Hatred of Women
by: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach - Last updated: 2003-10-29
The awarding of this year's Nobel Peace Prize to Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian judge and women's rights activist, was as courageous as last year's to Jimmy Carter was cowardly. While Carter, of course, deserves a Nobel Appeasement Prize, the peace prize belongs to those who fight for the disenfranchised rather than those who stand up for the dictators who do the disenfranchising. And what group today is more discriminated against than women, both in Islamic culture and in the West?
The abuse of the female sex in the Islamic world is hitting new lows with the increasing encouragement to young women like Hanadi Jaradat who killed 17 adults and three children in Haifa last week to become suicide bombers. Even Nazi Germany never thought to subvert the maternal and nurturing instinct within women by making them killers. Indeed, the most depraved Islamic extremists would have to admit that women were never meant to blow themselves up for the faith.
Writers and thinkers have long noted that one of the most accurate ways of determining the moral state of a society is how they treat the most vulnerable members of that society, namely, women and children. Do they oppress and exploit them? Or do they cherish and honor them? But while Western society is not guilty of turning women into corrupt and compassionless killers, it is at the forefront of an increasingly misogynistic civilization in which the deprecation and denigration of women is not only acceptable, but serves as the primary engine that actually drives the culture.
Misogyny is indeed the acceptable new face of racism. While discrimination against blacks in the United States is so justifiably taboo that even an indirectly pro-segregation comment by Trent Lott cost him his job as Senate majority leader, the loathing and disparagement of women is so rampant that even women have begun to cater to it and are complicit in its perpetuation.
Imagine for a moment that there was a TV show that took 30 Jews to a castle in France and told them that they had the opportunity of befriending a mega-millionaire. The twist in the program is that the millionaire is really a New Jersey construction worker. The objective of the show is to see if the Jews, who everyone knows love money, will terminate the friendship upon discovering that their new buddy is broke.
Imagine also that this show is so wildly successful that fully 40 million people watch its finale, and that a new international version is quickly readied for release in the fall ratings season. You would be forgiven for thinking that the show's creator is Joseph Goebbels and that the intended audience is Nazi Germany.
But that is exactly the show, Joe Millionaire, produced by the Fox TV network, in which women who meet a suitor are expected to dump him because he's penniless. Incredible! A whole TV show perpetuating the stereotype of women as money-grubbing, gold-digging leeches and parasites, for whom love and romance are unimportant compared to credit cards and cash, and not a single feminist organization even so much as protested.
AND THIS has become par for the course in the lucrative genre of reality TV. There is The Bachelor which exposes women as witches stabbing each other in the back as they compete for a man; Are you Hot?, which literally puts women on the block to have each feature of their bodies evaluated by lecherous Neanderthals as if they were sex slaves about to be sold on the market; and Paradise Hotel with the crowning portrayal of women as mindless sluts and nymphomaniacs, forever ready to jump in the sack with complete strangers. Of course, all this comes in addition to the near-naked female cheerleaders at sporting events where women are portrayed as dimwitted go-go dancers who stand in awe of muscle-laden athletes.
Then there's the Internet, the greatest technological achievement since man landed on the moon. With fully 70 percent of it devoted to the most graphic pornography, cyberspace has emerged as cosmic, female-bashing universe. Of the hundreds of spam e-mails I receive each week, not one says, "Come to our Web site and watch as we get black men to clean our floors and toilets." Any such communication, however trashy in origin, would be investigated by the government for incitement. But every day I receive about 50 junk e-mails whose average fair is, "Teen whores and sluts who want..."; "Tear her Womanhood Apart," or the especially inventive "This girl loves being ravished by her horse."
Imagine, billions of e-mails a day maligning women as retarded, pain-loving, bitches, sluts, and whores who love being beaten while they are sexually abused, and to my knowledge, no government agency has investigated any of these sites. Exploit children and you're going to jail. Malign women and you make a buck.
Where are the women to protest this kind of thing? Well, it appears that they're way too busy trying to live up to the negative caricatures. Time magazine recently reported that a staggering 40% of all female high-school students wear thongs, usually with one of the straps showing just above their pants. The trend starts from age seven.
There are strong consequences for a world that has no respect for women and women who have no respect for themselves. With the neutralization of women as a nurturing and softening force, the world is becoming more aggressive, more ruthlessly ambitious, less compassionate, and more insecure. It is a world of harsh judgment, bereft of gentle creatures to soothe the pain. The brutal belligerence of the once great Islamic world is a supreme example of the consequences for a society that denies women public roles and influence.
In the West, the disparagement and defamation of women is fostering a generation of loutish and unrefined men who have no incentive to become gentlemen. With women being so significantly devalued, and with men being subtly taught to despise women as worthless playthings created for naught but their entertainment and pleasure, men are making little effort to ennoble their character in order to be worthy of a woman.
The rule today is that a man can act like a complete jerk and still get a girlfriend. Men barely know how to be faithful, have no clue how to be husbands, and as a result have little idea how to be fathers, either. Men routinely burp and break wind in the presence of their wives, and then laugh hysterically as if being a brute is funny.
And it all starts at such a young age. A woman called me recently asking me what to do about her 13-year-old son, who attends a religious school, and whom she recently caught instant messaging a girl in his class, "Hey lesbo, wanna f---k?"
EARLY CULTURES conceived of women as being superior rather than equal to men. The ancients perceived women to be the fairer sex, more naturally noble, innately spiritual, inwardly secure, and romantically committed.
The Hindus said that Yab was greater than Yum, the Chinese placed Yang above Yin, and Tantra taught that Shakti was the master of Shiva. The ancient rabbis maintained that Jewish women have fewer ritual observances than men because their congenital piety necessitated fewer external reminders of God's presence.
The consequence of women being placed on a pedestal was that men had to work hard to be thought worthy of a woman. Winning a damsel was a lifelong pursuit. Even after marriage a wife remained an unattainable prize whom the husband would devote his existence to honoring. No price was too great for a woman.
As late as 1936 the world applauded King Edward VIII for forfeiting a kingdom of 600 million subjects and a quarter of the world's surface, for the love of a woman. Today, of course, wealthy businessmen routinely dump the devoted wife for the young, sleazy bimbo with a boob job.
When Moses first encounters God in the desert, he is commanded to take off his shoes lest he trample on holy ground. Chivalry too was once predicated on the idea that men had to mind their manners in the presence of creatures that reflected the divine spirit. Only feminine sanctity can recreate masculine dignity.
Some suggestions in that direction include a return to single-sex education where girls can learn to discover their identities as individuals before being immersed in an environment where popularity among the boys is the determining factor of their significance.
Likewise, boycotts organized by women leaders, who thus far have been shamefully silent, against companies and TV networks that move products by demeaning and exploiting women would be welcome. Finally, an emphasis on the ability for attentive fathers to provide their daughters with a healthy form of male attention that will make their daughters less dependent on pimply pubescent boys is a really good idea.
Most urgent of all, Islamic imams must emerge to state that it is bad enough that their once glorious faith has instilled such hatred in young men that they are willing to sever the arms and heads of little children in buses. But if even their women become murderers, who will ever save them?