|Anoymous, Brooklyn, NY, 2013. Click to enlarge.|
This is not to say that there is anything inherently wrong with dress codes of a particular community. After all, schools, sports teams, and businesses often have some degree of enforceable guidelines for dress. We expect that when the Devils are out on the ice, they are wearing the appropriate uniform. However, it's doubtful that Marty Brodeur wears his uniform out of fear. While I can understand that in order to be a part of the ultra-orthodox community, one must follow certain guidelines, I find this poster to be disturbing on several levels.
- Through the use of fear and coercion, women are forced to dress in a way that conforms to the community's strict standards. Telling women that they will be "severely punished" if a lone knee is viewed is a deplorable way to enforce orthodox interpretation of Jewish law. Stating that "in the merit of tznius [modesty]... may we soon merit the redemption" implies that any woman not conforming is keeping moshiach [the messiah] from coming. This sets the stage for community reinforcement of this "rule," by not only men, but women, who then begin to police each other as part of a modesty squad.
- Men are suddenly saddled with the responsibility of determining whether women are dressing in accordance with the community's standards. The individual woman's autonomy, even in determining what she wears, is removed, in favor of placing all women in a heteronomous state.
- The very bottom of the poster states that "lengthened clothing results in lengthened years." The threat of death, or a life prematurely cut short, is used to coerce women into following these guidelines for dressing.
- The very first statement implies that women cannot control their "urges" to dress immodestly.