects men and wants men to be judged by how they look?

  73. Mark Brown says:

    Ryan, perhaps Cynthia could erase all your comments from the post, as a way of showing profound respect.

  74. There is only a tangential Mormon connection, although I admit I made it myself in the privacy of my own brain when I blogged about the newspaper incident myself (not at BCC–because, you know, the ban and all–just kidding).

    Obviously, Mormons are not nearly as extreme in their notions of modesty. Even the most sexist men among us wouldn’t think it was inappropriate to look at a photograph of a fully-clothed woman in her 60s. (They might claim it was too unpleasant for their sensitive eyes, but that would be different.) And although one may argue we are different only in degree, degrees are important. For example, although I might think that ban on bare shoulders is a bit much, I appreciate that the FTSOY pamphlet does not recommend that my daughters wear burqas. I think that’s a significant plus. I really do.

    That said, this business of respecting women so much that they are effectively erased from public life does remind me of some of our (Mormon) rhetoric about gender. Heavenly Mother is the most obvious example. Even if people aren’t spreading the folklore that she’s so sacred that Heavenly Father can’t bear to have us speak her name, the idea is sort of implicit in the fact that she is, for all intents and purposes, invisible–because propriety requires us to make her invisible.

    Whether or not this is some huge deal is another story. I reckon most members of the church couldn’t possibly care less. And believe me, I give the church due credit for allowing photographs of women to appear in their publications. That’s super-awesome. But as I said, this business of putting women on a pedestal at the expense of treating them like human beings echoes in our own culture. Thank heaven it manifests itself differently among us–a difference of several degrees, I should think–but the ideas are nevertheless familiar. As far as Mormon connections go, it’s not the biggest stretch I’ve ever seen here.

  75. Thanks for your response Cynthia! This does make the connection much more clear for me. If I may though, could I suggest writing what you wrote in the second paragraph in the original post next time? It would help newbies like me, and maybe help steer the comments in the direction you want them to go. Thanks again!

  76. Ryan,

    Any attempt to respect women by making them not seen is a statement that the form of a woman is problematic and causes or invites men to think the wrong things. The solution then becomes to hide (read: blame) the women instead of making the men responsible for their thoughts or actions.

    Such thinking flipped on it’s head would say maybe we should just gouge out the eyes of men so they don’t have to look at women instead. It’s for their own protection.

  77. Cynthia L.,

    >>Ryan, why do you believe that the newspaper disrespects men and wants men to be judged by how they look?<<

    I think you are again mischaracterizing the Jewish paper's actions. At no point did they say that they left men's pictures alone because they wanted men to be judged by their looks. That is your interpretation of their actions, and there's not really any support for it.

  78. If women should be judged on who they are and what they do, why wouldn’t it make sense for men to be judged the same way? Wouldn’t we all like to be judged that way? So no more photos. Everyone gets shopped out.

  79. Cynthia L.,

    And, I might regret saying this, but on my mission ALL (well, I found out later, almost all) the male missionaries couldn’t wait for the Conference issue of the Ensign to come out so that we could look at the pictures of the eligible college-aged women and judge them for who they are and what they had accomplished.

  80. I don’t imagine that the editors of this newspaper intended to disrespect women. I’m sure they intend to respect women a great deal. But respect isn’t what you intend. It’s what you do.

  81. Here’s a photo that respects everyone equally.

  82. Ryan (63),
    Normally, that would have been obnoxious also. However, I was recently told by a long-time lurker at BCC that Steve and I are a bit too gleeful with banninations. It was suggested that people who makes comments like these aren’t trolls in reality, they’re just people who have “sorrow where the eye can’t see” or somesuch. So, in that vein, let me speak for all of us here at BCC:

    Ryan, we love you.
    Ryan, it’s not your fault.
    Ryan, it’s okay.
    Ryan, it’s not your fault.

  83. Little Sister says:

    Ryan –

    Can you imagine a reason why the newspaper would photoshop out all women that you would _not_ find discriminatory?

