Looking for Steve Harvey’s name on Oprah’s website yesterday I typed in “good men”. 200 options! Well that’s good news. I got side-tracked for a while – kind of hard not to on Oprah – and read something Rabbi Shmuley Boteach said about how to meet good men.
I’m already biased against him because he once said men aren’t good at emotions, so women must do it for them. What? Where is it written that men don’t have to face their own challenges? Isn’t emotional fluency at the core of empowerment, and isn’t that at the core of fulfilling, rewarding relationships? Isn’t women’s propensity to rescue men from dealing with their emotions one of the biggest problems, the other side of that coin being men’s propensity to rescue women from dealing with learning to be materially independent?
This from a relationship counselor?
Surely the Rabbi has come across the idea that we only avoid challenges out of fear, that we don’t face our emotions or deal with our need to be materially in the driver’s seat of our lives because it’s scary. Is he saying it’s okay to be scared of your emotions and stay scared – i.e. not deal with your fear? But that makes you a prisoner of it, how is that good for you?
Surely both women and men must face their own challenges, otherwise they’re in co-dependency and can’t free themselves up to have healthy and fulfilling, rewarding relationships.
So yesterday with my prejudice button all nicely lit up, I read what the good Rabbi had to say about where women can find good men. Apparently they hang out in the following places: “Churches, synagogues or mosques… Bookstores…Charity events…On dates set up by friends…In the military…At work…Libraries… Concert halls…Weddings…Lectures and debates… Coffeehouses and poetry recitals” (Quote from Oprah.com). At the end is “Today’s Shmuleyism…A good man, while not easy to find, is possible as long as you look in the right places, and the right places mean venues that foster purpose, compassion, hard work and spiritual commitment.” (Quote from Oprah.com).
So what’s wrong with that? I couldn’t figure it out at first, it sounded so rational, especially the Shmuleyism bit, although I gag at the “a good man, while not easy to find…”. It’s a bit snivelly.
It’s the logic that utterly floors me. Let’s see. In a church you may easily find a pedophile or a fanatic: in a bookstore you may find a criminal learning how to build bombs: at a charity event you could find businessmen who are digging into their pockets to look good: dates set up by friends could be about your friends’ nosiness and lack of belief that you can find your own person: in the military –
I have to deal with this one separately. The Rabbi says the military is where the heroic men are. On the surface, yeah, but in reality? Those are the men who give up their lives so they can kill other people. Those are the men who’ve been conned into thinking they’ll be heroes if they’ll agree to participate in murder, often of women and children. All in the name of king and country. Bush and country. And some of them do it because they have so much repressed anger that they need to kill.
I have no doubt that most of them start out genuinely wanting to play a part in protecting their country, though how they’re doing it by fighting in Iraq is beyond me, but they end up realizing the enormous travesty they’ve become part of, or having their legs blown off and spending the rest of their lives in torment, what did I do it for?
We must encourage that? Virgina Woolf wrote Three Guineas, in which she exposed the role that women play in fostering war – by supporting the men who go to war and pull the triggers. I agree with her. But the Rabbi thinks the men who go to war are heroes. No doubt they all want to be heroes, but the man who agrees to pick up a gun and destroy another person’s life because the president tells him to, is he really the hero? Aren’t the real heroes the men who stop and think for themselves, who say I don’t care if this makes me look like a coward, but I can’t kill, I can’t contribute the Bush’s bullshit, and to the armament industry?
It’s a debatable point, but not, apparently, for the good Rabbi.
To carry on with his list: at work you could meet a man who exploits your need for advancement: in Libraries you could meet anybody, including the man who’s just picked your pocket: in Concert halls you could meet arrogant musophiles: at Weddings you could meet more single women: at lectures and debates you could meet men fascinated with the sound of their own voices waving their metaphorical dicks around, or lecturers looking for students to screw: at Coffeehouses and poetry recitals you could meet drug addicts.
My point is, doesn’t matter where you go, there are “good” men and “bad” men. Anyway, the classification is ridiculous. Nobody’s good or bad. We’re all just variations of incomplete / complete in the different arenas of being human – knowledge of our truth and the truth, entitlement to meet our needs and experience abundance, empowerment to behave with love towards ourselves and therefore towards others. We’re all moving from less complete to more complete, from less conscious to more conscious.
Doesn’t matter whether we’re men or women. But even if we stick to the good/bad labels, what a person is interested in doesn’t ensure that they know how respect themselves and to self-manage, and that’s pretty much your only protection in a relationship. I suspect that whether women meet the “good” men or not isn’t dependent on location, occupation or hobby. It’s dependent on their capacity to love themselves and know their truth.
I much prefer Steve Harvey’s wisdom, I think it’s more profound and accurate. Doesn’t matter where you go looking for your good man, if you don’t have self-respect, you’re not going to draw him into your world. And if you do have it, you won’t have to go looking proactively for him. The meeting will happen. Isn’t it better advice to say to women if you don’t have a relationship that fulfills you, and you want to meet the man of your dreams, pay attention to your own stuff? I think it is. Find meaning in your own life first before you look for meaning in a partner.
What makes relationships happen begins at the core of us, not the periphery. For Shame on you Rabbi, you should know that.