What is the Orthodox Jewish position on male and female societal relations? Society seems to be a male over female hierarchy, where those born male are granted a higher quality of life than those born female because males are given the rights to be seen as a whole person with goals in relation to bigger ideas, are allowed an active lifestyle and sexuality, and allowed to improve in something good that they do unconditionally while females are denied this because they are seen in-relation to men, are penetrated, and are not allowed to reach their artistic and intellectual potential. The transgender movement perpetuates this by claiming that their lower caste status is who they are. Interestingly, represented among the most accomplished American Radical Feminists, men and women who not only wanted to improve conditions for females but destroy the caste system, have been secular Jews such as Andrea Dworkin, Ira Levin, and Shulamith Firestone. Some days, I believe in Radical Feminism and believe that gender should not exist, that males and females should be the same. Sometimes, I fear that this is against G-d. What is your opinion on sexism and its opposite, feminism? On one hand, it seems as though males and females look different and should dress differently, but on the other hand, it seems dehumanizing for women to be latent and domesticated animals like they sometimes are – this fate is violence against half of humanity in adulthood and in childhood since many girls have mental illnesses and breakdowns in reaction to this. What is acceptable for Feminism and what is not in Judaism? Is it acceptable to end gender and the caste system? To what extent can Feminism and Radical Feminism be implemented into human society from your perspective?
You are bringing up an important point. Unfortunately, in our society today, women are taken advantage of and unfortunately have been turned into objects of pleasure. Our current society promotes promiscuity and making women into objects of lust and places to derive pleasure, and we see it everywhere we go. Practically every advertisement, whether it is for cigarettes, a coffee, a car, or even for children’s diapers, has to have some sort of female model, usually dressed in a provoking manner, to associate buying the company’s product with getting pleasure from women. Yes, it is very understandable, that a thinking woman will vehemently object to her becoming the object of someone else’s lust, when her interests and right are not taken into consideration at all.
This causes all sorts of sad things to happen. Some people ae so busy involving themselves with pleasure that they forget or don’t want to even get married, and even when they do, the divorce rate nowadays is staggering. This causes many children to grow up in broken homes, many people to have very distorted, misplaced, and warped attitude to the subject of gender roles, and what the relationship between men and women is supposed to be.
So here is the Torah’s view, or the view of the one who created the world, the reason he created it this way, and the role and goal of why it was done this way. This will give us a clearer, and healthier understanding of gender roles, but we first need a little bit of background.
Judaism believes, that God created the world, and He did so with tremendous wisdom, planning and purpose. The is no one who can duplicate the human body, all of its systems, how the various parts of the body interact and complement each other, and mesh into an astounding creation. We can move, think, be creative, breath, hear, see, digest food, in the most complicated way. Our cells are constantly reproducing, and replenishing itself, antibodies fight off infections, the blood transfers information and materials, each one to the specific place in the body that it is needed. Additionally, we were given the capability to procreate and reproduce, and without it the world would cease to exist.
Additionally, our body is comprised of hundreds of different types of cells, brain cells, which transfer information and can think, skin cells which can feel, nerve cells, taste cells, different cells in our eyes, and other types of cells in our ears. Let alone muscle cells, cartilage cells, bone cells, fatty cells. All created with different properties in order to accomplish the job that it was created to perform.
It is the same with other parts of God’s creation. Plants and trees have certain types of cells, in order to do their function. The root cells are different than those in the trunk of the tree, the leaves, the bark, the branches and the fruit, are all made differently by God, in order to accomplish the job that it was given in creation.
This is the same regarding the different types of animals, fish, birds, and everything else in God’s wonderful, breathtaking, and planned out world. Judaism also believes that every person that was created in God’s master plan, has a place in creation. This is why no two people were created the same. Some people are more talented intellectually, and others were given emotional talents, some people were given physical strength, while others were given more stamina. Besides, no two people have the same balance of character traits. Judaism believes that this is so, because each person was given the tools they need in order to accomplish the job that God destined for them to do. Similarly, if you set someone up to be a dentist, you won’t give him carpenter’s tools, nor a carpenter the tools of a plumber, accountant or lawyer.
Once we understand this, we can understand that Judaism sees men and women as having different inborn talents, the same way that their bodies were not created the same. This is because the different sexes have divinely different jobs. If God would want men to become pregnant, birth and nurse children, he would have created men with those tools. And if He would have wanted women to be movers, or carpenters carrying heavy furniture or planks of wood all day, He would have created them with those capabilities.
Women in general, have a more nurturing, emotional, personality, and can relate to their children’s emotional needs better than men, they whereas men were given a tougher personality, because they have to deal with the tough outside world. Judaism doesn’t see it as an issue of better or worse, rather that the two have different jobs with different talents tailored to accomplish those jobs. Feminism see the two genders as in competition with each other, Judaism on the other hand, sees the two genders as having different jobs, and they are not in competition, the same way, a dentist isn’t in competition with an accountant. Each has their own job, tools, and goals.
Regarding the relationship between the two sexes, Judaism sees the idea of the relationship between the two genders as God’s way of keeping the world alive, because without families, and reproduction, God’s world would simply die out and cease to exist. In fact, procreating is the first commandment given in the bible; it was given to Adam and Eve. More than that, Judaism believes, that God made the act of procreating very pleasurable, specifically in order to encourage us to want to do so, and therefore keep the world alive. However, it has its proper time and place. It is meant to be used in the form of a marriage, where the two parties can build a stable hoe family and environment. In a marriage, the two parties are committed to each other and share each other’s lives and build a family. The relationship is not merely by using the other one as a pleasure object, that is used to suck out as much pleasure as one can and then discarded, rather one that has deep meaning and part of a greater goal.
This is the wholesome objective why God created the two genders differently. Judaism views the place in the world that a person was given, (in regard to gender and other aspects) as the persons sign straight from God, as do what their role and position in God’s world is supposed to be. The same way a person in the army in an infantry position, cannot decide that he will serve his country better by being a spy or the cook in the kitchen. If he does that, he is hurting the functioning of the army, contrary to what he personally decides is best for him.
This is why Judaism is against women dressing in a promiscuous fashion. A woman’s beauty is meant to be used to assist in her marital bond, and not to be misused by anyone who sees her. Therefore, women are commanded to dress in a non-provoking, modest fashion, specifically to preserve her specialness, for the proper time and place.
Additionally, this is why the Torah commands men and women to dress differently, and not to mingle with each other in the wrong way. Because the Torah wants to preserve the specialness of the marital bond. and the purity of the people. When the two genders will cross-dress, and mingle with each other improperly, it causes the relationship between the two genders to erode, and set sidetracked. When the relationship between the genders erodes enough, there are a lot of the unfortunate outcomes that we see nowadays. Dehumanizing of women, and making them into objects of self-gratification, crime, the breakdown of the family unit, children growing up in an unbalanced environment. From there it just snowballs further, until we now have a situation, when people don’t even want to marry, and don’t even want to be the type of person that they are naturally wired and built to be.
There is more to say on the subject but this will have to be enough for now.