Monday, May 3, 2010
"Rabba" title and Ego: Why do women want to be man-clones?
I do understand it somewhat, because once I got my Ph.D. I got to be called “doctor” for life. In the beginning, right after I’d just exerted myself to earn that degree, it was important to me to get some kind of reward/recognition of my accomplishment, and I loved being called “doctor.”
But as time went on, I realized that I deserved that permanent recognition less and less. Why? Because I came to see being who I am doesn't earn respect--instead it's the outcomes of my actions. My ego, I realized, should not be tied up in getting credit; my ego, properly, should be focused on how I impact other people. (That doesn’t mean I can be completely selfless, but I stopped putting “Dr.” as my title, and I’m conscious of the desire for affirmation vs modesty/humility).
I think there was a values-shift between say, the 1940’s, '50s and early 60s and afterward. Before, there was much more emphasis on serving others and being humble (after all, WWII required lots of sacrifice). But then Boomers became the center of attention and suddenly “giving kids confidence” and instilling self esteem was the major goal for education. Boomers were told they were wonderful, and what that did was establish that it was appropriate for kids to be honored; it was “normal” for kids to get egos massaged and elevated. From the 60s on, it became "all about us" as great and precious kids who could grab the world and bring peace and love and have great sex and be mothers/CEOs at the same time. With feminism, the world was unlimited; women could “have it all.”
Men didn't mind sharing the glory, because "liberation" got them more sex and less responsibility.
One indicator of the shift was that Little League decided to downplay “wins” and “losses” after girls were admitted. It reflected the broader view that nobody was a “loser” anymore. Everyone was a “winner.” With the “new math,” no longer did it matter if 2 +2 didn’t equal 4; all that mattered was that kids understood the concept of putting things together. “Very Good, Johnny; you came up with 5 and that’s almost right! And you understand that when you add two sets of things together, you get more of them!”
Feminists’ kids were thereby indoctrinated not only to have and do it all, but for everyone to pat them on the head for it. “Call me Rabbi! … because I expect you to tell me I’m important, and to recognize in your own little head that I AM important! Don’t just appreciate what I DO; tell me I’m great because of who I AM!”
I didn’t put all that in my first blog post, but the more I think about it, that’s the driving force behind feminists’ demands for the same title as a male rabbi.
I take Torah classes with excellent female teachers, most of whom are rebbetzens. They can be comfortable and confident without being called "rabbi" because the Torah, the content, conveying it to students, and living it is what’s important. Title is irrelevant. They don't need public affirmation that they're erudite and competent.
Also, women who know Torah understand that sharing life with a spouse means support through the ups, downs, glory and daily strife—not as a man-clone, but as distinctly different. Being a rebbetzen means serving the community, with its attendant honor and status. Women not married to rabbis excel and serve as well, in titled capacities of all sorts, just not "rabbi." Does that make their work inferior? Not at all.
As a woman sitting separately from men, behind (or next to) a mechitza (divider), there's something positive seeing men lead, participate and interact with each other; in the women's section in synagogue, I can be a voyeur into a male world, and that’s a very unique opportunity. Men don’t get that kind of opportunity to see into women's religious world, really. Then again, men are wired so they care about such things less, and women, more socially conscious, are wired to interpersonal dynamics more.
Maybe that's why feminists crave others' reinforcement so much--it's an expression of a social need. For men, there's a competitive need, a desire to rank, to show superiority. This isn't just sexist speculation, but what replicated research insists.
I don't mind calling Sara Hurwitz anything she wants to be called; I respect her considerable achievements, and even more, her continuing contributions. But it's imperative that Judaism not be distorted to suggest that genders are interchangeable, or that a couple united in marriage isn't the basis for the fullest means of Jewish expression and accomplishment.