(Sent to Time Magazine, not published)
I suppose it is better to have my views misrepresented in Time Magazine than not mentioned at all (https://time.com/dateonomics/), but it’s a shame Jon Birger opted merely to quote a few statements of mine from years ago without bothering to contact me. The quotes attributed to me are accurate and I stand by every word, but the conclusions Mr. Birger drew from this tiny snippet are terribly inaccurate to the point of being absurd. I would appreciate the opportunity to clarify my views and respond to Mr. Birger’s hasty dismissal of my “solution” to the dating problems in the Orthodox Jewish world based on a misrepresentation of said solution.
My solution is NOT, as Mr. Birger writes, “for Orthodox Jews to rely less on matchmakers and more on singles events where young people can mingle and get to know each other in more natural settings.” In fact, EndTheMadness suggests TEN principles to the Orthodox Jewish community to help change the corrupt shidduch world, and only the very LAST of these is for natural meetings between singles to once again become normative. The first nine principles all deal with attitudes and values that singles and those who work on their behalf should bring into the process.
If the attitudes and values are corrupt, it makes little difference how singles meet. Hence Mr. Birger’s dismissal of my solution, with the observation that “there’s plenty of natural interaction between college-educated men and women in New York City, and that hasn’t solved the too-many-women problem in the secular world” is entirely mistaken. My actual solution depends on education (and re-education) to help singles approach dating with a proper mindset. Only then will more and better meeting opportunities truly bear fruit.
Regarding Mr. Birger’s insistence that the actual problem is more demographic than anything else, I couldn’t disagree more. If it is indeed true that marriageable males are becoming an endangered species to the point of crisis (which I do not believe), then the only solution is for God to do a better job with how He populates the world. Attempting to engineer who marries whom based more on age than actual compatibility is both foolish and unethical, and will not create more men to even the supposed score besides.
In addition, those who insist the problems are mostly or entirely demographic have never explained the following phenomenon that is unique to present times:
Women should be desperate to meet a man who is remotely suitable, and would do their very best to make things work with a partner who is far from their ideal match, due to the laws of supply and demand. Yet, somehow, women who would seem to be greatly affected by this presumed demographic problem are more picky today than perhaps ever before. If Mr. Birger bothers to survey matchmakers, they will lament how “there just aren’t enough guys out there for all the women”, then, as if the right hand does not communicate with the left hand, lament that many of these women immediately reject men for all manner of trivial reasons (men are guilty of the same, of course, but that is a different discussion). This is hardly the behavior one would expect of women who supposedly can’t get a date, and who feel they are competing with ten other women for every available man.
This same phenomenon holds true for online dating and singles events — the prevailing belief is that men hold all the cards in dating, yet women are quick to refuse suitors based on the most trifling criteria. The apologists for the demographers will counter that this is because in addition to a severe shortage of men in general, the quality of men who still roam the planet are generally cavemen unworthy of the modern woman. Apparently buffoonish sexist remarks are only outrageous in one direction.
Feminism is indeed a great contributor (one of many) to the complex, multi-layered problems in the shidduch world. I realize one who dares challenge feminism nowadays will be quite lonely, but the truth must be stated. I am all in favor of women enjoying greater opportunities for personal growth and to contribute their unique gifts to the world. But feminism — especially what it has morphed into — is far more than that.
The traditional family structure is under mortal attack by women who have little or no appreciation for their God-given role as wife and mother first, and world-conqueror at the very bottom of the list. The ramifications of this are widespread and deeply problematic throughout all of society. And of course it will rear its head when women approach dating and marriage. Whereas a “good guy” used to be defined as someone who would treat his wife with love and devotion and work hard to support her, that doesn’t even begin to make the grade in today’s world. It is not that men in general and “good” ones in particular are extinct; it is that they have been defined out of existence.
It is no coincidence that many women choose never to marry, or to marry well into their adult years after more “important” things are accomplished. And it is no coincidence that failed marriages are off the charts like never before. When marriage is built on faulty values and expectations, how can it possibly be successful?
It is tragic that single women receive the lion’s share of sympathy for their plight, while it is assumed men can marry pretty much anyone they want, anytime they decide they wish to marry. It just isn’t right.
The solution is to return to traditional values, approach dating and marriage with the right attitudes and values, and only then to create more and better meeting opportunities. Hopefully Mr. Birger and readers will consider my actual approach, which is far more nuanced and comprehensive than how it was presented.
Rabbi Chananya Weissman
Founder of EndTheMadness
Author of EndTheMadness Guide to the Shidduch World