Sunday, February 10, 2008

Something about Tznius

When I was younger, and not yet frum, I remembered wanting so badly to wear black stockings/pantyhose/tights (whatever you call them), with one of my black dresses. In the secular community, black stockings were considered very sexy. I remember, finally when I was about 10 years old, my mother allowed me to wear them. It was picture day, and I begged and I pleaded until she finally said "yes, fine." I was so happy. I remember that morning my mom was walking me to school and we met our neighbor. She saw that I was wearing black stockings and she said "wow Anita, you're such a big girl, wearing black stockings already." Ofcourse I was so happy, the comment made my day...and possibly my month.

A few months ago I read a book by NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd. In the book "Are Men Necessary" Dowd quoted a source (I forgot which) which actually stated how in order to attract men, a woman must stand with her left foot in front of her right, and put all her weight on her right leg. She should also wear sheer black pantyhose to attract the male eye.

When I became frum I learned that black tights in the frum community were the ultimate in tznious. The entire concept when I originally learned about it, was that tznious was a form of modest self-expression for woman. When I delved further into it (school uniform rules and learning about why they have some of the strict/crazy ones etc) I realized that all modern day tznious, is basically just a bunch of stupid rules that make absolutely no sense. As examples I will use a quote from an article I found on Wolf's post "Going Overboard on Tzniyus". The article he quoted from is on the Jewish Chronicle website. It is called "Why I won't wear a Burka" Anyway, here is the quote:

A CD recording by a top rabbi from Lakewood, New Jersey, for example, reportedly asks women not to swing their arms while they walk and not to allow their daughters to wear colourful banana-clips in their hair. Women know that if they wear skin-coloured stockings, they must include a seam so it is clear they are not bare-legged. Schoolgirls do not wear shiny shoes that could “reflect their underwear”.

This quote was by far the funniest thing I've ever read in my life. Firstly, I would like to ask, how is it possibly to walk normally without swinging ones arms? I mean, I try when I play with little kids and we have "contests", but to request women to not "swing their arms while they walk" is a bit ridiculous.

Then there's this entire issue of wearing a seam when one is wearing skin colored stockings. I don't know how many of you ladies (or gents) receive Victoria's Secret catologs, or browse their website, but in the "secular" world, seams are considered pretty sexy. Victoria's Secret has collections of lingerie with seams. The cover of the movie "Secretary" (under NO definition can that movie be considered clean or modest) she is wearing a seam. Yes, a seam...and not with "skin-coloured" stockings, but with shear black ones. Then there's Silkies (granted they are more conservative than VS) that featured seamed stockings as their pantyhose of the month (I beleive in December). This was definitly not to attract the attention of frum people, rather to attract the attention of costumers looking for a sexy, new and stylish look. Basically, the seam is considered sexy as well.

I'm starting to think that tznius is actually meant to attract guys, while playing on the girls' naivety and making them think that its actually making the guys turn away.

Then there's the ridiculous final statment made by the lakewood CD rabbi. The fact that girls should not wear shiny shoes because they may reflect their underwear is just bizarre, I cannot even comment on it. I'll just say, that when I read that sentence I started laughing uncontrollably. My sister was like "what's so funny" I told her to read the paragraph, and she started laughing as well. Anyway, my point isn't that one should not keep tznious (I wouldn't do that unless I used satire) but rather that it is ridiculous to think all these crazy stringences actually mean anything. If anything, they really are a way for men to have fun.

I really think its kind of sad that this is what our religion has come too. These bans and chumras really make me think about what Hashem thinks about us in shamayim. Is he happy that we all went insane? Is he happy that his "chosen" people have basterdised the religion?


The Babysitter said...

I remember one of my HS teacher's saying that the Chassidish girls don't wear black tights cause its attractive, and when I heard that I was surprised. But then again if all different color tights, black, nude, seams are attractive then that could just mean legs in general are attractive no matter whats on them! Therefore it would make more sense for long skirts to be more tznius, ones that cover the legs, but yet their considered more modern, go figure!
Those things the Lakewood CD Rabbi said aren't Halachos, their just chumras, so their going to sound ridiculous. I've never heard of the shiny shoes one, that is really funny.

frummy and proud of it said...

Oh man. This is ridiculous!!!! ACtually, I think it was your sis who had told me about the VS seamed stocking's (cuz of course I don't know of such shtus :) ) but the shiny shoes thing is just toooo much.

Jessica said...

My brother-in-law sent me that article about the burkas. I was laughing the whole time. It is absolutely ridiculous. No shiny shoes so you can't see the underwear?! What the hell?! No colorful clips?! May as well just dress in a large potato sack with black knee highs (and a seam, of course!) with eye holes... but then they'd probably say women have to wear non-reflective sunglasses so that men can no longer see their eyes either.

Just on a side tznius note: how is it tznius to wear a skirt on a windy day? or, any day in ny, whether its windy or not, when you use the trains? any time its windy or if a train is coming in while i'm walking down the steps my skirt is flying all over the place. i dont even have to be wearing shiny shoes for people to see my underwear on those days!

frustrated frummie said...

hahahahahahahahaha i have had many discussions about this not only amongst my friends (ahem) but most commonly among my family including my grandmothers older friends. to which they all agree that no matter what color of stockings or the type (seamed or seamless) the men in the community are always going to find it sexy. so now the question is posed to the rabbanim if the stockings are considered sexy and the long skirts are considered more modern (as "the babysitter" pointed ot) how are the girls in the frum community supposed to observe the rule of tznius?

Anonymous said...

yea well u already know my opinion on this- things can easily be spun out of control- people need common sense but just important to remember but thats not all we neeed, our Rabbeim are still our leaders- just- well, its almost a democratic power we have in our religion- our rabbeim get power from the people and the people chose to who to give power- iimportant to keep things balanced...hardest thing to do, isnt it..

