Myth: Erasing women from view is about tznius.
Truth: Erasing women from view is the opposite of tznius.
My father is a teacher of math by profession. He taught math for many years and is still teaching part-time even after his retirement. My older son is described as a math genius by his teachers. Both my father and my son love math, but I think that gene skipped a generation. I was an advanced math student and I passed the AP Calculus exam, but I didn’t like math. However, I find that the math I learned comes up in some unexpected places. One of those is tznius. Yes, really.
Unfortunately, there are those who think that the mere sight of a woman or the use of her proper name is somehow not tznius. Well, there’s no better time than Adar to “nahafoch” that.
From me, you get the truth.
There’s a property in math called the transitive property. It works as follows:
X = Y
A = Y
Therefore, A = X
How does this apply to tznius? It applies to the concept of erasing women from view. Here goes:
An impure object is an object that generates impure thoughts.
A woman generates impure thoughts.
Therefore, a woman is an impure object.
This is often used to justify the practice of not using photos of women in many frum publications. But there’s a huge problem here and there’s math to demonstrate it:
Erasing women is done because women are impure objects.
Tznius demands that we see women (and men) as real human beings and not as objects of any kind.
Therefore, erasing women is not tznius.
There are those who, instead of simply conceding the point, will insist that it’s not that simple and go into very long-winded explanations about tznius using a lot of euphemisms and fancy language. However, this is the equivalent of “I don’t have a cold. I have acute nasopharyngitis.” Same thing, fancier language. And this brings us to another math concept, this time from algebra: State the problem in non-reducible terms. Do you still think that erasing women from view is tznius? Do the math as described above with the transitive property and see for yourself.
Purim was always a favorite holiday for me. Part of that is because my middle name is Esther just like the heroine of the story. This is one of the areas where we women are obligated in the mitzvos due to the concept of “Af hen hayu b’oso haNais.” Not only were we involved, but a woman was in the lead on this one and the Megillah is named for her. In order for Esther to save our people, she had to come out of hiding. There’s nothing not tznius about celebrating Esther and all our other heroines throughout the generations. And there’s nothing not tznius about showing ourselves as real people.