Los Angeles, CA–I’m often made the point that the injustices being perpetrated against men and fathers often stem as much from traditional chivalrous views of gender as from anti-male feminist ones. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, radio talk show host, author, speaker, and columnist, is a good example. As evident from the article below, the good Rabbi has never seen a problem he couldn’t manage to blame on men. I was on his radio show a few years ago debating a feminist rape expert on the Kobe Bryant case, and he had the same attitude. He was fair enough to Bryant, if I remember correctly, but real big on blaming men. The title of one of his books —Hating Women: America”s Hostile Campaign Against the Fairer Sex — gives you an idea. He seems like a nice, thoughtful guy, but he just isn’t looking at the world closely enough. In Invisible fathers at the Olympic Games (Huffington Post, 8/18/08), Boteach writes:
The most memorable scenes of the Beijing Olympics are not what Michael Phelps accomplished in the pool but what he did right after emerging with yet another gold medal after every swim. Here, a 23-year-old athletic superstar took his flowers from the medal podium, climbed over benches and photographers and handed them to his beaming mother…Debbie Phelps is no ordinary mother, but the single mom who alone raised Michael and his two sisters, Whitney and Hillary, from the time Michael was nine. As a child of divorce who was raised by a single mother from about the same age, I can attest to the fact that the feat is never forgotten. Children retain a lifelong debt of passionate gratitude toward a mother who sacrifices all on their behalf. They will move heaven and earth to show appreciation for a mother who made her children her entire universe… [F]ew indicators of the falling stature of the American male are as potent as the receding influence of men in their sons’ lives, as they are slowly replaced by mothers of unbreakable devotion. Whereas once this may have been true of areas where women carry special insight, such as in, say, vetting a girlfriend or giving advice about love and relationships, today it is true in the area one where we would least expect it, sports. Which begs the question, aside from the moment of conception, are men even necessary? If a single mother can produce the greatest Olympic champion of all time, do we even need dads? An increasing number of women are saying no, we don’t. They are choosing to have children on their own, or remain single and raise their kids by themselves long after they have divorced. Dads are becoming a luxury. I thought of this scary development as I took a day trip with my children recently. What was it that I, as their father, gave them that their mother could not? Was I, as a man, superfluous? To be sure, there were the obvious things that I contribute. I help support the family. I take my kids to synagogue, study Judaism with them and teach them about our ancient tradition. I attempt to inspire them with talks about character and I remain the principal disciplinarian in the home. But surely these were all things that my wife, if God forbid forced to, could do on her own. Was there anything that required me and only me? And then I remembered. Yes, there was one big thing. I alone could love their mother. That was not something she could do on her own. I could teach my children by means of living example the glories of devotion to a special woman who sacrifices so much on all of our behalf. I could show my children that love was not a fantasy concocted in Hollywood or invented in a novel. I alone could demonstrate to my children that their mother was precious and that love was real. No one could do this but me. I was necessary after all, as was every other father and husband. In other words, the greatest gift a man gives his children is to love their mother. By doing so, he imparts the lesson that there are things in life more glittering than gold and more precious than rubies.
Boteach seems to view fathers as mostly just the helpmates of the real parent–moms. To read the full column, click here. To comment, scroll to the bottom of the link provided.