  84. I would like to thank Ryan for perfectly raising (and sometimes illustrating) several of the key issues this post was designed to raise:

    (1) What is the role of intent? If somebody doesn’t intend to be discriminatory, or does not bear ill will by their discriminatory acts, does that make their behavior ok even if it is discriminatory?

    (2) Given that men often view women for their appearance only, what is a good response to that? Erasing or covering women? By erasing and covering women, who is being made to bear the brunt of the consequences for the fact that men often view women for their appearance only?

    (3) If I, as a woman, only view men for their appearance (for example, I judge male actors on their looks, not their acting abilities–for this reason I think Stephen Colbert–the hotter one–overtook Jon Stewart in quality years ago), should we cover up men?

    (4) If society at large takes actions (like erasing women from newspapers) based on men’s reactions to the image of a woman, but not based on women’s reactions to the image of a woman (I’m assuming women have no problem viewing a photo of a woman and appreciating who that women is and what she does), then doesn’t that implicitly send the message that society is really only comprised of men? So doesn’t it have the effect of not only erasing women from the photo, but from the audience? Doesn’t such an action seem to “forget” that women even exist in the audience? Isn’t that awful?

    Your turn, Ryan.

  85. Cynthia L.,

    Funny, but since your intent is insincere, it doesn’t work. I think you see the difference.

    Little Sister,

    Actually, I think that photoshopping out the women was “discriminatory” (such a loaded word) in the sense that it differentiated between men and women. What I think it lacked, however, was negative discriminatory intent. Is it discriminatory that women are not allowed to hold most combat positions? Yes. Is it an egregious wrong? No. Because there’s a reason for it that does not include negative discriminatory intent. You may not agree with the reason. But to say it is an egregious wrong is a failure to see the distinction between actual negative discriminatory intent, meant to oppress women, and other discrimination which is designed to protect women and/or men or to show respect for women. My point is that Cynthia L.’s post lumps the two categories together, fails to see any nuances, and essentially says that anything that treats men and women differently in any way is evil and wrong. A more reasoned approach would acknowledge that sometimes men and women are treated differently for a reason that does not include negative intent, even though not everyone agrees with the reason.

  86. Stephanie says:

    A bannination would be fine.

  87. Little Sister says:

    So as long as the newspaper editors were trying to protect women, you would be okay with however they choose to implement that?

  88. Mark Brown says:

    I am begging somebody with admin authority to show Ryan the respect he has earned.

  89. Yes, Ryan, I think history would teach us that discrimination leads to greater respect for those being discriminated against.

    Tell me, what we are we protecting women from when we “positively” discriminate? Whose thoughts are actions are concerned about, yet women accountable for?

  90. I’m not sure why I’m missing so many words there. I’ll try again:

    Whose thoughts or actions are we concerned about, yet make women accountable for?

  91. Cynthia L.,

    I think I responded to your main point in my response to Little Sister (#87).

    To respond to your #86:

    (1) Not necessarily, but it does mean that you shouldn’t jump to conclusions about their intent and lump innocent actions together with actions intended to oppress women. That is the main problem, as I see it, with your original post.

    (2) Encouraging modest dress, which the LDS Church does.

    (3) Colbert is already completely covered with a suit all the time. What more do you want? But seriously, men should dress modestly as well, as the Church teaches.

    (4) First, society doesn’t do that. Second, even if it did, the answer would be, not really. I think it is just an acknowledgment of the fact that immodestly dressed women affect men differently than immodestly dressed men affect women.

  92. Little Sister,

    I’m not saying I’m OK with anything. I don’t think anyone should be photoshopped out of pictures. What I’m saying is that if no negative discriminatory intent is involved, you need to distinguish the behavior from those involving negative discriminatory intent. The original post did not do that.

  93. Mark Brown says:

    Again, LOL!

    Nobody can possible be this dense. Boz, please knock off the sockpuppetry.

  94. Cynthia L. says:

    Mai Li, thanks for your comment that inspired my “improved” image.

    Ryan, the questions were aseriois, but I see you are more interested in silly theoretical and semantic arguments and less interested in equality or basic quality of life for women.

  95. Cynthia L.,

    Don’t attack my character just because I pointed out a flaw in your argument. And, unless you can show me how being photoshopped affected Hillary’s quality of life, I think your criticism is misplaced.

