After years of taking a beating by women and the feminist movement, it seems like men are finally starting to stand up for themselves again. After years of accepting every negative stereotype about the male species -- otherwise how could they ever get a date? -- men are fighting back. And it's about time.
I don't know how "separate but equal" ever turned into superior, but I never bought it. Each gender has its strengths and weaknesses. We can learn from each other. We can celebrate the differences. We can grow together. Why do we have to prove that one is better than the other?
Not only is that perspective inconsistent with my experience (anyone who has ever been a victim of the cattiness and back-stabbing of women, especially when it comes to dating, recognizes the myth of those loving bonds of sisterhood), I think it's inconsistent with Judaism as well. It's inconsistent with the plan of a loving Father. As parents, all of our children differ from each other and we love them all in different ways. There is no ranking along a scale. We applaud their unique strengths and we deplore their individual weaknesses.
Likewise with the Almighty. He created us all with the same, powerful love. He loves us all with the same, powerful love. He may tailor our tests and commitments to suit our particular talent and skill sets, but no one is superior to another. The Jewish people as a nation composed of 12 tribes would not be able to exist in harmony were such a system to be adopted.
People who feel confident with themselves don't need to constantly assert their superiority over others.
Someone forgot to tell the men that the gig was up. They're still trying to be that feminized man. And women don't want them.
The irony here is that as men have gradually adopted the emasculated view of themselves promoted by women's marches and magazines, as they've accepted their own inferiority and kowtowed to all the demands of the females in their lives, women find them less appealing.
Women have become even more critical of men than they were in the pre-feminist days. Male-bashing is a regular sport at all-female get-togethers and more homes are being run by unmarried women than ever in history.
Why are so many women dissatisfied with today's man? Why are so many men confused about who they are or who they should be and therefore just running away from it all?
I have a suggestion. In the heyday of the women's liberation movement, the goal was for women to be more like men -- tougher and more aggressive, and for men to be more like women --sensitive and more passive. Fairly quickly, women realized they were mistaken in their goals. They didn't want to be more like men; they just wanted recognition for the value of their uniquely feminine traits.
But someone forgot to tell the men that the gig was up. They're still trying to be that feminized man. And women don't want them.
Women are more successful in school, earning higher incomes, holding down steadier jobs. The men are bewildered, aimless and, perhaps understandably, commitment-phobic.
What's wrong with this picture? What women really want is a man they can respect. And even more, despite their accomplishments, despite their intellectual achievements, women want men to be the leader. Ask any honest women; she'll tell you it's true. Women want someone to lean on; someone who'll check the house if there's a suspicious noise in the night, someone to kill the bugs (actually that would be me!), someone to change the light bulbs, someone to take ultimate responsibility for the direction and well-being of the family, someone to say, "The buck stops here."
And men want to play that role. They desperately need to be respected and respectable. If a man doesn't feel respected or deserving of respect, he may run away from his responsibilities (a paradox that is certainly at the root of some deadbeat dads). The obligation (send child support) without the respect ("this is your father") is just too painful. It goes right to the heart.
While some may argue that this delineation of roles was only an evolutionary phenomenon because women were dependent on men for food and shelter, I would counter that today's woman needs it more.
The more responsibilities women have, the more we need someone else to help us shoulder the burden and to sometimes lift it off our shoulders. The more education we have, the more we need someone wiser to speak to. The more accomplishments we have, the more we need someone else to look up to -- to give us strength, to take us out of ourselves, to give us comfort, vision and hope.
Some of us are afraid to acknowledge this desire for fear it gives permission, God forbid, for abuse. The fact that a troubled few may distort an idea to suit their perverse purposes is a condemnation of the people, not the idea. Certainly there are challenges to being an effective leader. A man's job is to rise to these challenges (and ours is to tell him when he's not!).
It's time to restore men to their proper roles in society, to grant them also the separate but equal status they deserve. Teachers and parents know that children's behavior is shaped by the external expectations imposed on them. High expectations more frequently lead to higher results. Our sons and husbands also merit high expectations. They can measure up. But we need to give them a fighting chance.