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.