    Either way, I think it is dangerous to fail to distinguish between those who intend to oppress women and those who do not, although their actions may not be in accordance with your definition of “equality” or, as in the case of the Jewish paper, fall short of their goal of showing respect for women.

  96. Seriously, Scott, why give a platform to this kind of projectile shizzing?

  97. Mark Brown says:

    I do want to make a serious and important point. As others have already pointed out, often it ultimately doesn’t matter what motivates us to discriminate. Jim Crow laws came about not because of hatred for black people but because the people who created those laws believed the races should be kept separate. So when Lester Maddox ran African-Americans out of his restaurant with a gun and an ax handle, he was doing it for the best of reasons, and on his deathbed he said he had no regrets, he was just doing what was right.

  98. Cynthia L. says:

    “Colbert is already completely covered with a suit all the time. What more do you want”

    Ok now my head just exploded, but I’m glad Ryan finally showed that he’s just a satire. Phew!! SCARY if anyone were really that clueless!

  99. Cynthia L. says:

    Seriously, Ryan, think for one second what Clinton was wearing.

  100. Cynthia L. says:

    “Don’t attack my character just because I pointed out a flaw in your argument. And, unless you can show me how being photoshopped affected Hillary’s quality of life, I think your criticism is misplaced.”

    It affects the quality of life of all women when we are treated like walking pornography even when wearing a suit. What you need to ask yourself about your character is, why do you think it is more important to vociferously defend the newspaper against people pointing out their wrong, than it is to defend me against people pointing out my tiny (so tiny it’s invisible) perceived wrong of not being sufficiently obsequious in noting that they didn’t mean any harm? Why is my wrong (WAY) worse than theirs in your mind? So much so that you defend their wrong but attack me? Priorities and sense of proportion much?!

    “Either way, I think it is dangerous to fail to distinguish between those who intend to oppress women and those who do not, although their actions may not be in accordance with your definition of “equality” or, as in the case of the Jewish paper, fall short of their goal of showing respect for women.”

    “Fall short”? Ryan if you had 1/1000 the empathy for women that you have for misogynists, you’d be singing a whole different tune.

  101. “do you think Asians would feel respected, or not” That would depend upon Asian culture. I guess I’m seeing this primarily from a perspective of cultural imperialism instead of supposedly obvious LDS parallels, of assuming that Jewish women within Haredi communities feel oppressed by this, but *we* know how it should really be.

    What of Muslim women who feel empowered by the hijab?

    How’s this for a hypothetical- US newspapers publish a picture of a foreign high ranking political woman, who comes from a culture in which they go topless, and status is manifest by a particular tattoo on the chest. US newspapers then either don’t run it or photoshop it out of US cultural sensitivities. Said foreign leader is incensed that we undermined her authority by editing out her status symbol. Obviously it’s not anywhere near a perfect analogy and it has little to do with LDS rhetoric or practice, only the perspective of differing communities and how different cultural mores are perceived in and out of those communities.

  102. Steve Evans says:

    I just wanted to say that #31 came to me in the upper rooms of the Parking Garage downtown as I was thinking deeply on the matter. I do not take these notions lightly.

  103. Steve Evans says:

    Also, Ryan is an idiot. And probably a lawyer.*

    *most likely, a shitty one

  104. Cynthia L.,

    >>Ryan if you had 1/1000 the empathy for women that you have for misogynists, you’d be singing a whole different tune.<<

    My whole point is that the Jewish paper's actions were not misogynistic. Misogyny denotes some type of hatred of women. The paper's actions stemmed from respect for women, not hatred. That doesn't mean I agree with their actions. But they weren't misogynistic. I think your accusation is inaccurate.

  105. Steve Evans,

    >>Also, Ryan is an idiot. And probably a lawyer.*

    *most likely, a shitty one<<

    A perfect example of a pathetic, cowardly ad hominem attack.

