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War of the Genders

A confrontational soapbox for rants and politically incorrect manifestos regarding feminism, chauvinism, dating and gender issues.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Music of the Soul


Emotions are approached in a variety of ways in modern society, but chiefly amongst them is the growing trend to worship these intense personal engines in one way or another. In a meaningless, materialistic, cold, scientific, atheistic and brutally objective world, emotions provide the sole source of meaning and warmth, and feelings then become goals as opposed to tools or indicators.

Happiness justifies the means, passion determines the artist, and blind trust defines faith. Emotions provide a potential escape from the horrors of chemical determinism and are therefore given the job of representing humanity as more than just a bundle of atoms. Some may even ascribe spirituality and mysticism to emotions. It is no surprise, then, that religious experience has been reduced to an inner personal emotion, and as such, is merely a relative truth offering meaning only to the bearer.

Feelings are also seen as an expression of individuality, humanity, life, and even a wellspring for moral sense and imperative. Philosophers such as Kant and Hume defined a type of morality based on sentiment, or goodhearted impulses (although Kant saw this type as lacking true principle). Emotions are often popularly perceived as 'authentic' and spontaneous, and as such, provide an instinctual moral compass as well as valid evidence for judgement. She's crying? That jerk must have been mean to her. She's furious at his lack of support? He must be a good-for-nothing deadbeat father! He's a sensitive, broken-hearted father? What kind of stupid woman divorces such a wonderful man?

Emotions are even used to justify crimes. In courts, if a man kills out of an overwhelming emotion rather than cold-blooded deliberation, he is given more latitude. There are legal terms to cover such cases such as 'diminished capacity', 'irresistible-impulse', 'fit of passion' and 'insanity' (although temporary insanity seems to be slightly more popular in movies than in courts). Technically, these defenses are only valid if a mental deficiency is proven, but they are used in a variety of cases based on ambiguous psychological guess-work and 'expert' testimonies. For example, the notorious Lorena Bobbitt was found not guilty after cutting off her husband's penis due to irresistible-impulse. Regarding this case, the expert David Reardon said: "It takes no leap of imagination to see how a woman, such as Lorena who, on an unconscious level felt that she had been sexually mutilated by her abortion, would, in a moment of bitter passion, attempt to 'castrate' her husband." There are dozens of studies that prove women are consistently given very reduced sentences compared to men (some articles: 1 2 3) and it takes no leap of imagination to see how women, perceived as gentle and caring, would also be perceived as compelled by justified emotions in order to commit such crimes.

Interestingly, the contradiction between emotions used as a moral compass and emotions used to drive criminal behaviour seems to be overlooked. Then again, the criminal behaviour is, in effect, being justified. Even Bobbitt has her share of followers.

In Hollywood, love gets priority over all. If a character in a movie is so attached to his friend that he decides to stay in a burning house and die with him, this is touching bravery, and to call it stupid tragedy would be sacrilege.

If asked directly, many people would deny giving emotions such a prominent place in their Weltanschauung, since, after all, there are plenty of leftovers from the patriarchal society that sees emotions as weak and secondary. But their behaviour tells a different story. It doesn't take a genius to see right through the rationalizations of most people's decisions and trace them to their emotional roots. The existence of reason does not exclude emotion as a guiding source and logic is easily edited or twisted to serve as justification for emotional needs. This mechanism is seen at work in propaganda, political campaigns and marketing, as well as in personal spheres of bias and relationships in a myriad of manifestations.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have some scientists, logicians, religions and philosophers that see emotions as mere side-effects or even think of them as opposing reason. Some religions think emotions are to be subdued. Who needs the hassle? Emotions are distracting, wild and often painful; They interfere with consistency, work, concentration and productivity; They cause nonsensical, irrational behaviour, get in the way of constructive partnerships, cause people to behave whimsically and leave their faith and loyalty behind, etc.

In psychology, there is no attempt to moralize and pretend the human is anything but a machine, and emotions are mere mechanisms and chemicals judged according to social norms. If a man is angry at his parents (which is common), the goal is to bring this emotion out into the open, to get in touch with it, and then either cure it or learn to live with it depending on what the patient wants. However, if a man is abnormally misanthropic and hates the world, he is given pills to kill this unacceptable form of anger. Given the statistical basis for such moral judgements, the abnormality of today may become tomorrow's healthy individual expression.

As usual, these two approaches represent two extremes and neither are correct, yet both contain some truths. On the one hand, emotions are problematic. But the existence of emotions must be explained. Scientists may search for evolutionary and survival benefits, but religions that believe in an omnipresent, omnipotent God must find their purpose in the grander scheme of things. To worship emotions is silly since it's obvious that emotions lead us astray all the time to commit the worst possible acts, but to sweep emotions under the table is not useful, nor is it psychologically viable.

Most people would profess to have their emotions under control and espouse a philosophy that balances emotions with everything else. Disregarding the question of whether this is actually the case in reality, the more interesting question is, what is control? Where does the balance lie exactly and how does it work?

Curiously, emotions are rarely tackled and analyzed and most people simply accept them as part of their life without questioning their place, origins, structure and purpose. Obviously, they are often analyzed in a psychological sense, but I am referring to their ontological aspects. Some research and thought have been invested regarding emotions, but different theories merely postulate different sequences of events and relationships between the emotion, the reaction, the action and the event. Some bring cognitive faculties into play, some take an evolutionary or a purely chemical approach, etc.

These studies and approaches should confuse us even more, but, being the faithful worshippers that we are, we fail to absorb the ramifications of such reports and pray to our gods of passion instead. Attributing emotions to chemicals doesn't seem to derail most people that use emotions as one of the primary factors in decision-making and moral judgement, nor does the contradiction bother them when emotions and art are also described as evidence of humanity's transcendence. And when asked to explain or explore the mechanisms of love, many prefer to leave it in a cloud of mystery.

Taking this confused mixture, which most people seem to have, of scientific fact and existentialist moral imperative to its ridiculous conclusion, the basis of popular moral judgement is often reduced to the pills one takes, and happiness or the meaning of life is just a healthy diet.

In this essay, I will attempt to build an ontological and practical profile of emotions using a Jewish approach.


First, some important clarifications:

An emotion at its purest and simplest level is a spiritual force, a movement in the soul that both reacts and drives. An emotion is a valence.

The latin root of the word comes from 'ex-motio' or 'outward motion' but, as we shall see, this is only one side of the coin.

An emotion is experienced internally as a mental state but can express itself at the physical level in many colors, variations, combinations, physiological changes, facial expressions, etc. The increased heart-beat and chemical/hormonal changes are not the emotions themselves although they may represent the emotions working at the lowest level.

In the BBC documentary Brain Story, a group of people were given amphetamines, and some were told that they were given a placebo while others were told about the stimulant. The former experienced discomfort and thought it to be a negative experience, but the people who were expecting the increased bubbly energy and a positive reaction used it to feel good and have fun. I.e. emotions are not chemicals and there is a definite distinction between our inner experience of a feeling and its physical manifestation. They are also obviously linked to our consciousness and its interpretations, perhaps even our free will.

The same goes for sensations: Sensations include physical data such as touch, pain and arousal but these can be interpreted and experienced in different ways. Arousal may be an expression of love, lust, compassion, pity or selfishness, it may be twisted into disgust and fear due to a trauma, or it may be a chemical reaction to Viagra. In other words, different emotions can be attached to the same sensation.

