Elana Sztokman's JewFem blog

Elana Maryles Sztokman, PhD, writer, researcher, educator and activist, writing on issues pertaining to gender and Jewish life in Israel and around the world.

Women excluded from the New York Times!

Here is the letter I wrote to the New York Times about the absence of female voices from their article on the exclusion of women:

Dear Mr Bronner and Ms Kershner,

While it’s nice for you to take interest in the exclusion of women among haredim, your own exclusion of women in the process is nothing less than outrageous. I refer to your article “Israelis Facing a Seismic Rift Over Role of Women”, in which exactly one woman was quoted in the article., out of eight interviewees, and she was left to the end. One woman! You interviewed and quoted one man after another, some of whom really have nothing to do with the issue, have done absolutely nothing about the problem, and have no real expertise in gender issues  (Moshe Halbertal? Jonathan Rosenblum? Who are they other than religious men with opinions and status? They have done NOTHING on the issue and know NOTHING about gender!) Meanwhile, the dozens of women’s organizations, researchers and activists remain hidden and subsumed — no less so than women sitting behind a partition in synagogue. The women who have put their blood, sweat and tears into this issue, as well as their scholarship, wisdom and reputations, are silenced. By no less than the NY Times. By you! What the men in black coats do to women on the bus, you have done to professional women leaders and activists. Hanna Kehat, Lili Ben Ami, Tammy Katsabian, Rachel Azaria – these are some of the women on the frontlines who you silenced. It’s the exclusion of women’s professional voices from the New York TImes.

It’s easy to point fingers, isn’t it. It’s very convenient to say that “they” have a problem, those “strange” ones who wear odd clothing and abide by their own set of rules. But it’s much harder to look inward at one’s own culture, where discrimination is more subtle, not because of official “rules’ but simply because of an absence of a social or cultural consciousness. Because you don’t care. Because it’s easier for guys to play the power game with each other – “Hey, Halbertal’s in my smartphone, I’ll just get a quote” – rather than to see the women doing the real work and give credit where credit is due. I ask which is a more troubling issue — women sitting in the back of the bus, or women’s voices, expertise and professional leadership being completely ignored in the media. Not such a simple answer, is it. The Times would do well to analyze the representation of women on its own pages, and for reporters to ask themselves who they see and who remains invisible.

Sincerely,
Dr. Elana Maryles Sztokman

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