Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Prostitutes & Judaism - Degradation of women

Shmuely Boteach wrote in JPost:

In Ireland last week, in front of hundreds of students at University College in Dublin, I participated in a debate on whether pornography is destructive or harmless. Numerous speakers on the pro-pornography side argued that it was a central part of women's liberation, a point which met with thunderous cheers from the women in the audience.

When it was my turn to speak, I asked the young women present to raise their hands if they needed a man. Not one hand went up. I then told them that commensurate with the degree to which men are becoming immature, porn-obsessed schoolboys, women are giving up on the hope of ever finding a noble, well-mannered gentleman. As women confront the vulgar reality of how men treat them, they discover that becoming masturbatory material to men is not particularly liberating.

This despair of Dublin's women was mirrored the next evening in a conversation with a 29-year-old woman who told me that she had given up on finding a good man, seeing as the men in Dublin were conditioned "to treat women as orifices."

"A huge number of women play along," she told me, "by coming out on Friday and Saturday nights in their skimpy miniskirts in the freezing cold, getting completely drunk and doing anything the guys want in the mistaken belief that somehow this will bring them love. After a few years they give up on men and become like me."

NOWHERE IN the Western world are we raising a generation of men who pride themselves on their restraint and respect toward women. We are likewise failing to cultivate women who refuse to be complicit in their own degradation and who insist that their sexuality be shared with a man only in the context of a serious and tangible romantic commitment. It's a man's world. Women just live in it.

This is even true in marriage, as more and more relationship experts blame a cheating husband on his wife. If a man is unfaithful, they argue, it is often due to the fact that he feels lonely and unappreciated by his wife. By recognizing that their husbands have emotional and sexual needs which she may be ignoring, a wife can win her husband back and ensure that he does not stray.

But this attempt to blame the victim ignores the fact that the principle reason men womanize is to shore up their broken egos. There are so many damaged husbands who think that a nurturing stranger who both desires him and wishes to lend an ear to his pain will be a salve to his painfully low self-esteem. In many cases, these are husbands who have wives who could not be more devoted, who give them sex whenever they want, who pine for them to come home at night, all to no avail. No matter how much she huffs and puffs, she cannot inflate his perforated ego.

Would we really suggest that, as Elizabeth Edwards ran around the country with incurable cancer catering to her husband's yearning to be president, that her husband John cheated on her because she wasn't caring enough? After Silla Ward Spitzer garnered national ridicule by quite literally standing by her husband Elliot in his greatest moment of shame, would we inflict the final insult on her by telling her that her husband hung out with hookers because of her neglect?

IN THIS age of husbands who are sports and TV addicts, I dare say there are probably more wives ignored by their husbands than the reverse. But women seem much more capable of controlling themselves and deciding that a husband's neglect is no excuse to corrupt one's character and become immoral. Indeed, the only way to truly affair-proof one's marriage is to decide that the pleasure of righteous action and moral heroism by far outstrips anything that can be experienced in illicit sex.

There is something magical in a man's ability to turn down an opportunity to stray and walk away from the encounter a devoted husband and moral giant. One of the prime reasons we all suffer from low self-esteem these days is that we are not the people we want to be. Becoming a liar and a cheat is probably not, in the long run, going to make us feel a whole lot better about ourselves. But deciding to behave righteously even when we are in pain will.[...]


  1. Just as a footnote, I wanted to mention roots of pornography in the witch hunts where a woman suspected of sexual immorality was stripped naked and flogged in the public square.

    Another old timey mode of pornographic entertainment was the slave auctions where African women were displayed nearly naked to the cheering crowds of bidders.

    Today's pornography often reflects the female role play of either the slave in bondage or the evil temptress who is being punished for leading good men to sin.

    There are more than a few scholarly sources which trace the roots of modern pornography to practices sanctioned under the guise of zealous Christianity.

    I wrote a thesis on the topic (a long LONG time ago).

    Anyway, back to Judaism and the modern monastic life of the bochur who delays marriage to "fortify" himself with his learning.

    First of all, the whole concept of haredi Harvard was only invented about 150 years ago as an antidote to Haskala. Now in order to compete with modern Western society Rabbis are encouraging men to delay marriage in favor of higher Torah education until age 23-25.

    No more is the Talmudic standard age of marriage for men 18-20. Who changed this??? and why?

    Now we have the issue of delaying marriage and all sins inherent.

    This is just another case of Christianity being repackaged as Judaism IMHO.

    Monastic life? As the old saying goes, "more than a few toilet seats are left up in the convent' and the tongue in cheek question among parents of "where did your daughter go to inseminary?"

    That the topic would even be a discussion in this way on Daas Torah confirms many a parent's worst nightmares.

  2. Jersey Girl said...

    ...Judaism and the modern monastic life of the bochur who delays marriage to "fortify" himself with his learning.

    ...Now in order to compete with modern Western society Rabbis are encouraging men to delay marriage in favor of higher Torah education until age 23-25.

    No more is the Talmudic standard age of marriage for men 18-20. Who changed this??? and why?

    The idea that yeshiva bochurim delayed marriage in order to devote themselves to learning is mostly a myth. It may have been true in some cases, but it was not the rule, neither in the past nor in the present.

    It is well known that the main reason why European yeshiva bochurim tended to remain bochurim until a more advanced age was simply because there were very few young women in Europe who were interested in marrying them. A yeshiva bochur was not seen as a desirable mate. This was one of the underlying factors that generated support for the Beis Yakov movement.

    As for today, most young men of 18-20 are simply not mature enough to get married.

    I know of one prominent American rosh yeshiva who used to encourage his talmidim to get married at a young age, but changed his approach when his talmidim began coming back to him for marriage counseling. He realized that they were not ready for marriage yet.

    Are there downsides to delaying marriage? Certainly. But if the result of early marriage is marital discord and divorce, then it is dubious if the benefits outweigh the costs.

    As for the rise in immoral behavior, I don't think that the root of this problem is delaying marriage for four or five years. Especially as these problems are much more prevalent among teenagers, not twenty-five year old bochurim.

    It is precisely the immaturity that generates this misbehavior that demonstrates that these young people are not ready or marriage.


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