Musical protests planned to counter taboo on female singers
Hila Bunyovich-Hoffman comes up with idea to protest in response to the orthodox prohibition against women singers.
A wave of media reports about discrimination against women in public spaces, politics and the army has prompted a first-of-its-kind protest - a Facebook page urging women to sing out in musical protest.
Hila Bunyovich-Hoffman came up with the idea in response to the orthodox prohibition against women singers. That prohibition led to one of the incidents that sparked her protest: Last month, four religious cadets walked out of an army event because female vocalists were performing. They were consequently kicked out of officer school.
The protest has been called for 11 A.M. on November 11. Bunyovich-Hoffman envisions all the participants going outside at that moment and singing from songbooks to be distributed in advance. The singers will be accompanied by instruments.
"The time has come for us to stop keeping quiet," she wrote on her Facebook page. "When we open our mouths, we don't become sex objects or prostitutes, and we won't agree to accept such an attitude from anyone."
The 35-year-old high-tech worker said her initiative was born of "great frustration and insult and a desire to alter society's consciousness." Having sung in choirs for years, she views singing as "a creative and powerful tool of expression," and "reducing a woman to a sex object the moment she sings was the last straw for me."
The Facebook page has drawn support from men as well as women, she said, even including a few ultra-Orthodox men. Over 400 women - including religious ones - have already promised to participate, as have various nonprofit groups, and activists are organizing parallel protests in Haifa and Jerusalem to complement the one Bunyovich-Hoffman is planning for Tel Aviv.
The Haifa event will take place at the Sieff junction, near an ultra-Orthodox supermarket, and the Jerusalem one at the bridge of strings.
"Life as a woman in Israel is becoming more restricted and humiliating, and that's not a feminist problem; it's one of all us as a society," Bunyovich-Hoffman said. "People have learned to accept this situation as natural, but we mustn't continue to keep quiet. Thanks to the summer's wave of protests, conditions have ripened for a protest of this sort." Additional background can be found in her blog post on the issue, which was published in English in the 972 web magazine.
Other recent incidents that upset Bunyovich-Hoffman include the disappearance of women from outdoor advertising in Jerusalem, as reported in Haaretz last week, and women being forced to dance separate from men at an army event in honor of last week's Simhat Torah holiday.