Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Aish HaTorah Called Out on Sexist Article

     Big Kiruv organization Aish HaTorah was bashed all over the internet today after posting the extremely sexist article "Five Ways to Turn Off a Guy" by Rosie Einhorn and Sherry Zimmerman. (I have included the text at the end of this post.) By this evening, they had posted the following message:
After receiving a barrage of comments from men and women from all over the spectrum of "just Jewish," including cultural, observant, and non-observant Jews, Aish opted to remove the offending post.
     My question is, how could Aish have gotten non-orthodox dating so wrong?
     Let's start with a few things.
     First of all, Aish is out of touch with the rapidly changing culture of the non-orthodox world.
I posted the following comments on Facebook this morning:

     As I stated, Aish is about 60 years out of touch. Their article (text posted below) calls for women to basically refrain from being opinionated, debating with the men they're dating, being too forward, dressing casually, being too open, pursuing a man they're interested in, writing about their intelligence and career and intellectual pursuits on their dating profiles, and basically retain that 1950s mentality of the submissive female looking to land a man.
I summed up my initial reaction in the following comment:

     Secondly, in the department of How Could Aish Have Gotten Non-Orthodox Dating So Wrong? it seems that I am not alone in reading the original article as a piece of sexist fluff, despite it being written by women. Maybe this article was meant to be seen as "Dating Shaming," with the women authors pitting themselves against other women in order to shame them into more submissive behavior. Regardless of the writers' (and Aish's) original intent, apparently the anger in Aish's own comments section made someone in their Public Relations department realize that they'd made a grave mistake. I'd like to thank the commenters on Aish's website for being honest and telling Aish HaTorah that their article was completely off-base. Here are some of the comments that erase the need for me to include too much commentary. (Click to enlarge any of the comments.)

FYI--Most people in the non-orthodox world are not ready to get married "after a few months!"
You can read the last few comments here, on Aish's site, assuming they haven't yet been removed.
 Aish HaTorah has since engaged in damage control, removing the offending article, so I'm reposting the text here. (Thanks to Heshy Fried at Frum Satire for providing me with the text. Read his response to the Aish article.)

