Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Is Judaism Opposed to Feminism?


[Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique]

Yes, it is.

Within the Orthodox Jewish community, the primary decision makers should be men.

First of all, only men are permitted to attend Talmudic lectures. Since all important decisions in society are based on the Talmud, this effectively excludes women from community decision making.

Second of all, in Judaism, wealth generally is in the hands of men. If someone dies and leaves a son, the son inherits all regardless of the existence of daughters. If a woman marries and owns property, the property is controlled by her husband during their marriage. If a married woman works, her earnings belong to her husband unless she waives her right to spousal support.

The fact is, however, this is little different than in other societies.

In all human societies, even those which claim to endorse the principle of equality of the sexes, men are dominant. In politics, about 85% of all leaders are male. In the business world, there were 78 women from a total of 793 billionaires worldwide in 2006.

Going a step further, among most animals and nearly all mammals, the male is larger and more aggressive on the average than the female.

Gender equality is therefore seemingly not only against human nature, but against biology.

In my humble opinion, Judaism handles male dominance in a very humane and reasonable way. Men are given greater decision making privileges than women. On the other hand, men pay a price for this – they have much heavier religious obligations than women. Secondly, men are obligated to treat women with a level of love and respect equal to that with which they must treat other men. “Love your neighbor as yourself” applies equally to women and to ones wife. Insulting a woman is prohibited. Striking a woman is strictly prohibited. Forced sex is strictly prohibited. A man must financially support any children he has. I am aware of no recorded case of spousal homocide in the Orthodox community.

Other societies seem to have an ideal of sexual equality, while in reality are plagued by rape, wife beating and "dead beat dads".

I suspect that this philosophy, of a humane approach to male dominance, is one reason why very few Orthodox women choose to leave Orthodoxy, in comparison to the number of male "dropouts". Women know that they are getting the best deal possible.

37 comments:

alex said...

You don't want your readers to think that you never heard of Devorah from Tanach, do you?

Sam said...

"Going a step further, among most animals and nearly all mammals, the male is larger and more aggressive on the average than the female.

Gender equality is therefore seemingly not only against human nature, but against biology."

But what does physical prowess have to do with decision-making ability in non-hunter/gatherer times?

onionsoupmix said...

Orthodox Judaism is not opposed to feminism. There are plenty of orthodox rabbonim who see nothing wrong with women learning gemara. Your post is full of inaccuracies.

In general, halacha tends to follow the secular norms for how women are treated. In the days of the Rambam, striking a woman was certainly permitted. Now it is not, but your implication that the frum society is free from rape and wife beatings is woefully uninformed, to say the least.

jewish philosopher said...

"But what does physical prowess have to do with decision-making ability in non-hunter/gatherer times?"

I am just saying that the idea of complete gender equality seems to be a fantasy. It has never existed in a human society and doesn't seem to exist even in animal species.

"There are plenty of orthodox rabbonim who see nothing wrong with women learning gemara."

This blog as a rule follows the teachings of the Lithuanian rabbinical seminaries of the 1920s and 1930s.

"halacha tends to follow the secular norms for how women are treated"

Let's hope not. Plenty of secular men kill their wives.

"striking a woman was certainly permitted"

Wrong.

"your implication that the frum society is free from rape and wife beatings is woefully uninformed"

It's much less.
http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/09/orthodox-jewish-crime.html

Can you name one Orthodox Jew ever convicted of forcible rape?

BlackEyedP said...

before you know it, (through evolution) you'll find that you've been stealthily and quite cleverly overtaken by women in the middle of the night...then it's time that all of your earnings will be your wife's property and you will have no identity of your own. sleep with one eye open! it's only a matter of time. we outnumber you.

jewish philosopher said...

It's too late. It's already happened.

Anonymous said...

So what if what you call Judaism is opposed to what you call feminism? Who cares? Besides, Judaism can be wrong, you know. It's OK.

Is what you call Judaism opposed to women and men having equal standing before the law? Equal rights as citizens? Equal opportunity to education and employment?

I really don't see what your point is.

-Larry-

Anonymous said...

