Why I am Furious Today

Why I am Furious Today

I am sitting at my childhood pool in Baltimore, and I am furious.

Yaakov and Yonatan are playing in the baby pool along with 2 or 3 other babies and young children. In the middle of the pool, two bikini-clad sisters, one around 10 and another around 15, are playing catch as they keep an eye on their 2-year-old sister. And to my left sits a man in his forties who is watching the girls play. He has come to the pool alone, there is no reason for him to be sitting by the baby pool. But why would he leave? He is enjoying the show.

I feel furious at the creepy man. But mostly I feel fury at a society which fails, so horrifically, to protect it’s daughters.

I grew up at this pool. I know these sweet girls, and the millions like them, who are expected to become sexually active in high school, who will be dealing with issues like intimacy and birth control, and possibly even sexually-transmitted diseases, date-rape, and abortion before their high-school graduations.

The parents of these girls, in almost all cases, love them dearly. They would do anything to protect them from harm. So where are these incredibly devoted, fiercely protective parents when it comes to sexuality outside of a committed relationship at such an insanely young age?

I don’t know.

But seeing these girls reminds me yet again how GRATEFUL I am to be living in a society which raises girls differently. Which guards our daughters for their entire lives through modesty and the wisdom of Jewish tradition.

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26 comments

  1. Why do you make all these assumptions about the things that a woman would go through just because she wears a bikini as a teen? Wearing a bikini doesn’t mean a woman would be raped by her high school graduation or that she would be forced into sexual situations. A bikini is a bikini, it is an article of clothing and perverts will target women whether they are wearing a coat or a bikini. You of all people, should know this given the cases of paedophilia in nachlaot. What is more worrying are the children born in ultra religious households who are easy targets because they know so little about sexuality which makes them vulnerable well into their teens.

    Signed with love,
    Girl who wears bikinis/clothes you would find sexual, had sex before marriage at 21 and married at 22 to the love of her life. No regrets, no one objectifies me. No date rape, no abortion, never taken a contraceptive pill, no STDs on account of only having 1 sexual partner.I am lucky to marry a man who shares my views despite being schooled differently in chabad Jewish school all his life.

    Tell you a secret: men who care overtly about purity are usually using it as a cover for their own inexperience or as a pretext to treat women badly. Which to be fair, for most of history, they have been treated as such. Also, many women feel comfortable expressing their own sexuality and suppressing that aspect of themselves is hellish to them. Who are we to judge.

    • Batsheva

      A little harsh response, “S”. I would tend to agree more with Chana Jenny. Exactly what she wrote is what I agree on.All she’s saying is that the Eastern Culture no matter if eastern Indian or anyone go out of their way to protect the girls. Everyone. Mothers and Fathers in the East. And i agree

  2. Devora G

    I agree with you entirely. And while the woman in society flaunt their bodies in immodest and provocative dress they rant how women’s bodies should not be deemed sexual objects. Well if you don’t want that outcome then cover it up for heavens sake and show the world that it’s not available for public view.
    When it’s private, precious and protected the rest of the world will catch on and respect it too.

  3. Chana Jenny, I love what you wrote and I agree with you. You ask, where are the parents? They have given up; they don’t feel they can fight societal norms. They have given their children condoms and vaccines against STDs, instead of a good moral education and an appreciation for tznius.

    Dear “S”, it isn’t true that a girl is exactly at the same risk if she is wearing a coat or a bikini. Please. We can make an experiment right now outside and check that out.

    Who are we to judge? Let’s not judge. But let’s protect our children. Starting with teaching them to live by the Torah, according to tznius, yichud, and all the rest. It does protect. As radio talk show host Michael Savage said when he spent a Friday night at a Chabad House with the Gan Izzy counselors, “I’ve never been in a room with so many virgins.” Lucky, lucky girls, raised to respect and protect themselves.

    • Rather than teach our girls to protect themselves, why not teach our boys to know that a ‘No’ is a No, and clothes do not equate consent.

      Its a very sad day when virginity is equated to one’s ability to respect herself. Being a virgin is a choice and it should be respected. But I do not see how it protects girls from being exploited. By that definition, women in afghanistan should suffer the least amount of sexual abuse. Quite to the contrary.

      Women are protected when they know their bodies are their own, and they know that they have to sound the alert if anyone breaches the boundaries. Plenty of women do not go to the police when they are abused for fear that the police would not take them seriously,and this should really be dealt with as it emboldens abusers because they think that they are no consequences for what they do.

