Thursday, October 29, 2015

Girls' Night

Being a dinner hostess doesn't only involve cooking, it also involves seating. After careful analysis, Ma and I have concluded that to ensure a good time for all, men have to sit together with the men while women cluster with the women.
Men and women have different interests. Men like to jab a grubbeh finger about some lomdus, or pontificate about those Mets; women like to swap information about recipes, shoes, book selections, etc.

When there's gender segregation, conversation just flows so much better. When they are alternately seated, it limits the range of topics. How many subjects, after all, appeal to both females and males? 

Prior to the release of her book, Primates of Park Avenue, Wednesday Martin's "Poor Little Rich Women" was featured an Op-Ed. Most of the readership, like me, was unaware that she was plugging her product, and that she intentionally composed the article with potentially offensive judgements. 

In the posh neighborhoods of the Upper East Side host families with distinct traditional roles, Martin disapprovingly observed. Men brought home the bacon; women spent the bacon. Not only that, these glamazon STAHMs spent a lot of time with each other, hubbies excluded. 
But as my inner anthropologist quickly realized, there was the undeniable fact of their cloistering from men. . .
“It’s easier and more fun,” the women insisted when I asked about the sex segregation that defined their lives.
“We prefer it,” the men told me at a dinner party where husbands and wives sat at entirely different tables in entirely different rooms. . . 
The worldwide ethnographic data is clear: The more stratified and hierarchical the society, and the more sex segregated, the lower the status of women.
As a Jewish woman, I was offended by that last statement. Enough comments have been made about the separation of the Jewish sexes that I know the outer world finds us sexist. Gender apartheid, if you will. 

I, personally, enjoy it when I attend a large social gathering and I am safely parked with other females. Recently I attended a mixed-seating simcha and I was miserable. The table was silent, except for the occasional lame attempt at wit that made our mutual misery even more obvious. Girls together, alone, would ask about the others' gorgeous shades of lipstick; guys would chat about . . . well, I'm not really sure what they chat about. All I usually see is a lot of back slapping.

As for shul, I happen to feel very self-conscious in an insitution where the mechitza is on the skimpy side and prayer is all on the same level. How can I throw myself into davening if I am frantically wondering if the back of my tights are visible when I bow during Shmoneh Esrei?
The Art of Will Deutsch
If that whole Venus-Mars thing is somewhat legit, why shouldn't fellow Venusians and Martians catch up while at a party? They're going home with their spouses anyway; they're still each other's primary relationship.      


Daniel Saunders said...

What are STAHMs?

This is probably true, overall. However, inasmuch as I tolerate large social gatherings at all, I think I prefer mixed seating. Male conversation I often find narrow in focus (usually sports or occasionally politics (which I invariably disagree with), I don't know people who discuss gemarah at dinner) and dominated by the 'louder' personalities. I have a tomboyish female friend who agrees, complaining that all-female company is dominated by fashion and make-up; she usually has to find men to talk about geeky stuff. I suppose I find women less judgmental and more tolerant, but that could be my neuroses speaking.

As I say, probably most men and women would agree with you, this is just my take. Even in a mixed kiddush, I've noticed people tend to gravitate to others of the same gender. Davening is another matter, of course.

Princess Lea said...

STAHMs: Stay at home mothers.

In my experience, there are all types of men, as well as all types of women. I can't chat with ALL women. Although from time to time I have been blessed with a fellow geek.

Penina said...

I see what you're saying, but I also find this kind of incredibly sexist. I really enjoy the company of my friends of both sexes. I'm not the kind of woman who likes to talk about lipstick or dress shopping, so this exclusively female conversation you're promoting actually usually makes me feel entirely left out and uncomfortable. I much prefer a mixed conversation, where the conversation isn't so heavily gendered.

Princess Lea said...

To clarify, as should be obvious from this blog, I enjoy conversation other than lipstick and dress shopping. And I have had other conversations other than lipstick and dress shopping with other women, it's just usually those topics that tend to break the ice before moving on to meatier fare.

"Promoting"? I'm simply expressing my perspective, note how many times I use the word "I." That's how I feel, that's all. And now I have read how you feel. It's all good.