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October 1, 2016 / 28 Elul, 5776
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An American Tragedy in Steubenville

The greatest tragedy made manifest in Steubenville is the attitude of teenage men toward girls.

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Defense attorney Walter Madison, right, holds 16-year-old Ma'lik Richmond as judge Thomas Lipps announces his verdict on Sunday.

Defense attorney Walter Madison, right, holds 16-year-old Ma'lik Richmond as judge Thomas Lipps announces his verdict on Sunday.



Something analogous is happening with the growing sexualization of women wherein teen boys are being taught to see young women not as their equals but as the walking fulfillment of their sexual desires. This is an issue I addressed a few years ago in a full-length book called Hating Women, but it only gotten worse. I had a seventeen-year-old boy, from a leading prep school, tell me how angry he was at a sixteen-year-old girl he knew because she had gone out on a date with a friend of his and had not given him anything sexual. “Not even a hand job. Can you believe it? She’s just a ….tease.” He said this with righteous indignation. A girl like that, who refuses to play the roll accorded her by a secular society that uses women’s bodies to sell beer, cars, and everything in between, is often called a ‘b—h’ for not playing ball. Who does this uppity girl think she is anyway, not to give men their rightful due?

That this is attitude is becoming prevalent among teen boys is evident from how the two accused sent pictures of a drunken girl to all their friends, posting them on the internet, and there was no outrage. Just another guy feeling entitled to see a girl as some drunken ‘dead body’ who was there for his erotic enjoyment.

There was a time when men were raised to be gentleman. Society impressed upon them the need to nurture, protect, and take care of women. Yes, I know it all sounds pretty mushy today, and many a woman would dismiss such sentiments as patriarchal, patronizing, and hopelessly sexist. But is it really too much to ask that when a girl is drunk and helpless, a young man feels the obligation to get her safely home to her parents, enjoying their thanks and the feeling of being a gentleman as something far more pleasurable than whatever sexual thrills her drunkenness can provide?

We males combine within our person the carnal desires of the animal as well as the spiritual transcendence of the uniquely human. The struggle between the two is felt within us constantly. Employing our freedom to choose moral behavior over outrageous indulgence is a serious battle and one that should be helped by an overarching culture that trains boys from their earliest days to respect women as equals and to see in them a divine image rather than the breathing realization of an erotic urge.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

About the Author: Shmuley Boteach, whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous rabbi in America,” is the founder of The World Values Network and the international bestselling author of 30 books, including “The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering.” Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.


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