Rabbi Shmuley Boteach- Huffington Post
Here's a glimpse of religion in America. All gays all the time. It seems that there is nothing else that can capture the spiritual imagination of this nation. Jesus came to the world to stop the damned gays. He had precious little else to say.
Forget the fact that we Americans are desperate to be liberated from our materialism and narcissism. Or that our youth are clamoring for anything other than American Idol to inspire them. We clerics will get around to it just as soon as we stop them gays.
The latest installment in the American obsession with gay marriage comes from Miss California, Carrie Prejean, who said in the Miss Universe competition that she opposes gay marriage and was immediately championed as a Christian heroin throughout America. But it seems that her Christianity could not find expression in preventing her from posing topless for men or having the Miss Universe pageant pay for her breast implants. Now I ask you honestly, what is a bigger threat to heterosexual marriage today? Gay marriage or porn? When a wife waits alone in bed for her husband who is downloading pictures of naked women on his laptop, do you really believe she consoles herself by thinking, "Well at least those gays can't marry"?
For all my Christian brothers and sisters who scapegoat gays for undermining the institution of marriage, I would remind them that we straight people have done a mighty fine job of destroying it ourselves, thank you very much. The gay population in the United States is at most ten percent while the heterosexual divorce rate is more than fifty percent and has been so well before gay rights ever became a national issue.
The foremost danger to marriage in our time is the wholesale degradation of women in popular culture. In magazines, on TV, and especially on Internet porn, women are portrayed as the libidinous man's plaything, not an equal to be respected but a subordinate to be used. On college campuses male womanizing is an expected right of passage. Why devote yourself to one woman when idiotic shows like The Bachelor reinforce the idea that the rich and good-looking guys get to have a harem. Even well-meaning women like Miss California who participate in porn become complicit in their own degradation and further the male view that a woman's principle purpose is to satiate male erotic needs.
Beauty pageants don't help much either and it's surprising that my Christian clerical brothers haven't spoken out against them as they have gay marriage. Can you believe that sixty years after feminism rightly pointed out that a woman's mind is even more important than her legs we still have televised contests of women parading around in their underwear for Donald Trump to rate their bodies? And what would Jesus say about Miss California's implants? Would he endorse the message that women ought to stuff their chests with silicon to appear as perfect male eye-candy, or would he emphatically declare that beauty is not merely skin deep?
How any of this congruent with Christian values is beyond me, but it seems that we've entered some weird Twilight Zone where opposition to gay marriage alone makes one into a Christian in good standing. (It's beyond me too.)
Look. I'm not here to condemn Carrie Prejean and I can of course be just as religiously inconsistent. But my point is that America has real problems and can really use an authentic spiritual voice to lead us out of the shallowness, greed, divorce, and teen sex that are plaguing our country. And so long as we make gay marriage the only issue of importance we abscond our moral responsibility to provide spiritual leadership to a starving generation. Most of all we shift our focus away from combating the misogyny that has become such a central staple of American culture.
Patti Stanger, Bravo's Millionaire Matchmaker, and I recently debated in Los Angeles in front of 1100 young people about Patti's belief that women ought to marry rich husbands. I argued that this just fuels the stereotype of women as greedy gold-diggers prepared to sell themselves as a commodity to a guy with cash. When men come to believe these stereotypes it affects their respect for women. Soon they believe that can they can neglect their wives as long as they give them credit cards. But three quarters of all divorces today are initiated by wives who are making their own money and would rather be alone than remain with a distant husband in an empty marriage. The most influential TV show over the past decade was Sex in the City where four female friends have nearly given up on men and turn to each other for intimate companionship instead. As for married women in America, approximately thirty percent are on an anti-depressant and Maureen Dowd of the New York Times scored big by publishing a book suggesting that perhaps women are better off without men.
As for the guys, well, the only ones who still want to get married are gay. While the gay men are out petitioning the Supreme Court for the right to get hitched, the straight guys are inventing brilliant excuses not to wed their girlfriends with whom they have lived for years and even have children. It's curious that Brad Pitt proclaims that he and Angeline Jolie, who admirably have six kids together, will only get married when all people, gays included, can wed. But that has not stopped him from adopting children even though in most states gays can still not adopt. Which just goes to show you that when a man wants to find reasons to stay single he becomes as bright as Einstein.
We can save marriage in America and get men to become gentlemen who treat women like ladies. But that must be accompanied by women not only demanding male respect, but respecting themselves as well.
I just think the world of Rabbi Boteach, and this isn't the first time I've reprinted his thinking on this blog. If I had to distill his thinking to a sound bite, it would be that it's the feminine side of men and women that understands and engages in a fulfilling sexual relationship, the masculine side of men and women engages in personal sexual gratification. I don't think this point can be made enough.
Carrie Prejean is not engaging in her feminine side when she poses topless for soft porn or has her breasts implanted with silicone to appear more 'feminine'. She is engaging in a masculine form of thinking which is all about the visual stimulation of the sexual response. She falls for the kind of male side thinking which debases her true feminine nature. Visual stimulation is obviously a very powerful form of manipulation or the porn industry wouldn't be so lucrative, or the anti abortion crowd wouldn't use posters of dead babies. It's designed to shut off the higher brain functions and make a direct appeal to reflexive hormonal and chemical responses. Real relationships don't last on hormones and body chemistry--unless, as Rabbi Boteach points out, they come in a pharmaceutical prescription.
American society is highly masculinized. Women have bought into this over masculinization every bit as much as men. The consequence of this is certainly misogyny and the relegation of the feminine to second class status. I'm not sure this is actually intentional misogyny as much as it is the consequences of over emphasis on the place of the masculine.
Realistically speaking, Jesus would never have fit the American stereotype of masculine. His actions and statements make him much closer to the stereotypical American concept of the feminine gay male. Jesus was a compassionate gentle healer, not a steroid fueled jock. This fact seems overly threatening to too many of our clerics which is probably why we hear very little about the devastating effects of porn on straight marriage and way too much about the supposed devastating effects of gay marriage.
A long time ago I was sitting in a seminar in grad school and the discussion turned to sexual addiction. We had an openly gay guy in the class and he was really militant. The straight guys were all over him about the sexual addiction component in the gay bath house culture. He shut them down by insisting their real problem was jealously because women did not in the main react to visual sexual stimuli the way gay and straight men did. Straight men had to work for their sexual conquests and he didn't, plus he didn't have to worry about pregnancy. Then came a comment which really gave me pause, one of the straight guys retorted the pill was evening that playing field.
I took this comment entirely differently than he meant it. One of the very real side effects of the pill was to mute the voice of the feminine understanding of the importance of touch and emotion in a relationship. It allowed for the over emphasis of the visual male perspective. The fear of pregnancy may have been dampened, but so also was the input of the feminine understanding of sex.
Rabbi Boteach is one of the few clerical voices who is remotely addressing some serious and fundamental sexual issues and he needs to be heard. This blog will always give him a platform, and I'm proud to do so.
Personal observation about this over masculinization thing. As some of you know, I am something of a rabid Redwing fan, and I admit the Stanley Cup finals have distracted me just a tad bit. However, the attacks from hockey fans on Sydney Crosby have been sickening and way too many of them are orientation and gender based. I admit Sydney and Geno have a lot of growing up to do when it comes to maintaining composure on a big stage, but the attacks on them have had very little to do with their talent and everything to do with questions about their masculinity. If anyone doubts this country has gender issues, check out ESPN's message boards. It's not enlightening.