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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sept. 30, 2005 / 26 Elul, 5765

Keep your ‘machisma’ out of it

By David Gelernter


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | During the John G. Roberts Jr. confirmation hearings, Sen. Dianne Feinstein had an interchange with the nominee that many conservative commentators noticed. They accused Feinstein of criticizing Roberts for acting like a judge, which wasn't fair because he is a judge. But the real problem goes deeper.


Feinstein asked Roberts how he would handle right-to-die cases. She told him to answer "as a son, a husband and a father." She wanted a personal, emotional response, not the cool logic of a jurist. Contrary to instructions, he answered dispassionately and not as a son, husband or father. She was displeased.


Her question was offensive on a human level, for reasons having nothing to do with the judicial context. She demonstrated a disturbing and widespread phenomenon: A powerful person insists that someone's private feelings must be spread out for public viewing, like rugs in a Mideast bazaar. Roberts' feelings as a father, son and husband are none of the country's business.


Years ago, this nation invested much energy in anguishing over and mocking machismo — male swagger, a menacing virility, an air of aggression. Women could be macho too, but the pioneer sinners were men. Feinstein has given us a beautiful demonstration of a female counterpart. "Machisma" (a silly word, but I don't know a better one) is one plausible name for the urge to make strangers tell the world about private emotions. Although anyone (male or female) can practice machisma or be the target, no rational person would deny that this sin was pioneered by women.


"Macha" characters delight in emotional disembowelment; in ordering their victims to let it all hang out. But lots of people have no desire for heart-to-hearts with strangers in public, much less on national TV. Macha is just as toxic as macho, or more so, because it's harder to laugh off. "How do you feel?" has become a standard media question, a substitute for eliciting actual information. Oprah and her imitators use it; news reporters covering hurricanes use it. Macha helps demolish the emotional walls that protect people, just as hurricanes demolish their physical walls.


In the long-ago age before macha, you called a person Miss Hepburn, say, until explicitly invited to use her first name — which helped English recapture the ancient distinction between "thou" (once the friendly, easygoing form of address among friends) and "you" (for addressing strangers or superiors). Lacking this distinction, English is all sweatsuits and no tuxedos.


When two people were not on a first-name basis, that fact indicated what kind of behavior was suitable and what wasn't. No child presumed to call an adult by his or her first name; no doctor did so with a patient. Friendships moved forward in small, graceful steps instead of lunges. Keeping a respectful distance and recognizing authority made the world not cold and forbidding but comfortable, reassuring.


In school, my boys have often been harassed by macha teachers demanding that they tell the class their feelings. One teacher had the nerve to tell one of my sons that his book report must "critique without judging" — and she marked him down for trying to analyze what was good and bad in the story instead of saying which passages got him all choked up. (How many teenage boys do you know who like getting all choked up — or talking about it?)


Granted, the demand strikes different people in different ways. Some students welcome it. My boys don't. Lots of people don't. For a person in authority to insist that lower-downs reveal their emotions is an abuse of power, a form of emotional groping that can leave the targets feeling violated and mad as hell.


Machisma flourishes all over the landscape. Two thoughtful, dignified women I know went together to a house of worship. (Church, synagogue; details don't matter.) Soon after arriving they learned that the service would center on the congregants "sharing their feelings." Self-revelation would start in front and continue around the room. They looked at each other and stood, walked out and have never been back. Their feelings are not topics for public discussion. In this case, a macha man made himself obnoxious to two women. All sexes can play.


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The sorriest of all macha manifestations is the way grief counselors descend like carrion crows on any site of public disaster. (Again, the recent hurricanes provide a sad example.) People who are grieving generally want and need to speak to friends and family — not to strangers or professional busybodies. Some post-9/11 studies suggest that grief counselors do no good anyway. "There is simply no evidence that sharing one's deepest feelings with a stranger of dubious qualifications does any good," write Christina Hoff Sommers and Sally Satel (a policy analyst and clinical psychiatrist, respectively) in their recent book, "One Nation Under Therapy."


Sen. Feinstein thought she was doing the nation a service. She's a sensible person who usually says sensible things. But on this occasion she has reminded us that, ironically, a civilization in which strangers boldly quiz each other about their deepest feelings is a civilization growing colder all the time.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.



Yale professor David Gelernter is a senior fellow at the Shalem Center, Jerusalem. To comment, please click here.


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© 2005, Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate

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