  4. Gabrielle

    A psychiatrist who deals with sex offenders just told me: men who come alone to parks/pools to watch children play should be reported to the police.

  5. Gabrielle

    To clarify, while many may be harmless, if they are registered sex offenders then they are barred from this activity and if police are alerted that they are breaching the terms of their release they can be reincarcerated.

  6. Sandra, in this regard, the women in Afghanistan are exceptions to every rule. If they “sounded the alert” when they were abused, as you suggest, they would be thrown out on their faces or stoned to death. So how can you use them as an example.

  7. Precisely, women sounding the alert is not enough, a society that listens to women is needed in order to protect women. If you look at any rankings for the best places for women to live, where women are the most protected, you would find countries like Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, Switzerland, New Zealand.. generally countries with a Judeo-Christian background but which are secular in nature, and where the choice of a woman is recognized.

    Freedom of choice might seem quite old-hat but in reality, women all over the world often suffer double standards. Its viewed as ok when a little boy wears revealing clothes, but when a girl does the same, she is viewed as a slut. Such thinking is from an older time, when a woman was viewed as the property of her husband and father, when her purity was an asset to be protected so as to ensure future advantageous marriages that would enhance the financial standing of her family. Religion/tradition is often used as a cover to justify that, and in 2016, we should really discard such views. Women are no longer property, they are individuals. Little girls should be protected from sexualization (which is a product of modern american capitalism which uses sex appeal as a tool to make money, i really disagree with the disgusting beauty pageants), but at the same time, we shouldn’t shame girls for wearing the clothes that they please, just as we shouldn’t shame high school wallflowers for being virgins.

    • Interestingly, there is a fair bit of public nudity in Northern European countries (saunas, topless bathing, etc.) I think scanty clothes are actually more titillating than nudity. Perhaps if we all spent more time nude together in non-sexual climates, nude bodies would loose some of their allure…. Hard to say if that is a positive or negative outcome.

      What I know for CERTAIN is if women and girls had more opportunities to see other nude women and girls (think public bath houses and hamams) most women would have a much more positive body image of themselves.

      Also, I agree that one should alert the authorities (whether the life-guard, the local police, whatever) if you see an adult engaging in creepy leering. Many American playgrounds have signs stating that “ADULTS unaccompanied by CHILDREN are not permitted in the playground!” Our primary school principal (in Israel) has encouraged parents who see unaccompanied males in the playground by the school to inform him IMMEDIATELY. He notifies the police who come pretty quickly to warn the guy off.

  8. yes, it is less the fault of the little girls innocently playing in the pool (wearing poolwear that’s normal for that society) and more the fault of the pervert by the pool coming to check them out…!
    these girls may be well educated by their parents about how to respect their boundaries and their bodies. I hope they choose not to wear clothes which invite men to objectify them, but it is not the determining factor deciding what they will experience in their premarital life. many societies don’t do women any favors and don’t protect them. and judgment doesn’t really help anyone. because we really never know what makes up a person and what they’ve been through. but many societal norms really do make me wonder how women could feel that they are serving them well…
    but what parents really can do to help their daughters (and sons) is to educate them about self respect, self awareness and healthy boundaries; to teach them what resources they have where they can go for help when they need it; and to keep an open, loving, trusting relationship between them and their children.

  9. I have to disagree with your research there Sandra. My husband is Norwegian and Ive been living in Norway for the past two years. The rate of rape is pretty high because of how women dress and the muslim population.

  10. Hadassah

    I don’t think rape or abuse is linked to what the victim is wearing or even their age. It is more about the messed up attitude of the abuser. I don’t have statistics to back this up but know that women of all ages have been raped.

  11. I’m wondering what happened with the girls and did their parents show up etc…..?

    • JewishMom

      nothing happened and the parents never showed up, i think they were at the pool on their own

  12. There is much evil out there, in places that once were safe enough. Forget pools, think about public restrooms. I am 24/7 caregiver for my disabled daughter. I must now plan my shopping days, not too far from home. Should my daughter need a bathroom, I can no longer use the ones at the market. We must drive home for that. After that, we then venture back to the market to finish the shopping. These are very evil days.

    • what do you mean, what could happen in a restroom?

      • Sari – I will not take my daughter into a restroom that allows men to enter. For her own privacy and modesty, I will not do this.

