"If a woman’s reproductive function confined her to the domestic scene, it was her sexuality per se that kept her out of the public domain. … These fears conspire to produce the result we actually find: Man is a public creature, woman a private one. This withholding of women’s rights in the public domain in response to the sexual threat posed to men at large neatly matches the sages’ suspension of a woman’s private rights in situations sexually threatening to individual men — a parallel surely not lost on the symmetry-conscious men who made these rules. In the end women play no part in the rituals of synagogue or study house, the most prestigious communal activities in mishnaic culture. Denied access to the life of mind and spirit, a woman’s physicality becomes even more pronounced, and her confinement to hearth and home a self-perpetuating social fact."
Whatever the status of women in antiquity, we are engaged explicitly in providing access to the life of mind and spirit, in which confinement is ended, in which women are now physically present at public gatherings, and physicality (for women and men) normalized. Women and men may now be public creatures; men and women may choose to remain private. Consequently, we must explicitly participate in liberating women from being the object of male thought and attraction, now recognizing women as actors (not simply as objects of action) and as people (not simply as objects of lust, to be protected, concealed, or preserved in accordance with some male’s reaction, nor are men portrayed as sexually obsessed and unrestrained).