By Rabbi Aaron Gol...
November 28, 2010
There is a fascinating trend in the weekend supplements that I believe no one is too sure what to make of. That is the role of men in society. There are headlines and strap-lines which read:
“Depressed, repressed, objectified: are men the new women? They’re less fertile, more weight-obsessed and ‘non-essential to parenting.’ No wonder men are confused about modern masculinity.” (The Observer Woman, August 08)
“How to be a real man: Do you know how to change a tyre? Give a speech? Or shave without leaving a nasty rash? Gather centuries-old wisdom for the metro-generation” (Sunday Independent, 10.08.08)
“Fixing the British male: Men in 2010 are a shadow of their former selves. We’re dab hands at whipping up a cheese soufflé, but our tools lie unloved in the shed and we’ve forgotten the simple pleasures of working with our hands. Top Gear’s James May believes its time for a full service.” (The Observer, 31.10.10)
There are also books written following research showing that both ancient man and woman were stronger, faster, more springier than any of today’s male world record holders. These and other eye-catching claims are detailed in a book by Australian anthropologist Peter McAllister entitled "Manthropology" and provocatively sub-titled "The Science of the Inadequate Modern Male." "We are simply not exposed to the same loads or challenges that people were in the ancient past and even in the recent past so our bodies haven't developed. Even the level of training that we do, our elite athletes, doesn't come close to replicating that. We wouldn't want to go back to the brutality of those days but there are some things we would do well to profit from." (Reuters, 14.10.09)
In the light of our modern world, I wonder what strength we might draw from our Jewish tradition and Liberal interpretation of it...
...Men do not need to be dominant to play an affective role in society and indeed when they do not try to be, they, like Joseph might allow their skills to come to the fore and as a by-product be successful. The equality that our society allows for men and women is positive. It is one of the founding principles of Liberal Judaism ahead of its time. Yet the empowerment of women should not be at the cost of men playing a role in society, in our Synagogues and in our homes.
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