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Thu Jan 31, 2013, 09:43 AM

Modesty in Ultra-Orthodox Brooklyn Is Enforced by Secret Squads

The Brooklyn shopkeeper was already home for the night when her phone rang: a man who said he was from a neighborhood “modesty committee” was concerned that the mannequins in her store’s window, used to display women’s clothing, might inadvertently arouse passing men and boys.

“The man said, ‘Do the neighborhood a favor and take it out of the window,’ ” the store’s manager recalled. “ ‘We’re trying to safeguard our community.’ ”

In many neighborhoods, a store owner might shrug off such a call. But on Lee Avenue, the commercial spine of Hasidic Williamsburg, the warning carried an implied threat — comply with community standards or be shunned. It is a potent threat in a neighborhood where shadowy, sometimes self-appointed modesty squads use social and economic leverage to enforce conformity.

<snip>

The rules are spoken and unspoken, enforced by social pressure but also, in ways that some find increasingly disturbing, by the modesty committees. Their power is evident in the fact that of the half dozen women’s clothing stores along Lee Avenue, only one features mannequins, and those are relatively shapeless, fully clothed torsos.

<snip>

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/30/nyregion/shadowy-squads-enforce-modesty-in-hasidic-brooklyn.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0

39 replies, 2133 views

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Reply Modesty in Ultra-Orthodox Brooklyn Is Enforced by Secret Squads (Original post)
cali Jan 2013 OP
obamanut2012 Jan 2013 #1
RedstDem Jan 2013 #2
Nye Bevan Jan 2013 #3
get the red out Jan 2013 #4
cali Jan 2013 #5
get the red out Jan 2013 #6
Mopar151 Jan 2013 #29
Bonobo Jan 2013 #7
cali Jan 2013 #9
Bonobo Jan 2013 #12
cali Jan 2013 #16
Bonobo Jan 2013 #18
Dash87 Jan 2013 #25
Dash87 Jan 2013 #24
meow2u3 Jan 2013 #36
niyad Jan 2013 #8
cali Jan 2013 #10
niyad Jan 2013 #11
obamanut2012 Jan 2013 #14
oberle Jan 2013 #22
niyad Jan 2013 #23
HappyMe Jan 2013 #13
Bonobo Jan 2013 #15
HappyMe Jan 2013 #17
hobbit709 Jan 2013 #38
Auntie Bush Jan 2013 #19
KurtNYC Jan 2013 #20
JustAnotherGen Jan 2013 #26
denverbill Jan 2013 #21
southernyankeebelle Jan 2013 #27
HappyMe Jan 2013 #28
southernyankeebelle Jan 2013 #31
HappyMe Jan 2013 #32
southernyankeebelle Jan 2013 #34
JVS Jan 2013 #30
Poll_Blind Jan 2013 #33
Gormy Cuss Jan 2013 #39
maxsolomon Jan 2013 #35
hobbit709 Jan 2013 #37

Response to cali (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 09:45 AM

1. k & r

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Response to cali (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 09:50 AM

2. That's Crazy

mostly, the fact that a wing nut like Michele Bachman is onto something with the whole sharia in America crap..

I volunteer to use my baseball bat on any modesty squad......

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Response to cali (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 09:53 AM

3. Can't really blame them. Those mannequins are just so damned sexy. (nt)

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Response to cali (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 09:55 AM

4. Freedom of religion in the US

If you're unlucky enough to be born into the wrong one, you have an ice cube's chance in hell of having the same guaranteed rights as mainstream folks. And chances are damn good no one will ever help you either, citing "freedom of religion".

Land of the Free, home of the Brave....NOT!

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Response to get the red out (Reply #4)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 09:57 AM

5. Not where I live.

Vermont is the least religious state in the country by a long shot.

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Response to cali (Reply #5)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 10:02 AM

6. You are fortunate

I'm not against religion and belief. But I do have a problem with extreme religions, the closed in ones, denying the rights of the citizens born into them. It makes me think of this country as very weak.

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Response to cali (Reply #5)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 02:05 PM

29. In Vermont, you don't need religion to find God.

A sunset from the top of Burke Mt. works for me.

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Response to cali (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 10:04 AM

7. Social pressure to maintain a standard of cultural behavior is not always a bad thing.

It is what society's have always done and we do it ALL the time even when unaware of it.

How about expecting your neighbor to mow his lawn or pick up his garbage?

How about expecting people to stand for the national anthem at a ball game?

How about asking people to wear shoes in a store or a tie in a restaurant?

How about asking men to shave? Or to wear deodorant?

Or expecting women to shave their armpits or cover their breasts when breastfeeding?

All are examples of the same phenomenon. The exact same thing.

The only difference is that when people that wear clothes that are strange to us do it, it is easy to point a finger --not saying YOU are doing that btw, Cali.

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Response to Bonobo (Reply #7)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 10:12 AM

9. what?

We aren't talking about a store requiring shoes. This is about people being intimidated by groups of people who are forcing their religious beliefs on others.

Your examples make little sense, Bonobo, in relation to the content of the article.

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Response to cali (Reply #9)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 10:18 AM

12. If I am pressured to stand during the national anthem, is it really so different? nt

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Response to Bonobo (Reply #12)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 10:57 AM

16. yes, it's different.

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Response to cali (Reply #16)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 11:06 AM

18. Of course it is.

To you.

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Response to Bonobo (Reply #12)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 01:46 PM

25. Yes. It's seen as respecting your country.

The story, on the other hand, is the usual "OMG bewbz!" misogyny that we like to pretend doesn't happen here.

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Response to Bonobo (Reply #7)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 01:43 PM

24. Why are you defending cultural misogyny?

This is no different than other backwards cultures that say it's up to women not to arouse men. These religious wackos are offended over a gigantic piece of plastic wearing clothes.

