For over 90 years, the Women’s Zionist Organisation (WIZO) has been a pioneering movement. At a time when women were not allowed to be part of the organized Zionist movement a group of feisty ladies decided that if we could not join them, we would start one of our own. And so WIZO was born. Since its inception, WIZO has been all about empowering women. We have empowered women to be suffragettes because women deserved the right to vote. Don’t we also deserve the right of choice? We hold consultative status at the United Nations on UNICEF and ECOSOC, no small feat for a Zionist organization, we hold leadership positions in major Jewish organisations and we have empowered women from minority communities, many of them victims of domestic violence to be leaders. We have created leaders, entrepreneurs and trailblazers of women’s rights.  This is in addition to the tremendous work we do to improve the lives of women and children in Israel.

WIZO is all about empowerment, including the right to make informed choices, including on issues of sexuality.

It would appear that there are some that have gotten their knickers in a knot over the screening of the movie “50 Shades of Grey” as part of a WIZO fundraiser. As WIZO women we defend your choice to see the movie. Or not.

This is a worldwide event and is happening at the request of our WIZO Aviv’s who have recognized that the movie, predicted to break box office records, will attract our target membership who are more than happy to show their support for our work while enjoying a highly anticipated chick flick. It is hardly a trip to the local strip joint or purveyor of porn. Tickets to these global fundraisers are sold out and have attracted women from all sectors of society.

If the sexual proclivities of Christian Grey are not your thing, you have a choice not to see the movie. To try and tarnish the reputation of a premier woman’s movement who does outstanding work by going to the press to create controversy is mean spirited. I assume that those casting disparity have read the books. They will also know that any sex that takes place between the characters is consensual and by a fictitious character who makes her own choices and does not propagate or endorse violence against women. The women who choose to see the movie know exactly what it is about.

As WIZO women we respect the rights of our sisters to make choices that suit their individual needs, be they religious, political, intellectual or even sexual. It is a sad day when the same respect is not afforded to us.

I agree with Laurienne Baitz, World WIZO AVIV representative. At a time when women are being persecuted in countries where they cannot show their faces, vote, own property or even drive a car, is a fundraiser based around a sexy movie really the issue we should be talking about?

Let us respect a WIZO Woman’s right to choose.

Rolene Marks

Deputy Chairperson: Organisation and Tourism Division

World WIZO