Mrs S is up in arms at the moment. For all my ranting and raving about the NFL these days, she’s about 10X as upset. She’s entirely focused on one thing; the abuse issues. We were watching some TV on Saturday and ad featuring and NFL player came on. I don’t remember what the ad was for, but it featured the guy working out, strength training etc in order to become big and strong so.. and this is where the voice next to me muttered “I can go home and beat up my girlfriend.”
If Mrs S is even a little bit close to the general opinion of women in this country, the NFL has a problem.
And timing being everything yesterday afternoon, having a shitload of freetime on Sundays now as I observe my NFL Boycott I sat down to watch a movie: “Kadosh”. Kadosh is an Israeli film about two sisters who are part of an ultra-orthodox Jewish sect living in Jerusalem. When we were there this summer we happened to take a bus that took us through Mea Sharim, where the folks who put the “Ultra” in Ultra live. And like any religious fanatics they basically have no tolerance for anyone outside of their circle who doesn’t share their exact beliefs. Think Mullah in Iran.
The story is about how these two women relate to their surroundings. The older sister has been married to son of the sects Rabbi for 10 years. In these Hassidic groups the Rabbi is all sense a dictator who’s word is law for the group. What he says goes. And in this case the couple are deeply in love but childless. And the dudes father is more or less ordering his son to divorce his wife. Reason? Because “a daughter of Israel has one role, to have children, to raise them, to cook for her husband and free up his time in order that he may follow G-d’s commandments and study Torah.” Not to mention the comment that “A childless woman is neither dead nor alive” and finally “a woman’s only joy comes from raising her children it’s all G-d has made for her.” You get the picture. For his part the husband, tries talking his father out of his decree, mentioning that Sarah was barren and Abraham didn’t abandon her, citing verse after verse about a man clinging to his wife, to no avail.
Never once a mention that the cause of infertility could be either or.
The gal, Rivkah, goes to the doctor, for what we think is the first time, and learns that according to all the tests, you guessed it, she’s fully capable of getting pregnant. The next step in process if for her husband to submit a sample because, as the doctor explains “it takes two”. And as she’s saying this the doctor looks at the woman and remarks that “which is never going to happen since your husband wouldn’t dream of participating, not to mention you could be in trouble just for being here..” Anyways about this point in the movie Mrs S had come downstairs as was watching, I was watching and doing some translating, which is hard when I’m not that good at it, the subtitles were unreadable and my audience was getting more and more angry as the scene unfolded. “WHAT’D SHE SAY WHAT’D SHE SAY..” Can you picture it yet?
Cheryl had commented when were in Jerusalem just how downtrodden and sad the women wearing headscarves and crappy wigs looked on the street, wearing head to toe coverings in 90 degree weather stringing 7 kids at time along with them. “You know these gals are in the same boat as the hajib wearing honeys”.
I new it was coming but at some point the “Men” word came out and it wasn’t in the most flattering way.
Well, to seal the deal the other sister is in love with a secular guy, but is being forced into marriage with a man she doesn’t love, the price of that relationship is having contact with all of her friends and family by staying in the sect. Her other is martial happiness but being outcast, shunned if you will, Amish style from the sect. She chooses marriage and we get to watch her wedding, she walks around her husband 7 times proclaiming her fidelity, obedience and her happiness and being at his feet, all the while she’s sobbing away while the men dance in their corner of the shul. We see her cutting her hair, Hassidic women are not allowed to show their hair after they’re married, except to their husbands. Something about being to sensual blah blah. So many women shave their heads and wear a wig. Typically a bad wig BTW. Or they wear a scarf or head cover that completely covers every strand on their heads. There’s the wedding night scene which is basically a sanctioned rape and a scene where she tries to talk to her husband about her sister and is totally ignored.
In the end Rivka leaves her husband as asked and takes a small room somewhere, the other sister steps out on her husband with her original love and winds up being beaten with a belt when she gets home and goes to live with her sister and this little uplifting tale comes to a close. Actually it’s a really really good movie, I think it won a Palm D’Or at Cannes. Sad to say it’s a pretty accurate view into the cloistered world of Hassidism.
But on a more practical matter it also caused a palpable sense of doom to enter into my quiet little household. Mrs S was fuming. About all she’d say was “men” and “you’re one”. Between the NFL and Hassidic Jewish lifestyles I thing she went on overload. Anti-man overload.
And then she set the bait- “you need to be a better example to your brethren dude”.
Which I took by saying “I’m a great example”. And boom it was game on. No one like to hear that that things are good when they’re in the middle of complaining about how they aren’t. My faults were; my NFL boycott hasn’t caught on meaning all my make friends are scum and I used too much garlic in the babagaounsh I made Sunday. Luckily her anger only lasted through a glass of Two Buck Chuck but still to be indicted with an entire gender, does that seem fair? “You want to see what an uncaring husband looks like? I’m going to watch another episode of the League on Netfllix and I’m not going to give a rats ass if you’re down here in front of the TV or not. HAH”. “You wouldn’t dare.” “Watch me!”
The problem with play fighting I used to tell the kids is someone always winds up crying. And this time it was me. Again.
But in hindsight if this is the worst of our issues, I’ll think we’ll be OK.