We must differentiate between the Platonic forms, the archetypes or the abstract and core spiritual faculties of emotions, and their external representations or variations. In Judaism, there are seven primary archetypes of emotions/forces which manifest themselves through various outlets, resulting in several expressions and combinations. In this essay, I shall be referring to these archetypes and spiritual forces whenever I mention emotions. The same applies to the mind which is not a logical processing unit in the brain, but the intellect of the soul linked to God.

The fact that emotions appear in the brain doesn't mean that they originate there. A similar issue concerns the mind vs. brain and obviously this leads us to the age-old debate regarding materialism vs. idealism vs. dualism and the mind-body problem. As far as this essay is concerned, the brain as we see it is a mere representation of emotional movements and mental activity and it remains unexplained by science how our different inner experiences of emotions, sensation, logic, vision, sound, etc. all arise from homogeneous physical matter and activity.

To make an imprecise but revealing simile: If we were to study the computer by inspecting its memory chips and the patterns formed by the 1s and 0s, all we would see is a specific representation and level of the inner workings of a computer and we would still have no clue how the program is actually run, what the interface actually looks like, where the program originates, etc. We may make careful studies that show that data, user interface and algorithms each form different patterns in different places in the RAM, but this would still only represent the mere storage of such varied computer functionality. We could even poke around in the computer memory and interfere with the way the program behaves in various ways, but that doesn't make it the source nor the equivalent of the program itself.


In Judaism, emotions are positioned higher than primal instincts and behaviour, but lower than intellect and perception, all of which are lower than the higher consciousness that links us to God. This conforms with the triune brain theory by Paul D. MacLean postulating three levels in the brain, the emotions being in the second, or mammalian cortex.

Many say that emotions must be under control of the mind, but although emotions are positioned under the intellect, this is not necessarily precise. Zeno of Citium from the Stoic school held that emotions are movements caused by our judgements, but what about the other direction?

In Judaism, emotions are often said to be an effect or result, in the sense that it is a child of a choice made in the higher consciousness. But in another sense they are also said to 'clothe' the intellect. In other words, the valence actually works in both directions:

In one direction, our grasp of concepts and truth should propagate down to choice and down to our emotions, which in turn drive and guide our behaviour. Without emotions, our intellect cannot drive our behaviour; They provide the link through which our intellects control our deeds in this world.

But the opposite direction is also just as critical if we plan to live and interact with this world: Our actions, instincts and experience of the external world propagate upwards through the emotive faculties and enable us to link our physical being and independent will back to God by giving us empirical feedback. By attaching emotive meaning to this information we are receiving from the external world, we get to understand and respond to this world; We can recognize good vs. bad, and use this to rectify the world around us and our own souls, raising everything to higher levels. Intellect alone can't do this. In this sense, emotions are using the intellect to affect a decision based on the interpretation of physical data.

In other words, emotions attach meaning to the external world both during input and output. An emotion can both drive the intellect as well as actualize its choices. Affective neuroscience research now shows that emotions are an essential part of the decision-making process in the brain. See, for example, António Damásio's work.

In terms of hierarchy, superiority and control, mind and emotions are relative. Ideally, the mind should essentially control the emotions, but the emotions should also guide the mind in its decision, both working together in a yin/yang of bi-directional flow.

There is also a sense in which the pure emotive faculties of the soul can take over the mind for an uplifting experience by raising physical activity to the spiritual plane using emotion. Many Jewish holidays and the Hasidic movement represent this experience.

In the physical world and in terms of spiritual rectification of materialism, emotions are king. They are the driving force and the power by which matter is connected to and uplifted. But ultimately, it's the mind that is the source and highest state that is closest to God.

In conclusion, although emotions are important tools in religious life, they are not the end-all of religious experience. And although the mind is higher, emotions are not necessarily inferior obstacles to be quelled or ignored.


This duet, this bi-directional work and flow is actually combined by a third entity: Da'at. When the two forces are married, what emerges is a link between lower and higher consciousness, the ability to understand, link with and absorb an entity at the deepest level, and the ability to love someone. The first time sex is mentioned in the bible, Da'at is used to denote a connection at the highest level.

At a different level, this power appears as faith. Faith in Judaism is the ability to behave consistently with what you intellectually know, and to know, understand and choose what you feel is true no matter what happens. Used together, the result is faith.

In Judaism, the female represents the aforementioned upwards vector and the male, the downwards vector. The female represents the practical actualization of choice in this world and the pushing of flawed physical entities upwards by separating the bad from the good, whereas the male represents abstraction and breadth of potentials, pulling the good upwards by separating it from the bad.

This difference between the genders will be explored further below and in other essays, but for now it is important to note that this is not describing the spiritual hierarchy and position of men vs. women, nor is it saying anything about inherent spiritual capabilities and limitations, but it is describing vectors: Directions with which the genders work; Opposing but complementary forces; A yin/yang of powers, both of which have the same goals and core capabilities but each of which work in different directions, like the plus and minus of an electrical current.

This is the core of marriage, a joining of these two forces. To explore this further is beyond the scope of this essay.

A special note regarding love: Conceptually and strictly speaking, as described earlier, in the form of 'true love' it refers to the ability to expand oneself to include another and to link to them via higher consciousness/Da'at and is therefore not an emotion per se. But, obviously, it will evoke and make use of emotions.


Buddhism sees emotions as states of imbalance, impediments on the road to a higher spiritual life. Past offenses are left behind, as are attachments, the ego and all activities in this world that bring rise to guilt, fear, etc. Emotions are quelled and made unimportant (albeit in a healthy spiritual sense) instead of used. (One possible exception is an emotion which awakens a man to start walking the path, or a correctional emotion that enables a man to fix himself before rising to higher levels and abandoning the lower.)

Buddhists learn to change their Weltanschauung so that emotions don't get in their way of the purely spiritual. Jews learn to identify good vs. bad and to control and make use of their strong emotions at all levels of their development. These are two subtly but crucially different types of control in line with the drastically different goals of a Jew and Buddhist.

A Buddhist seeks enlightenment and to live on a spiritual plane; A Jew seeks to live in, control and rectify the physical world, which will ultimately bring him enlightenment and a spiritual life. A Jew's goal is not to detach from this world, but to fix it. This is why the Eastern approach is seen as not only impractical, but even rebellious. Emotions must be embraced.

Christianity, on the other hand, goes to the other extreme and consciously provokes a constant sense of dread, helplessness and guilt. Since I am not an expert here, I am at a loss to explain how this coincides with traditional Christian thought that holds that emotions must be either eradicated or moderated, via Stoicism (Augustine), catharsis (Aquinas/Aristotle), etc. But it is very telling that Christians believe they are helplessly restrained by Original Sin and human frailties, requiring baptism, grace, Christ or priests (depending on your branch of Christianity) to rectify them rather than having the capability of attaining all spiritual states, grace and salvation on their own. In this sense, Christians believe and probably instigated temporary insanity as a valid defense for sins and crimes.

Additionally and interestingly, although Roman Catholics traditionally believe in faith as an emotion backed by works and deeds as the means to salvation, Protestants detached faith from works and claimed Sola Fide. However, neither of these approaches conform with the Jewish approach of faith being a cooperative force of intellect and emotion in order to perform works!

As you can deduce from all of the above, Judaism sees emotions as faculties that can be trained and changed over time. Not subdued, but used - just like the brain. All thinkers, romantics and scientists that hold that emotions cannot be chosen are mistaken. Although emotions cannot be directly controlled, with work and habit, emotions can be associated with different behaviour via the intellect, and, using the opposite vector, behaviour can associate emotions with different ideas. That's not to say that this is easy, but neither is it impossible.

