The Broken American Male -- A Review

In the new book The Broken American Male, Rabbi Shmuley -- star of TLC's Shalom in the home -- argues that American men have "lost the ability to love their wives and inspire their children."

He points out that women "enjoy many of the same rights and opportunities of men," -- which is evident by the fact that there are more women than men in college today and in the fact that women will soon surpass men in the marketplace -- but are nevertheless unhappy. He asks, "What is the cause of their deep discontent? Why are women so deeply unhappy in their marriages?" Shmuley says he "doesn't support everything in the feminist agenda" but goes on to say this:

Think about what a bum deal marriage is for women. She takes her husband's last name, thereby compromising her identity. She bears the children, thereby disfiguring her body. She works outside the home and then comes back to even more work inside the home, thereby compromising her peace and rest. Why would any woman agree to this?

Despite Shmuley's insistence that he isn't a "radical feminist," this is an entirely radical statement.

To be sure, Shmuley is dead on in his analysis of an American culture obsessed with "success" -- success in the traditional sense. Materialism abounds, yes; but both men and women are the culprits. Certainly there are men whose ambition blinds them to what's really important in life -- I was married to a man like this once, so I know they exist -- but I think it's unfair to suggest these men are the norm in today's society.

Most men are not broken. The reason women are unhappy today -- which I am in the process of analyzing in a book -- is far more complex than Shmuley seems to understand. As is the reason for the family breakdown. At one point he writes this:

In searching for the corosive influences that most plague the American family, we could identify several causes. We could focus on the instability created by a 24-hour economy and the workaholic parents who try to keep up. We could look at modern media distractions -- from TV, to movies, to iPods, to the Internet -- that are causing families to cease to communicate. We could speak of the two-income family and how moms having to work outside the home robs the family of its most important nurturer. We could find hundreds of unconnected reasons for the breakdown of the American family.

Hundreds of unconnected reasons? What? There aren't hundreds of reasons at all. He just identified the three main culprits. To say they're unconnected is absurd. And to point the finger at men -- who (unless they're Neanderthals or over 50) are more committed, loving, and supportive of women than they've ever been in the history of time is even more absurd.

Shmuley is correct in his analysis of what plagues the modern generation, but I'm afraid his assessment misses the mark. He may see all kinds of miserable men in private practice, but they do not represent the average American male. There's an entire country that exists between New York and California -- and there are many happy men to be found. Perhaps they could teach us a thing or two.

By the way, imagine if a book were titled The Broken American Female -- and How to Fix Her? How well do you think that would go over in modern day America?

Men are stomped on left and right in this country. It's about time we celebrated the good ones.

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