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Are Haredi Women Taking Their Cues From Outkast?

Some ultra-Orthodox women are defiantly taking seats at the back of Israeli buses in the name of what they see as religiously mandated gender-segregation. What’s more, as the Forward reports, some of them (or at least one of them) are comparing their actions to those of civil rights legend Rosa Parks.

Let’s set aside the moral question here, since I’m but a simple Jew and thus find such weighty matters painfully vexing. On the basic level of the facts, however, I just don’t understand how the Rosa Parks analogy applies: These haredi women want to sit at the back of the bus. Rosa Parks, of course, refused to give up her seat at the back of the bus. But, it seems safe to say, she didn’t particularly want to be relegated to the rear of the bus, and her brave act of defiance gave birth to a movement that eventually put an end to racially segregated seating in public transportation.

This leads me to believe that perhaps these haredi women are not, in fact, motivated by the example of Rosa Parks, the civil rights icon, but rather by “Rosa Parks,” the hit song by the Atlanta hip-hop outfit Outkast. That song, of course, features a chorus that urges, “Ah ha, hush that fuss/Everybody move to the back of the bus.”

I only hope that these haredi path-breakers don’t now try to implement the second half of the song’s chorus: “Do you wanna bump and slump with us/We the type of people make the club get crunk.” In any case, they should be aware that Outkast was sued over its song on behalf of (the since departed) Parks, and so they may want to consult an attorney as a precautionary measure.

But that’s just my own personal theory. You can decide for yourselves which Rosa Parks they’re emulating by watching a pair of videos. Be forewarned, however, that the first video contains some language that may be offensive to many viewers, while the second video contains a moving depiction of personal courage.

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