In other words, although emotions cannot be chosen directly, they can be influenced and gradually changed by free-will. Thus, a defense of temporary insanity is ludicrous by Jewish standards and the real question should be: why did the criminal not work on himself so that, when the time comes, he could resist such impulses and control his wild reactions? A Jew is given ultimate power to change his very nature and Nietzsche understood this, but with such power comes responsibility, not 'irresistible-impulse'

In philosophy, Hume saw the passions as the only valid source for absolute morality despite their irrational nature and held that differing and 'wrong' ethics only arise from twisted natures. Kant held that reason is the only source that can effect a real decision and behaviour based on intention and deliberation, and is therefore the only valid source of true morality. But neither offer an absolute moral imperative and Nietzsche scoffed at both of them, espousing a more existential and personal form of ethics that is beyond good and evil. Judaism agrees with both: The only true moral decision is made in the mind, but the emotions, once they are distilled and purified, can be valid drives for moral behaviour.


So are emotions spontaneous? Do they originate in our free-will? Are they always spiritual in nature? What about emotions as human expression?

Obviously, if emotions are chemicals, then chemicals aren't expressing anything except chemicals. This means that the only chance emotions have of fulfilling our existential expectations is when they are connected to, and are expressing, something spiritual. I.e. only when they are beyond determinism can they have any moral imperative, contain meaning or point to anything transcendent.

The hard truth is that free-will is extremely rare. The controversial findings of Benjamin Libet that subconscious brain activity always comes before what we perceive as a choice comes as no surprise because most choices are deterministic even as far as Judaism is concerned. (The experiment involved test subjects determining the exact time when they make a choice while brain scans revealed subconscious activity long before this choice actually occurred, proving that choice is an effect not a cause.) The only thing Libet proved is that most choices are actually based on chemicals, but that doesn't exclude the rare occurrence of indeterministic, spiritual work.

Some claim that the power to veto a choice made by the subconscious is what expresses our free-will and this is partially correct, but this is a slippery slope because vetoes can and usually do arise from physical stimuli and chemicals as well.

So how can we tell when our emotions are based on our consciousness and free-will rather than on environment and diet? We obviously have to find a non-deterministic spiritual force, or God if you will, and find a way to link to it, usually by combining study and behaviour, as befits our bi-directional powers. Thankfully, if you believe in a religion like Judaism, you have already received a manual on how to achieve this and have to simply follow the rules.

It is important to note however, that there is such a concept as chemicals doing spiritual work. Based on the methods we described above, behaviour and emotions may be modified or trained, and thereafter they may work on 'auto-pilot', not requiring free-will yet still remaining linked to our souls. In this sense, our rectified emotions and chemicals are aligned with our souls and therefore have meaning.

But, yells modern society, how can emotions express anything when they are restrained, controlled, bridled by reason? How can you tell me to follow rules and still tell me I am expressing my individualism? Don't rules, frameworks and training all contradict the popular notion of freedom? How can I be spontaneous by following a manual?

But this is a common mistake. If you are free to follow your chemicals then how does that constitute freedom? What is the qualitative difference between following a master's orders and following your upbringing and social environment? Following orders may feel like slavery because they conflict with your passions and desires and therefore make you feel oppressed, but why is your own mechanical desire necessarily any more free or spontaneous? What if your desire or moral choice originates in your parents' conditioning?

As should be obvious by now, the only truly free action is one that is linked to an indeterministic source. Which means that, in a way, action based on an 'external' imperative is free and action that is based on an internal one isn't. And yet, despite a framework, there is always room for individual expression.

Music is a perfect example: Classical music is defined by its rigid structure, rules, discipline, strict adherence to form, etc. And yet it is within classical music that adherents seek the highest amount of varying interpretations. The exact same sheet music with the same rules, tempos and structure, re-interpreted a thousand times, each with its rich nuances and emotive content.

Within structure emerges intense passion. Like a laser, no structure means the dissipation of power and therefore a lack of freedom, not the opposite.


Popular opinion is that women are more emotional than men. Rich Zubaty replies sarcastically: "Women have emotions; men have deeper feelings".

Anyone with eyesight should admit that men are full of emotions and passions. They just differ in the way they handle their emotions, as well as in their focus and behaviour.

Jung held that the male archetype is driven by rational, cognitive functions related to truth, and the female is driven by rational sentiments related to people, the man thus sometimes being affected by irrational sentiments, and the woman by irrational opinions. This is interesting, but needs more digging.

Of course, the problem with all such sweeping gender-related statements is that we haven't defined what it means to be 'more emotional'. Obviously it doesn't mean that women are capable of more types of emotions since women have never displayed any monopolies in this regard. It also can't be pointing out that women are more intensely emotional. Not only would this be impossible to measure, experience shows that men are capable of equally wild outbursts as well. Perhaps women simply don't show as much restraint?

Of course there are also the hormones that women experience during their various biological cycles that affect their emotions, but these are purely physical differences at the lowest level and aren't necessarily pointing out any core gender differences. In addition, men have extra testosterone which obviously affects their emotions as well, so at the purely chemical level, I don't think we can say that women are more emotional than men.

The accepted and most popular definition is that women are much more influenced by their emotions and are less able to separate emotions from reason. This is verified by science: With the exception of language, male brains tend to specialize and use specific areas of the brain for specific purposes, whereas the woman uses both sides of the brain and more diffuse areas to handle the same task or information. The detailed implications of this is better left for another article, but in the case of emotions this means that whereas men can use and apply reason, spatial abilities, and analyze visual data without being affected by emotional information, most women don't and can't.

Is this good or bad? When dealing with specific careers and tasks that demand scientific objectivity and focused, honed technical skills, it's probably bad. Other objectives, such as jobs that deal with people and which often benefit from emotional information, are probably handled better. From the Jewish point of view described above, it's neither good nor bad and depends purely on its usage, the ultimate goal being to merge with its opposite force.

The way I see it, there are several possible explanations why women are claimed to be 'more emotional', and the truth is probably a combination of them all:

1. It's an illusion. Men experience the same emotions but keep them in check and don't exhibit them as often or as explicitly. In which case this only makes woman more of an exhibitionist, so-to-speak, and doesn't point out any special emotive capabilities or mechanisms.

2. Increased aggression in men, plus accepted social norms of masculinity means that men may hide some of their 'gentler' emotions. The proof of this is that men often have no problem expressing their anger openly and passionately.

3. As shown by science, women use emotive information to make decisions, thus appearing to be more emotional by basing their choices on such data.

4. The vector theory: Due to the aforementioned opposite gender vectors and starting points, women use emotions more often and put more emphasis on their emotions since this is their primary form of attaching meaning to their practical concerns and connecting to their inner worlds. Recall that a woman is primarily working upwards through her emotions whereas a man has to work his way downwards and connect with the world in the first place.

5. Dipping slightly into Kabbalah: At the highest level, the Jewish male and female archetypes are represented by wisdom (Hohma) and understanding (Bina) respectively. Hohma represents everything but as potential, Bina represents structure and form but is focused on specifics. This is reflected in the gender's reproductive functions: The man produces millions of sperm cells with endless possibilities, while the woman accepts only one and builds a baby out of it.

