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May 19, 2013

Men of Inferior Quality

I've heard so many devaluing generalizations about men across the board, from Beit Yaakov schools to liberal education. Comments about men being socially inept (especially as compared to women), shallow, selfish, insensitive, interested exclusively in sex, uncaring, and having the emotional intelligence of a teaspoon. Beyond that, just not being up to scratch -not being a learner, earner, rich rabbi-doctor, partner-of-the-century,  intimacy-oriented, perfect present/future father, Adonis, and communicator extraordinaire.Take your pick, mix n' match whichever resonate with you.

For some examples, See these posts on devaluation, ironic standards, gender differences, and outrageous expectations.

I heard it all. In my classrooms growing up, in the my Mother's minor complaints and big arguments with my Father, from female friends starting in middle school and continuing with a steady stream of criticism and complaint up to yesterday afternoon. It's on billboards in subtle and overt ways, in movies, and even the ultra-orthodox community.

For the last twenty years it's most of what I heard about men as a whole. It has been the hip thing to do as long as I can remember -just blame men for their ineptitude and lack of quality. It justifies the anger, frustration, and pain. It's easier to sit up on high and judge men negatively. Nevermind that the Torah says not to do that. 

Let me tell you about some of the damage it has caused and continues to wreck.

Men are considered failures from the get-go. Not because we actually are inept, but because we are told that is who we are and how we are perceived. Regardless of achievement and growth, self-awareness and sensitivity. We are still considered inept simply because we belong to the male sex. If you want to quote the exceptions, or provide examples I invite you to consider that those are precisely the "exceptions that prove the rule." I have certainly made plenty of mistakes in dating including some serious faux pas, like forgetting to call a woman back within a few days of a date. Those mistakes had nothing to do with my character, as in the above example I happened to have been swamped with school, research, and field work that I had not anticipated in the following days that simply flew by. I was surprised to have missed the time. I faced significant ridicule for that little snafu, irrespective of my circumstance and character. In fact I had more than a few attacks on my character for it. 

If I were a woman and thought this way about men, I would never want to go on a date with a guy. In fact, as a man if I thought this way about women I would have a chip the size of Antarctica on my shoulder and I'd be considered a misogynist, among all manner of other unseemly names. Seems like a wonderful place to start when looking for a life partner.

It's insulting to be admired for sensitivity despite being a man. If I had a choice, and could grow up in the way I wanted, I would make sure I grew up in an environment that taught me to be sensitive is to be a wonderful man. It's much better than learning that men are all insensitive and that insensitivity is contemptible. I would much rather be admired for being a wonderful man than non-man-like person.

For those who do not understand the implications of this, let me spell it out. When I hear a woman express negative beliefs about men or generalizations about what men are like based on negative experiences, I am very concerned. I have a hard time believing that a woman can harbor deep seeded negative beliefs and resentment towards men yet have a healthy intimate relationship with admiration and respect for a man.

In fact, I think those beliefs are particularly harmful for dating. I can sense when a woman has those beliefs and it is a serious turn-off. Either I have to work extra-hard all the time to compensate, distinguish myself, and maintain an image of being Superman (which is exhausting and not realistic since I cannot change someone else's mind) or when I fail -even the normal flawed failures that humans all experience -then I am just like all those other men. It's a no-win scenario. I have had this unfortunate experience more than once.

While it may initially feel good to be considered special and unique, I need a woman to build a home with, and that home will create an environment for our children. I think it's important for a father to teach his son about what it means to be a man, and that message should be confirmed and validated by his mother (and vice-versa for daughters).

I plan on raising my children with positive images of manhood and masculinity, and I need a wife and future mother who will validate those both to myself and my (God willing) future sons so that they will grow up seeing and knowing a positive image of manhood in their father and themselves. Only in that way will they strive for and achieve it with encouragement, modeling, and validation. If our children hear and absorb negative images and beliefs about men at home, it will be validated by the messages they hear outside, which will have powerful consequences for their own growth and development. I have and will continue to work hard at creating a positive and nurturing environment for my future children, and that means ensuring that the woman I am with has a strong positive image of men.

Blaming and devaluing men (or women, but in this case I'm focusing on the former) as a group is a damaging and destructive way of explaining frustrating and painful experiences, be that in dating or other contexts because it leads to images and beliefs which continue to negatively impact how we treat and think about one another. It's a lot more helpful to explain it as a temporary, situational, specific event rather than in a way that generalizes men in a permanent way.


  1. My policy on men bashing or women bashing is that it should only be done in private- meaning women should bash men only in the presence of other women and men should bash women only in the presence of other men because it usually does not promote a positive outcome.

  2. First of all, I commend you on trying to understand the woman species. This already puts you on a higher level of the food chain. I am one of the women you are referring to who believes that men are the inept chromosome. In fact, I just complained about this at my shabbos table. The fact is the y chromosome is shrinking, you are becoming extinct. Another fact of life is that men who are taught to be sensitive are usually those whom have had some sort of unhealthy upbringing with many sisters(According to my dating and brother in law experiences). I do believe it does come from a nature thing in general society. Men are taught that to be sensitive is "GAY", as well as that talking about feelings and being self aware is inappropriate for them. In addition, men are not predispositioned to have the naturally feeling state of being. This is all a shame since I am usually concerned about why G-d has created such a disparity between the sexes. I thought it was Peru U'rivu and shalom bayis not thou shalt fight, create pain and distance.
    Short girl 2

  3. Short girl 2 every one of ur 'facts' is actually just your perception of reality. Its amazing. Every single one is wrong. Being a man and having all male friends my entire life let me tell you how i see it: Men are not predisposed to be sensitive? Wrong. Sensitive men have unhealthy...wrong. men are taught....wrong. your y chromosome thing...idk where u got that one from, the numbers dont support it, but even if true has no relevance to the discussion.
    Men can be very sensitive when you talk to them. All of us. We are human beings. Its a shame you look at men like this.

  4. I think, women are the primary driving force why relationships succeed and long-term relationships turn-out to be happy marriages. Why? because they are intuitive to point out the needs of every relationships.

    I do thing that there are men of inferior qualities but it takes a good women to tame them. Let's put Jewish dating sites as an example,for you to have a very successful dating experience you should get to know the interest of a man and how well he carries the conversation, in that way, you will assess his maturity and views in life.