Let’s explore the results of studies which reveal the emotional differences between men and women in a variety of manifestations.
In the twentieth century, psychological researchers unanimously maintained that the psychology of a woman is altogether identical to that of a man and that all hype about the differences between a woman’s emotional makeup and that of a man are based on prejudices designed to denigrate women and glorify men.
Thus, for example, it was commonly held among scientists in the 19th century that since a man’s brain is 11% larger than that of a woman, even after taking into consideration such factors of body dimensions, it sought to prove an intellectual supremacy of the male. No one knew at the time that men and women have the same number of brain cells but those of women are more compacted within her smaller skull.
In the twentieth century, researchers’ approach swung all the way to the opposite end of the spectrum, and the official scientific position declared equality between the sexes, even from the emotional-psychological aspect.
This insight, designed to prove the enlightened view of the woman’s equality, flourished in the previous century and gave way to subsequent social changes, accordingly.
Psychologist Dr. Louann Brizendine writes in the introduction to her book, The Female Brain: “For most of the twentieth century, most scientists assumed that women are, in effect, small men, both neurologically and in every other way, except for those feminine roles of childbearing. This assumption was the crux of the ongoing misunderstanding regarding the female psychology and physiology. Until the 1990s, researchers hardly related to these areas separately from those of men.”
She adds, as a personal confession: “Since I studied in a university at the height of the feminist movement… I embraced the fashionable stand of the seventies and placed the blame on the patriarchal approach of the Western world which downgraded women and tied their hands.”
These two opposed stands which held sway in the scientific world for many years are totally dissimilar to that of the Torah, which stresses that not only does a woman possess an intellect equal to a man’s, but even that “God instilled in woman a greater measure of insight than man” (Niddah 45b).
Even so, the Torah notes that there is a significant psychological difference between men and women, so much so that both their emotional and marital relationship depend on their proper understanding of these differences.
The Rambam, in his Mishneh Torah (The Laws of Marital Relationship 15: 19-20), which is accepted as a basic work of Jewish thought, enumerates a list of demands made upon the husband on how to relate to and treat his wife. He draws up a completely different list for the woman’s relationship to her husband, as we have expanded upon in the previous chapter.
These differences, dealing with the different spiritual roles of each one in this world, are rooted in the fact that the family nest needs a strong father figure to conduct the family’s issues vis a vis the outside world, as well as a gentler figure to maintain the home policies from within. To a certain extent, to be sure, each spouse is capable of taking charge of the other’s duties as well.
The Torah’s position was openly rejected by the feminist movement, which saw a searing insult to the women from the very idea that women are inherently different than men. These movements failed to comprehend that being different does not necessarily denote inferiority. Their error lay in the distorted approach of those times, which kowtowed to brawn and brazenness, while downplaying refinement and modesty as shortcomings.
Since women are more reserved by nature, they sought to lift her up by denying any weakness and claiming that they are as virile as men. In truth, this claim is much more offensive since it states that a woman is not of value as a woman except by comparison to men on an equal footing.
The Torah’s position is that a woman is perfectly formed for her role, just as a man is perfectly designed for his role and each of these functions are different and respectable on their own. She possesses qualities which he lacks and vice versa. (On a deeper level: he provides her with her material needs [as raw material] and she develops and expands upon the given, while she gives him from her spirituality and he builds upon and develops it accordingly).
Both together are a complete composite in a perfect marital partnership. The Torah states (Genesis 5:2): “He created them male and female, and He blessed them, and He called their name Adam.” Together they are called ‘Adam’ for they complement each other in a mutual symbiosis. It was only at the end of the twentieth century that a revolution took place.
The modern myth regarding the equality of the sexes from the psychological viewpoint which held sway until then, began crumbling. It turned out that even though over 99% of the DNA of men and women are identical, up to less than one percent (the human genome has thirty thousand genes, so that less than one percent is surely negligible). And yet, this miniscule variance affects every single cell in our bodies – from the nerve cells which absorb pleasure and pain to those which transmit thought, emotions, feelings and perception.
Adapted from 'Happily Married – The Complete Guide to a Successful Jewish Marriage' by Rabbi Zamir Cohen. Click Here to Buy Now