When filtered through knowledge (Da'at), the ten spiritual capabilities (Sefirot) of existence are separated into two groups representing the male and female, called the five Hasadim and five Gevurot respectively. The highest male archetype is represented by the letter Yud, which numerically represents all ten forces but in potential (the letter is a dimensionless point), and the female is represented by Hei, which denotes only the five Gevurot, but actualized (Hei has structure and form, building on top of the Yud).

All of this means two things as far as we're concerned:

a) The emotive forces of the male are complete but tend to stay in potential, which is why they may seem less caring or emotional. The issue with men is that they tend to get lost in ideas, impractical abstract pursuits and the drive for pleasure, all to the detriment of a practical, constructive connection with the external world. Their emotions are secondary to these goals and, as science has shown, emotions are detached from such mental activities.

b) The female archetype contains an imbalance (extra Bina) and leans towards specific attributes or emotions: Gevura representing strength (in dealing with people discriminately), fear, restraint, trepidation, etc., and Hod representing submission, concurrency, gratitude, optimism, etc. The issue with women is that some emotions like fear may go unchecked by their opposite emotions or be ungrounded and unbalanced.

6. Also, since women represent expression, speech and actualization, it is conceivable that they will express themselves and their emotions better and more often.

The BBC, while filming 'Secrets of the Sexes', performed a small experiment: They dressed up a child actress, placed her in a street corner with a hidden camera and instructed her to act abandoned. During the time she was there, over 40 women stopped to make sure she was OK, some even coming back to check again, but not men. Some men were asked why they didn't do anything and they all came up with rationales. The most popular was that they didn't want to be mistaken for a pedophile. Others said her new shoes gave her away as a well-off kid who was probably waiting for her parents. While these are good arguments, they are still excuses, and the men could conceivably have found a way to check that she wasn't in any trouble. The conclusion that the BBC reached was that men are not as caring as women.

But they missed a very important point: The men didnt say that they weren't aware of the possible problem or that they didn't sympathize with the child. In fact, they all made it very clear that they were concerned with the kid and noticed her and the potential problem, only they came up with rationales for not doing anything about it! The conclusion that I reached was that men have all the tools they need, including emotions, empathy and caring, but their difficulty lies in actualizing and expressing these.

One final reminder that should be obvious: We are talking mostly about archetypes and dominating functions or trends, and obviously this doesn't denote exclusivity, nor does it preclude exceptions and variations.

In summary, each of the genders has strengths and weaknesses and the goal of marriage is to combine these two contrapuntal forces of nature. The opposite vectors meet and join forces to create something new, each representing the yin and yang of creation, the flip sides of a coin and the basis of all spiritual power in the world we live in. Which, by the way, is why homosexual marriage is relatively a ridiculous farce.


Hierarchy: Emotions are positioned both under and over other spiritual faculties, depending on the direction one is working in. But the ultimate spiritual state is in the intellect.

Function: An emotion is a spiritual power that bi-directionally links intellect or will to behaviour through its guiding force, and links the external world to the internal world by providing meaning to the world we interact with. Emotions bridge the sensations of the body with the judgmental, cognitive mind, and joins the inner subjective world with the outer objective world.

The Hebrew letters of Regesh (emotion) are the same letters for Gesher (bridge) and Girush (divorce) because they have the power to construct and destruct connections.

Interestingly, in Latin both passion and passive comes from the root patior - to suffer. This is because passions are seen as passive in the sense that they are acted upon rather than acting. Although in traditional philosophy, emotions are seen as drives that create behaviour, they are not necessarily the ultimate source.

The question of whether emotions can be chosen and worked on is the real issue, and, as argued above, Judaism says they can.

Interaction and Context: Emotions can be driven by primal instincts, they can arise in association with physical objects, they can be evoked internally by the intellect or soul, and they can be used by the intellect or make use of the intellect.

When the mind is not involved, emotions can be trouble: A meaningless state of agitation or a wild drive leading to criminal behaviour. But even when the mind is involved, the flow and control is bi-directional. A particular danger appears when twisted and dominating selfish drives from below assume control and make use of the brain or intellect for wayward purposes.

Purpose: Emotions are not willful gods to be worshipped, but tools. Even 'bad' emotions such as anger, hate, repulsion, etc. are tools that can and should be used for constructive purposes. And vice-versa: kindness and compassion can be damaging when applied inappropriately. Turning the other cheek is not necessarily a good quality.

Other examples: In Judaism, the basic faculty of love/kindness (Hesed) is ideally tempered by another basic faculty of strength/restraint (Gevura), together giving rise to truth/balance/mercy/beauty (Tiferet). Fear can incapacitate a man, but it can also bring about a sense of responsibility. A person can be attracted to another person for selfish, ego-driven or sadistic purposes (deterministic emotions), or he can be repulsed by an object because it represents spiritual corruption (indeterministic emotions). Or more subtly: He can be repulsed by an object due to danger to health purely out of physical instinct, or he can decide that bad health is bad for the soul and be repulsed by it due to spiritual considerations. Etc.

There is no such thing as a good emotion that only brings about good, principled or justified behaviour.


So is analyzing and understanding other people's emotions using our minds possible, or is it a nonsensical attempt much like using a thermometer to measure speed? Given what I described in this article, not only is it possible, but emotions can be immediately understood and empathized with at the deepest level depending on their origins and regardless of gender. I'll leave this open as food for thought.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


In her blog Engender Truth, Embar makes a good point about the despicable habit of using notable personalities as ammunition for the gender war. Accomplished people are constantly being used to prove one gender's equality or even superiority over the other. She points out that these groups of special people are simply complex individuals that can be admired, but that their gender is a mundane aspect of their individuality.

However, although an individual's accomplishments are usually a result of their unique and overall capabilities, when it comes to grouping them together as statistics, I see things differently. While it is true that a person's gender is only part of their makeup, it is still a very important part of their core being that can restrict or enhance their capabilities and interests. Science, psychology, common sense and experience all point to inherent and common differences between the genders that cannot be ignored, no matter what the feminists and liberals say. These differences obviously must come with pros and cons.

A person's individuality can show itself in two ways: The relative combination of external factors that include gender, environment, upbringing, education, intellect, etc., and the active, internal work done by this individual on him/herself to rise above such restrictions, as well as the ability to use these given tools to their fullest advantage, complementing them with other people's skills as necessary.

So both approaches contain truth. Personalities should be admired as individuals, but statistics and studies that show a pattern, where, for example, there are ten representatives of gender A in a specific area of expertise for every one of gender B, cannot be ignored. The trouble lies in the conclusions people make based on these statistics:

1. Just because we find one or even several areas dominated by one gender, that doesn't make this gender superior. This is childish. What it means is that each gender has its advantages and disadvantages and that, at best, this gender is generally stronger in this field, or, at worst, that there is a bias involved.

2. If the numbers show an advantage of one gender in most areas, then perhaps not enough types of accomplishments or careers are being awarded. Perhaps male-oriented accomplishments are disproportionately respected and admired to the detriment of female-dominated interests. Case in point, why isn't there a Nobel prize for teaching? How often is an office manager praised for enabling success? And why are feminists de-valuing traditional female roles and worshipping typical male choices regardless of what women really want?

Note that I am not saying that women should stick to traditionally female-oriented careers or life-styles. But feminists claim that the genders are equal and that given the opportunity, women can perform just as well as men in every area. I agree about performance when it comes to individuals, but as a group, this is a fallacy.

Case in point: Nowadays, more women than men are in college; The gates have been opened in most areas yet women still show a definite pattern in their academic and career choices. For example, while women have recently grown to dominate areas such as sales and marketing, they have barely made a dent in the computer engineering industry figures. The feminist claim that this is due to oppression and bias just doesn't cut it anymore.

