Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Sex and the single Modern Orthodox

There’s been a lot of blogging lately on Israeli Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger’s psak forbidding single women from going to the mikvah.

According to the Jerusalem Post:

"It is absolutely prohibited to allow a single woman to immerse herself in a mikve," wrote Metzger. "And it is an obligation to prevent her from doing so."
I find the second part of that statement especially distasteful.

But this issue has been discussed to death the last few days on Jewish blogs. I want to make a peripheral point.

On several blogs, in posts & comments, I’ve seen the sentiment that one of the reasons that Modern Orthodox young men & women are having premarital sex is because of a culture in the community that is accepting of people being single for years and that the culture is what has to change.

(First of all, there’s far less of this going on than people firmly ensconced in the Centrist Orthodox community think. The Upper West Side is not a den of iniquity. But admittedly, a significant minority do engage in sexual activity outside of marriage.)

I feel that there is already enough stigmatization of older singles in communities where most people are married. They are subtly treated as less worthy and less "grown up" than married people, irrespective of their actual worth as individuals. Thankfully there are communities where this is less so, and communities such as the upper west side where singles can feel like full fledged members of their communities.

Just because some are concerned about premarital sex, that concern is not nearly a good enough reason to turn back the clock and re-infantilize those singles who happen to have not yet met their zivugim.

That touches on the whole issue of the supposed “shidduch crisis” but that’s another post.

1 comment:

  1. I definitely agree on the stigmatization of older singles...i'm 25 and at the last family occasion I went to (last thanksgiving) i was seated at the "kids table" while my cousin who was 21 with a husband got to sit at the grown up table. It was ridiculous. And her husband sat at the grown up table too. So her husband, who has been in our family all of 5 minutes, gets to sit with the 'grown ups', but not me!

    (although to be honest, the 'kids' table is full of mid to late teenagers, and I think it's more fun to talk to them and find out what jewish teenagers these days think about anyway)