the world is a twofold task.
Bringing spirituality into the world is
principally the man's task.
Elevating the world to become spiritual is principally the woman's task.
Men, generally, are meant to deal with the
present. The future -- and
those who will live within it -- is in the hands of the women.
- the Rebbe
American culture grows more crass by the day.
One of the most successful American TV shows is The Apprentice starring Donald
Trump, a man loaded with money but bankrupt of class. The highlight of the show
is when Trump humiliates potential employees by barking at them, "You're fired!"
One can only grieve over a culture that promotes a coarse womanizer who has
dumped a wife or two in favor of young models as its symbol of professional
Indeed, watching people be humiliated is big business on American TV. Shows such
as American Idol feature judges like Simon Cowell known as Mr. Nasty who
shoot the middle finger at contestants they don't like. Public degradation has
become as American as apple pie with programs like Fear Factor garnering huge
ratings by having participants eat bugs and swim with dead mice.
But perhaps the most disturbing example of the culture of crassness is the
growing trend of famous young women going through the rite of passage known as
the nearly naked photo spread.
Such recent graduates of the you-may-think-I-have-a-brain-but-let's-instead-focus-on-my-bust
school of celebrity include Scarlet Johansson, who acted superbly in Lost in
Translation, which made her famous enough to qualify for a cleavage-bearing
photo op. Janet Jackson, of course, joined the club when she decided to have us
all forget about her dancing and focus instead on her nipples, while Britney
Spears is the club's founding member.
The reduction of talented and intelligent women to two breasts and a vagina has
reached its apogee with the Girls Gone Wild videos, in which tens of thousands
of college girls, often on spring break, flash for the camera, their sole
remuneration being a feeling of deep satisfaction that they have played their
God-given role as entertainment for lecherous men.
Why have millions of young American women abandoned the feminist dream of being
taken seriously by men and instead decided to gain male attention with degrading
spectacles of their bodies? I am convinced that the principal cause is an
increasingly weak link between fathers and daughters.
IN OUR society, we have it all backward. Too much is made of the father-son
relationship at the expense of the father-daughter one. The image of a boy being
taught by his dad to catch a baseball or throw a football is commonplace, while
the only mainstream image of a father interacting with his teenage daughter is
telling her not to come home too late when she goes out with her boyfriend.
Pop tarts like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, who use partial nudity to
advance their careers, are often close to their mothers, who may even serve as
their managers, while their dads are nowhere to be seen.
Where you do read about a father's central involvement in his daughter's career,
it usually leads to respectable women like Steffi Graff and the Williams
sisters, who have resisted the offers for provocative photo spreads even after
they became famous as tennis stars. This is not because mothers don't love their
daughters but because men are much more successful at protecting their daughters
from other men. And when a daughter receives strong masculine validation from a
loving and caring father, she is usually not desperate for sexual attention from
manipulative and hormonal men.
Recently the New York Times ran a front-page story about a 15-year-old girl who
refused to have sex with her 16-year-old boyfriend. He promptly cheated on her.
When the girlfriend found out, she told her boyfriend that they should cut class
and go and have sex. She did so, she said, "in order to keep him." When I read
this story, I wondered Where is this girl's father? Had her father been a strong
male presence in her life, she would not have been so desperate for the
affection of a scoundrel.
EVEN WHEN I go to a Yankees game, I take my five daughters along with my older
son. True, they often don't know the names of the players or even the score, but
they know their father loves them and hates being separated from them. There is
a special connection that daughters have with their fathers that even a mother
cannot replicate, which grants young women a startling immunity from
compromising themselves with jerks.
Indeed, when a daughter is close to her father and respects him as a man and a
dad, she begins to judge other men by that same high standard. When she dates
men, she will not judge them by their smooth talk but by the depth of their
commitment because her own father was not a talker but a doer. She will not jump
into bed with a man just to please him. She has high self-esteem, and she
expects the men in her life to make an effort to please her rather than the
reverse. Her idea of a relationship is not going down to the guy's level but
raising him up to hers.
THIS IS why it's so important for a father to remain the most important man in
his daughter's life until she is at least 20. I always lament witnessing the
deterioration of the homes of my friends whose teenage daughters are always out,
either with girlfriends or boyfriends. My daughters will not date until they are
of marriageable age in our communities from 19. Up until that time, my own
love for them will sustain their need for male attention. They will not be
forced at too early an age to worry whether they're pretty enough, smart enough,
sexy enough, or attractive enough. To their father, they are just perfect. And
they will internalize that message in their most vulnerable years so they can
grow into confident and robust women who attract men out of strength rather than
As for the criticisms that too close a relationship with your daughter will
impede her ability to later form close connections with romantic partners,
exactly the opposite is true. A young woman with an involved and loving father
gains the confidence in herself to sever the childhood ties with her father and
begin a loving relationship with a man precisely because she has learned to
trust men. She has no fear of being vulnerable a prerequisite for romantic
love because her father has shown her an example of a man who can be trusted
and relied upon.
But if she feels betrayed by her own father, she will often run to another man
more to escape pain than to find love, which is what usually makes her a prime
candidate for that revealing photo spread.
Copyright Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, 2005. For
books and articles by Rav Boteach check out: www.shmuley.com