Time for a rant

First of all, I believe that people have a right to make choices, so anyone who doesn’t agree with me has every right to his/her opinion and I am not trying to reshape the world in my image.

So here’s what is driving me up the wall…

It’s the increasing separation between the genders that is going on in Judaism. I happen to feel very comfortable with that separation in a synagogue, assuming that the mechitza allows women to feel that they are part of the service, but I really don’t like the growing trend. It started, at least in my mind, with women getting together to study on shabbat at mincha time when the men were at the synagogue. Although there were always women’s organizations, now there are lessons, psalm groups, dramatic presentations, musical plays, etc. for women only to attend.

Here’s my problem: In the olden days when the men used to go out and play poker with their friends or bowling or to lodge activities (like Masons and Lions Club), women resented being such a minor part of their husbands’ lives. Now, women are invited to be out of the house in the evenings and spend their leisure time with other women and, most importantly, without their husbands.

I’m sorry. I married my husband so that we could share life. I don’t enjoy running out and doing every possible thing I can to stay away from him. He is the one I want to spend my life with. But now that has become an impediment to my being part of the community where the norm is to take part in women’s activities.
Climbing Pre Rup in Cambodia with my husband

I do think that women can and should enjoy each other’s company. We share struggles and challenges with each other and help each other in practical ways as well. However, I think it is a mistake to have women’s primary leisure activities being in the company of other women and excluding their husbands. I think it has negative implications for marriage and family life.

Let’s face it, family life is not always a bed of roses. Couples disagree about childrearing, household chores, finances, and a myriad of other things. One ingredient of the glue that keeps them together and happy is that precious leisure time when they can just “be”– when they can enjoy talking with each other or together taking a walk or reading or watching a video or listening to music. Shared experiences build positive feelings. For healthy family life, there need to be a sufficient number on an ongoing basis. Siphoning off a significant amount of time to same gender activities just doesn’t seem healthy.

But that’s just me. Feel free to disagree.

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  1. I understand where you are coming from and agree to a great extent.

    There is also another element which suffers from the husband doing his thing and the wife doing her thing. The children loose out on quality family together time. There is only so much “free” time from work or school and if you spend much of it at gender activities when do you have time for family time with all the family together.

    Even if you are older and all your children are out of the house – then the family time should be about be safta and sabas time with grandchildren as well as children.

  2. I happen to disagree wholeheartedly. I sometimes feel left out of friends because I do spend alot of downtime with my husband walking, eating out, and shmoozing. I dont have time to go to all the all-women’s activities that other women go to. Thanks for your post and validating that something is a little off with the proliferation of women’s only entertainment, groups etc..

  3. Sandy Gruenberg says

    It’s all in the balance. Balance means time for both girl friends and husband time. Nurturing both is very important especially since men don’t seem to have the same aptitude to make close friends like women do.

  4. Sandy,

    I agree with what you are saying and I do think that women need women friends. In fact, women friends are often what keep other women sane! What I have trouble with is when more and more activities are geared only for women and it’s not even a time one is really sharing with a friend in terms of emotional energy, it’s just time away from the husbands. But, as they like to say on the internet YMMV

  5. I think it is a matter of finding a balance. I enjoy going to our “Women’s Rosh Chodesh Celebrations” once a month, and on Saturdays I go to Torah Study which is a mix of men and women. It’s about making choices which work for your marriage. Just because segregated activities exist, it doesn’t mean you have to participate in everything that is “for women only”.