Sphinxism as a social phenomenon: The opposite reaction to moral panic toward women's plight and predicament

Sphinxism as a social phenomenon: The opposite reaction to moral panic toward women's plight and predicament

Author: 
Ya'arit Bokek-Cohen and Dan Bokek
Abstract: 

The article offers the term Sphinxism to describe a phenomenon whereby various modes of women's predicament is ignored by social agents; Sphinxism is a term we coin to describe cases in which a woman experience sorrow, however some people do not make any effort to help her on the micro or the macro level. We show that instead of expressing moral panic toward misbehavior against women, culturally inscribed social representations of women entail reactions of indifference, steadfastness and unshakeability by witnesses of women's suffering and plight. We demonstrate our concept of Sphinxism in empirical data showing the failure to help women who seek life partners but live in a prolonged singlehood. A research project conducted by us involved interviews with twenty-five Israeli Jewish matchmakers. Findings suggest that religious Jewish individuals' attitude is not monolithic and reflects either moral panic or sphinxism toward older singles. We draw on these findings and generalize to other women's sources of plight such as conjugal violence, sexual harassment and discrimination at the labor market.

Paper No: 
1724