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

yeah man; ultra orthodox girls are sometimes sooooo sexy, with their stockings, and their school-girl skirts, their hair tied back; it just leads to this extremely feminine appearance which is sooo far in contrast from the rest of Brooklyn...

You can see underwear reflecting off shoes?! ..I even never thought of that one! Sounds like that Lakewood Rabbi is a pretty big pervert...I kind of want to try that one day, but I'm afraid if the girl notices what I'm trying to do, she might slap me!

[As an aside, their are many cases of 'haredi' Rabbis (principles and Rebbis) raping school]

...there's no question the Muslims understand tzniu't 100 times better than the Jews, by the way...

frumskeptic said...

Babysitter: Oy...My bad, I forgot to mention that skirts are totally sexy as well even the long ones.

Jessica: BAN NYC! lol. Go somewhere suburban where girls can only be seen walking to and from the car. This way, the skirts dont really have time to fly up, because theres always a parking lot, and no need to take public transportation! lol.

I take it upon myself to Ban NY. you with me? now we just need a rabbinic decree. :)

Frustrated Frummie: Well...We keep tznious, but not be insane. LIke not wear black suits in the middle of the summer, but also not wear tube tops and short shorts... u know....theres a thin cotton tshirts, light skirts, sandles, :).
I like the summer. :)

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט:

"I kind of want to try that one day, but I'm afraid if the girl notices what I'm trying to do, she might slap me"

Oy vey

"...there's no question the Muslims understand tzniu't 100 times better than the Jews, by the way..."

why do you say that?

Jessica said...

Oh! I would love to ban NYC! Let's start a petition! lol.

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

Why do I say Muslim women understand modesty better than Orthodox Jews? Look at what you just wrote; we have an absolutely misguided approach to modesty. To us dressy = modest. Casual = uncouth. Religious Muslims from most parts of 'dar-al-Islam' exemplify modesty in dress, and modesty in action.

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

oh, uh..modesty in action; for example(!) it could be many frum ladies are very 'tzniusdik' because they wear tight, dressy skirts, Victoria's' Secret pantyhose and some other womans very attractive hair(!), but some things show if a person 'is' modest.

One example (out of five billion); it is not modest to bend over to the extent where your lower back is higher than your head when you have to take care of your baby in it's carriage on the street (I mean sometimes it's like; "ok, I get it, your attractive, but get your *ahem* out of my face!")

But it is well known before G-d and before Man that the Jew has no religion, and no sense of the holy.

The Babysitter said...

Tznius is a woman's yetzer hora, so for many its hard and we can't judge. Although a lady I know wanted to go over to these young mothers and give them a talking to, but we don't know where they came from and how much they improved.

One of my HS teacher's said one reason why her husband picked to marry her was because when he came to her house to pick her up for a date, something had dropped and she bent down the proper way like Ruth, crouching on her knees. Her husband saw she was a tzanua and chose to marry her.

Another problem is when people reach up a lot of times their shirts ride up and their stomach shows, I heard the goyish designers made it this way on purpose and they knew it would happen.

mlevin said...

1. Babysitter - I would in your place advise these women that bending down like that is untznius. I know that BYs do not teach these things. Actually, I wouldn't say "untznuis" I would explain, that men get excited when they see women bend down like that.

2. There is nothing to be proud of, if he married her for that one middah only. What about her personality? What about her other middos? Her sense of humor? Her beauty? If that were me, I would be offended. That means that how I pick stuff off the floor is the only thing that makes me different from all the other girls/women. That is pathetic.

3. There are plenty of designers who are Jewish. So, please do not call them "goyish designers"

The Babysitter said...

I think BY's do teach the proper way to bend down, cause I must have learned it from somewhere.
I didn't mean it to come out that way, that it was the only reason. She didn't tell her life story, she just mentioned that one aspect, I guess to encourage us that if you act in the right way, people notice and its a good thing. Like the famous example with the broom lying on the floor. Some people would jump over it, others would pick it up and move it to the side so that the next person won't trip. Even though you can't judge based on one characteristic alone, it helps you see what kind of person they are.
Sorry, I didn't mean to generalize all designers as "goyish". Just the non-Jewish ones, its just what I've been told.

tznius-lady said...

I take pride in operating the website with the utmost of tznius (modesty). When people post a dress for sale or rent, I will remove the hands and face. Call me crazy, but this is a crazy world and you've got to fit in.

William Dwek said...

The next things the ‘rabbis’ will come up with is to tell the woman to wear a CARPET on her head.
Not a sheitel AND a hat, but a Carpet. Or you could go for 5 shaitels on your heads and a rug.

And do you know what the Jewish woman will say to her husband?

‘Yes, husband! I am now wearing a carpet on my head!’

You women must either be extremely thick, or petrified.

Anonymous said...

Ironic thing is that long skirts and pantyhose turn a man on very much. I see a very frum woman in her ankle skirt and pantyhose, and one thought goes through my head, " I can hike up her skirt, tear through her pantyhose, and get to her just as fast as if she were wearing a mini skirt." It is a huge turn on to burst through the taboo and know that I could destroy their naive notion of modesty with such a violation.


Anonymous said...

Ironic thing is that long skirts and pantyhose turn a man on very much. I see a very frum woman in her ankle skirt and pantyhose, and one thought goes through my head, " I can hike up her skirt, tear through her pantyhose, and get to her just as fast as if she were wearing a mini skirt." It is a huge turn on to burst through the taboo and know that I could destroy their naive notion of modesty with such a violation.


Anonymous said...

I also adore frummies in pantyhose.