Sisterhood Blog

More Than A Fashion Statement

By Elissa Strauss

  • Print
  • Share Share
Joanne Ginsberg

Two new feminist t-shirts entered the world this past month and I am not sure which will incite more scandal, considering the context.

One is a tight, black, short-sleeved v-neck tee that has “’Daughters of Israel, Do Not Dress Provocatively” printed across it in Hebrew. This is the same language women find on signs posted around religious neighborhoods of Jerusalem warning them to not show too much skin.

This shirt was the brainchild of Jerusalem-based Joanne Ginsberg, who came up with the idea after being harassed for her “provocative” dress a few summers ago. She was wearing long sleeves, a long skirt sandals and a head scarf.

As Ginsberg explained to the Times of Israel:

The women had head coverings and shawls and what appeared to be wool blankets draped all over themselves accosted me in the street. They surrounded me.. and had decided to give me a lesson in modesty.

They said they could help me become a better Jewish woman. They could help me reach new levels of modesty. My husband would desire me more. My life will miraculously become spiritual if only I listen to them.

At first, Ginsberg kept the tees on the down-low, keeping a couple a dozen in the back of her Hebrew Tshirts shop for customers she could trust. Eventually she went public, and now sells them on Etsy.

The other racy new t-shirt features a drawing of a menstruating, masturbating vagina and it’s on sale at — where else? — American Apparel. The shirt was designed by artist Petra Collins and half of the proceeds will go to the online female art collective she runs.

Collins told VICE that she is not surprised by the media storm the shirts set-off, explaining that this was precisely her intention.

“We’re so shocked and appalled at something that’s such a natural state — and it’s funny that out of all the images everywhere, all of the sexually violent images, or disgustingly derogatory images, this is something that’s so, so shocking apparently. The graphic on my shirt is a line drawing, too. It’s not even a full-on image,” she said.

Collins referred to “those really gross novelty shirts that make it look like you have boobs” and said she wanted “to reappropriate that and create a feminist, more aesthetically true drawing on one of those T-shirts that everyone can have.” Oh, and her message for those who are freaked out by the shirt, “you should probably masturbate and you’ll feel better.”

The interesting thing about the controversy surrounding Collins’ shirt is how it is, at this point at least, limited to the media. Ginsberg’s shirt, on the other hand, has a very good chance of getting its wearer hurt considering the rising trend of violence towards “immodestly” dressed women in religious areas of Israel. This isn’t to say both women aren’t breaking important taboos, just that there is so much more at stake, i.e. physical well-being, for women in some parts of the world than others — and these two new t-shirts illustrate that.

Let us not even imagine what would happen if someone stepped into an ultra-Orthodox community wearing Collins’ shirt. Ptui, ptui, ptui.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: jewish women, sisterhood, israel, feminism, fashion

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.