I was at a conference recently, and, depressed by the plethora of suits giving their opinions, asked one of the organisers — yes! a person of MY gender — why there were no women on the panel.
Before she could respond, the woman’s husband leaned over and said: “There are no women qualified and at the same level to be on this kind of panel.”
I must confess, I blinked. I could not actually believe he had just said what I had heard. After all, full disclosure, the panel was not about solely male pursuits or perspectives. Yet, just like that, this man had decided to erase the potential contribution of 50 per cent of the human race.
And sadly, as we have had cause to learn recently, Mr Misogynist is not alone in his opinions. I draw your attention to the disgraceful scenes on last week’s Tel Aviv to London easyJet flight, and the latest IKEA catalogue published in Israel.
Almost everybody will now be aware — because, naturally, the national press leapt gleefully on this story — that a wedding party of around 50 strictly Orthodox men caused havoc on the easyJet flight by refusing to sit down next to women.
Even when some of the women passengers agreed to move, there were no thanks and no concessions. The understandably harassed easyJet aircrew did the proper thing and called the police when the plane landed in Luton. I would give much to have been a fly on the wall when the cops faced off with the Charedim. While it is true that no actual crime may have been committed, the behaviour, by any standards, was deplorable. If it leads to easyJet re-thinking whether or not to retain its service to Israel, no-one should be surprised. One benighted steward said he had not witnessed such chaos in 11 years of flights.
So that’s one instance in which women’s essential uselessness to one part of the community has found expression.
Another is the new Israel IKEA catalogue, which brings discrimination to a new low by producing a separate catalogue for the strictly Orthodox, which has no pictures of women. That is correct: despite offering goods of interest to large families, such as high chairs or nursery furniture or spacious kitchen cupboards, not one of the catalogue pictures shows a woman, not even little girls. It is as though a giant vacuum cleaner has swept women away. The only faintly amusing thing is that by getting rid of women, IKEA has been forced to display somewhat unrealistic images of fathers feeding children from plastic cups and bowls, when we all know that’s the slave’s job.
If I sound bitter and twisted, it’s because I cannot believe that this sort of thing is acceptable in 2017. That’s the 21st century, which appears to have passed some sections of the community by.
I long for those with a following in the Orthodox community to make a public declaration deploring these manifestations. Let’s have an end to these all-too- regular displays of terrible behaviour and out-and-out discrimination, of newspapers blotting out women’s faces and all the rest of the nonsense.
Because, presumably, even the men on the easyJet flight had mothers, too. And if the Luton cops didn’t administer it, then their mums should have done — a good smack.