3. Individuals must be judged individually, but as I discussed earlier, there can be strong justification to favor one gender over another for certain tasks in the sense that if an HR person has similarly qualified CVs in front of her, she should be allowed to decide who to interview based on gender. The problem arises when a manager is simply biased and hasn't thought things through, or has an obviously talented individual in front of her and still misjudges them based on their gender. But this should be between her and her experience, knowledge and conscience (and boss), and not up to the government.

4. There may be other reasons for the lack of gender representatives in certain fields. As mentioned earlier, the accusation of repression is not always valid, but what about a lack of interest or an incompatible psychological makeup? This can mean that the capability is there but the interest isn't, or it can mean something more provocative: That the individual isn't interested enough in this subject to develop her potential skills, simply because of her gender (and obviously a lack of passion is another valid rationale for not hiring an individual).

Statistics about gender-related career and academic patterns are valid arguments that justify gender inequality. It's just a matter of taking the figures with a grain of salt and handling them maturely and rationally, as with any statistical study.

One final comment: When feminists use Marie Curie as an example of female accomplishment, I too roll my eyes, but only because I interpret this as an exception that proves the rule. What rule this proves is the real question and I will discuss actual gender differences elsewhere.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Paradigm Shifts

In Counterpoint and subsequent comments, it was argued that feminism commits anachronistic sins by projecting various modern mentalities, approaches and values regarding careers and gender roles on societies of the past. Careers were not what they are today and the modern concept of a career didn't even exist; Financial concerns were very different as were the recourses for financial security; Roles and specific gender responsibilities were forced on both genders, each with their disadvantages.

For example, at certain periods in history, personal economics were based on families not careers, the population was split into various classes (e.g. property owners), women being only one of several disenfranchised groups of people, and rights were given to specific people in accordance with the responsiblities and roles that were accepted at the time. E.g. a man may have been in charge of contracts but he was also the only one being put in jail for debts his family incurred so that the children would be continually cared for by their mothers. Such practical decisions in historical societies both reflected and affected the mentalities of these people and the way both men and women saw themselves at the time. It was not oppression, it was reality and practicality.

It can be argued that the only reason feminists arose and the woman's role changed was because a woman's role changed: As part of the family business which was often run at home, a woman did her share in ensuring financial security and the man was often at home with the family. Farms, inns, stores and the like involved the wife while at the same time freed her from the more dangerous obligations and jobs such as jail, war and mining. Even learning the trade was often part of the family structure.

The industrial revolution then brought about factories and mass jobs, at first jobs with horrible conditions demanding strong men who needed to support their families and fulfill their obligations and responsibilities. The wife, traditionally the more family-oriented and protected gender was suddenly left at home with 'only' the house and kids to take care of. Formal education became a necessity for men as the world of business became more complex and demanding, and as unions were formed and the industrial craze was brought under control, jobs and therefore education became more lucrative, rewarding and comfortable. However, it took decades until working conditions became favorable even for men.

In other words, the modern 'glamorous' career was being created slowly, and eventually women found themselves left out due to a natural social evolution. When the wars broke out, women flocked to the factories to take the jobs left vacant by men in the army, and this probably gave them a taste of what they were missing.

In addition, as a consequence of not owning property, fighting wars, being independent, or being involved in politics, women were not allowed to vote (along with men of lower classes and other disenfrachised groups). New political philosophies revolutionized the idea of voting, shifting away from the right to vote by virtue of involvement in affairs of the country etc. to a 'natural' right to vote simply by being a citizen of your country.

I.e. women were not necessarily singled out and the idea that certain groups of people were not allowed to vote was commonplace and accepted at the time due to the widespread way of thinking in society that you had to 'earn' your vote. 'Natural rights' was pushed as the new ideal, and the supporting activity of women during the world wars further shifted people's way of thinking towards women as valid voters.

These conditions and firmly entrenched traditional roles probably did cause oppression by men at the time who did not see women as fit to vote and work, even though society was changing around them. Traditions, valid in the past, are hard to throw away, especially when they were once empowering and relatively advantageous to women.

As a direct consequence of all these changes, feminists fought, for suffrage and the option to have careers, and understandably so. Their involvement in industry was suddenly reduced due to the shift away from families; Their traditional roles as home-makers which were perfectly acceptable and important 50 years ago suddenly seemed less important and were much too segregated from the bustle and excitement of life in a world which was rapidly becoming bigger out there and smaller in the home.

What all this shows is that:
1. Both genders always had disadvantages due to their inequality.
2. Traditional gender roles only became 'oppressive' due to social changes. Before these changes they were acceptable, and even relatively empowering for women.
3. Women were indeed becoming increasingly disadvantaged but this only lasted for a short time and in a matter of decades this situation was corrected.
4. While the women's issues were corrected, most of men's disadvantages were not. But this is a topic in itself.

I am not a historian therefore it's possible this way of looking at history may be wrong. But so far I see nothing that contradicts it. This may seem like historical revisionism but if it is correct, it's actually setting the record straight after Feminist revisionism twisted it.

The oppressions of today are the empowerments of yesterday, and vice versa. To claim that women of the distant past were oppressed compared to women of today is an anachronism par excellence and spurious at best. I am not against the fights feminists fought; They were appropriate for their time. But to claim permanent historical victim status based on these fights is to take things blatantly out of context.

White Feathers

I'd like to explore this concept of shifting gender-social paradigms further by bringing up a specific example, and conjecture on the psychology of the people involved:

The Order of the White Feather of Cowardice was a popular social custom in England and Australia during both World Wars where women humiliated young men to induce them to enlist in the army. They gave white feathers in public to any man they thought was shirking his 'duties' and insulted and chastised him for not fighting. The humiliating effect was very strong, causing people like Robert Smith, a husband to a sick wife and father to two children to cry at home and promptly enlist, and James Lovegrove a 16 year old to become ashamed and convince the recruiting officer to take him despite his age and height.

Propaganda and campaign posters were ubiquitous, some addressing women with phrases such as "If he does not think that you and your country are worth fighting for, do you think he is worthy of you?" and "Don't pity the girl who is alone - her young man is probably a soldier fighting for her and her country and for you.". Another poster depicted a girl in a sailor's uniform saying 'I wish I were a man, I'd join the navy!'.

One may assume that this was all just part of the general chauvinistic attitudes of the time that saw women as incapable of fighting and only worthy of auxiliary war efforts. But the behaviour of the women and feminists of the time tell a different tale. During WWI, feminists split into two camps: one fighting for peace and other doing everything possible to support the war, not just for patriotic reasons, but also seeing this as an opportunity to prove that women are an invaluable and important part of society and the state. Nowhere did I read of a similar effort by the feminists to get women into combat.

Many of these prominent feminists, writers and thousands of women supported the White Feather Order with such enthusiasm that feathers were even given to state employees, wounded veterans who were back from the war, and men who were exempt from the army for various reasons. Suspicious men not wearing a uniform were constantly insulted in public to the point that the government started handing out badges to men who were exempt so that the women would stop abusing them.

This begs a question: Imagine yourself as a feminist who thinks responsibilities should be shared equally between the genders, that women should be able to do anything including fight in the army, that you as a woman are being oppressed and that men and women should be equal. Now imagine you are told to insult your lover until he joins the army in order to protect you. Would you have the balls to take the high road with such conviction, and humiliate and coerce a man so that he risk his life and possibly lose it, all in direct contradiction to your beliefs?

