It’s also ridiculous to be told that it’s not “tznius”* to wear pants (as happened today).
After I went home from being told this to do the proper research on why exactly my pants are so immodest, I discovered that apparently, according to the written rulings of one very prominent Rabbi, the very outline of my crotch is something that is “private” and should be hidden away. Presumably he wore this while wearing pants, so it’s not just any crotch, it’s women’s crotches that are the big bad wolf here. The rationale is that of course women never have dirty thoughts, because WE’RE SO HOLY. Awful, painful halakhic double standard of the century. If I see another be-Sheiteled woman in a skin-tight pencil skirt and skin-tight shell next time I go up North, I’ma go postal. Hell, I’ma go postal if I turn around in this here computer lab and see a guy wearing pants too. I may never see someone wearing pants the same way. You know what reading this was like? It’s like being told this like, disgusting joke by someone who thinks it’s funny, so you kind of start laughing too even though it’s a completely sick joke, and then, for the rest of your life, you associate what was once something completely innocent with the nasty joke and a part of your childhood just like, dies.
*tznius = Hebrew for “modest,” loosely translated.
You have to understand. I grew up completely into the whole “modest dress,” however old-fashioned that concept might be, and I still do, but I never felt wrong about wearing pants since I chose them to cover me up according to common sense. Even today, two years after GNDR 101 and around six years after Le Tigre, I still check in the mirror before going out to make sure nothing I’d find distracting is showing or emphasized, mostly because I just would rather have people talk to me instead of my chest or whatever (this has only happened a few times).
BUT, COME ON, SRSLY – IF THE (USUALLY CLOSED EXCEPT ON ACCIDENT) FLY OF MY LOOSE-AS-HELL JEANS IS A VULGAR, AWFUL THING, PEOPLE: A.) NEED BETTER TASTE B.) HAVE AN AWFUL AS SHIT YETZER HARA BUT ITS NOT MY PROBLEM ANY MORE THAN ME WALKING WHILE FEMALE GIVES YOU AN EXCUSE TO RAPE ME, SO GET YOURSELF A PAIR OF HORSE BLINDERS (L’MEHADRIN) AND/OR GO TO THERAPY
This is whyyy I really support a group of Jewish women in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood who started wearing the burqa. Maybe the only effective way to say “WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE.” For too long have women been made subject to the often unequally distributed burden of modest dress, entirely determined by ENTIRELY MALE halakhic decisionmakers who basically have a hegemony on what is and what isn’t considered appropriate. To me, the burqa says, “Fine, damnit, if my fucking crotch gets you wild enough to beat me on a bus in Beit Shemesh , then don’t see any of me. I’m making the rules now. HOWS THIS FULL BODYBLANKET WORK FOR YA.” Of course this will piss off those who are so used to and fond of making the rules. They’ll call these people “cruel women making people miserable and destroying homes, risking lives and showing no mercy to little children.” At this point, I’m glad that people who can take the innocence out of pants nowadays are “miserable,” having to look at their wives through self-imposed tent-outfits. Notice that both the beating and the burqas take place in the same city (Beit Shemesh). I’ve had enough of the double standard and maybe now they’ll have enough of the double standard… PSYCHE.
The ruling of another very prominent rabbi in Israel makes a lot more sense to me, even if it is not perfect, in which he explains how it’s preferable to wear pants that have a loose fit than some skin-tight skirt (the kind that passes sociologically for “tznius-style” for clothing like “kosher-style” does for delis). I really appreciate that he pointed this out, and he really went out on a line for this. This still does not go far enough to say it’s completely allowed.
This whole thing upset me, and still does, even though I will proudly continue to wear pants without an inch of shame. I want to live a life committed to halakha, NOT to the fear of what is essentially someone else’s problem if they are coming to such wild conclusions about a completely covered part of my body.
Register this as my first official (albeit anonymous) endorsement of ordaining Orthodox women rabbis.