  106. Steve Evans says:

    It was just a guess, Ryan. Prove me wrong on any of those points and I’ll gladly retract my comment. For the record the guesses were:

    1. Idiot
    2. Lawyer
    3. Shitty lawyer

  107. Steve Evans,

    I refuse to engage in any discussion about myself personally. That’s the point of an ad hominem fallacy: it’s fallacious to attack the person rather than the merits of his argument. Seems basic, but apparently you’re not getting it. If you’d like to address the merits of my argument, I’d be happy to discuss. If you’re going to rely on juvenile, profane personal attacks, I don’t see that we have anything to talk about.

  108. Little Sister says:
  109. No way, Little Sister. My money is on GWU.

  110. Little Sister says:

    Oh wow…

  111. LS,
    With the right attitude and a GW education, even you could one day be a Statesman. Or Stateswoman. Or whatever.

  112. Little Sister says:

    GW student endorsement:
    “Before attending George Wythe University, I was fairly close-minded and unaware of what was possible through education. . . I [now] see the world through completely different eyes. I now feel a deep sense of meaning that I hadn’t felt before.” -David Crowther Cedar City, Utah

    That’s just beautiful.

  113. Mark Brown says:

    Ryan, you continue to persist in the hilarious delusion that your comments here present some kind of argument, and that is has merit.

    NOTE TO ADMINS: Is it possible to make the blog auto-generate a reply whenever Ryan graces us with more of his “thoughts”? I think it should say “Funny, but since your intent is insincere, it doesn’t work. I think you see the difference.”

  114. Mark Brown says:

    Ben S, (103)

    I guess I’m seeing this primarily from a perspective of cultural imperialism instead of supposedly obvious LDS parallels

    That’s an interesting question Ben. Some of the most vociferous opponents of female suffrage were women. Some American slaves were wary of Emancipation. Perhaps the most extreme example was in the British Raj in India, where they encountered Hindu women who supported the institution of suttee. I think an argument which relies on the assumption that those being oppressed don’t seem to mind ultimately has to be discarded as inadequate.

    As for your hypothetical, I would like a little more honesty in the explanation as to why the photoshopping was necessary. The bothersome part, as much as the ‘shopping itself, is that the real problem is never identified. If the SL Trib refused to publish a photo like the one you describe, I would hope the paper would lay the blame on the immaturity of its readership and not congratualte itself over the marvelous way it respected the woman in question.

    But the post really is about parallels to LDS life. We live, right now, in a culture where a fully-clothed woman can be seen as living pornography. A BYU man can complain that women in shorts and tanktops might render him unworthy for a mission. In the MTC, 19 y.o. servants of the Lord can complain that the forms of the sisters in their district are making it difficult for them to study, even though the sisters are dressed in modest, missionary attire. And after the complaint, it is the sisters who must rectify the problem and wear baggy sweaters to class. Of course, the people in charge at the MTC arrived at that solution because they respect the sisters so much. They respect them to death.

  115. Peter LLC says:

    That’s the point of an ad hominem fallacy: it’s fallacious to attack the person rather than the merits of his argument.

    Not quite. From teh Wikipedia: “An ad hominem [...] is an attempt to link the validity of a premise to a characteristic or belief of the person advocating the premise.”

    As long as that link to the premise is missing, the personal attacks can be as juvenile and profane as the day is long and it’s still not a fallacy.

    To wit:

    Ryan is a lawyer. [run of the mill insult]

    Ryan is wrong because he is a lawyer. [ad hominem fallacy]

  116. Thanks for clarifying that, Peter. As one who insults others regularly on the bloggernacle, I am sick off being accused of making ad hominem arguments, when I am really just insulting others. I may be a jerk, but I am not fallacious.

  117. John Mansfield says:

    “Ryan is wrong because he is a lawyer. [ad hominem fallacy]“

    How is that a falacy?

  118. A BYU man can complain that women in shorts and tanktops might render him unworthy for a mission.

    And just in case someone thinks Mark is joking or just making a hypothetical, SCIENCE says he’s right.

  119. Peter LLC says:

    Preach on, Chris.

    John, because “lawyer” is an epithet.

  120. John Mansfield says:

    Peter, I still think it’s more of a tautology than a fallacy.

