}

Shmuley’s Back!

That’s right…everyone’s favorite pop culture rabbi, Shmuley Boteach, is back with a new book, Hating Women: America’s Hostile Campaign against the Fairer Sex, coming April 8 to a bookstore near you. (Media blitz undoubtedly to come, although, puzzlingly, the new book does not seem to be on his website.)

Boteach asserts that American culture is misogynist, and has formulated four vulgar archetypes of women which dominate the way men think about women:

The Greedy Gold Digger will choose riches over romance (think all of the women who were on reality television shows like Joe Millionaire and For Love or Money)
The Publicity-Seeking Prostitute will do anything to be on television and be famous. (Uh-oh.)
The Brainless Bimbo is an imbecile who is portrayed by the media to be deeply entertaining (“paging Paris Hilton…”)
The Backstabbing Bitch is the woman who “seeks to negate the age-old notion that women are maternal and nurturing, possessed of a softer, gentler nature than men.”

Somewhere, I see men high-fiving each other and yelling, “right on, man!” But Shmuley’s point is that these are unfair characterizations, foisted upon us by contemporary popular culture. And just you wait, there’s equal time coming for the men:

The Crotch-Scratcher is “the man utterly devoid of any human refinement.”
The Harem Gatherer is “the lecherous man who has made it his life’s goal to bed as many women as possible.”
The Selfish Spouse is “the all-too common disinterested and self-absorbed husband who has made his wife into the cleaning lady.”
And finally, the Porn Addict, who is only able to relate to fantasy women.

(Maybe it’s just the knowledge that Passover is approaching, but I’m somehow tempted to assign each archetype with one of the Four Children mentioned in the Haggadah: Hakham, Rasha, Tam and Sh’Aino Yodea Lish’ol. In my mind, Porn Addict is clearly The Child Who Doesn’t Know to Ask.)

Now, before we all start naming names and trying to slap archetypal labels on everyone we know, let’s just take a step back to acknowledge that reality television, the basis for many of the female archetypes listed above, is not, in and of itself, reality.

Even Donald Trump, whose show The Apprentice isn’t blatantly as misogynistic as others in the reality genre, is skewered by Boteach, who calls him “an inveterate womanizer and braggart who is known for his selfish and gaudy lifestyle rather than for any kind of philanthropy.” (He’s not wrong.)

I’m sure that, although the press release doesn’t contain any direct Jewish references, that the book itself uses Jewish principles to address these issues. I’m not always a Shmuley fan. But here, he’s got a point. Even a pop culture addict like me could become a self-hating woman if I subsisted solely on the unreal reality of shows like The Simple Life, Temptation Island and (especially) The Swan. In fact, there are days when I feel less than adequate because of the garbage that’s on TV. And just because I know logically that this kind of reaction is idiotic, it doesn’t stop me from feeling it. If I were to try to “learn a valuable lesson” from reality television, I would learn that money can buy love, that physical perfection is worth any emotional or financial price, and that cutthroat politics will get you everything you ever wanted. As I’ve said before, that emphasizes the wrong middot. And Boteach’s point is, pop culture is taking us into a future where these reality cliches become actual reality, and what kind of world would that be?

But something about the wording, where he advocates that women “band together and fight back for their rightful place of honor,” kind of gives me the wrong kind of chill. I hope he doesn’t mean to intimate that women should remain solely in more traditional, more modest, home-oriented roles. I just hope that not being bitchy doesn’t mean that we can’t be assertive; that not being whores for fame doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a little recognition now and again; and that not being bimbos doesn’t mean we all have to go back to school for graduate degrees. Because I don’t have that kind of money.

Esther Kustanowitz

For more posts by Esther, see EstherK.com, MyUrbanKvetch.com and JDatersAnonymous.com.

21 Comments

  1. ck

    3/24/2005 at 1:22 pm

    Great freshman post Esther! And how ironical and stuff that your first post is on ta’anit Esther. For those of you who don’t know, Esther is our newest Jewlicious poster. You may know her from Urban Kvetch and JDaters Anonymous. With two other mega blogs to run, you may wonder, what the hell is she doing here? Well it’s obvious isn’t it?

    Other than injecting Jewlicious with a much needed shot of estrogen, on Jewlicious she can use terms like Backstabbing Bitch and Porn Addict, whereas her other blogs are far too classy for that kind of thing. Welcome to Jewlicious Esther!

