Golly, now there’s a new twist on dear old gender segregation – in Israel, a “men only” bomb shelter.
While people all around Israel have spent the past two weeks scrambling for cover during rocket attacks, it seems that in some places, only men’s lives are considered worth protecting. In the Ashdod rabbinate building, the bomb shelter has a sign on it reading “For men only,” and women who happened to be in the rabbinate during recent raids were not allowed into the bomb shelter.
Thus reports MK Stav Shaffir, whose staffer happened to be at the rabbinate this week when all this was taking place.
Orit, an Ashdod resident who was also in the rabbinate this week with her husband, told Yediot Ahronot about the “insult of trying to impose gender segregation on us even at times like this,” and her shocked discovery that the “women’s” shelter was just a regular room, with windows and plaster walls and no indications of protection from rocket attacks. Her husband added that gender segregation has reached “insane proportions, and are now at the point of risking women’s lives. The rabbinate is basically saying that it’s important to them to save men’s lives, but women can die or pray or hope for a miracle. It’s just unbelievable”.
MK Stav Shaffir complained to the Religious Affairs Ministry, which said no no that’s all wrong, that was a loose cannon who made a mistake.
“It was a local initiative of an employee acting without formal authority,” they responded. “The rabbinical court views such attempts at gender segregation in a very severe light and will take serious actions against those involved.”
I suppose the rabbinic court’s attempt to distance itself from this series of events is a good thing. After all, that means that there exist some voices of reason and sanity even within the growing gender-extremism in the religious Jewish world. On the other hand, the fact that someone somewhere thought that it was okay and normal to put a “Men Only” sign on a bomb shelter is in an indication of deeply entrenched misogyny. It seems like it’s almost a knee-jerk reaction for some people to simply create “Men Only” spaces, as if this is natural and normal and perhaps even expected, to such an extent that no consideration is given whatsoever to real lives of women, to the actual consequences and implications of not allowing certain people into safety.
Well that’s misogyny for you. It’s dangerous to women. I keep saying that.