After nearly going bankrupt in the ’90s, Donald Trump is currently riding high. With one of the highest rated TV shows this season, and a best-selling book poignantly titled, “How to Get Rich,” The Donald is being touted as the classic American success story.
But not so fast. Is a man really a success if he’s not a gentleman? And is a man a gentleman if he goes through a couple of wives the moment they put on a couple of years or a couple of pounds? At best, Trump is half a success, having succeeded in the far easier and far less important half of life, namely business and making money. But in the personal realm – the far harder half and the one that really counts – Trump is unfortunately a dismal failure.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I believe money is unimportant. But don’t we work in order to live instead of living in order to work? Isn’t money subordinate to family? Professional success should be a means to an end, that end being giving our families a decent quality of life, dressing our wives in fine clothing that makes them feel attractive, providing our children with a solid education, showing our kids the value of charity, and demonstrating overall that financial security should breed personal fulfillment rather than “status.”
But how fulfilled is a man who forgoes the love of the women who has born his children and uses his money to acquire trophy girlfriends?
If there is one thing modern America – a country of vast wealth on the one hand, yet screwed-up marriages and screwed-up kids on the other – has taught us, it’s that making money is a whole lot easier than building relationships and staying married.
As late as 1936, the world applauded King Edward VIII for forfeiting a kingdom of 600 million subjects and a quarter of the world’s surface, for the love of a single woman. Today, of course, wealthy businessmen routinely dump the devoted wife for the young, loose social climber with a boob job.
It seems we have forgotten the simple message of the Beatles, that one should not care too much about money, because money can’t buy you love.
Maybe that’s why aside from J.K. Rowling and Oprah Winfrey, there are almost no women billionaires, which has almost nothing to do with a weaker female worth ethic and everything to do with a woman’s natural appreciation for love over money.
Ancient cultures conceived of women as being superior rather than equal to men. The ancients perceived women to be the fairer sex, more naturally noble, innately spiritual, inwardly secure, and romantically committed. The Hindus said that Yab (feminine) was greater than Yum (masculine), the Chinese placed Yang above Yin, and the Tantric and Hindu masters taught that Shakti was the master of Shiva. The ancient rabbis maintained that Jewish women have fewer ritual observances than men because their congenital piety necessitated fewer external reminders of God’s presence.
This idea of the supremacy of woman over man reached its zenith in medieval times in the realm of Provence and the invention of courtly love in the court of Eleanor of Aquitaine, the mother of Richard the Lionheart. According to the ideals of courtly love, a woman was seen as an unattainable prize, an exquisite treasure high above man’s reach. Sure, a guy could use his wits to acquire gold. But the real test of manhood was whether he could win a woman’s heart?
The effect of women being placed on a pedestal was that men had to work hard to be thought worthy of a woman. Winning a damsel was a lifelong pursuit and a man would spend a lifetime in refinement of his character in order to win a woman. Even after marriage, a wife maintained her status as a lofty honor. Outside of worshipping God, honoring women was life’s highest ideal. A man devoted his existence to protecting and cherishing the woman he was lucky enough to have as his wife. Like a man who is taken aback by the sight of a majestic mountain peak, he complimented her because he was in awe of her.
The ancient rabbis declared in the Talmud that the worth of a man is determined by how he treats his wife. An honorable man, they said, was a man who dressed his wife in far better clothing than he himself wore. Having his initials on his collar meant nothing compared to the wedding ring that told the world that so glorious a creature as a woman was prepared to accept him as a husband. Marriage, therefore, was the ultimate sign of status. Every time a man married, it was like marrying into the nobility. Wearing $5,000 hand-tailored suits was immaterial. Decking his wife in colorful raiment was a marker of his own lofty stature. The ancient rabbis said that greeting a woman was like greeting the divine presence.
But today, all that has changed, and a generation of two-timing and commitment-phobic men have utterly forgotten how to honor a woman. Western women are letting all of this happen, closing their eyes to the dangerous trend all in the name of no longer being willing to be seen as property. They decry the old stereotypes of the “stand by your man” kind of woman and say that what we are seeing today is progress.
Women, too, can go to a strip club and watch porn and be loose in their relationships. They do not want to be designated as “ladies” anymore because that term – with its attendant expectations of behavior and refinement – has been misconstrued as it has been deemed to be submissive or somehow lesser. Beautiful women, like the kind that date the Donald Trumps of this world, have learned to use their beauty as a commodity that can be exchanged for expensive jewelry from a shallow man. But without ladies, there can be no gentlemen. Only feminine sanctity can recreate masculine dignity.
There are strong consequences for a world that has no respect for women and women who have little respect for themselves. With the neutralization of women as a nurturing and softening force, the world is becoming more aggressive, more ruthlessly ambitious, less compassionate and more insecure. It is a world of harsh judgment, bereft of gentle creatures to soothe the pain. It is a world of sharp elbows rather than soft hearts, spiked shoes rather than outstretched hands.
The kinder, gentler nation promised to us by George Bush Sr. in his famous 1988 “thousand points of light” speech – written by a woman named Peggy Noonan – is a distant dream. The brutal belligerence of the once great Islamic world is a supreme example of the consequences for a society that denies women public roles and influence.
In the West, the disparagement and defamation of women is fostering a generation of loutish and unrefined men who have no incentive to become gentlemen. With women being so significantly devalued, and with men being subtly trained to look down at women as worthless playthings created for naught but their entertainment and pleasure, men are making little effort to ennoble their character in order to be worthy of a woman.
The rule today is that a man should have a reputation as a complete womanizer and still hook a girlfriend. What woman 40 years ago would have tolerated a man dating her for four or five years without popping the question? Where in society would it have been acceptable for a man to string a woman along without committing himself to her? And where were there any women dumb enough, or insecure enough, to accept such a rotten deal?
When will we realize that the denigration of women not only harms a specific woman or group of women, but it also spirals out to irrevocably scar society at large? And when will we be mature enough to promote as the real success stories not the men who can afford to buy pretty models a mink coat, but rather the husband of 40 years who still treats his wife like a queen?