You may have heard about the medical conference in Israel that’s banning women from speaking at the event? Specifically, the gynecology-focused conference where women aren’t allowed to speak on stage?
The annual Innovations in Gynecology and Halacha conference of the Puah Institute for Medicine and Halacha is scheduled for Wednesday. Some 1,000 men and women are expected to attend the conference, which is geared to the Modern Orthodox and haredi Orthodox communities. Male and female participants are separated by dividers in the conference hall.
The conference has been held for the last 12 years, but this marks the first time that the absence of female speakers has become an issue. Women do not serve as speakers, according to the organization, in order to insure the participation of the haredi Orthodox, who are generally wary of medical advancements in fertility treatments.
Their rationale is this:
1. Haredi don’t like to see women speak to male audiences.
2. Haredi are ambivalent about fertility treatments.
3. The Puah Institute wants Haredi doctors to attend this conference and learn about advancements in fertility treatments, therefore,
4. Women must be strictly separated from men at the Gynecology & Halacha Conference.
Notice that no one is trying to keep women from seeing men speak on stage. It’s fine for female doctors to sit in the audience while men make presentations. It’s the question of male doctors watching presentations by female doctors on stage that’s a problem.
Am I missing something here? If letting women show themselves in public is such a problem for Haredi men, then…maybe, Haredi men should not be gynecologists? Think about this for a second: if it’s “immodest” for a man to see a woman speaking on stage about medical advancements, then how is it the least bit acceptable for a man to put his hands on the private parts of a woman whom he may have just met that day?
It occurs to me that if Haredi men followed through on their “modesty” requirements and just left gynecology to female doctors, this conference wouldn’t be an issue.
(Yes, I know: when they talk about “modesty,” they’re really talking about keeping women in the kitchen, which means female doctors are only tolerated because of secular pressures.)
All that said, though, the controversy is totally worth the trouble, owing to this hilarious fauxpology from Puah:
“We are sorry that instead of appreciating the great advances we have merited to see in women’s health in general, and in particular within the religious sector, as a result of our conferences, there are cynical, aggressive elements who try to block us by using the prevailing public ambience,” the organization said on its website. “These elements are riding on the back of the Puah Institute in order to advance their personal agenda.”
Shorter version: “You bitches are just JEALOUS! Waaaaah!”