Modest Proposals: The Ideal And The Real
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Modest Proposals: The Ideal And The Real

We are strongly against the erasure of women. However, if a publication will continue to do this then do not draw more attention to their exclusion by including pictures of men.

Courtesy of Ann Koffsky and Sarah Rudolph
Courtesy of Ann Koffsky and Sarah Rudolph

Jeff Wasserstein makes a number of compelling points in his article, “There’s Nothing Immodest About This Proposal,” with which we strongly agree. We would like to follow up with some clarification about our article that inspired it, “A Modest (B’Dieved) Proposal: Take the Men Out, Too.”

Our piece, like Mr. Wasserstein’s, argues against ads and other media that show men but not women, and advocates for inclusion of women’s photos by all publications, companies, and institutions.

Our piece, like Mr. Wasserstein’s, argues against ads and other media that show men but not women, and advocates for inclusion of women’s photos by all publications, companies, and institutions.

We also share Mr. Wasserstein’s concern that “erasing the men along with the women… is an implicit acknowledgment that women must be hidden.”
At the same time, precisely because we are so deeply opposed to the idea that women must be hidden, we are further concerned that, as we wrote, “the implicit messages in the erasure of women come across all the more loudly when the absence of pictures of women is highlighted by the presence of pictures of men.”
We have all seen that currently, the unfortunate reality on the ground is that some feel they must exclude women’s photos from various types of media. Within the context of that harmful reality, as much as it pains us, we reiterate the suggestion we made in our original piece: At least don’t make it so obvious. If you won’t include photographs of women, then don’t highlight their absence by including photographs of men.

If you won’t acknowledge the value in showing pictures of women as well as those of men, then design your publications as if you simply don’t see value in including photographs at all.

If you won’t acknowledge the value in showing pictures of women as well as those of men, then design your publications as if you simply don’t see value in including photographs at all.

In short, we ask that those who do support this damaging exclusion at least not scream it so loudly.

Sarah Rudolph is a Jewish educator, writer, and editor. Many of her classes are available on WebYeshiva.org, and her writing appears frequently in OU Life (the OU’s website) as well as other digital and print media.
Ann D. Koffsky is the author and illustrator of more than 30 Jewish books for children. She is also the webmaster of frumwomenhavefaces.com.

 

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