I understand that in China, many parents abort pregnancies if they find out it is a girl. Girl babies also have a tendency to get "lost."
This is resulting in a shortage of women. Now, since abortion is legal in America, and some people are advocating legalizing infanticide, the same thing might happen here.

alex said...

"Can you name one Orthodox Jew ever convicted of forcible rape?"

Can you wake up and stop taunting your readers like this?! It's compounded by the fact that it's clear you didn't even bother googling on the topic.

Are you now going to change your question to "Can you name TWO Orthodox Jews ever convicted of forcible rape?"

Still curious about that Devorah comment from above...

alex said...

"I am aware of no recorded case of spousal homocide in the Orthodox community."

After googling, you might wish to change this to "I am aware of no more than one recorded case of spousal homocide in the Orthodox community."

jewish philosopher said...

Who's the rapist and who's the murderer?

bankman said...

ok. now i am CONVINCED that JP is a secret athiest just trying to bad-mouth the frum community and turn more people away from yiddishkeit.

JP, you are doing a great job.

Anonymous said...

This post and the previous one are JP's most desperate yet. I wonder if his commitment to Judaism is wavering.

JP, go live in a theocracy. Iran will welcome you.

-Larry-

jewish philosopher said...

I don't understand why atheists like you don't move to North Korea. That's a real center of science and reason.

Anonymous said...

How would you know anything about science and reason? You rejected both a long time ago.

Please send pics when you get to Iran.

-Larry-

jewish philosopher said...

Larry, clearly you are projecting your own insanity on me. Send me pics when you get to the psychiatric ward.

onionsoupmix said...

"There are plenty of orthodox rabbonim who see nothing wrong with women learning gemara."

This blog as a rule follows the teachings of the Lithuanian rabbinical seminaries of the 1920s and 1930s.


So what? Don't claim all of orthodox Judaism can be summed up by the position of whatever lithuanian rabbis from the early 1900s you found to support yourself. Be a little honest and qualify your statements about Orthodoxy.

As for striking a woman and how permissible it was, get an education and read the rambam, hilchos ishus 21:10. What annoys me most is how uninformed you are about the very topics you blog about and the assertions you make.

At least google Israel Weingarten before making ridiculous claims that no frum people were ever convicted of rape. You really do no research whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

I understand that the country that is producing the most science per capita happens to be Iran.

jewish philosopher said...

"Don't claim all of orthodox Judaism can be summed up by the position of whatever lithuanian rabbis"

I didn't. It's not my fault if you're too lazy or stupid to read my profile.

"As for striking a woman and how permissible it was, get an education"

I suggest you get an education. It reads:

כל אישה שתימנע מלעשות מלאכה מן המלאכות שהיא חייבת לעשותן--כופין אותה ועושה, ואפילו בשוט.

A woman owes it to her husband to do housework. A man can also be beaten for not paying his debts. Nitwit.

"At least google Israel Weingarten"

At least google it yourself. Where does it say rape?

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2009/03/11/2009-03-11_rabbi_israel_weingarten_found_guilty_of_.html

Moron.

jewish philosopher said...

http://www.scribd.com/doc/15572913/Israel-Weingarten-Indictment

http://www.teenhealthfx.com/answers/Emotional/4740.html

Now Onion, just shut up unless you have something smart to say.

onionsoupmix said...

1. Your post says Judaism is opposed to feminism. It does not say that lithuanian rabbis from 1920s were opposed to feminism.

2. A woman was allowed to be beaten for not doing her work. This directly contradicts your post statement "striking a woman is strictly prohibited." Yet, you refuse to admit your error, choosing instead to use ad hominem insults.

3. http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/weingarten-indictment-v2.pdf

get a clue. sodomy of a minor is rape.

Most intelligent people I know stopped reading the crap you spout because you don't even pretend to be objective and sane. I'm outta here also, you never admit being wrong about anything and you distort judaism into something grotesque. Your own rabbi wants nothing to do with your blog.

onionsoupmix said...

MORON, did you not read the penetration and sodomy part? That's what rape is.

jewish philosopher said...

