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.