  2. Esther

    3/24/2005 at 1:36 pm

    Yes, it’s all very ironicalistic…or karmically appropriate…or bashert…or something. Thanks for having me over to youse guyses blog. To thank you for your hospitality, I have brought you a bundt cake (it’s on the table in the corner, unless Muffti has eaten it already).

    As for my delving into new and exciting gutter language, all I have to say is “look–Shmuley started it!” And I’m happy to continue it.

    In summation? Dang glad to be here, and hoping I can live up to the high standards of Jewliciousness that you’ve set since blog immemorial.

  3. chazarmaveth

    3/24/2005 at 1:49 pm

    way to go esta! great review! and the Kustanowitz Kronikle is a laff riot! i am truly proud to have you and your family as a member of my tribe! keep it up sista!

  4. laya

    3/24/2005 at 2:09 pm

    what? Esther? you post here now? Rock on babe! But Geez, ck, you never tell me anything!

    Purim Sameach!

  5. T_M

    3/24/2005 at 2:14 pm

    Welcome to Jewlicious, Esther! Hey, great post!

    As for the “banding together to fight back” part, I should point out that the magazines at the supermarket that encourage many of the stereotypes he lists, are published and edited by women. Cosmo anyone?

  6. laya

    3/24/2005 at 2:14 pm

    ck, i just took 8 totally kosher comments out of the moderation que, including my last one above (what word got it? Purim?) whats up with that? maybe our spam filter is up a little high?

  7. T_M

    3/24/2005 at 2:20 pm

    Laya, stop writing pregnant-anal.biz in every one of your posts and they’ll slide through without being held up.

  8. Dina

    3/24/2005 at 2:39 pm

    Yaaaaaaaaaay! It’s Esther!
    Great post, too.

  9. Chaim

    3/24/2005 at 3:05 pm

    I Don’t get it, did this guy win the lottery? Did he get an inheritance? Where is this unlimited source of money that he travels and writes books, are people actually buying them? This guy is a wacko job and a nut.

  10. Grandmuffti

    3/24/2005 at 4:01 pm

    Muffti tips his kafia to Esther. Welcome to the team.

  11. T_M

    3/24/2005 at 4:07 pm

    Isn’t it keffiya?

  12. Hilary

    3/24/2005 at 4:11 pm

    Congratulations Esther!

  13. Michael

    3/24/2005 at 4:14 pm

    I say kaffiyeh, you say keffiya, let’s blow the whole thing up.

  14. John Brown

    3/24/2005 at 5:37 pm

    That’s strange.. I wonder why he left out the stereotype of the ‘evil shiksa’ who will steal away your son and make him godless

  15. Esther

    3/25/2005 at 12:11 am

    Thanks, all–for the kind wishes, heartfelt “yays” and tips of keffiyahs inter alia.

    TM, I’m with you on Cosmo. Of all the mag subscriptions littering my apartment, that’s never been one of them. It’s all a vicious cycle of self-hatred and then promotion of the values that created that self-hatred. Jeez. Airbrushing makes me mad!

    And Chaim asks a good question. If you’re on Shmuley’s site and you click on “Blog”, he asks you for donations to support his website! Meanwhile, he has like ten books he’s published, and is a prominent guy…where’s all his money?

  16. ck

    3/25/2005 at 3:34 am

    down a crack pipe maybe?

    whaaaaat? I’m just sayin is all ….

  17. Janice

    3/25/2005 at 9:07 am

    I’m so glad that all you Jewlicious posters are getting along so well. I should definitely be in the matchmaking business. 🙂

  18. Esther

    3/25/2005 at 10:26 am

    CK, oh no you di’n’t! Snap!

    Dr. J: And you told me you were a terrible matchmaker.

    🙂

  19. Janice

    3/25/2005 at 12:15 pm

    I’m terrible at matchmaking for romance, but I’ve been much more successful helping people to “network” for lots of other purposes.

    Like blog staffing!

  20. Alter Kocker

    3/25/2005 at 6:59 pm

    Shmuley is brilliant, but doesn’t have advisors to tell him, “Hey, its just not cool to ask for money on your blog or website.” He does have a lot of kids that go to Jewish schools though, and this can make any Jewish parent go out of their right mind!

  21. Jeremy

    4/10/2005 at 2:29 pm

    By the way, my company has just redone Shmuley’s website completely. And yes, Hating Women is prominantly featured.

    Gone are the begging letters. Instead the site sells merchandise, including hundreds of downloadable lectures and recordings from his radio show.

    Please feel free to send comments my way. The site is a work in progress and feedback is greatly appreciated.

    Jeremy Lichtman
    MIT Consulting

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