32-year-old Likud member Tzipi Hotovely is Chairwoman of the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of Women. In honor of International Women’s Day, Haaretz asked Hotovely whether Women’s Day was a happy day for Israeli women.
Here is part of the interview, but I recommend reading the whole thing.
Do you yourself feel that a glass ceiling gets in your way?
No. For women just setting out and dividing time between personal and public life, the situation is more complicated. Women who reached the Knesset when their children were grown are more similar to the men. When I become a mother I’ll have to determine my limits at work. It’s an all-encompassing occupation, and men have fewer pangs of conscience, while fewer demands are made of them at home.
Have you ever been discriminated against as a woman?
No. Let me think. Maybe about security issues there is a feeling that the male milieu doesn’t like women expressing opinions. Personally, I appreciate remarks based on knowledge when it comes to matters of state.
And in the religious environment in which you were raised?
I come from religious Zionism. Women are empowered there. It’s something I always take with me. In my world there are no real barriers.
Have you ever been sexually harassed?
I think my behavior as a religious woman puts up barriers that protect me. When I got to politics it was important to set limits. I don’t shake hands and try to avoid being be hugged and kissed. It’s very important to me to set limits, and the religious matter really helps because the political world is informal.
On Facebook, Elana Stzockman responded and gave me permission to share:
What’s worse is her answer to the questions about women working and glass ceilings. She is basically saying that women with children cannot be expected to work, that she is of course going to work less than men when she has children,… that she has once or twice encountered women ‘who have had children’ who work, but mostly it’s only when a woman’s children are grown that she can work ‘like men’. It’s so upsetting that she is representing women’s issues when she has absolutely no idea what she’s talking about.
I am strongly in favor or parenthood, and a big believer in making workplaces comfortable for parents, changing workplace cultures to accept parenthood as a norm rather than as an aberration. Hotovely’s statements that as soon as she becomes a parent she’ll work less and assumes that all women do that — it’s so completely the opposite of what an advocate should be saying. Instead of conforming to the inequalities currently impacting women’s lives, she is the person who is supposed to be fighting!! She is so young and inexperienced and just has no idea what she’s saying
Also — the statement about negiyah protecting from sexual harassment is horrifying. there is an implied blame the victim there.
AND — the idea that religious Zionism in general ‘protects’ her from the glass ceiling completely flies in the face of reality. the only way in which having a religious boss is better than a non-religious boss is if you’re covering your hair, and then there are fewer assumptions. that’s it.
How many religious Zionism women are there who are CEOs of large companies? How many? If anyone out there can name even one, I would be impressed. How many religious Zionist women have done a powerful hi-tech “exit”? One that I know of. And she says she has no peers at all.
Not to mention the fact that even where religious women get ahead, such as in education where women are often principals of girls’ schools, it is not unheard of for a man to be hired as a school rabbi and make more than a woman. It’s also not unheard of for schools–religious and non-religious — to advertise for a male-only position in religious issues. Yachad in Modi’in opened a track for gemara in the high school and advertised for men only, ‘yeshiva graduates’. So much for the absence of a glass ceiling….
Her ignorance and naivete and condescension, as if she is personally unaffected, are, as I said, shocking, especially for a woman in her position.
I’d like to ask female, religious Zionist readers: Do you feel that Tzipi Hotovely represents you? Are there barriers to women in the religious Zionist world, and if so, what are they?
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