The unfortunate breakup of the marriage between Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher should be of interest even to those who have better things to do with their time than follow mindless Hollywood chatter and celebrity gossip. This relationship was always unique in that it involved an actress who was 16 years older than her husband. That alone sent tongues wagging as soon as the relationship was announced. Many questioned whether a man in his 30s would continue to remain attracted to a woman who next year turns 50. What strained the relationship even more, according to those who always questioned it, was how Kutcher's career took off like a rocket over the past few years, including getting a huge contract from CBS for Two and a Half Men, while Moore's career stalled. Can a power couple's relationship survive when one partner becomes a supernova and the other's star fades?
There was then the curious item of just how public this relationship was. To be sure, there have always been Hollywood super couples who were photographed constantly in Cannes, at red-carpet movie premieres, and walking their children for ice cream in Beverly Hills. The difference with Moore and Kutcher was that they decided to Tweet so much of their relationship, including intimate pictures in their underwear, that the marriage seemed to lose a semblance of privacy. Could a marriage survive that kind of exposure or is erotic attraction to be found specifically in the mysterious and the hidden?
No doubt, the allegations that the marriage came to an end over Kutcher's alleged unfaithfulness will simply be seen as part of a long line of men behaving badly. Kutcher will be grouped with other high-profile alleged philanderers, most notably Tiger Woods, Eliot Spitzer, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. But -- and let's not be afraid to ask the question -- did any of this have to do with a young man in the prime of his life feeling less attracted to a wife that was entering middle age?
Here's my opinion on the matter. Men are becoming more shallow than ever. They are focusing on a woman's packaging to the virtual exclusion of other far more erotic elements of feminine attractiveness that strike deeper than skin. Forget the phrase don't judge a book by its cover. Women today are judged almost entirely by the color of their hair, the size of their chest, the length of their legs, and, most importantly, how young they are and how thin they are.
I know this was always the case and it sounds like a cliché. But it certainly did not happen before when it came to, say, thinks like newscasters. But just look at who is chosen today to read the news on national networks. They are blond-haired, blue-eyed, thin Nordic bombshells who all look indistinguishable from one another. Feminism, which once had the lofty goal of having a woman taken seriously for her brains rather than her bust, seems to have failed utterly.
Now, men are certainly responsible for their own superficiality and the eruption of public men cheating in their marriages is disgusting, tremendously hurtful, and must be condemned. If you're a husband you have to honor your commitments. Period. You're unhappy. Go for counseling. Still unhappy. You can divorce. But you can't cheat. And you certainly can't blame your wife for your duplicitous behavior. Its yours and no one else's fault.
But in addition to the legitimate need to hold men responsible for their own actions, there is also a need to encourage women to stop participating in their own degradation and stop reinforcing the notion that women are to be judged by their body and youthfulness alone.
Women like Demi Moore have, unfortunately, at least in the past, served to hinder men taking women seriously or respecting them holistically by adopting roles as the libidinous man's plaything. I do not mean to blame the victim. I am clearly blaming us men for being increasingly shallow in an age of television, pictures, glossy magazines, and deluge of Internet porn. But why did Demi Moore do a movie like Striptease, which was so reviled by the critics that it won the 1996 Razzie Award for Worst Picture of 1996? It seemed that the principal purpose of the film was simply to show off Moore's body -- including movie posters where she is wearing nothing - - in a lousy B-movie script. The same applies to the Vanity Fair covers she did where she was once again completely nude except for body paint. Now, is a woman just her body or is there a brain and a heart that counts as well?
I am saddened to see Demi Moore -- or any wife for that matter -- hurt and in pain at the hands of her husband. Having counseled countless women who have been cheated on and having written an entire book on adultery and infidelity, I have seen the indescribable trauma of wives who feel discarded by men who aren't faithful. But reversing the increasing trend of men behaving so selfishly involves, first, a commitment on the part of those same men to be moral, ethical, and faithful under all circumstances, and second the creation of a culture in which women are valued for something other than skin tone, biceps, and breast size. And while men who cheat are of course the guilty party, this also requires a commitment on the part of women to help create a more dignified culture where men value women holistically and not just body parts.
In my book Hating Women I focus on the bizarre phenomenon of women participating in their own degradation in a culture that uses their bodies to sell beer. Look at people like Madonna who ultimately left the United States when she was raising her children because she claimed American culture had become too vulgar. But who contributed to that vulgarity? Did Madonna not play a role when she first started to simulate masturbation on MTV? And I'm loathe to bring it up, because in truth she has changed and become more much spiritual and responsible. But can we really create a culture of men acting like gentlemen -- which they must do under all circumstances without any excuses -- when women don't always believe they should be ladies?
The truth of the matter is that as a woman gets older she becomes sexier. She becomes a much better lover as she learns to accept herself, becomes comfortable with her sexuality and much freer in its expression. She integrates her mind, body, and heart in a much more wholesome package so that her sensuality is expressed not only in the physical but through the mental and emotional faculties as well. Above all else, as a woman gets older she comes to know her unique gifts and as such she obtains the confidence that she has something special to contribute that other women do not have, and in that confidence she radiates a more alluring erotic attractiveness. I wrote about the eight erotic qualities that make women attractive in my book The Kosher Sutra, with confidence at the top of the list. But for men to see that beyond the flesh we need women who, in their Hollywood careers, demonstrate that a woman's attractiveness is comprised of not just one but five qualities: her body, her mind, her heart, her voice, and her spirit.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach has just published of "Ten Conversations You Need to Have with Yourself." (Wiley) and will shortly publish "Kosher Jesus." Follow him on his website www.shmuley.com and on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.
Follow Rabbi Shmuley Boteach on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RabbiShmuley