What would it take for so many women to do such a thing with so much energy? It would be impossible to imagine any of this happening or having any remotely similar effect today. It's one thing to claim that feminists are hypocrites because they don't demand equality in combat with the same vigor as they demand equality in the office. It's quite another for a feminist to actively force a man through insults to risk his life and go through the hell of war.

Barring the alternative explanation that women of the time were vicious cold-blooded monsters (Compton Mackenzie wrote that "idiotic young women were using white feathers to get rid of boyfriends of whom they were tired"), I am left with no alternative but to conclude that both men and women were of a completely different mentality a mere 60 years ago. If a feminist of the time believed in absolute shared responsiblities she wouldn't humiliate men to risk their life for her. A man didn't scorn the woman humiliating him because it was beyond doubt that men had different responsiblities than women. And finally, if men were really oppressing women and thought them second-rate citizens, they wouldn't feel ashamed by such actions to the point of joining the army.

Or perhaps I'm just being naive by assuming people behaved consistently and actually had a conscience.

Science Fiction

As an exercise, let's imagine a society in the near future where the work of management has been automated, relieving much of the workload and responsibilities of a typical manager. A couple of decades after this happens, there is a social revolution of sorts, where the lowly employees of the world unite, claim that they are being mistreated, and that since they are the most important people in the company with most of the responsibilities, they should receive higher salaries and compensations than the managers, and that they will no longer be subservient to barking orders of such oppressive pigs.

30 years later these ideals are now commonplace. They look back 80 years and think: 'My god, how the employees of yesteryear must have suffered and been oppressed, the managers taking all the credit and the high salaries while telling everyone what to do. It must have been a hellhole!'.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Thought Control

In other news, workers are filing lawsuits against companies that discriminate against people with low IQs. Managers are protesting that many jobs demand a standard of intelligence and that people with lower IQs need higher maintenance, management and training, but the courts ruled that this is discrimination and therefore these opinions are misguided and inadmissible. Affirmative Action has now been expanded so that all ranges of IQs are fairly represented in the workplace.

Yes, I'm kidding and no, I am not about to say that one gender has a lower IQ than the other. But imagine a manager who has worked with men and women, studied gender differences and brain functions and came to the scientific conclusion that women and men are less suitable for specific jobs and that preferring one gender over another for certain responsibilities is therefore not unfair discrimination. Whether this conclusion is right or wrong, it's only an opinion with the same logic, scientific backing and fallibility as the policy of assigning responsiblity based on IQ. Who are you to tell him how to run his business?

Imagine two managers: One has the opinion that women are better at team-work, handling customers and departmental communications and therefore prefers to hire women, the other thinks that women are prone to emotionalism, PMS and pregnancies and therefore prefers to hire men. The former would be praised, while the latter vilified and sued even though both are exercising the exact same decision-making right and ability.

Or what about personal issues? What if a man simply doesn't get along with women? What if a man decided that gender differences too often cause friction between mixed co-workers? What about all the female HR managers who don't hire women for personal reasons? It's quite common in my experience for women to object to other female workers and to prefer working with men.

There may also be religious reasons: I know of a company run by religious Jews that exclusively hires women (over 100 women, no men). Both the men and women in these circles support this policy because it serves their purposes and allows for a much more comfortable work environment.

Perhaps you think it's unfair that some companies hire more men than women and vice versa, but then why isn't there affirmative action on companies that only hire people with a certain level of IQ, experience or personality? There are plenty of practical and valid reasons for hiring one gender over another whether you agree with them or not. What is the difference between discriminating against someone based on their natural intelligence or charm, and hiring someone based on their natural gender-based differences?

The common argument is that Affirmative Action is a correctional policy that aims to balance a historical imbalance. But this would only be valid if the imbalance was due to unfairness, not fact. Feminists may argue that gender differences are only due to oppression, patriarchy, society and upbringing and that discriminating based on gender therefore only reinforces such chauvinism and unfairness, but you'd have to be an idiot not to see at least some inherent general differences in the genders as a whole as well as to ignore all the scientific evidence on brain differences. In any case, such practices effectively eliminate any of the aforementioned opinions or valid reasons for preferring one gender over another.

Most people complain that Affirmative Action is unfair, that it creates a privileged caste, or forces businesses to hire less qualified employees. But isn't there an even more basic issue? One would think that, at the very least, a country that values its freedom would protest against such censorship and Marxist/Socialist government practices.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Unidentified Gender Objects

I once had a discussion with an acquaintance regarding the extent to which men could understand women and vice versa. It was not about different reactions and patterns of thinking, nor was it about cataloging specific brain differences in both genders. The critical issue was whether brains, souls or essences of both genders were from the same basic mold which would allow them to determine each other's needs. Or, in other words, is a man similar enough to a woman so as to make it possible for both to understand each other's psyche without having to feed every necessary datum and deduction? And more controversially: Is it possible for one gender to understand and therefore dictate the needs of another on the assumption that he or she may know what's best?

Obviously, this approach will be instantly attacked from the individualistic angle, arguing that every individual, regardless of gender, may have completely different spiritual, psychological or otherwise basic needs, and no person may assume such arrogance so as to dictate another's needs. But it must be pointed out that:

1. For lack of more precise terms, we must differentiate between global human needs and personal desires. For example, the requirement for lowered stress in the workplace is a global need, but wanting to work with computers is a personal desire. Under any set of behavioral rules there must always be room to develop and express variations in individual drives (within reason). When most people argue for individualism, they are thinking about the relatively minor personal differences.

2. There are very basic needs which apply to all humans. If this were not possible, general psychology and mass religions could not exist. If you hold that each individual must work out every basic need on his own, invent his own religion if necessary and avoid being categorized under any general psychological theories, then you may as well stop reading right here.

3. Many people cannot determine their own needs. Any psychologist would agree. This is not to say that the other gender knows better but that the argument that only an individual could know what he or she needs is an untenable one. Of course, one can argue that shrinks don't dictate but instead help the person figure things out for himself. But again, this would be a matter of desires, not needs. I'm referring to the basic, systematic knowledge that enables the shrink to conduct this kind of session in the first place.

4. As far as spiritual needs are concerned, it may be argued that the differences here would be even more pronounced and even unreachable. But this religion-oriented argument may very well be shifted away from how to determine needs (because God enters the equation as a source of knowledge) and more towards whether men could understand, interpret and apply this knowledge regarding the opposite gender.

Unfortunately, the discussion led nowhere. Her agenda, at ANY cost, was to undermine the possibility of traditional religious rules for women supposedly set by the patriarchy who have no clue what a woman really needs to develop herself spiritually. My approach was to show her how deep this gender difference must be in order to satisfy her agenda as well as the consequences of such an a priori axiom. The way I see it, if a man is so different that he cannot understand the logic of a woman's core needs and his only option is to be fed such information like a parrot so that he could learn how to help and what to avoid, then:

1. Practically no deduction and extrapolation regarding the opposite gender would be possible. We would keep making errors until we memorized every possible need and danger area.

2. If she (or he) does not understand her own needs or has psychological obstructions, or even if she cannot or does not communicate this knowledge, then there would be no way of figuring it out on his own. Or worse: If she misunderstands her needs then he could waste decades and be none the wiser.

3. Shrinks and marriage counselors would have to stick to treating their own gender exclusively.

4. Teachers and whole education system may have to be more segregated. Etc...

A Simple Approach

I'd like to introduce you to a pet peeve of mine: Inconsistency.