  121. Ben S, I appreciate your sensitivity to cultural lenses, I really do. I was a little bit wary of posting this, because I didn’t want it to turn into a hate-fest against sharia law, or anything like that. You’ll notice that’s why I focus in the post on the rationales for the behavior, which are the part that is most similar to LDS culture. Really, they’re almost verbatim some of the things I have heard over the years. Did you read the linked articles? That tank top “SCIENCE!” one was one of the links. Now we have an LDS person saying in the comments that photos of very clean cut, modestly-dressed women in the Ensign was enough to get young men hot and bothered. Need I say more? If you really think this is about a newspaper, and not a proxy argument for every misuse of the concept of “modesty” in LDS culture, you’re really missing the boat.

  122. Ben, here’s the entire text of the post. Point me to where the “cultural imperialism” overtakes comparison to LDS culture. Also the first question you asked, “Just for clarity, is it Orthodox Jewish mores that bother you, that they don’t print pictures of women? Or that in this particular case, they photoshopped her out?” was answered in the post. I bolded it so you won’t forget to read it this time.

    I tried to hold out a whole month, out of respect to John C and the voters in his poll, but I just can’t refrain any longer from posting about gender inequality. Like a moth to the flame! I’m back with a vengeance, bringing two appalling examples of the world we women live in. [ok I called them "appalling"--as a woman, I feel entitled to one word of judgment] First up, an Orthodox Jewish newspaper photoshopped Hillary Clinton out of the iconic Situation Room photo of the Bin Laden compound raid.

    What I find most maddening isn’t the fact that they did it–though that is maddening–but the statement they made in their defense after charges of sexism:

    [quote that could have been made by LDS]

    Update: Here is another quote with a few groan-inducingly familiar sentiments:

    [quote with sentiments so similar to LDS that it makes me groan in dismay]

    To avoid saying something I will regret later, I shall refrain from drawing any comparisons between this statement and any other statements or attitudes I may or may not have encountered in my life. [this was a tongue-in-cheek statement because the text is linked to those very comparisons]

    Next is this very interesting series of news clips and interviews about the debate over whether Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving should be lifted (h/t Joanna Brooks): [I defy you to find any hint of judgment or negativity in this intro to the clip]

    [clip]

    What I find most interesting in this clip is the claim that women driving constitutes some kind of slippery slope to make-up and wild Western debauchery. I love the young woman’s rejoinder that if driving is so inexorably linked to immorality, why should men be allowed to drive? It applies just as well to the newspaper photoshopping case–if printing photos of women would cause people to not appreciate them for who they are and what they do, why are we not concerned about people not appreciating photographed men for who they are and what they do? [this is just quoting the complaint made by a woman native to that culture]

  123. Peter LLC says:

    I still think it’s more of a tautology than a fallacy.

    Upon reflection I agree that my second example is not especially artful. The point remains, however, that insults =/= ad hominem fallacy. Post #52 above casts a certain illumination on this point.

  124. Mommie Dearest says:

    This has been one fireworks of a Firestorm and slightly edifying to boot. It has been interesting to see how utterly blind some of us can be about gender attitudes, plus the added bonus of the ad hominem tutorial in the link in #52.

    Thanks BCC! You can sponge up my attention almost as well as one of my kids.

  125. Steve Evans says:

    Peter, just so.

  126. Aaron B says:

    If I had a dollar for every time I was forced to endure misuse of the term “ad hominem” by folks who think it means “to say mean things about someone,” I’d have like 37 dollars.

  127. Eric Russell says:

    I don’t think there’s quite so clear a line as is being suggested here. A premise doesn’t have to be explicitly stated in order to exist. For example,

    To wit:
    Ryan is a lawyer. [run of the mill insult]
    Ryan is wrong because he is a lawyer. [ad hominem fallacy]

    In many cases these statements hold the same meaning. Depending on the context, the first statement may very well be implying that Ryan is wrong because he is a lawyer. And such is the case frequently in bloggernacle conversations – that the insult contains an implicit argument that the other person is wrong in their claim because of their alleged deficiency of character.

  128. Stephen Colbert covered the newspaper issue. Architectural Digest FTW!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,395 other followers