Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Talking to Rabbis: "I was raped, to say aloud: modesty can breed vulnerability to sexual assault"

This past Sunday, I spoke about sexuality and modesty in front of a group of ultra-Orthodox rabbis. Both professionally and personally, it was a profound moment for me, a formerly ultra-Orthodox woman, to sit there and name experiences that the ultra-Orthodox community hasn’t wanted to hear. To say aloud: I was raped, to say aloud: modesty can breed vulnerability to sexual assault, to say aloud: all girls deserve sex education. And to have these rabbis – some of whom have been highly unfriendly to these ideas — carefully listen to me articulate these silenced realities.
At this event, five former ultra-Orthodox Jews met with four ultra-Orthodox rabbis and one Orthodox woman in an optimistic but perhaps quixotic attempt to build bridges of communication between these two communities.
Tensions have risen between the two, as former ultra-Orthodox Jews have grown to be a bold voice for justice around issues of sex abuse, negligence in education, forced marriages, oppression of personal choice, removal of children from deviating parents and abusive treatment of deviating teens, in their communities of origin.
Former ultra-Orthodox Jews don’t speak with a unified voice, but our diverse perspectives are perceptive and essential — and troubling for the ultra-Orthodox world, which has often viewed them as an affront to their way of life. There is little constructive conversation between the two groups, for a number of reasons, including — as I, a former ultra-Orthodox Jew, have experienced —a tendency for the ultra-Orthodox community to attack the veracity and mental health of any former ultra-Orthodox Jew who publicly tells their story.
 On that evening, the eleven of us involved put aside our theological disparities and powerful emotions to try and take a step towards naming and then addressing social problems within ultra-Orthodoxy — which we all agree, despite our differences, need to be faced.
As we spoke, I was surprised to hear some of the complexity that underlies the actions of these ultra-Orthodox rabbis. I’ve often encountered their views as black-and-white attitudes, but in the candid conversations at this event, I heard an unexpected complexity of motivations, and expressions of compassion and awareness, that gave me more hope that there are opportunities for change and cooperation.
Some critics of ultra-Orthodoxy have scoffed at this project. They’re mistrustful of the rabbis, angry that my peers and I would attempt to engage these people, some of whom have been the cause of much pain. This is a classic dilemma of social change movements: Do we engage directly with those perceived as oppressors, pulling them in to work on solutions — or are the costs too high and the outcomes too unlikely to make the effort worth it? I believe the issues are pressing enough that we must use every tool we’ve got — including engagement.
A lot of things were accomplished at this event, some visible, some not yet, but one important achievement is that we put names to faces, which can be a powerful way to bring conversations from inaudible attack to a more constructive volume.
For these ultra-Orthodox rabbis to have the willingness to sit at the table with five former ultra-Orthodox Jews, and to display a degree of willingness to listen to their ideas for reform, is a significant and valuable statement. It doesn’t negate my general anger and cynicism to state that I’m grateful for this gesture.
Yes, emphatically, this is a dismally low bar. But when you consider where we’re starting from, it feels like a leap as high as Everest. And yes, emphatically, this thimble-sized achievement is laughable relative to the size of our problems. But there’s no silver bullet for complex social change. There are only tiny steps, stumbling ahead, hopefully encouraging others forward on their own paths, until a great mass of us create a wave moving in the direction of justice and tolerance.
In our conversation at this event, it became obvious that some ultra-Orthodox rabbis feel held hostage by their communities, afraid that taking a stand for justice will cost them their credibility. It’s a disappointing dynamic, but it also illuminates that individuals in a community who feel powerless may not realize how much power they actually hold in their hands — how much one small statement, or one small action, can start to shift the intricate ecosystem of communal life.

Read more:

You Can Take The Child Molester Out Of Jewish Brooklyn, But You Can't Take The Jewish Brooklyn Out of The Child Molester

Hollywood's hypocrites 

A growing number of victims allege that behind its curtain
 of holier-than-thou progressivism, the entertainment
world's top A-list stars have engaged in the most depraved
 sexual abuse against vulnerable children and teens.
And after years of cover-up, the institutional scandal is exploding.
The latest alleged atrocities involve “X-Men” director Bryan Singer
and at least three other power players in the business:
veteran television executive Garth Ancier, former Disney
 executive David Neuman and producer Gary Goddard.
Last month, former child actor and model Michael Egan filed civil suits
against the men, alleging that they passed around underage boys
“like pieces of meat at sex parties” in the late 1990s.
Egan's X-rated lawsuit exposes a cabal of alleged predators 
who supposedly plied young boys and teens with hard drugs
and alcohol before sexually assaulting them.
Egan says he repeatedly was molested, raped and beaten
from the age of 15 at a mansion in southern California.
The mansion was owned by another of Egan's alleged abusers:
 Internet video mogul Marc Collins-Rector.
He's a registered sex offender who authorities said lured
young boys online, drugged and raped them — and reportedly
threatened them with a gun if they did not submit.
Egan's allegations are especially chilling in light of similarly
 lurid charges made 17 years ago on the set of Singer's movie
“Apt Pupil.” Three underage boys — ages 14, 16 and 17 —
filed suit alleging Singer and his crew forced them to take off
peach-colored G-strings and strip naked in a shower scene for the movie.
Authorities investigated. The suit was dismissed.
The alleged child rape scandal exposed by Egan does not exist in a vacuum:
• Last year, child actor Corey Feldman alleged rampant pedophilia
 in a brave,scathing memoir. He alleged that his best friend 
and co-star, the late Corey Haim, was sodomized by an older male
on the set of their hit film “Lucas.” The boys,
reportedly fed cocaine by a string of predators,
attended parties with Hollywood
talent manager and child actors' rep
Marty Weiss. Now a registered sex offender,
 Weiss pleaded no contest in 2012 to lewd acts
 on a child under the age of 14.
• Registered sex offender Jason Murphy, a Hollywood casting agent,
reportedly kidnapped and molested an 8-year-old boy before joining the industry.
• Former child actor Todd Bridges, of “Diff'rent Strokes” fame,
 says he was abused by his agent.
• Former teen pop princess Debbie Gibson has spoken of
“older male record executives” who hit on her while she was still underage.
• Despite disturbing and longstanding allegations of molestation and rape,
 directors Woody Allen and Roman Polanski still enjoy professional acclaim
 and adoration of their peers.
• Fashion photographer Terry Richardson continues to enjoy
 the support of Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Rihanna and Miley Cyrus
 despite years of allegations of misogyny, manipulation and 
sexual misconduct against young models.
If all of these sickos had been Catholic priests,
college fraternity members or charter school teachers,
we wouldn't have heard the end of the allegations.

Perhaps the social-justice-awareness raisers in the Hollywood left
should take a break from pointing fingers at everyone else —
and put a stop to the monsters in their midst.

Read more: http://triblive.com/opinion/featuredcommentary/6073259-74/alleged-child-egan#ixzz31YoERgUS