Ultra-Orthodox Men Wearing Blinders to Avoid Seeing Women

At Jezebel today in a very short piece, I look at the strange news out of Jerusalem: an ultra-Orthodox outfit is manufacturing special glasses to act as blinders for observant men, to prevent them from seeing anything that might serve as an occasion for sin. Excerpt:

On the one hand, this is good news. As the Times notes, these eyeglasses mark a “change in tactics” in the Israeli ultra-Orthodox campaign against immodesty. Rather than forcing women to cover up (and spitting on eight year-olds with exposed forearms), these blinders place the onus for avoiding temptation where it belongs: on men. If the choice is between harassing women for displaying bare skin and turning men into carriage horses, the latter seems like the preferable option.

At the same time, these eyeglasses and their stickers send two toxic and unmistakable messages. First, women’s bodies have such power to do harm that men need to partially blind themselves for protection. Second, men are totally incapable of exercising self-control. In the book of Job (Iyov in Hebrew) the title character says “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then should I look lustfully at a girl?” A covenant is a promise sustained by faith, not by a crude device that impairs the senses. Deeply religious men usually have the ocular muscles to redirect their vision from that which might prove a solicitation to sin. Outsourcing that willpower to a pair of glasses makes the idea of self-control almost meaningless.

Read the whole thing.

4 thoughts on “Ultra-Orthodox Men Wearing Blinders to Avoid Seeing Women

  1. The takeaway from this (and you won’t want to go there) is that religion is poison, and has been the most poisonous influence in indoctrinating people into harmful gender roles from time immemorial. As long as people are taught that what is natural is sinful, you’ll continue to see this kind of thing.

  2. “Deeply religious men usually have the ocular muscles to redirect their vision from that which might prove a solicitation to sin. ”

    And women who have abortions usually have ocular muscles to redirect their vision away from pictures of abortion. We need to challenge the myth of female weakness, which says that women are too weak to see real pictures of abortion.

  3. Wonder how many traffic accidents are going to result?
    Dumbest idea I’ve read all day.
    Otherwise, making “self control” easier, if that’s what you really want, would not be such a bad thing. Why haven’t the proponents of chastity come up with a safe, reliable anti-aphrodisiac? You know, take this stuff and be free of distractions. I guess the reason they haven’t is that an undistracted person might start thinking and, instead of being a good little worker bee, eventually start questioning the whole system that makes anyone think they have a right to say what is sinful. No, they want us to suffer, or have our senses and/or capacities limited even more than stupid nature has limited them already, that’s what it smells like from here.
    How many of the people yapping about chastity have genuinely walked their talk, by castrating themselves? How many who obsess about calories have had an operation to knock out their taste buds so they can live *happily* on monkey chow or whatever and get on with their lives and leave the rest of us alone? Not a whole lot of them, because it makes too much sense. And, perhaps, would give them enough real power/independence to make them dangerous to the industries (including organized religion) that so want to keep us all under control so they can keep taking our money and energy.
    Of course, if enough people start to understand this, the industries will start to popularize such operations, and will get their money from us that way. People will be freed from physical distractions, but still poor, having spent their money on the operations instead of on diets and chastity aids (or good food and porn.) But it still would not guarantee they’d become wise enough to question the power structure. It’d make an interesting sf novel, I guess…

  4. I guess I want to add to Martin’s comment, that what is considered sinful by the purveyors of blinders, is not what is “natural” but what is pleasurable or liberating. Plenty of religious leaders are happy to let women and other underclasses remain the slaves of nature–outlawing contraception, supporting right-wing efforts to take out Medicare, etc. Only when a natural thing is fun does it become suspect, and the same for “unnatural” pleasures. In some cases, I seem to recall, even intellectual pleasure is a no-no.
    I kicked that crap to the curb when I was 12. And never looked back. I was lucky not to have gotten any worse of a dose of it than I did.

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