Shmuley Boteach is an American Orthodox rabbi, radio and television host, and author. He rose to prominence with the publication of his international bestseller Kosher Sex. He received his rabbinic ordination in 1988 from the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement in New York City, as a disciple of its leader, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. He frequently appears as a guest on television and radio discussing politics, religion, society and morality. He also now hosts a reality television program entitled Shalom in the Home which involves facilitating conflicts between family members. He has authored many books since Kosher Sex, the latest of which is The Broken American Male.
Topic: On freeing women.
Shmuley Boteach: What I stand for more than anything else is bringing values to relationships and families; to make sex and to have passion in an intimate experience; to get men to really respect and value women through their faithfulness, through their ability to please a woman. We’ve barely made a dent in the divorce rate in the United States. We continue to talk about, you know . . . So many of my religious friends tell me, “Oh, gay marriage . . . These gays are gonna ruin heterosexual marriage.” And I say to them, “Oh don’t worry about that. There’s nothing left to ruin. We straight people have done a fine job of destroying marriage already.” So if I were to really assess the wider impact of my work, well the negative statistics speak for themselves. I write constantly about how women should value themselves. I . . . When I go out with my wife on a Saturday night, and I see it’s cold in New York City, and the guys are wearing jackets but the women are dressed for the beach . . . Everything is hanging out. And clearly they’re not dressing for themselves because if the guys weren’t around they’d probably put on something warm. They’re dressing for others. It’s like you’re 16, you’re 17 and you’ve already lost your own identity? You’re already thinking in terms of, “How will I get and sustain male attention?” I write about these subjects all the time. And the backlash to these subjects . . . “Oh, you’re just trying to put women back into the kitchen.” And that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I wanna truly liberate female potential. I love women who are presidents, prime ministers, doctors, lawyers. The ones who I want to change are those who don’t make those choices. It’s the ones who choose to be strippers, or who go into abusive relationships with men. But that’s not a popular message right now. The message is, “Women are free. They can do whatever they want.” If they wanna wear a thong to school, then that’s part of the freedom. Freedom is not the freedom to serve as masturbatory material for men. That’s not freedom; that’s slavery. That’s sexual slavery. One of my central life philosophies is that men must honor women; that God gave me this wife who is a very special soul. My wife is a unique, unique person. And I always want to live up to being an honorable husband who really appreciates her. Being an insecure person, I’m often very distracted by work. I wanna prove myself through my work, and my wife can feel neglected at those times. I’m traveling. I’m writing. I never wanna forget that my first achievement in life must be her happiness; that a great man is a man whose wife is smiling; is a man whose wife is happy, and not the guy who’s got a lot of money. I know too many men who have a lot of money in the bank and their wives are on Prozac. And I don’t wanna be one of those men, God forbid.
Recorded on: 09/05/2007