Whether or not you keep up with the news in Israel, you have probably heard about the multitude of issues that constantly rise up concerning the ultra religious sect here. The most recent of these being the unfortunate and degrading demotion of women on public transpiration; women are constricted to entering and sitting at the back of the bus in the ultra religious areas of Israel. If a woman does not abide by this rule, there are unpleasant consequences. This reminds us of the type of segregation that was abolished back in the 60’s, by the civil rights movement in the USA (not a pleasant comparison). The fortunate thing is that it’s 2012, which means that it won’t be decades before people will protest against these sanctions. In fact, people and the media are speaking out about this now.
There are arguments being made on both sides, and the fashion industry is definitely adding its 2 cents. In its February issue, BelleMode, an Israeli fashion magazine, presented us its take on these restrictions- in a largely publicized fashion spread. The pictorial takes place on a bus and features a female model dressed scantly (but in the latest fashions), among a group of oogeling, almost drooling male models dressed as ultra religious men (for the full pictorial go here).
BelleMode wrote their intention was to empower women, but here we are seeing her in a powerless situation especially in the image where here nipple is exposed and drooling men are about to jump on her. Since when is exposing a nipple to several men at once on a bus, empowering?
But do the photos make you question the intention of the magazine or its inspiration? They are certainly provocative in subject and composition. But did BelleMode take it too far? Are the pictures meant to make you question / reject the ultra orthodox culture of extreme modesty? Or are they merely questioning self restraint of the ultra-orthodox men? Or, most disturbingly, do they make you question the virtue of the protagonist, as she is seen through the eyes of those men- or is it through the eyes of the viewer?
We appreciate the intention, but it seems that this all male artistic creation missed the mark on female empowerment.
Tell us in the comments, how you would edit this production to make it more empowering?
Photographer: Lior Nordman
Assitant Photographer: Uri Karmi
Styling: Marc Owen
Makeup and hair: Ben Ravivo