Posts tagged " gender equality "

Why Don’t Men Get It?

September 18th, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 26 comments

Hello Rabbi and Susan Lapin,

Thank you for all your useful teachings, which I enjoy on a daily basis.

I have another marriage question for you. It is interesting to me that while many women are, rightly or wrongly, the main breadwinners in their homes, they still continue to do more household tasks than their husbands do.

Why do you think men seem to be so unaware of the professional and domestic burdens their wives are assuming?

Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

We’re delighted that you find our writings valuable and regret that we cannot answer your question just as you asked it. In order to do so, we would have to agree to be constrained by the corner in which you are painting  us.

You are making several  assumptions in the way you phrase  your question. We, too, have read surveys that show that women do more household chores than men. We have read other surveys that show an increasing number of families where wives out-earn their husbands. We’re not sure we have seen any accurate studies showing the overlap between these two sub-groups of families and that drill down into relevant details of these families. There may well be some studies like that, but our first instinct when we see studies on just about any politically hot-potato topic is to ascertain how objective and statistically accurate they are. Very few meet this reasonable standard.

You then make a huge leap into assuming that in those families where wives do out-earn husbands and in which they also assume the greater domestic burden, this uneven distribution is a result of a lack of awareness on the part of husbands. That is one assumption too many for us.

However, we aren’t going to leave you empty-handed. We often use the phrase, “how the world REALLY works.” That is a phrase that makes social engineers extremely uncomfortable. For example, how the world REALLY works is that the overwhelming majority of marriages come about when a man asks a woman to marry him. Surely, that should be a thing of the past? In today’s day and age, after more than half a century of gender egalitarianism,  why aren’t proposals 50% of the time instigated by men and 50% of the time by women? You might attribute this obvious imbalance  to men not realizing   that they can just as easily be on the receiving  side of a proposal as on the active proposing side, but that would be misleading.. You’d be ignoring  the fact that God built a world where men pursue women and both men and women (in general) prefer it that way.  Deuteronomy 22:13, “When a man marries a wife,” is where God informed us that it is seldom a case of, ‘when a man and woman marry’ or, “when a woman marries a man.” 

Every individual is a unique creation and every marriage is unique. Of course, today many people avoid marriage altogether so when we talk about married couples we are already dealing with a self-selecting  group. (Incidentally, many sociological and political studies and many media outlets, on policy, do not distinguish  between live-in lovers and spouses, referring to everyone who shares a home as married. This muddies the data water terribly.)

The questions we would rather ask—and we are working on a book that discusses this idea—is, “Do men and women relate differently to the process of earning money?” “Do men and women relate differently to their homes and families?” Our short answer is yes, which means that we reject your question as you ask it. Instead we would suggest that only people who do not understand how the world REALLY works think that earning money and taking care of home and family can or should be divided 50/50 among husbands and wives. Only people who do not understand how the world REALLY works would expect traditional roles to be reversed in a seamless and painless fashion.

Obviously, every couple can and should make its own decisions. However, we do think doing so without acknowledging the laws that God built into the world and by which most people will thrive is akin to taking up smoking a few cigars a day on the basis that George Burns did so and he lived a long and healthy life. Maybe you are an exception to a general rule, but more than likely you are not.

Hope you don’t find this non-answer  too disappointing ,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

What does the Hebrew word for family tell us? 
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Buried Treasure: Secrets for Living from the Lord’s LanguageAleph-Bet: A Fun, Rhyming, Bible-based Introduction to the Hebrew Alphabet

You Should See the Other Guy

September 28th, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 38 comments

We are now in the midst of the Ten Days of Repentance, that started with Rosh HaShanah (Head of the Year) and ends with Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). It’s a time for introspection, for evaluating one’s actions over the past year and committing to improvement should God bless us with more time.

I always find it disconcerting to discover that the character flaws that I examined last year—and the year before that and the year before that—are often the same ones I revisit this year.  Occasionally one gets to pat oneself  on the back for having made some change but, being human, there is always more to do.

I don’t know if this is my own personal failing or if other people grapple with this as well, but I sometimes find myself aiming for humble soul-searching at the same time as a script plays in my mind along the lines of, “Well, o.k., so I showed a lack of (fill in the blank) when I did (fill in the blank), but compared to (fill in the blank) I don’t think I’m doing that badly.” After all, in a world filled with some really bad people, I consider myself one of the good guys. In a world filled with lots of complacent people, at least I can say that I try.

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Gender Equality?

September 26th, 2017 Posted by On Our Mind 4 comments

An online CNN headline reads: How to teach children about gender equality. The closing sentence after a fairly well-sized article and accompanying video says, “When I asked them [5th and 6th grade students] if they would tell their sons and daughters that girls and boys are different, they unanimously said they would tell their kids that girls and boys are equal.”

Perhaps an English lesson might be helpful. Different and equal are not antonyms. Furthermore, equal is a meaningless word if you don’t define what you are comparing. So two dimes and one nickel are equal in monetary value to one quarter, but they are not equal in weight or number.

A lesson in logic might be helpful as well.  Stating that women as a group prefer A while men as a group prefer B or that men and women tend to excel in certain areas doesn’t say anything relevant about a particular woman or man or limit an individual in any way. The fact that my friend Robin happens to be a computer geek does not prove that if an overwhelming percentage of top software engineers are male, discrimination or social conditioning is to blame.

The article suggests examining ads and magazines for depictions of men and women and discussing stereotyping and misleading pictures. I’m all for that. It is important to understand how false airbrushed pictures are and how the media seduces us into believing and craving certain things. The author of the article and I would probably agree on some ads that we would both condemn. However, I would also include in the category of awareness learning how prevalent social conditioning is that is trying to do away with the idea of two genders because, subconsciously or not, there is a societal rebellion against the Creator of the concept expressed as, “Male and female He created them.”

 

 

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