"Five Ways to Turn Off a Guy" by Rosie Einhorn and Sherry Zimmerman
We consulted with three men who recently got married. Here’s their list of five surefire ways to make a man quickly lose interest in a budding relationship.
1. Debate with him. Alex told us, "I dated women who, from the very start, seemed to be out to prove that they were smarter or better informed than me. I got it – they were well educated, worked hard to get where they were in their careers, and wanted me to respect their intelligence, but trying to outdo me was a big turn off. I wouldn't try to argue with my date, tell her she's wrong, or get into a debate intended to end with one of us being the winner and the other the loser. That would make her feel terrible. I don't understand why some of the women I went out with did this to me. I felt emasculated and I didn't ask them out again.
"I'd tell a woman who wants to 'make a statement' not to do it when you're just getting to know each other. Get to know a little about each other, see how comfortable you feel talking, let him see the way you smile and learn what you have in common. Don't get into a heated political discussion or hear the fine details about your 'crusade'. That's not what first dates are about...or second dates. Save those deep, impassioned discussions for after you know each other a little more and want to know more about what makes each other tick."
2. Don't bother dressing nicely for a date. "If a man doesn't feel attracted to a woman within the first few dates, he's probably going to lose interest. I don't understand why a woman wouldn't want to play up her appearance by styling her hair, using a little makeup, and wearing attractive clothes. She looks better, she looks interested in making a good impression on me, and I feel good about taking her out. If a woman didn't seem to care about herself or about looking nice for me, I had no interest in continuing with her."
3. Overload your online dating profile. What does your dating profile say about you? If it's heavy with your professional and academic accomplishments and short on personality traits, it's time to rewrite it, as well as the "script" you friend use to describe you to potential dates. "Of course I want to find someone who's intelligent and capable," Max told us. "But when a woman is suggested to me, I want to hear about her character, how she relates to people, the kind of home she wants to have. It's fine to know that she's a lawyer or a stock broker or a physical therapist, but she should save the rest for LinkedIn. I'm looking for a wife, not a business associate."
4. Open up right away – about everything. You clicked right away with the new guy you're dating. His smile was so genuine, and the conversation between you just flowed. After that first date, you felt as if you'd known him for years and could be extremely open with him. So on your second date when he asked, "Why's a beautiful woman like you still single?" you decided to tell him your whole romantic history. He heard how you didn't feel good enough about yourself to date until after you had a nose job, learned that you fell into a depression after a man you thought would marry you met someone else, and found out that you and your sister didn't speak for two years after a man you both liked chose to date her. You were thinking: He's such a good listener, I can talk to him about anything! And he was thinking: This girl has boundary issues. I don't want to hear this stuff from someone I barely know. I can't wait for this date to end.
5. Pursue him. Your first date was great. So was your second. You haven't felt so optimistic about the future in a long time. He asks you out again and you want to know, "Where do you think this is going?" Instead of hearing an enthusiastic response, you notice that the positive chemistry between you seems to dissipate. That wasn't such a good idea, you tell yourself, and next time you meet a man with potential you hold back from asking the question. After the fourth date, you ask him to be your friend on Facebook and a What'sapp contact. He's one of the many you keep entertained with the latest dramas at work and the antics of your pet cat, and you also email him a couple of times during the day. When you realize he hasn't called to ask for another date after two days, you telephone him to see what's happened. You still don't realize that the faster you try to push him into a relationship, the faster he runs in the other direction.
Some men are flattered when a woman engages in mild flirtation or smiles to show her interest. They may even accept a woman's invitation for coffee or a drink. But at that point, most men need to turn the tables and become the pursuer. They're hard-wired to want to win a woman over. When a woman can't relinquish her pursuit or appears too eager to have a relationship, a man can't see her as special enough to go after and loses interest.
Yes, we plan on writing a follow up article, “Five Ways to Turn Off a Woman” Let us know what you think of the list in the comment section below.*
     I really hope that Aish HaTorah realizes just how out of touch they are with the non-orthodox world of dating. As many stated, we're no longer in the 1950s. I hope that women in the non-orthodox world will continue to be assertive, confident, and true to themselves. I hope the women getting involved in these organizations will really look beneath the surface to see the misogyny that does exist within the world that outreach professionals are selling. And I truly hope that kiruv organizations like Aish HaTorah will begin to realize that the modern world has no place for gender bias. Keep speaking out.

Article Citation
*Einhorn, Rosie, and Zimmerman, Sherry. "Five Ways to Turn Off A Guy." January 4, 2014.


  1. Five ways to land your bashert:

    #1 Be submissive, demur and try not to make eye contact
    #2 Do not watch, listen to, or read the news
    #3 Wear clothes that you cannot afford to buy
    #4 Do not speak unless spoken to
    #5 Play down anything you are good at, except cooking skills

    Can you ladies and gents continue this list please?

  2. I kind of agree about the overloading the profile part.....kind of agree.
    Lots of information? Awesome. The generic profiles are a bore and say the same crap. But even generic info can be made more interesting. For instance, everyone loves to travel, so actually say to where and why. Everyone likes to eat out, so mention a cuisine preference.
    Where I do agree, however, is that some people just ramble on and on and on without actually saying anything. It's like reading a painfully boring inner monologue. It's better to edit and show people that not only do they know what to say, but also how to say it and what not to say.

    hmmm, maybe I should write one of these crappy lists and pretend I know what the hell I'm talking about.


  3. Once upon a time (1988 to be exact), I met a guy and we jumped into a political debate.

    Over 25 years later, we're still having fun with the debates. Of course, we also got married and had kids along the way....

    We'd both be utterly bored with a spouse who didn't debate or show any interest in pressing issues of the day. I don't really spend my days dolled up, being demure and having only generic interests.

  4. What's so sexist about saying a woman (or a man, for that matter, I don't know why this was addressed to only one sex) should
    a) not be overly argumentative or bombastic
    b) try to look attractive and put-together
    c) not brag about professional accomplishments
    d) not share too much personal info inappropriately
    e) chase after a date in a way that seems desperate, clingy or creepy?


Your respectful comments are welcome.