Women's sex-objectification during the matchmaking process in Israel

Ya'arit Bokek-Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


According to Jewish traditional thought, there is great concern that beauty and external appearances can lead to manifestations of evil and promiscuity; this attitude is expressed in the proverb "Grace is deceitful and beauty is vain." Women's beauty is considered a positive phenomenon only when it is subordinated to the higher goal of finding a mate and maintaining a harmonious relationship with a husband. This article is based on findings from a qualitative study that sought to explore the way national-religious Jewish matchmakers act toward the issue of beauty. These matchmakers face a beauty dilemma as they try to comply with their male clients' exacting and steep demands regarding the desired bride's beauty, while at the same time they wish to adhere to this Jewish religious ethos. Twenty-five national-religious Jewish matchmakers in Israel were interviewed. Findings show that they tend to cope with this dilemma by using two complementary strategies: On one hand they try, albeit unsuccessfully, to persuade their male clients to decrease the importance they attached to the appearance of the desired bride. On the other hand, they demonstrate a kind of pragmatic acceptance and compliance with the demands of their male clients; most of them tend to advise their female clients on how to improve their outward attractiveness in accordance to generally accepted standards of beauty, in order to promote their female clients' chances of finding a groom. In doing so, they unconsciously contribute to the perpetuation of the double standard of beauty and the sex objectification of women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-111
Number of pages31
JournalAsian Women
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Backlash
  • Beauty standards
  • Israel
  • Jews
  • Matchmaking
  • Objectification


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