Also, why should women have to cover up when breast feeding? Will the sight of a breast turn people to stone?

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Response to Bonobo (Reply #7)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 03:03 PM

36. How about expecting men to control their urges...

...instead of blaming women for "arousing" them because they show a freakin' ANKLE? That would be a start.

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Response to cali (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 10:09 AM

8. is this the same area where that rabbi told the abuse victim not to say anything?

Last edited Thu Jan 31, 2013, 11:32 AM - Edit history (1)

(saw it on DU yesterday, I believe. will see if I can find it)

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Response to niyad (Reply #8)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 10:12 AM

10. No, that was in England

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Response to cali (Reply #10)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 10:17 AM

11. yes, you are correct--insanity everywhere

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Response to niyad (Reply #8)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 10:46 AM

14. This is where the little boy was murdered a few years ago by a neighbor

And also the neighborhood that keeps trying to bar the NYC Marathon from running through it, because of the sinful women participating in the marathon.

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Response to niyad (Reply #8)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 11:29 AM

22. Heh heh

It's rabbi. But rabbit is good too.

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Response to oberle (Reply #22)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 11:33 AM

23. oops--thanks, did not even see that--not enough caffeine

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Response to cali (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 10:45 AM

13. I can kind of see both sides of this.

The rabbi modesty guys are enforcing what they believe to be right. I don't agree with it, but then, I'm not a Hasidic Jew. Business owners are just trying to display their merchandise to the best advantage and draw people in. Nothing wrong with that.
This is a pretty tight knit area of Brooklyn. I would imagine most of the business owners are of the same faith. To any business owner that aren't of this faith, I would say - know your customer. This isn't an area where you are going to sell bikinis. A Barney's or Macy's shop window won't work here. If there aren't any mannequins in other shop windows, there might be a reason for that. Sounds unfair, but if you want to succeed...

People have the right to freedom of religion, and people have the right to make money. I don't think there are any easy answers.

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Response to HappyMe (Reply #13)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 10:50 AM

15. I lived near to where Cali lives --in Western Mass in a very "hip" and "liberal" town.

In fact it is Rachel Maddow's home stomping ground.

A few years ago, a store that sells sex toys tried to move in. They were squashed. So how do you figure, right?

The argument for this OP seems to be "Mannequins! Ha! Pfft! How can that be offensive!?"

But we ALL have our sacred cows that we are unaware of. What if, instead of mannequins, we were talking about dildos in the window or Frank Frazetta style artwork with sword-wielding chicks with big tits? I bet some liberals here would be offended and not want THAT displayed. Am I right?

So what seems strange and not offensive us is someone else's big deal. Most people that live in insulated communities are blind to their own sacred cows.

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Response to Bonobo (Reply #15)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 11:04 AM

17. Good point.

Everybody has their "thing".

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Response to HappyMe (Reply #13)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 03:13 PM

38. No one has the right to force their religion on me.

That's where religious freedom ends. these Guardians Of The Public Virtue evidently harass people going down that street too.

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Response to cali (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 11:10 AM

19. So now we have modisty police in USA?

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Response to cali (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 11:10 AM

20. "aroused" by a piece of plastic with women's clothes on it ?

That is not a problem that the store owner can fix.

Burger King has huge posters of steaming hamburgers, the lottery shows you pictures of millions of dollars, car makers show you empty roads (wind swept with leaves) and a beautiful woman in the passenger seat -- life is full of choices and temptations. A piece of plastic doesn't even make the list.

What's creepy to me is that this kind of thinking excuses the thoughts and actions of the men. They can't control themselves because of a mannequin?

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Response to KurtNYC (Reply #20)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 01:49 PM

26. KurtNYC

I said pretty much the same thing the other day.

They oughta be ashamed of themselves if mannequins 'turn them on'. Sick. Sick. Sickos.

It must be impossible for those men to walk into like - Macys.

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Response to cali (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 11:11 AM

21. Wow, just like Iran and Egypt.

hooray for religious nut-jobs! Freedom is for sucks!

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Response to cali (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 01:52 PM

27. Well folks if the religious right get their way we will be seeing some of the same things

 

being imposed on women and girls. I mean now they are trying to impose who get the pill and who won't get the pill..

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Response to southernyankeebelle (Reply #27)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 02:04 PM

28. I doubt that will happen.

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Response to HappyMe (Reply #28)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 02:09 PM

31. I never underestimate the religious right. They do things sneaky.

 

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Response to southernyankeebelle (Reply #31)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 02:13 PM

32. Oh, I don't underestimate them.

But I also never, ever underestimate our side. I really don't think the kooky fanatics can get a decent enough foothold.

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Response to HappyMe (Reply #32)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 02:19 PM

34. I hope your right. The thought scares me to death.

 

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Response to cali (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 02:08 PM

30. So this would be a bad place for me to open a topless BBQ?

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Response to cali (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 02:13 PM

33. Notice that the emphasis is not on male self-restraint but female temptation?

That's rape culture in a nutshell. That's male privilege. That's "I raped her because she was dressed like a slut and I couldn't help myself."

I'm sure it exists to some extent in other religions but in the Abrahamic religions it is instantiated and enshrined in religious lore, starting with the story of Eve. This example stands out because the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community stands out. But there are shades of it everywhere.

PB

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Response to Poll_Blind (Reply #33)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 03:13 PM

39. +1

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Response to cali (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 02:36 PM

35. Respect my Intolerance!

Cater to my fear of sex!

Stupid Funadamentalist Monotheism, you are a curse on the planet.

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Response to cali (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 03:09 PM

37. Scratch a fundie of any religion and underneath they're all the same.

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