Monday, August 27, 2012

Roommates w/Benefits? שותפים עם "הטבות"

While this editorial by Shahar Ilan isn’t breaking news, what it does do is break the ultra-Orthodox curriculum down for us Dummies. In it, we learn that the phenomenon of the ultra-Orthodox thumbing their noses at the core curriculum largely occurs in the boys’ schools; while the girls learn a certain level of English, math, and geography.

After they are married, the men are sequestered in yeshivas while the women get paying jobs where they use their skills, however paltry. So not only are the wives more educated than their husbands (in the Western sense of the word), but they are necessarily wordlier, being exposed to and in daily contact with the broader society.

What’s interesting to me is the effect this has on the marital relationship. I would guess that this arrangement actually infantilizes the men, relegating them to something akin to Eldest Child instead of Equal Partner. After all, plenty of ultra-Orthodox as young as ages seven or eight (the girls in particular) are already taking responsibility for the running of the household, including of course caring for younger siblings.

So what must it be like to have no substantial role in the family? You come home to a wife who earns the income and pays the bills, and a household run by increasingly competent offspring. Talk about emasculating: The only thing you’ve contributed to this enterprise is your sperm.

And we haven’t even talked about what the husband and wife talk about to each other: They might as well live on separate planets. On the other hand, in a setup like this, who needs to talk? Seems to me the above-described arrangement is pretty much Roommates With Benefits, no?

1 comment:

  1. How much richer the Haredi children would be if they had the same education everyone did. When the schoolday is over, they can come home to be further schooled by their families in Haredi custom. That way, when they are given (at a proper age, say 18) the choice of Haredi or non-Hardi lifestyles, if they opt out, they will at least know what they're turning their backs on.