I use this word often. When it comes to work, debates and philosophy then the meaning is clear and I am usually referring to a logical contradiction or confusing juxtaposition. But with relationships and people, I came to realize that what bothers me is not lies, hypocrisy or even change. It's a character schizophrenia: A contradiction between words and behaviour, or words and behaviour that conflict with themselves. I discovered that when I call someone inconsistent, I am often referring to a problem with me and my lack of understanding rather than the person's neurosis or lies.

Whether you want to believe that men can't dictate a woman's needs and that it's all up to communication and listening to what she tells you, or whether, like me, you believe the only way to live together is by logically understanding everything about your partner, these are basically personal agendas, not logical arguments.

I also doubt the possibility of presenting proof from science because I can't see how one can use neuroscience and brain patterns to prove that someone understands another human being.

Barring religion, the only possible logical argument I can see that would settle this debate is by boiling it down to a simple question: Have you ever understood a person of the opposite sex so well that you can predict their next moves in unfamiliar situations, or logically trace back their behavioural patterns to mechanisms you know exist in their psyche. Also, have you ever predicted the behaviour of the opposite sex without even getting to know them?

I have done these things very often and I'm sure you have as well. As far I'm concerned, this proves that, all differences aside, men and women are from the same planet or at the very least from the same solar system.

A Jewish Approach

Many people don't notice that in the Bible, it says that God created 'man' originally in both male and female form and that this is before the creation of Eve! Judaism holds that the original Adam was both male and female in one creature who was then separated (the so-called 'rib').

The Hebrew words used in these two separate processes conform to this idea: For the original Adam, the word Beriya is used, which denotes creation of something new ex-nihilo. For Eve, the word is Yetzira which is more a formation than a creation. In order to 'create' Eve, male and female were merely separated.

These different types of creation also denote the level at which they work (i.e. spirit vs. matter). The original creation was more abstract but the separation worked at a more concrete level. My argument, as I will further expand on, is that the more physical (material) the level, the more separate the genders become and the more differences we encounter.

A comparison can be made with conception and birth: Judaism says that when new life is created, at its source it has no gender. This is further supported by science that shows that as a pregnancy develops (more physical organs, less abstract potential), the separation, or gender, becomes more and more definite and clear.

This is further supported by the concept of Original Sin and the ensuing curses. As discussed earlier, Adam and Eve wanted more materialistic power, thinking they could control the forces and elevate them, and they got it, the consequence of this being more emphasis on physical functions and needs. Conceptually, due to the increased attention given to physical needs, a stronger sense of self-identity ('me' instead of 'us') infected the higher faculties and therefore the relationship between the genders deteriorated as well.

The consequences and curses Adam and Eve brought upon themselves emphasized the separation between the genders in many ways. Man lost his status, had to sweat for a living, lose strength after sex, etc. Women got 9 months of pregnancy, menstruation, the difficulties of child-rearing, submission to men, etc. It's interesting to note that before the sin, women didn't have to go through 9 months of pregnancy and there was no pain during childbirth. These factors are touted by feminists as making women secondary citizens and taking away their freedom in comparison to men. Ironically, the male curse of having to sweat and work for a living has now somehow become a blessing.

Regarding sex, whereas before it was primarily a joining of spirit, now it became a joining of physical bodies and therefore they suddenly 'realized' they were naked. Thus shame was brought into the world whereas before it didn't exist.

In other words, Adam and Eve fell from the idealistic level at which all genders are almost one and the same. Equality was progressively lost, roles were assigned, differences were created or emphasized.

A few other relevant points:

1. Judaism believes that a man gets the mate he deserves. The way I see it, this means that the more a man has polished his soul, the better a link he creates with his mate and he therefore gets a better/deeper soulmate. It's all a matter of which spiritual level you are working in and this attracts different mates to correspond with your abilities.

2. The first definition of a woman in Hebrew is 'ezer kenegdo' which translates to 'a helper against him'. Again, this is taken to mean that if he deserves it, she will be a helper, otherwise, an opponent. I.e. it depends on what level the man is working at and this defines the level of connectivity or compatibility.

3. Jewish sources say that Adam tried to mate with all other creatures and couldn't find a proper soulmate before Eve was formed. I.e. no proper link was possible with such alien beings until a creature from the same mold was created for him to partner with.

4. Judaism sees the evolution and maturity of a man as one who 'leaves his father and mother and glues himself to a woman until they become one flesh'. The more progress, the deeper the link.

All of the above makes it very clear that man and woman are one and the same at the source and only present differences and obstacles in their physical forms. The deeper the link, the fewer differences that must be overcome. A relationship where everything has to be communicated and there is no understanding is the lowest level possible.


Everyone knows that when mysteries are revealed they tend to become uninteresting. And what is mystery if not curiosity and imagination due to a gap in understanding? What is the romance in new and mysterious people if not a projection of one's own imagination onto an otherwise dull individual? Is it any surprise this kind of fantasy wears off after you get to know the person all too well?

Real romance is magic in the mundane, passion in logic, joy in everyday life, and spirit in the material. The mystery of romance is not due to lack of knowledge or so-called 'complex' men and women that befuddle and intrigue their partners. It's something one actively builds on top of a solid, worldly base.

As shown, the type of romance based on mystery and lack of understanding is the opposite of a deep bond - it only emphasizes the differences between two people.

Even if a girl is as complex or mysterious as she thinks she is (which is rare), she is then merely a puzzle to be solved and nothing more. I used to think neurotic women were more interesting, but they're a dime a dozen nowadays what with so many modern women trying to be what they're not. Romance relies on the ability to know each other, to connect at the deepest level possible, not on guess-work, superficial communication and mystery.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Anatomy of a Rape

This is going to get long and technical.

The Problem

I previously took two approaches to rape to their logical, albeit absurd conclusions. In one I attacked the concept of consent and rape as control or power, and in another I explored the pre-requisites for consensual sex and statutory rape.

The problem is, as a friend pointed out, is that even I didn't take these positions far enough. For example, if one argues that consent based on deception is rape, then it's only fair to conclude that if a woman slept with her husband on the assumption that he wasn't cheating on her, that she could sue him for rape.

Following the other path, if a grown woman somehow shows that she was not of a mature enough mind when she consented to sex, then what is legally stopping her from claiming she was raped?

The absurdities are endless. Which leads me to conclude that the current definitions for rape are badly defined, inconsistent and legally untenable. I am left with no alternative but to ignore the law, society and even popular usage and dictionary definitions, and find my own.

The fact that this leads to absurdities alone is not a strong logical argument. But when laws are applied inconsistently because they lack a solid definition, and real rape victims are given a hard time because they are categorized together with farcical cases of neurotic women who regret having sex, then the argument for a new definition becomes peremptory.

Physical force is not a valid definition because this would exclude drugs and hypnotism.

Using consent as the single criterion and defining it as, for example, 'to exercise reason and reach a decision unaffected by duress' quickly leads to many of the absurdities I mentioned earlier. Duress covers too much ground and any consent can all too easily be disqualified by ridiculous technicalities.

The Thomson Legal Encyclopedia defines consent as: "Consent is an act of reason and deliberation." "Consent assumes a physical power to act and a reflective, determined, and unencumbered exertion of these powers. It is an act unaffected by fraud, duress, or sometimes even mistake when these factors are not the reason for the consent." Note how fraud and even mistakes could invalidate consent, which confirms what we've been saying.

