How do we see ourselves in comparison to other men? The basic practice of Jewish patriarchy is to assume that men pigs and to make sure that women’s elbows and knees are never exposed and that women’s singing voices are never heard in public, that men avoid speaking face to face with women outside of family members, and to label sinful any male sexual act outside of heterosexual marriage.
Some people see this as an attractive alternative to an increasingly raunchy, porn-influenced culture.
Could this particularly long list of Jewish men in the headlines just be explained by the abundance of Jewish men in entertainment, media, and politics?
Unfortunately, the gender separation of Orthodoxy does not, in actuality, lead to a safer environment in terms of sexual health.
A lesser publicized story that I read during the #metoo movement was about a kosher supervisor at New York’s Stern College (a school for Orthodox women) who was released for inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature.
It would be much easier to simply address these issues by talking about “men” in general and to point to the patriarchy or to “toxic masculinity” or some other term which means “men and the abuse of power.”But the more I have thought about the Jewish men in the headlines, the more I have been considering the role that family dynamics, religious teachings, communities, and social conditions all play in forming our sexual fantasies, sexual experiences, and sexual ethics.
Before I focus specifically on Jewish men, I think it is important to say that I really hope that all men who come from all different types of religious, racial, national, ethnic, or otherwise communities will be considering the specific ways that we, as men, are taught to think about sex within our communities. I think for a second about the Farrah Fawcett-Majors poster I put on my bedroom wall, and I feel ashamed.