"A woman was allowed to be beaten for not doing her work."

Sure, and you can kill her too in some circumstances, for example self defense. And I don't believe that the halachah follows the rambam on this in any case.

You can't even speak English. Sodomy is not not rape. Those are different words.

Sodomy (pronounced /ˈsɒdəmi/) is a term used today predominantly in law (derived from traditional Christian usage) to describe the act of anal intercourse, oral intercourse, or bestiality.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodomy

Rape, also referred to as sexual assault, is an assault by a person involving sexual intercourse with or sexual penetration of another person without that person's consent.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape

But what can I expect from a Jew hater like you. Pure stupidity.

BrooklynWolf said...

JP,

"Feminism" is a rather broad topic and feminists range from the "equal pay for equal work" and "equal civil rights" all the way to the moonbatty types on the far left.

Exactly what part of feminism does the Torah oppose, according to you? Can you please be more specific?

The Wolf

jewish philosopher said...

I think the post makes it clear - that women must have authority equal to men, which in fact has never existed in any society anyway.

BrooklynWolf said...

Does that mean in every respect or any respect?

For example, a woman's vote in an election counts for the same as yours. In that sense, she has "equal authority." Do you oppose women voting?

The Wolf

jewish philosopher said...

I'm not sure that I believe in voting at all. There is no need for a legislature, since we have the Torah. The executive should be king from the house of David. The courts should be rabbinical courts.

BrooklynWolf said...

Yes, yes. I understood that. But, for the moment, you're living here in the United States. I don't think you mean we should have a Jewish monarchy in the United States... that's for when Moshiach comes and we are in Israel.

However, the question of a woman voting is something that can be addressed in the here and now. And so, I put it to you again -- in your view, is the Torah against a woman voting in the United States since, in that respect, she has "equal authority" to a man?

The Wolf

jewish philosopher said...

I believe that rabbis encourage Jewish women in democratic countries to vote.

BrooklynWolf said...

I believe that rabbis encourage Jewish women in democratic countries to vote.

You don't have to believe that... it's public knowledge that they do. But that wasn't the question I asked. I asked if, in your opinion, a woman's voting violates the Torah since she then assumes "equal authority."

Please answer the question that I asked, and not the one I didn't ask.

The Wolf

jewish philosopher said...

If it violated the Torah I don't think rabbis would encourage it.

alex said...

"I believe that rabbis encourage Jewish women in democratic countries to vote." ... "If it violated the Torah I don't think rabbis would encourage it."

Fact is, back in the early 20th century, different great rabbis were on both sides of the issue. See Eli Turkel's article in the Torah u'Madda Journal from over 10 years ago.

Bryce said...

bankman wrote:
"ok. now i am CONVINCED that JP is a secret athiest just trying to bad-mouth the frum community and turn more people away from yiddishkeit."

See the second comment here:

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=20994843&postID=219422939485065710&isPopup=true

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=20994843
&postID=219422939485065710&isPopup=true

Anonymous said...

Jacob, I suppose this post depends on how one defines 'feminism.'

Judaism accords different roles to men and women, recognizing their unique biological and emotional makeup. It surely doesn't mean one is superior; it just means men are responsible for some things, while women's roles lie elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

I know an Orthodox women who was killed by her husband (for telling their Rav that her husband was beating her) the night of Yom Kippur. He left her bloody body at home with the young children and went off to Kol Nidrai.

jewish philosopher said...

Who, when, where?

DesirePeace said...

With all due respect.... In the name of religion: you are getting frustrated and angry with each other. Is this strictly necessary? Of course it is our role to improve the world, but not with frustration, insults and aggravation in our hearts. Surely you will find most of this discussion silly: one person trying to find proof and details of a abhorable act in order to fight a generalization, and the other refusing to credit this act because it ruins the generalizations made in his claim. Surely, if there existed an embodieded person/a of humanity, love and the fight for human rights (women's included), she/he would cry today. This same energy that we use for being petty and proving others wrong could be used to make a more significant impact in society.
Best Wishes.