The Solution

If I were a legislator, I would suggest a more strict definition for rape. The way I see it, the following conditions must apply so that sex will not be considered rape:

1. The potential ability to make a decision based on free-will is present in both sex partners.
And: 2. Both allowed this ability to be exercised and enforced.
Or: 3. They willingly placed themselves in a position where their decision making ability could be damaged or overpowered.

Note the careful wording and that the ability to make a decision is not the same as the concept of consent. As described above, consent is an action that must be performed, and an action that is dependent on many factors which could be invalidated later (e.g. due to deception). I.e. since consent means that she must say 'yes' (even via body language or by performing what is suggested to her) and that this must be a valid 'yes', then it follows that if she didn't perform this action or if it is revealed later that the consent was dependent on invalid factors, she was raped.

The ability to make a decision and enforce it, however, is determined purely by the events leading up to the sex act and no other facts are relevant. If these abilities were present, then no matter what is revealed afterwards, they cannot be invalidated. The only criterion according to #1 is that the ability be present potentially, not that the ability was actually exercised or even used in a correct way. This is a subtle but crucial difference which allows us to create a consistent definition that doesn't lead to absurdities.

It is important to point out that all of the above relies on one important, perhaps obvious assumption: That free-will exists and is always exercisable. Without both criteria, we would be stuck with difficulties in measuring levels of duress, and flippant claims of temporary insanity (which means that their mental faculties were overpowered by any of a thousand various possible distractions). If one believes that man is a biological creature that can be easily swayed and overpowered, then he would have the impossible task of setting a standard for measuring even benign and minor pressures and their effect on individuals. According to Judaism, even if during the act he was too weak to make a correct decision and override pressures and he was therefore 'temporarily insane', the demand on him is not to let himself get to that weakened state or dangerous position in the first place.

The second rule ensures that this ability was not taken away in full. Pressure in the form of an obstacle, distraction, manipulation, pressure, etc. do not count because they only make things more difficult, not impossible.

Also note that there can be no imposed ideologies in law. If a grown woman decides she wants to be humiliated by her client, no feminist can declare her brainwashed without proving medical brain damage.

The third criterion, although obviously controversial, is logically necessary because since the key issue here is the decision making and enforcing ability, by willingly putting this ability in jeopardy she is effectively waiving her rights. I.e. if your only defense against rape is this specific ability, then when you knowingly dismiss this ability you cannot claim protection from the law. It would be the equivalent of a man putting his hand in some dangerous machinery while another man is operating it. He cannot sue the operator for inflicting damage on him even though the operator could have chosen to stop turning the wheel, because he effectively waived his rights to be protected by dismissing his own protection and choosing to take the risk.

This is known in law as Assumption of Risk (or volenti non fit injuria). In the words of the Legal Encyclopedia, this is a "defense, facts offered by a party against whom proceedings have been instituted to diminish a plaintiff's cause of action or defeat recovery to an action in negligence, which entails proving that the plaintiff knew of a dangerous condition and voluntarily exposed himself or herself to it."

The encyclopedia entry then differentiates between a case where the plaintiff made a reasonable decision to proceed despite low risks and proper conduct, and cases where the plaintiff makes an unreasonable decision to proceed despite safer alternatives: "...as where, with other transportation available, the individual chooses to ride with an intoxicated driver. If this occurs, the plaintiff's conduct is a type of contributory negligence, an act or omission by the plaintiff that constitutes a deficiency in ordinary care, which concurs with the defendant's negligence to comprise the direct or proximate cause of injury."

One could argue that in the case of rape, the defendent had a choice. But this would only mean that he behaved immorally and should be punished accordingly, not that she was technically raped. The aforementioned machine operator could be punished for disregarding human life for example, but he can't be sued for damages when the plaintiff knew the risk and did it anyways.

Whether the defendant could have stopped it or not or whether he is breaking the law is irrelevant. For example, it cannot be argued that the rapist chose to assault the woman and this is all that counts. As in the example of the intoxicated driver, the driver could stop driving or refuse to take the passenger, but nevertheless, the passenger "cannot recover for injuries" by law.

I realize I'm basically using the argument of 'she was asking for it'. But I'm not defining what cases would be included in this category and I concur that some people use this statement unfairly. In addition, I am not arguing that the rapist go unpunished. Despite the fact that this is a red-hot button and that most people have violent, knee-jerk reactions to such statements, as shown, it has logical and legal validity.

The Practice

To consolidate all of these concepts, let's try to categorize several possible types of rape. Under these three rules the following would be considered rape:

- Physical force, because she was not allowed to exercise her decision.

- Overpowering drugs and hypnotism, for the same reason.

- Consent due to a threat of overpowering force, which is basically the same thing because she would not be allowed to exercise her decision even if she tried.

- Sex with minors or a mentally deficient or damaged person, because they do not have these abilities. The mental damage must be absolute, not a partial impairment.

- Sex with a captive who never had a chance to gain from undamaged points of view at any time in his restrained life. I.e. he psychologically had no ability to make a choice. For example, this includes a woman kept in captivity all her life but not a grown woman who is part of society and could have asked questions or associated herself with better people.

- A man who sneaked up on his sex partner who thought he was her husband. In this case he didn't allow her to even begin making a decision which is technically the same as force.

Under these three rules the following would not be considered rape:

- Sex based on lies and deception. Lying is not rape because although wrong information invalidates consent, it is not an impairment of the ability to decide. The person could easily decide to hold off until more information or proof is attained. The key here is that the information on which she based her decision and her ability to decide are two separate things and therefore one could not invalidate another.

- Sex based on a lack of a decision or a weak or incorrect decision. Regret, passivity or lack of proper time and resources to deliberate do not invalidate the ability to decide.

- Sex based on strong pressures and manipulations, because, as explained, the assumption is that the ability is still there even under duress.

- This even excludes a woman who is blackmailed into sex with threats of humiliation. The ability to make a decision still exists therefore although this action is immoral and criminal, technically it cannot be rape.

- Sex due to physical threats where he threatens to harm her but not to hold her down, giving her a choice between injury and rape. This may be harsh but we must be consistent.

- Sex due to patriarchal control or social pressure. The ability to make a decision is still there, they just didn't make the right one. Society may be held accountable but it isn't rape.

- Prostitution and pornography where the woman was not physically forced. Mental or economical pressures do not qualify for the reasons stated above and just because her behaviour does not satisfy feminist ideals and may even have been affected by the patriarchy, she still has the ability to choose.

- A man who was tied down and rubbed up against by the sexiest naked woman on the planet. The ability to decide is still there albeit weakened.

- Intoxication where the women chose to drink alcohol and then consented to sex whereas she wouldn't otherwise. She knew she could lose control therefore he is technically not a rapist.

- A woman going alone to Mike Tyson's apartment late at night. She knowingly took a very probable risk and could have easily gone elsewhere, therefore he cannot be sued.

Most of these examples involve duress or pressure of some kind, and some may seem like valid reasons to claim rape, but as shown, this is a slippery slope.


Barring an alternative solid definition, this seems viable to me. Although some of these judgements may seem harsh, the point here is to define rape and apply it to specific and appropriate circumstances, not to allow criminals to go unpunished. Just because something is not defined as rape, that doesn't make it moral or unpunishable.

More importantly, it allows for laws to be applied consistently and without discrimination, and it gives the real rape victims the severity they deserve. Throwing accusations of rape around the way women do nowadays and thanks to the 'rape culture', rape is turning into a joke and the real victims suffer as a result.