  13. Thanks Chana Jenny. I do see your point and that man should be reported. Just for a flip side, today my kids and husband went swimming in a hotel pool. My daughter, who is not yet 10, wore her tznius bathing suit but forgot the skirt part so she wore her day skirt over the leggings. There was a Dutch family in the pool and I felt their curious looks. But BH my daughter didn’t bat an eyelash about how she was dressed. And she is a kid who does care what others think. But swimming tznius was so normal for her…
    I feel that gratitude that you feel. And while it is no guarantee, it sure does help!

  14. Mina Gordon

    What does Torah say about these issues? Here are some points:
    1) Torah does not avoid speaking candidly about intimacy, its holiness and its potential degradation. (Can we infer from this that we should be open and honest with our children,discussing these issues in an appropriate manner for their age?)
    2) What is moral and what is immoral is decided by Hashem Himself, not by people. Forbidden relationships are a mitzvah between man and G-d, rather than between people.(Maharal)
    3) In general,people were created with a yetzer horo but not all inclinations are the same. (Tanya)
    4)The more one feeds this inclination the hungrier it gets.(Chazal)
    5) ‘Bread’in Parshat Vayeshev and Parshat Shemot is a euphemism for marriage, because a relationship based on commitment is satisfying and satiating, while a philanderer always feels empty. (Kli Yakar)

    Personally, I believe we have a responsibility to teach our boys and our girls to respect themselves and others, to explain to them the change in their bodies, emotions and thoughts as they mature, and to let them know what is okay and what is not.

  15. Chana Jenny, I loved this post and I totally agree with you. Anyway, it’s not for us to decide who agrees with you or not because the laws of tsnius are written in the torah. The Master of the universe knows its own rules…

  16. Mina Gordon

    This week in chutz la’aretz we read Parshat Balak. The Lubavitcher Rebbe points out by the bracha ‘mah tovu ohalecha Yaakov’that the care that the Jewish People took to be tzniusdik (by making sure that the tent openings didn’t face each other)was so powerful that it turned Bilaam’s curses into blessings. He further points out that this shows us how much the ‘little stuff’ is valued by Hashem. (I understand that to mean that extra inch at the hem, the snap sewn on at the neckline, choosing a head-covering that doesn’t slip backwards, walking out of the room when someone is making a personal call etc.)
    The Rebbe also said that tents are temporary dwellings. All of the laws of modesty apply even when you are in a temporary dwelling,for example on vacation.

  17. Chana Jenny, I can not agree with more. The scene you witnessed is truly nauseating and the world of tzniyus is a beautiful place to be!!
    Some of these comments are really upsetting and so against the Torah way!! I think some clarification is in order.
    First of all, G-d Hates lack of modesty!! That is what G-d dislikes the most! It says “v’huya machanecha kadosh” (your camp shall be holy) “vihuya becha ervas davar… v’shuv m’acharecha” (when there is immodesty among the jewish people, G-d turns His back) If we want to experience G-d’s protection, we have to increase our modesty and purity. This is what G-d commanded us to do! ultimately, like every one of the commandments, it’s for our benefit. Relationships are enhanced, families stay intact, emotional well being and security… There are so many advantages in being modest!
    Modesty is one of the foundations of Judaism.
    Ultimately, we have to know what the Torah says about it, that is the bottom line.
    May we merit to stay modest and holy in this crazy upside down world, and merit to see and experience G-d’s protection!

  18. With all of the heated debate, we need to remember that Hashem is not a despotic ruler trying to control his subjects; Hashem is our Father who brought us here in the first place. He desires our mitzvos and He needs our hard work, sweat and tears, working to make the world a better place.

    He put us in this world with all the distractions, beautiful things, desires, problems. He Knew what He was doing, and how hard it is for us! Still, despite all the opposing forces, and after all these years in exile, we are still able to eke out a mitzvah here and there? Wow! How much Hashem must appreciate this.

    To suggest that we “better be tznius or Hashem will strike us down” stinks of an unhealthy relationship. Yes Hashem wants us to be tznius, and hates when we are not. But He also knows that it’s a big struggle especially nowadays. Every move we make toward trying to be more modest, He appreciates. Lets look at Hashem as a caring parent who expects a lot from his child, not a control freak.

    • Of course Hashem loves us! Everything He commands us is for our benefit, whether we see it or not. Which is why i pointed out the many advantages of Tznius. It’s easier to keep a mitzvah when we see the benefits.

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